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.
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!
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.