Here at Skokie Public Library, our services to elementary and junior high schools are coordinated through our Community Engagement Department and school services librarian. We serve five public school districts, plus some additional public and parochial schools. In order to best serve their needs, our Youth Services Department plays an integral role in offering school-based programming as well.
Over the years, our staff have developed a strategy to streamline school-based services throughout the school year and across grade ranges by creating a menu of program options. The menu for our four main school-based programs, collectively named Curriculum Connections, is printed in our teacher’s guide , and we communicate with teachers, principals and other school administrators on a regular basis to ensure they know what program options are available for their students. Here’s what we offer.
Puppet Shows (Grades K-2)
During the first four months of the school year, a troupe of our librarians visits area schools to perform two puppet shows. They visit each school multiple times depending on the schedule and requests from teachers and librarians. Combining music, drama and art, the puppet shows are based on great kids' books or folktales. While most puppet shows in years past have used traditional hand puppets — both purchased and custom-made by our staff artist — visits this school year will include shadow puppet stories as well.
Road Trip Illinois and Road Trip USA (Grades 3-4)
Two of our youth staff visit classrooms in winter months for these interactive trivia events. After dividing students into groups, the library staff pose questions - about major state and national landmarks and monuments, as well as history and other facts - designed to reinforce social studies curricula in a fast-paced game show format.
The winning team always gets a prize — typically something small like a library sticker. Road Trip programs are designed for grades 3 and 4, with grade 3 programs focusing on Illinois and grade 4 programs covering a wider geographical area.
What Makes a Great Story (Grade 5)
For the older end of the elementary spectrum, this reading-focused event taps into kids’ reading experiences and school work at evaluating books. The interactive program includes ways to use these reading and critiquing skills with confidence, an ability that can impact students’ reading and writing confidence.
Summer Reads Booktalks (Grades 3-8)
Our school services and youth folks wrap up the school year by visiting interested schools to promote our curated summer reading lists. Cool Summer Reads includes 12 titles selected by a committee of library staff, while Hot Summer Reads includes 10 titles specifically selected for junior high students. Read more about Skokie Public Library's Summer Reads initiatives. 
What types of programs do you offer to your local schools during the school year? Have you created a menu of program options for your outreach endeavors?
Amy Koester is the Youth & Family Program Supervisor at Skokie Public Library.