to the Families for Literacy home page
This is a description
of the desert's Families For Literacy Festival held by the Riverside County
Library Adult Literacy Program co-sponsored with the Palm Desert Branch
- First, take a
breath. Make sure you keep your sense of humor handy and keep the word
flexible as your middle name. This is the third festival we've had,
and they do get easier each time. Plan ahead and have everything set
up the night before so you can come in fresh the day of the event. Plan
to have fun and you will.
- Choose a date
far enough in advance so you can solicit community and business support
(i.e. donations, promotions, help). Select a theme. This year our theme
was "Playing in the World of Words." Decide the length of the festival.
The first one I did was 5 hours. Way too long! This one was 3 hours
and seemed about right. It ran from 11am- 2pm with many visitors staying
after the scheduled activities were over.
- Everything was
planned to take place in the library. Enlist the support of the
branch manager and staff. Get them to buy in so they understand they're
part of the program. We divided the library into activity centers. The
community room was our "theatre" and our fantastic storyteller Angela
Lloyd performed 4 shows for 15 to 20 minutes each time. This is one
thing we paid for, but it was well worth it. The parents enjoyed her
as much as the children. We posted a banner with the performance schedule
in the library and made announcements over the public address system
prior to each show.
- We concluded each
performance with a raffle drawing for prizes. These were donated by
local businesses such as Blockbuster video coupons for free videos,
movie passes, bookstore gift certificates, ice cream from Baskin &
Robbins, passes to the museum, waterpark, tramway etc. This is one of
the things for which you need lag time, particularly if you write to
- The raffle
also provided us with the door count. Everyone got a ticket for the
drawing but had to be present to claim a prize if their number was called.
We also gave away free books to the first 150 children through the door.
That was the hook to get people to come. We actually gave away closer
to 200 books.
- In addition to
our storyteller, we also had "Kino" from PBS' Storytime. They provided
the costume, we provided the actor. They generously did not charge us
for the rental of the costume but it did cost us for the shipping both
ways. Kino was our greeter and he delighted our audience.
- In partnership
with the local Girl Scout council, we invited a special senior troop
called Hearts of Gold who made balloon animals and did face painting
in the children's storyroom. They also had a display about their literacy
program called Right To Read. (Inviting girl scouts also guarantees
you an audience.)
- We had several
crafts planned: A library passport, make and take coloring book, puppets,
etc. We also had a couple of games. All were related to books and stories.
We planned to have a large motor skill game played outside on the patio
but the weather didn't cooperate. We also had refreshments donated that
were to be enjoyed outside on the patio, but when it rained, we brought
it into the foyer of the building Girl Scout cookies and lemonade.
- This year we picked
the Wednesday of spring break so we weren't competing with the street
fair on a Saturday. We had volunteers directing traffic to alternate
parking since the lot is limited. That worked well with 4 young men
handling the directions. We also had large poster board signs.
- Most of the
volunteers came from literacy tutors. Some came from the library. We
provided lunch for all the volunteers and library staff. We ordered
and had pizza delivered. It made everyone happy and no one had to leave
- In each area,
we had books displayed about the activity clowning, face painting,
storytelling. The library passport encouraged the kids to try different
things and get a sticker on that page of the passport.
- We gave away
ribbons to everyone that said "I Pledge to Read." They could be worn
and then used as bookmarks. Big hit. With approximately 450 people in
attendance it went surprisingly well. People moved around freely and
believe it or not, we never heard a baby cry!
- Press releases
were sent to the four local television stations, the newspaper, and
a family monthly. In addition, formal personalized invitations were
sent to the media, local sponsors, and key city and library figures.
We also did a radio interview program. The ABC and NBC affiliates both
aired their reports on the festival. The daily paper published an article
and also a weekly. We got lots of bang for the buck.
- Inside, near
the circulation desk, we had a poster listing and thanking our supporters
and donors. We also had posters highlighting the activities. We took
polaroid pictures and taped them on each of the posters. Several volunteers
were given disposable cameras and took pictures as they helped.
- We are producing
a video of the festivals highlights to recruit more learners and
tutors at community awareness events. If it turns out well, we hope
to air it on public access TV.
- Remember the community
you're serving and don't be concerned with numbers. Last year we did
the festival in an underserved community in a very tiny 1500 square
foot library. Approximately, 65-70 people came and we considered it
a great success. It is lots of work, but it is a ton of fun. Give it
to the Families for Literacy home page
If you have any additions
or corrections for this link, please contact Sandy Kirkpatrick: firstname.lastname@example.org