Blogger Paige Bentley-Flannery

Creative Play at the Library

Stuffed Animal Sleepover Puppet Show photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery
Stuffed Animal Sleepover Puppet Show – photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

We encourage creative play every day at the library.

In the heat of the summer, children are participating in summer reading programs at libraries around the world.   Movement is all around with outside events – dancing outside the library, Pajama Party story time on the lawn, Story Walks, Make: Hacky Sacks, Shakespeare Theater Clinics and more fun interactive programs that encourage play at the library.

At our stuffed animal sleepover event last week, the stuffed animals enjoyed a noisy puppet show staring dinosaur and lion.   Puppets shows, readers theater and plays are always a favorite at the library.  I’ve enjoyed watching and participating in a variety of readers theater including the Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems and a selection of Fractured Fairy Tales – so creative, funny and loud.
Create your own! Swim like a fish in Swim! Swim! By James Prolmos and Lerch, look for your hat in I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen or pretend to ride a bike with How to Lose a Lemur by Frann Preston-Gannon.

Explore a selection of favorite children’s plays and other children’s books for a fun summer program or activity at your library: 
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices From A Medieval Village by Amy Laura Schlitz
James and the Giant Peach: A Play by Richard R. George
Let’s Play in the Forest While the Wolf Is Not Around by Claudia Rueda
Pig Has a Plan by Ethan Long (or any of the I Like to Read series)
You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You Very Short Tall Tales to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman

Play! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery
Play! photo by Paige Bentley-Flannery

Poetry books are perfect for movement and play during the summer.  So many favorites!   Start with a classic, Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices by Paul Fleischman and flutter like an insect.

Do you have a favorite picture book that you’ve turned into a play, puppet show or library program?


Readers Theater: A “How to Guide” from ALSC
ALSC Programs for school-aged kids: Drama and Performance Programs
Takeaways From a Perfect Library-Theatre Partnership By Melanie Baron 
From The National Children’s Book and Literacy Alliance: Watch a Readers Theater Performance
READERS THEATER: The Story of the Old Sage by Grace Lin
Scholastic Guide: Teach Reading by Putting on a Play
Taking It to the Stage With Readers Theater by Marybeth Kozikowski (amazing article)

As a young girl, my summers were filled with summer camps and outdoor activities. I can still picture the invisible and imaginary land we created on stage at the Seattle Children’s Poncho Theater and the shadow puppets I made at the Parks and Recreation Camp.

Readers Theater Videos that will make you smile:

Readers Theater 2009 The Stinky Tofu Man – KCBS TV
Reader’s Theater – Don’t Let the Pigeon Ride the Bus by staff from Albany Public Library 
Reader’s Theater – Huntley Area Public Library of “Web Files”
Reader’s Theater – Frederick Library

Do you have a video of your library theater program? Readers theater? Puppet show? Please share the link in the comments below.

Paige Bentley-Flannery is a Community Librarian at Deschutes Public Library. For over fifteen years–from Seattle Art Museum to the New York Public Library to the Deschutes Public Library-Paige’s passion and creative style for art, poetry and literature have been combined with instructing, planning, and providing information. Paige is currently serving on the ALSC Notable Children’s Book Committee, 2015 – 2017. She is a former Chair of the ALSC Digital Content Task Force and member of the ALSC Great Websites Committee.





One comment

  1. Roxie

    There’s a cool new way of telling stories and using plays combining analog and digital storytelling called KIWiStorybooks (Kid Interactive Walk-in Storybooks). These are giant interchangable “stage sets” along with interactive apps (with games, Q&A, video-making, sounds, etc), plays (Readers Theater), skits and curriculum. There are nine themes… studies have shown that children learn better, and stay engaged, when things are scaled or sized to them.

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