We want to catch you!
May might mean spring flowers to most people, but to us at Boyd County Public Library, it means we get to be spies.
In what is fast becoming one of our favorite times of the year (we have many), Get Caught Reading Month is a time for BCPL staff to go on the hunt in the community to find people reading – anywhere and everywhere.
The month-long observance has been around since 1999, when the Association of American Publishers launched it to help communities promote a love of reading. BCPL started celebrating it three years ago.
What we do is simple: Every day in May, we send a staff member out into the community, armed with an “I Got Caught Reading by BCPL” t-shirt and a camera. We go to parks, ball fields, the mall, laundromats – anywhere folks might be reading a book, ebook, magazine or newspaper. When we find someone, we politely introduce ourselves and explain to the reader that they have been “caught.” Then we give them the t-shirt and snap their picture.
Last year, the campaign had gotten so popular we had people calling or texting staff to alert them to where they would be reading that day. We appreciate that, but the idea is for it to be a random quest.
BCPL is one of hundreds of libraries and schools nationwide that have embraced the Get Caught Reading campaign – all in different ways. Many schools will give students extra time each day for leisure reading, and then take pictures of the students “caught reading” and put them on posters.
Here’s a story from Brenda Gruber, a reading specialist working with 2nd and 3rd graders in Mamaroneck, NY, about how she has used the campaign, and the difference it makes.
“My school supports a highly diverse population. Many of our students come from households where Spanish is the only language spoken. Some arrive very early and wait for the school day to begin. Recently, a young boy named Max caught my eye. Lying on the same bench early every morning, his expression grim, I would repeatedly find him immersed in the pages of a book.
“The next day, I quietly took a photograph of him,” Gruber continued. “And suddenly, with newly opened eyes, I started noticing children of all reading levels – some struggling with the challenge of incorporating two languages in to their lives – experiencing moments throughout the day where they were carried away by a piece of text.”
Gruber created a three-dimensional bulletin board of candid shots of students reading.
“One early morning, I walked Max over to the bulletin board and showed him his photo. A beautiful smile transformed his face. ‘That’s me!,’ he said. I smiled and told him, ‘You were caught reading! How great is that?’”
Gruber said Max can still be found on the same bench every morning, with his nose in a book. Now, though, he looks up and grins.
That’s the whole idea of Get Caught Reading Month – to recognize and encourage leisure reading. If your child isn’t old enough yet to enjoy reading on his or her own, then reading to them is a great first step.
Research indicates that early language experience actually stimulates a child’s brain to grow, and that reading to children gives them a huge advantage when they start school.
So, wherever you are reading this month, we will be looking for you.
This is one time it’s OK to get caught!