I am quite savvy to the fact that many of your Summer Reading programs across the U.S.A. are finished for 2014. Here in NYC, we are just two ticks past the halfway point. We’ll be in business until the end of August.
I have to say, however, that Summer Reading at my new branch has been downright….pleasant. And manageable. I actually took a little vacation time last month. Gentle readers, in my 17-year career, I have NEVER taken a vacation during the months of July or August. EVER. Rather, my M.O. has always been to run myself ragged until September, and then after Labor Day I would say, ‘Sayonara, y’all. See you in two weeks.’
Vacation in July. A girl could get used to this…
I have been preparing a lot of children’s scavenger hunts this summer (I gave them a high-voltage name, The Extra-Awesome Williamsburgh Library Summer Scavenger Hunt Challenge!). Every couple weeks, I issue a list of 10 items to track down. Half of them are located inside the library, and the other half are either found at home or out in the neighborhood. Working in partnership with parents and grown-ups is not only allowed, but encouraged. Participants are instructed to return to the library with their completed lists to receive a prize (books and publishers swag that has been collecting around the branch).
What I especially enjoy about scavenger hunts– whether doing them or writing them– is that they get you to look more closely at your surroundings. Your eyes are peeled trying to locate that yellow flower on your list, and along the way, you notice the pink flowers on the tree in the park or the Kleenex box with yellow daisies on the top shelf of the corner bodega. Scavenger hunts are also a dandy way to steer patrons towards what’s new and interesting in your library.
Here’s the scavenger hunt I released a couple of weeks ago. As you can see, I the items on the list are a blend of the concrete and the open-ended.
Part One: These items can be found inside the library or in library books located in the Children’s Room
1. Find the library’s photocopy machine. (we got a snazzy new photocopier that week and I wanted to show it off).
2. Find a portrait of a man with a beard
3. Count how many chairs are in the Children’s Room and write the number here _______
4. Write down the name of any children’s book written in Spanish
Name of Book
5. Find a book with the word Picnic in the title and write down the name of the book and the author.
Name of Book Author
Part Two: These items are found in your home or out in the community (but please do not go scavenger hunting out in the neighborhood without your grown-ups!).
6. A fire hydrant. What street did you find it on? _____________________________________
7. A paperclip. Tape it in the box.
8. A bottle cap. Tape it in the circle.
9. Listen to the wind or a breeze go through some trees. Write down one word you think describes that sound. ________________________________ (I got the idea for this from this post about a sound scavenger hunt inspired by Dr. Seuss. Some words kids wrote in to describe this sound were, ‘whooshy’, ‘ ‘soft’, and ‘peaceful’.)
10. Find something with a tail. What is it? ________________________
I’ve done some library instruction types of scavenger hunts in previous years and someday soon I’ll pull them out and share them here. If you’ve done library scavenger hunts, share your ideas in the comments. I’m trying to stay easy, breezy, and fun with the summer scavenging. I also wanted to tie together library space and neighborhood space in my lists. You might be interested in dipping your toe into self-directed programming at your library. A scavenger hunt is a great way to start. Type it up, print it out, and pass around copies liberally (or just leave a stack somewhere eye-catching in the library) . You don’t have to hand out prizes. Give kids who complete it a high-five if that works for you. Happy hunting!