Monday, June 04, 2012

The Ill Effects of Puppetry

Step away from the puppet. You don't have to do this.

"This" could be Summer Library Program school visits in general. The ability of these visits to increase summer involvement has been debated around the blogosphere (okay I couldn't find any more but I swear this has been an actual conversation, on listservs as well).

Me, I like visiting the schools, getting students excited about reading, and hope to see them in the summer. Though, I could easily see multiple visits throughout the year happening, too. This is only the second summer I've experienced SLP, and one may argue, the first year I'm really in the thick of it.

What a perfect time, then, to randomly spout a theory I have about SLP school visits. If this ends up working (proven by summer enrollment), great! If not, or if I'm entirely off-base or inconsiderate, please, PLEASE disregard me. After all, I'm a stupid cat!

My theory is:

There is a right way to talk to school-age children, and it does not include puppets.
Okay, well, maybe that's a generalization. Maybe a Henson-trained puppeteer could pull it off.

But otherwise? You're just talking to yourself in front of kids.
You need to talk to the kids.
Figure 2

As I've said about FIELD TRIP ADVENTURES! it's really important to have a script and know what you're going to say at school visits. Try your best not to make it gimmicky, though, because what you have to say is important. It shouldn't get lost in your whimsy.

I treat the SLP visits like a sales pitch: here's your problem; the library has a solution!
In this case, the problem is BRAIN DRAIN  which is not only totally scary when you say it in a creepy voice, but also a scientific fact. The solution is reading a little bit every day.
THEN, go into how freakin easy it is to read ten minutes a day, like how through watching 2 episodes of their favorite show they watch 18 minutes of commercials, many of which are identical and/or about dental insurance. If they have a book by their side, and read during the commercials, they staved off the BRAIN DRAIN for one more day!

Now that the students are completely terrified, it's time to talk about the Summer Reading Program. You can say whatever you want, but always come back to 2 crucial points. These are the, "if you remember nothing else, remember this" points. Say them 4 times during the presentation and make the kids repeat them, so that they're participating. This may sound excessive, but think about it: the first time you hear a song, it's easiest to remember the chorus. Whether or not you want to remember it. (Sorry, I had to. For your own good)

Here's what our kids are supposed to remember:
1) The first day of the Summer Reading Program.
2) Come to the Main, North, or South Library.

The rest of the stuff might be muddled in their brain, like the programs or how many checkmarks they need. But they remember: The first day of the Summer Reading Program; and to visit the library (even though they didn't wait till summer)!

I've seen this so far in more than one family who has visited after the visit to their school. The kids know they're supposed to come to the library! We take the opportunity to clarify the Summer Reading Program for the parents.In one instance, the parent asked to sign up for SLP, and the daughter said, "Mooommmm! Not til June 4!"


One last step to the recipe, which I believe is essential:
Find your jam.
Turn it up.
Rock out till you get back to work.

This one's mine. Feel free to use it too.

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