Judy here, rejoicing that after a long, wet winter spring has finally arrived in the Pacific Northwest. Azaleas and rhododendrons are blooming. Later this week we're supposed to get a tease of warm summer weather. But, as a children's librarian, the harbinger of spring and summer was my annual trek to the schools to promote the summer reading program--something I miss in my current job as a substiute librarian. But what do summer reading programs have to do with authors promoting their books to libraries--especially those of us who write for adults? Today we'll look at an often overlooked promotional opportunity--the library's summer reading program.
The summer reading program is a longstanding tradition in the public library. Studies demonstrate that these programs help children maintain their reading skills during the long summer break. But summer reading programs are no longer limited to children. With increased emphasis on literacy, many libraries have expanded their summer programs to include versions for teens and adults.
Originally each library came up with an individual summer reading theme. But in recent years, due to budget and time constraints, libraries increasingly pool their expertise and resources, sharing themes and programming ideas. Thanks to a group of Minnesota librarians, the nationwide Cooperative Summer Library Program was born. Although some libraries continue to design their own programs, this national program is growing. A committee selects the theme and compiles a notebook of artwork, booklists, and programming ideas for libraries to adapt to their needs and interests. Visit the Cooperative Summer Library Program Web site at www.cslpreads.org for more information about the program as well as a list of upcoming themes. This Web site also includes a list of adult summer reading programs and programming ideas.
Regardless of whether you write for children, teens, or adults, here are some ways to promote your books through the summer reading program:
1) Determine library's summer reading theme. Does your library participate in the national program? If not, ask the library about their theme.
2) Brainstorm possible programming ideas that tie in with the theme and your book. Be creative! The "adult summer reading programs" section on the CSLP Web site (see above) will spark your imagination. I admit this year's theme, "Catch the Reading Bug," is a bit of a stretch for those of us who haven't written a book about bugs. Besides, we're a bit late for this year's theme. But, no author will have an excuse in 2009! The summer reading theme for children will be "Be Creative @ Your Library," and the teen program--"Express Yourself @ the Library." What an opportunity to present workshops on writing!
3) Plan ahead. Librarians usually plan their summer reading programming schedules in January and February. If you've written a children's book related to the theme, send a copy of your book to the library. Libraries prepare theme-related booklists--both print copies and on their Web sites.
4) Contact the library. Send a flyer or postcard to libraries. Include your book and contact information as well as program details. Fellow CAN blogger, Jill Nelson's "To Catch a Thief" series fit last year's mystery theme, "Get a Clue @ the Library." Jill sent a postcard, with information about her series on one side of the card and her "mystery" program idea on the other, to libraries in her state.
So, spend a little time before January designing programs to help children "Be Creative @ Your Library" next summer.
***Speaking of children and libraries, this is Children's Book Week. Have you read a children's book lately? Better yet, have you read one to a child?