Guest Blogger

It’s a Sleepover at the Library — Stuffed Animal-Style!

In these times of shrinking budgets and tight schedules, it never
hurts to have a program in your tool belt that is a proven winner, low-cost, and relatively easy to pull off. This has been our experience with our Stuffed Animal Sleepover programs. Yes, that’s right! We have a sleepover at the library — but just for stuffed animals.

Sharing Books with our Stuffed Friends

We read about this idea a little over a year ago on PUBYAC, and thought we’d give it a try… and it turned out to be a super-success!

Tucking our Stuffed Friends into Bed for the Night

Basically, it works like this:  children are invited to bring their stuffed animals to the library for a bedtime storytime.   During storytime, we encourage children to help their stuffed animals listen to the stories and say the rhymes together.  As storytime comes to a close, we sing a lullaby and pass out board books for the children to read a bedtime story one-on-one with their stuffed friends.  Finally, the children tuck their animals into “bed” (I spread a couple of blankets on the floor), say goodnight, and go home.

The next day, children pick up their stuffed friends, along with a craft

Racing Book Carts in the Great Hall

item their animals “made” and a memory book of their animals’ overnight adventures in the library.   The memory book includes a link to more pictures we’ve posted on the library’s Flickr account.

Now don’t get me wrong — there is definitely some prep-work involved in this program.  Brainstorming and choosing activities for the animals to do during their sleepover, gathering props, creating name tags, making sure your camera is charged and printer is working, creating craft items — these all need to be done ahead of time.  And there is time required after the public leaves the building — posing the animals in different locations around the library, taking photos, printing out and putting together booklets, and posting photos to the library’s Flickr account does take a little bit of time.  But the payoffs are so worth it!

The first time we held this program, I was amazed by the strong

Princess Doggy and Her Memory Book

reaction we got — from both children AND their adults.  Children were excited to get their animals back, and to look at the pictures of their overnight adventures in the library.  They were very interested in seeing the different locations within the library their animals visited — one child even walked around the library with his photo-book, looking for the exact spot in which his animal’s photos were taken!  But the adults also expressed such gratitude for this program.  Now, we’ve just completed our third sleepover, and the positive reactions continue.  Stuffed animals are very special to their owners.  By showing that we cared for their stuffed friends, we also, in a way, showed that we care for the children themselves.   And we do.  We care a lot.  Just ask Princess Doggy and her friends.


Our guest blogger today is Kris Lill, a Children’s Librarian at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, IN, the coordinator of the ACPL Mock Caldecott blog, and a frequent blogger on the ACPL Kids blog.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at



  1. Lynn Hoffman

    I adore this program, and love looking at the pictures every time you do it there at ACPL. What a fun way for staff to flex their creativity, too!

    1. Kris Lill

      Thanks, Lynn!

  2. W.H. Beck

    Love this idea! We always have stuffed animal day at the school where I work. I’m thinking I can use this for our next one. Thanks!

    1. Kris Lill

      It would be great to do this in a school — have fun!

  3. Julie

    We had a super successful Stuffed Animal Sleepover, too, except for the sad fact that ONE stuffed animal was never reclaimed! :O

  4. Janina

    We did this at my library in February…here is a video I made to document it.

  5. Sarah West

    We did this at my library in February and it was a huge success. Because it was so popular we decided to do it again this summer and do a Camp Out theme. You can check out the pictures from it here: We even had them roast fake marshmallows around a fake camp fire!

  6. John

    Nice fotos Stuffed Animals! Thanks, Lynn!

  7. Rebekah

    We also did this at our library. We have had such raves about it, that we’ve made it a bi-annual event!

  8. Lynnette

    We can not wait to do this for Summer Reading this year. It is a wonderful idea and thanks for sharing it!

  9. Sarah

    This is too cute! We’re planning on doing this at my library but we’re stumped on which day of the week to schedule it. We don’t know which would be better, hosting the event later in the evening during the week or over the weekend? Any suggestions? We want to make it easy on our patrons!

    1. Kris

      I’ve found it best to hold the program the hour before the library closes. If there is a day when your library closes earlier, I would choose that day; families with young children won’t want to come to a late-night program. I’ve always held the program on a Friday evening, 5:00pm (the library closes at 6pm on Fridays). This also allows staff time to complete the photo shoot, photo upload and booklet printing at a decent hour. And then Saturdays have worked out well for families to stop in a pick up their stuffed friends.
      What has worked well for others who have held this program?

  10. Cheryl Ouellette

    I would love to know what publisher template you used for the sleepover. It’s adorable.

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