I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts about how Reading Rewards can be used in Youth Libraries for a while, so when I noticed ‘Gulf Beaches Library’ in the Reading Rewards ‘Top Groups of the Day‘ almost every day this week, I decided to contact their administrator to see how they were getting on, and maybe get a little feedback.

I got an almost immediate answer, and wanted to share the lovely note with you. I am so excited about this story of how Reading Rewards is being used (very successfully so far!) by Florida’s Gulf Beaches Library:

“This year, I was very excited and a little nervous to see what would happen when Gulf Beaches Library went up and running on Reading-Rewards.com. I had printouts available about reading prizes, but this year I hoped to use Reading Rewards to manage summer reading logs.

In the past, I’ve relied both on in-house designed and on professional promotional sheets, but I was never satisfied. Both systems meant  a herd of kids coming at me just before a packed program, all of them needing to have their logs stamped.   No matter how cute the sticker or the stamp, I couldn’t spend any real time with any child. It was all rush, rush, rush.
When I explored Reading Rewards, I realized that I’d be able to view their reading daily AND they would be able to view each others, which might lead to a nice bit of competition, AND exchange opinions about books they were reading.

I created a group, naming it simply, Gulf Beaches Library, loaded up pictures of prizes available in the reading rewards store (RR Store), and printed up some publicity on the site.
Despite the info I handed out, 90% of my young users are patrons I signed up myself. That process is super easy – before my last two programs, I had teen volunteers doing it.

I can log onto www.reading-rewards.com and see exactly what books kids are reading, how much they’ve read, who’s tops today (I seem to have two kids competing) and, what I love best, read their book reviews.
I’m writing this two weeks after our Gulf Beaches Library group started, so it’s way too soon for me to say what the end of the summer’s reading will bring, but so far we have 50 members, and reading time logged seems to be mushrooming.  The kids love the feature of choosing their avatars!  Who knew!  I love getting the emails when kids make purchases. (Raffle tickets were a great tip.)

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owl

Last year, instead of handing out a lot of little incentives each week, I decided to set a group goal of sponsoring Winter the Dolphin, a young tailless dolphin who lives in a local aquarium. If we read a certain number of books, the Friends of the Library would fund us. The kids were all for it, but the bookkeeping process was awful. This year, we’re going to adopt a local wounded owl from a bird sanctuary. Our reading goal is 60,000 minutes, and we are zooming towards it effortlessly!

Everything about www.reading-rewards.com seems very self-explanatory.  One small thing:  I find the RR miles a tiny bit confusing.  Why not just call them minutes? That’s what they are.

I was amazed how eager the kids were over those avatars.  Some signed up just for those, and they seemed so goofy to me, a weird mix of Star Wars, Spongebob Squarepants, and weird cats!

I don’t know if this was your brain child or what, but I am THOROUGHLY enjoying it.  And it’s JUST THE BEGINNING.  Next year all these parents are going to come in and say, “When can we sign up!”

You’re the best!

Travis Sherman”

Thank you so much for your lovely note, Travis!!! I am so pleased you and your young patrons are enjoying using the site, and that it is helping you focus on the kids and their reading rather than administering their reading logs.

I do have to explain the avatars, though… :-) I created the site with my 2 boys in mind, and at the time, they were both very much into Star Wars and SpongeBob. As for the crazy cats, they just made us all giggle. I suppose my ‘collection’ needs a bit of an update, but it is funny how the kids seem to enjoy them nevertheless! I agree it is a goofy collection…

As for RR Miles, they are the site’s ‘currency’ for rewards. They are not *exactly* minutes, because kids can only earn a maximum of 90 RR Miles per day by reading, even though technically they may be reading more… They can, however, earn bonus points (RR Miles) by finishing their books (10 RR Miles), and reviewing them (10 RR Miles).

I cannot wait to follow your progress and watch you successfully adopt your owl. What a fantastic idea! I hope you will keep us informed of your progress. Best of luck to you and your young patrons, and Happy Reading!