Moorestown Library Summer Reading Mysteries Explained

Wondering why the Summer Reading program ends early? Or where the money comes from for all those prizes? Read on and find out.

Another season of summer reading drew to a close at the this week, and , which will be ready to claim beginning Friday, Aug. 31.

We realize this gap in the summer festivities can be frustrating for parents and children alike. Parents want to know: “Why is the program ending when there are still two weeks of summer left?” Kids want to know: “Why does it take so long to get my prize?” So we thought we’d shed a little light on the behind-the-scenes workings of our summer reading program, after the final day.

In the Children’s Summer Reading Club, students entering grades 2-6 read books at home and come to the library to describe the books to a volunteer listener. Children earn a certain number of points for each book, depending on the number of pages and their grade level. The library keeps a reading log for each child—listing when they visited—the number of books they have read, and how many points they have earned. Children who report on at least 10 books are guaranteed a gift card to at the end of the summer, but the amount of the card depends on the number of points they have earned in their reading logs. The more points earned, the more money on the gift card.

Last Saturday, children had their final chance to report on their books. When reporting concluded, the staff of the Children’s Department rushed to record all the information from more than 300 reading logs into an Excel spreadsheet. The spreadsheet calculates the percentage of the total number of points each child earned and allocates that percentage of the budgeted dollars for the child’s prize. From there, adjustments must be made manually to round the dollar amounts and to keep everything fair and reasonable. In recent years, a “house minimum” of $10 has been established. On the other end of the scale, we adjust to make sure prizes for top readers are generous without being excessive.

Once the dollar amount for each prize has been determined, an order is placed with Barnes & Noble. It takes a few days for their staff to produce that high volume of gift cards. When they arrive at the library, children’s staff give each card a customized label, alphabetizes them, and creates a spreadsheet to help us keep track when prizes are claimed. All this happens just in time for anxious children to start rushing into the library to claim their prizes and see how much their reading earned them this summer.   

Now you may be thinking, “That sounds great, but where does the money come from?”

The Friends of the Moorestown Library donate a generous sum each year to provide for a variety of special programs, including Summer Reading. All prizes are purchased exclusively with this donated money; tax dollars and library fines are not used for this purpose. Each summer, the library distributes roughly $2,500 worth of prizes through the Children’s and Teen Summer Reading programs, thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the Moorestown Library.

If Summer Reading has made a difference in your child’s life, consider joining the Friends of the Library to keep the program going strong.


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