Transliteracy in your Summer Reading Program

It’s that time of year again when Children’s Librarians in public libraries all across the nation are busy making their plans for the summer reading program. You remember those, right? Read 10 books and get a cheap prize like a READ pencil made in China?  Aw c’mon,  everyone has those fond memories, nostalgic for the ‘good old days’ when the public library was all about BOOKS!
I’d like to share some ideas about ways to incorporate Transliteracy into your library’s summer reading program. Or at least share with you how we are trying to do it at MPOW.
When I started at my library a few years ago, I sat down with the Children’s Librarians and we talked about what the goal of the summer reading program (SRP) was. I wanted us to step back from the traditions and examine the core values we desired in an SRP. We agreed that we wanted it to be about reading, sure, but also about creativity, discovery and FUN. So, we set out to restructure our program to focus on those elements and embrace multiple literacies. At the time, I had never even heard the term Transliteracy. Yet, what we came up with actually supports it! We created a Passport that is filled with about 30 Reading Quests (though not all quests are actually about reading). Quests are activities that ask kids to read, think and create through various platforms. Children record their answers and ideas in their very own mini Library passport. Over the last 2 years Quests have included:

  • picture of child's drawingRead a book set in the future (read)
  • What is the coolest invention of your lifetime so far and why? (write)
  • Draw a futuristic car and name it (draw)*
  • Draw a map of your bedroom. Be sure to include a key (draw – spatial)
  • Take a picture of yourself holding your favorite book this summer and email it to the Children’s Library (digital)
  • Watch a movie about a different time period (visual)
  • Use Google Translate to translate the first line of the book you’re reading into another language (digital)

*in case you’re interested, the cars of the future will have ice cream machines in them, if kids have anything to say about it.  

And so on. Some quests could be done many different ways like Find out when the town of Darien was founded. Some kids read it on the town marker sign, some went to Town Hall, some looked it up on Wikipedia, some IM’d a Librarian – all kinds of different ways to answer! When kids had completed Quests, we stamped their passports and entered them into raffle drawings. The kids wrote and drew in their passports all summer long and the more Quests they completed, the more chances they had to win in raffle drawings for prizes. Instead of spending a ton of money on cheap prizes, we spent our money on prizes they would be willing to compete for – iPod Shuffles, Flip video cameras and this year, an iPad! Everyone got a free book prize just for singing up and we had other ways to win prizes throughout the summer.

The program as we run it now has been a HUGE success. The parents have raved about how their kids are eager to participate, the family can participate together or the kids can go alone. Each family is different. It also levels the playing field. A 3rd grader can zip through series books lickety-split while a 5th grader may take all summer to get through a dense chapter book. With the passport, kids can imagine and create at whatever level is right for them.

We also ask the kids to write reviews and tag items in our catalog (SOPAC). We’ve gotten our school librarians to help us spread the word and all the kids have been shown how to do this simple activity. We’ve shown them how they can use tags to create custom reading lists and ask them to write reviews in the catalog in order to receive an invitation to our finale event where they get to meet a popular author and get an autographed copy of his/her book.

For kids who couldn’t come into the library to check in, they could enter their quests online through a simple form we created using WuFoo to be entered into raffle drawings. I think our web portion of the program has much room for improvement, but sometimes you just have to make do with what you’ve got!

You know who has a GREAT summer reading website that also incorporates the ideas we talk about here? The NYC Summer Reading website. They have the traditional elements of summer reading available digitally, but also include elements of social media and gaming through the use of avatars, the ability to “Like” another child’s review and win badges. I see this activity as embracing a few literacies beyond simple traditional print literacy and have been impressed with it’s first year out and will watch to see how it evolves.

Summer Reading Programs are a great way to experiment with Transliteracy. What does your program look like? Would kids want to participate or do they only do it because their moms make them?

YOUmedia, Coming to a City Near You

The MacArthur Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced plans to create 30 new youth learning labs in libraries and museums nationwide. These labs will be modeled on YOUmedia, an innovative digital space for teens, at the Chicago Public Library.

The competition application process, which will include a request for proposals, will be announced in 2011. Check back with Spotlight regularly for stories and updates.

“This partnership helps to advance IMLS efforts to make libraries and museums places for 21st century learning.  Projects like YOUmedia are pioneering efforts that use research and evidence to demonstrate how our nation’s libraries and museums can be powerful and innovative spaces for young people’s out-of-school learning,” said Marsha L. Semmel, IMLS acting director.

“Utilizing YOUmedia has redefined who I am as a person,” says Jabari Mbwelera. “I knew I wanted to do something with audio. But I didn’t have the skills or the tools that I needed to do what I wanted to do.” Mentors at YOUmedia helped Jabari gain those skills, and he and his friends have sparked each other’s creativity. Today, Jabari is on his way to college to major in audio engineering. “So yeah, it’s really changed my life,” he says.

YOUMedia: Innovate to Educate

Youth Learning Labs Modeled on Chicago’s YOUmedia to Expand Across the Country

YOUmedia, Preparing Children for a Transliterate World

YOUmedia is a joint venture between the Chicago Public Library and Digital Youth Network, the YOUmedia expansion is funded by federal stimulus dollars, the City of Chicago and private investment from theMacArthur Foundation and the Chicago Community Trust.

YOUmedia is an innovative, 21st century teen learning space housed at the Chicago Public Library’s downtown Harold Washington Library Center. YOUmedia was created to connect young adults, books, media, mentors, and institutions throughout the city of Chicago in one dynamic space designed to inspire collaboration and creativity.

High school age teens engaging with YOUmedia can access thousands of books, over 100 laptop and desktop computers, and a variety of media creation tools and software, all of which allow them to stretch their imaginations and their digital media skills. By working both in teams and individually, teens have an opportunity to engage in projects that promote critical thinking, creativity, and skill-building.

Mentors from Digital Youth Network as well as Chicago Public Library librarians lead workshops to help teens build their skills and create digital artifacts – from songs to videos to photography to blogging. Teens learn how to use a variety of technology and digital equipment, including still and video cameras, drawing tablets, and video and photo editing software. YOUmedia also provides an in-house recording studio featuring keyboards, turntables, and a mixing board.

Earlier this month The MacAuthor Foundation highlighted plans to expand the program –  YOUmedia Program Builds On Success at Downtown Library, Expands to Underserved Chicago Neighborhoods

Now, just over a year after its launch, YOUmedia is expanding to branch libraries in three underserved communities: Pilsen, Englewood and Humboldt Park. The first two locations are scheduled to open this winter, while the Humboldt Park space will be housed in a new library that will open its doors in summer 2011.

Description: YOUmedia, an innovative 21st century learning space for teens, is located at the Harold Washington Library Center in downtown Chicago. The first-of-its-kind 5,500 square foot place is home to thousands of books, laptop and desktop computers and a variety of media tools and software, including a recording studio. Because of its ability to successfully engage young people, YOUmedia was recently recognized by President Obama, and has inspired the creation of 30 similar hands-on learning centers across the country.

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