“We’d love for you to appear at our end-of-the year assembly. There will be 300 kids representing kindergarten through 5th grade, and we’ve slotted 20 minutes for you to present. Thanks!”
I’ve been on the receiving end of these generous offers from principals. I’ll be honest with you – I find it challenging. 20 minutes is a long time to keep that large and diverse of group engaged. I do have some tricks up my sleeve, but I’m not a magician. I tell a good story, but I would never put myself in the leagues with professional storytellers. I sing (badly) at storytime, but toddlers are a much more forgiving audience than 9 year-olds.
My solution? Let the kids be the stars of the show! (Or, to put a more cynical spin on it – make the kids do the work for you.)
I wrote a series of brief scripts describing very popular and easily recognizable children’s books. I call up a series of student volunteers, give them some simple props, and ask them to read aloud the scripts. The kids in the audience have to guess the book. And guess what – they always do!
A few hints before we begin: the use of a microphone makes this much easier. You might have a student volunteer who gets stage fright or struggles a bit with reading. Don’t make a big deal out of it – let the kids hold the props and take over the reading duties yourself. Keep it light and fun, and the kids will follow your lead.
So let’s start the show…
Librarian: “I know (insert school name here) is full of great readers. But I want to see just how well you know your books. I’m going to need volunteers (of course, every kid’s hand starts waving wildly) to describe a popular book. Some of these books you loved as little kids, and some of them you love now. Audience – when you know what book we’re describing, raise your hand. Don’t shout the answer until I ask you to do so.”
Volunteer #1- kindergartener
Prop – “Cat in the Hat” Hat
On cold, wet days when mothers take leave
I make messes like you wouldn’t believe
I have help from my friends Thing 1 and Thing 2
And I know lots of tricks and games to show you
Who am I?
Answer: Cat in the Hat
Volunteer #2 – 1st grader
Prop – Banana (I use play food. If you’re brave and want to use a real banana, be my guest.)
The Man in the Yellow Hat takes good care of me, even though I sometimes get in a little bit of trouble. I love bananas, and I have a long curly tail. Who am I?
Answer: Curious George
Volunteer #3 – 2nd grader
Prop – Cheese (again, I use play food.)
I live in New Mouse City, and I work at a newspaper called the Rodent Gazette. My absolute favorite food in the entire world is cheese. Who am I?
Answer: Geronimo Stilton
Volunteer #4 – 3rd grader (girl)
Prop – Globe
My brother Dan and I travel around the world to try to be the first to solve a family mystery. Speaking of family, our family tree has some pretty famous names. Ever heard of Benjamin Franklin or Isaac Newton? I’m from what series of books?
Answer: 39 Clues
Volunteer #5 – 4th grader
Prop – Ink Pen
You may think I’m just holding a pen, but you would be surprised at what this thing can do. I attend a pretty awesome camp for kids like myself. My favorite color is blue. Who am I?
Answer: Percy Jackson
Volunteer #6 – 5th grader
Prop – Toy egg
Middle school can be a drag. My older brother is such a pain. My dad wants me to be a jock, but I would rather hang out on the couch and play video games. I avoid touching cheese, and I didn’t do a good job of caring for an egg in health class. I am from what series of books?
Answer: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Want some more options? Here are some bonus scripts:
Prop – sunglasses, feather boa
Ooh la la! I love parties and frilly dresses. Everything sounds better when you say it in French. I like to wear lots of accessories and use big words. Who am I?
Answer: Fancy Nancy
Prop – Harry Potter glasses
I study wizardry at Hogwarts. I have a lightning bolt scar on my forehead. I love playing Quidditch, and I miss my pet owl Hedwig terribly. Who am I?
Answer: Harry Potter
Try your hand at writing some of your own, have fun, and let the kids be shining stars!