Friday, May 5, 2017

Summer Reading Scratchies - Some New Ideas

Jess has written about using Scratch Tickets for Teen Summer Reading in the past (and her idea actually got picked up by School Library Journal!), but I (Kat) am here to write a little bit about how I've used this in my own libraries, with a few variations on Jess's brilliant theme.

If you read the article we linked above, you will see how Jess set things up. In a library of that size (over 35,000 people in her town!) it was phenomenal. In my town, it was a little bit too much. I scaled back a lot, and it worked well for me.

The Basics

If you're new to the idea of Summer Reading Scratch Tickets, here's the basic idea:
Instead of trying to get teens to sign up for things, you hand out homemade scratch tickets (I usually call them "scratchies") to anyone in grades 6-12. Teens will scratch off their ticket and either instantly win a prize, or write their name on a non-winning ticket and be entered to win a big raffle prize at the end of the summer. Participants must write their name on the ticket to claim their prize or enter the raffle, so you have a count of how many people participated right there, without having to get the teens to sign up for something (which, in my experience, they don't want to).

How I Changed It

Jess had categories of tickets; one prize could only be won by checking out a nonfiction book; another was for graphic novels. I had one ticket. Check out *something* and you get a scratchie - one per person, per day. Want to try again to win that prize you have your eye on? Come back tomorrow and you can get another ticket! I am also planning for this summer to give out a ticket to any teens that come to programs.

There's a whole tutorial in our other article about how to paint the stickers so you can scratch them off. I was lazy busy and bought a roll of 1,000 scratchable stickers from Amazon.

3/4 of the tickets I made were instant winners. These were split fairly evenly between candy, gift cards to local places (free ice cream cones and mini golf games), and a choice of selection from the prize box (summer reading incentives, like water bottles, tote bags, phone chargers, and the like). I also made specific tickets for random medium-sized prizes (such as a 5 pound gummy bear, and some of the nicer donated gift cards). You had to scratch the ticket that said "Winner! Giant Gummy Bear!" to win that specific prize. It kept some of the kids coming back time and again because they really wanted something.

1/4 of the tickets said, "Sorry, not a winner!" and were used to pull the end-of-summer Grand Prize winners.

Making the Tickets

Jess made a template that has served us well (right-click to save!); if you print it in grayscale on colored cardstock, it looks amazing, and the circles are where you type in what the prize is (or, "Sorry! Not a winner!"). The circles can be covered up by the 1" round scratch stickers that I linked above.

Originally, the square on the right was for the category - ficiton, nonfiction, graphic novel, etc. I used it to put the name and address of my library.  The blank space in the middle is where you write NAME:  PHONE:  EMAIL:  and/or whatever disclaimer information you want to make sure is on each ticket.

Last summer, mine looked like this:


Prize Ideas

As for prizes: can I just say, Cape Cod is amazing? Since it's a vacation wonderland, there are touristy-type things *everywhere.* I sent out a letter requesting donations to various local businesses, and got a flotilla of coupons for free mini golf games, free ice cream cones, free bowling games, free arcade tokens, and gift cards for restaurants and other local attractions. The local candy store gave us a huge reusable bag full of boxes of candy (and nicely told us to "come on back when you want more!") We went through a lot of prizes, but we got a lot of really wonderful feedback.

The grand prizes I made were gift bags including a lot of the summer reading incentives, some candy, and $25 gift cards to They were very popular.

I'm in a different library this year, without the vast abundance of places to get free stuff. I am still planning on candy and incentives, and am sniffing around for places to get coupons for ice cream cones and such. I'm planning to ask my new T.A.B. (once they start meeting in a couple weeks) to help me pick the grand prizes - but probably gift cards again, because everyone loves a gift card.

How It Went

Teen Summer Reading 2015: 4 teens.
Teen Summer Reading 2016: 86 teens.
My friends, this is an increase of almost 2,000%. (I felt like a library rockstar.)
The adults wanted scratch tickets. The kids wanted scratch tickets. Teens I've never seen before came out of the woodwork and got scratch tickets. SCRATCHIES FOR THE WIN!

I know this idea has really taken off in the last few years, and we would love to hear your variations. Did you like it? Did it work for you? What did you do differently? Tell us in the comments here, on our Facebook page, or via Twitter.

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