I've expressed my frustration with SLP school visits before--they stress me out BIG TIME, take a huge toll on my workload, and my data shows that they don't have much effect in terms of SLP sign-up.
Despite my well-laid plans for this year, I ended up making the decision not to do SLP visits to the schools this year. The reasons were many, and I had an awesome discussion about it over Twitter with several other librarians, which led Marge Loch-Wouters (who I'm delighted to call one of my stealth mentors) to write about SLP visits over on her blog, Tiny Tips for Library Fun
Sara, at Bryce Don't Play, also hit on some of the issues I've had with presenting SLP as well--I've definitely been struggling with 'The Way SLP Visits Have Always Been Done' ie: costumes and puppets. (I LOVE costumes and I LOVE doing puppets with the kids--but that just doesn't fly or seem authentic when you're trying to convince the fifth graders that the program isn't just for the first graders).
(I need to learn from Marge how to not write a book with each blog post...sigh).
Last summer I did collect data on what schools had the most participation so I could compare that with my school visits. And, as I suspected, there's little or no correlation. Regardless of whether I visited, the biggest factors were location (nearness to library) and the school's own library situation. Unsurprisingly, schools that had dedicated library staff had kids who were more likely to participate in the program. Readers gonna read.
In my geographically spread out library population, I've often considered that it doesn't matter how excited I get the kids about the program, if they can't get to the library they can't participate. It's the parents I have to find.
So with that in mind, when I was invited to participate in the City's Healthy Way Walk (booths and giveaways along the new trail around the lake to encourage families to get out and walk), I said "YES!"
I had FORTY FIVE kids sign up, fifteen of which were teens. MANY of whom said they'd never doen the program before. Let me put that into perspective for you: last year I had a total of 275 kids, 42 of which were teens (yes, small numbers overall, but steadily growing each year I've been doing this).