Saturday, August 30, 2008

45,000 Good Reads

Robert Munsch's Stephanie's Ponytail is one of the 45,000 good reads experience by the kids in Crescent Valley, New Brunswick's largest public housing neighbourhood.

"45,000 Good Reads" is the theme of our upcoming 2008 Storytent thanking-funders / media-event.

The number refers to the total number of books read over the past six summers (according to our Summer Reading Club stats) plus the number of books borrowed from the bookwagon over the 200+ trips we've made since December 2003.

The yearly breakdown looks like this:

- 4,000 books recorded read in 2003 Storytent program
- 4,400 books recorded read in 2004 Storytent program
- 5,694 books recorded read in 2005 Storytent program
- 4,882 books recorded read in 2006 Storytent program
- 5023 books recorded read in 2007 Storytent program
- 4,414 books recorded read in 2008 Storytent program
sub total = 28,413
- 17,224 running total from Bookwagon
- 45,637

You might notice the apparent drop-off in Storytent reading in 2008. That's a bit misleading and has a couple of causes.

One was a change in the neighbourhood. NB Housing (the provincial government sub-department responsible for public housing) is rebuilding one portion of the neighbourhood. In the early stages, this involves relocating families and tearing down the old structures. What that meant for us was declining attendance in one Storytent location.

Another cause of reduced numbers was the lowering of the average age of Storytent participants. In past years, we've mostly hosted 6 to 10 year olds, with a lesser number of younger children tagging along. This year, we hosted many more children aged 3 to 7. Kids in the younger range certainly wanted to read or be read to, but they weren't very interested in signing up for Summer Reading Club. Signing up for the SRC is optional, and we don't stress over kids who just want to read. Still, since we use our SRC stats to tally "children signed up" and "books recorded read" each summer, this year's tallies came out smaller than they might have.

Still, our weekly attendances were up over previous years. That is, although we had fewer children joining the SRC, we had more children attending per week right through to the end of the program. I suspect our number of over all participation remained somewhere around 160 - 180 kids.

In particular, two Storytent locations were more than a little busy. At one Coronation tent we recorded 36 children and 4 adults, and saw 30 or more children on three other occasions. Participation at this site never dipped below 11. From my staff notes:

30 kids at Coronation, with the wind picking up later on. I’m exhausted. Glad to see it. Glad to see it end.

By the way, Stephanie's Ponytail and two other Munsch classics, The Paperbag Princess and Mortimer, are easily the most-often read books in Storytent, with Phoebe Gilman's Jillian Jiggs close behind.

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