On Saturday, we held a StoryMob. What, you may ask, is a StoryMob? The creators of this fabulous idea say, “StoryMobs are where great kids’ books meet flash mobs with a dash of Mardi Gras thrown in.” I would add a touch of Halloween, a pinch of theatre, and a whole lot of fun to that description. We did the book Green Eggs and Ham, which was a great selection for so many reasons: lots of copies of the books around, generations of families know and love it, and there’s plenty of opportunity for interaction and expansion. And expand we did! Toronto-based StoryMobs provided us with the script, suggested actions, and prop ideas. You can find the script on this page, which I created to gather all the details on our StoryMob.
Ok—so how does it work? Basically, volunteers sign up to read a page. The exact time and location is kept secret until 24 hours before the event, though we did say which town and an approximate time. Everyone gathers before the StoryMob to practice, and then you go to your chosen location, and read the book. Like a flashmob, only with a book. And you put that book reading on steroids—add props, actions, and a whole crowd of people joining in on the chorus and you’ve got a StoryMob.
How much work was it to do this? Honestly, it was a lot of organizing. I don’t have an automated email list set-up, so I did all that manually (though I have since learned some tricks in Gmail that will help in the future). Luckily, I partnered with ValleyFamilyFun, a website & email list run by the super-connected Laura Churchill Duke. She did all the promo and press releases, and got a lot of the readers on board, including local politicians, the mayor of the town, drama teachers, and the local children’s theatre. Partnerships are key – because if people don’t hear about it and show up, your mob is not going to work. The folks at StoryMobs did a bit of hand-holding with me, including a couple of phone calls to chat about how to get this thing going; their experience was invaluable. If you are thinking about trying this, you need to contact them (and get their permission to use their brand, etc.) I also contacted the local independent bookstore and they brought in extra copies of the book and promoted it in-store. Spread the word every way you can—but social media was the main venue for us. I actually heard about StoryMobs on Twitter, so it works!
There are program extension possibilities – we held a prop-making craft day, which was lots of fun and resulted in some great extensions for the story. You could feature the book at storytime the week before, or perhaps do some class visits and read the story and get excitement built that way – I’m going to make a Green Eggs and Ham box for storytime and re-use the props.
I could probably go on and on about this, but I won’t (since this is a blog post and not a book), but let me just say this: I have not had this much fun with a book in a long time. Green Eggs and Ham has a special place in my life (it was the first book I read by myself); seeing over 150 people gathered to celebrate a book rates right up there with watching crowds of kids gather at midnight to buy the last Harry Potter book. Yes, it was worth every minute I spent on it. I would do it again, in a heartbeat. And I just might…