New Mexico State Library

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Summer Reading: Weekly Prizes That Rocks!

rockFrom Harmony Phillips – YS Librarian in Silver City, NM: 

Last year’s 2013 Summer Reading Program theme, Dig Into Reading, offered itself to many thematic directions. Our Library took the geology direction and found a way to tap into children’s love of collecting and rocks.

I created a color-coded reading log for the duration of our program (8 weeks) which corresponded to the color of the stone they’d receive that week. Once they got a weeks’ worth of reading done, they could come in to choose their own rock-of-the-week as their prize. If children kept on reading through the summer, they’d end up with a collection of eight tumbled stones:

            • amethyst
            • aventurine
            • tiger eye
            • rose quartz
            • carnelian
            • sodalite
            • blue lace agate
            • banded agate

Children were given the above list of stone names and pictures and were asked to use it to figure out what stone they were getting and to anticipate what rock might come next. I put the stones in dark bags and let children pick their own stones, which seemed to give them a sense of ownership.

My favorite part of this process was watching the children’s eyes light up when they pulled a smooth, colorful stone out of the bag. They were excited and so were their parents, who gave me positive feedback and thanks for not giving them “junk”.

This theme also gave me the opportunity to involve the local gem and mineral store and society in the summer program. The store owner helped find a good mix of tumbled stones while she was at a gem show and was also very helpful in answering any of my rock questions. The gem and mineral society members were thrilled that rocks were going to be a part of our program. Many brought in rock donations and volunteered their time during the summer.

Overall, this prize method was a positive one. I recommend trying it out if you’re able. This year I hope to continue the collection element with the science theme…any suggestions?

Harmony Phillips
Children’s/Youth Librarian
Silver City Public Library
Silver City, NM

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