Thursday, June 30, 2005

Summer Reading Program: More Expensive, Less Productive

Our library doesn't have a regular Children's Day. They only read books to children during the Summer Reading Program. We just finished this year's program. It only lasted four weeks. This is the third year in a row that our daughters have participated, and the quality is definately going downhill.

Two years ago the program had two months of weekly meetings where they read children books or had local educators deliver short lectures; the most memorable lecturer was the man from Wildlife and Fisheries who brought along a newborn alligator for "Show & Tell". The only cost incurred was for some candy, which I felt they could have done without.

Last year they read stories and had a local youth group act our skits to go along with the stories. The program was supposed to last two months but got cut short after the first month because someone had made the mistake of hiring the Bad Magician to perform and that used up all the money.

This year the program was only one month long, and consisted of one performance by the Bad Magician and three circus-themed performances by local youth groups. The first meeting had the youths doing bad clown imitations. They didn't take into account that young children are terrified of clowns. Our four year-old screamed for 12 hours after that show!

But this year no librarian read any books to them. The only person who read them a book the entire Summer Reading Program was one of the young "clowns", who wisely elected to read to the children instead of embarrassing herself by doing a poor clown act. At the same time there were complaints about how much this year's program cost.

Excuse me, but they're supposed to be reading books to children. How much does it cost to have a librarian sit in a chair and read children's books for an hour? You have to pay what, an extra hour's wages to another librarian to man the desk during that time? Instead they're blowing increasing amounts of money on "entertainment" and spending less time encouraging reading. Our kids get "entertained" enough. They need to be encouraged to read.

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