One of my favorite annual programs at the library is our Stuffed Animal Sleepover. This special storytime gives kids a chance to play the role of caregiver as they lead their stuffed animal friends through an evening storytime. Then they tuck their friends into bed and leave their stuffed animals to spend the night at the library.
After the library closes, the real fun begins. The stuffed animal friends are photographed throughout the library having a variety of adventures. They have made s’mores on the library plaza, visited the juvenile storage books, checked out the teen department, and had their own LEGO club just to name a few.
The following morning, kids can pick up their friends along with a picture book of the adventures the stuffed animals had during their sleepover.
I love this program because it encourages independence as our young attendees become the grownups to their stuffed animal friends. They are encouraged to lead their stuffed friend through our storytime rhymes and songs and they have an opportunity to share a board book with their stuffed animal. Often, as the kids are tucking their stuffed animals in for the night, I hear whispers of “I love you” and “Be good” or “Have fun.”
It is also just a lot of creative fun for us librarians to come up with different activities for the stuffed animals to do during the sleepover. It is great to see the delight on kids’ faces when they come to pick up their stuffed animals and as they look through the book to see what their stuffed friend did.
As great as this program is for fostering independence and pretend play in our young attendees, we have had some unexpected outcomes from this program as well. We have received thank you letters from some of our stuffed animal guests. How wonderful it is to see that this program had such an impact on some of our guests that they wrote us thank you letters. What makes it even better is that the letters are written, not by the child participant but by the stuffed animal guest, extending the idea that we encourage in our sleepover program, pretending that stuffed animals can be autonomous. What amazing feedback to see kids using their imaginations and literacy skills to let us know how much the program meant to them.
Working in a public library, sometimes it is hard to know what kind of impact we make on the kids we serve. But, every so often, we see the effect of the effort we put into our jobs and it makes all of our hard work worthwhile.
(Above photos courtesy of the Allen County Public Library)
Our guest blogger today is Katie Brege. Katie works as a Children’s Librarian at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is passionate about process art programs and any programming that encourages kids to think creatively. You can contact her at email@example.com.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.
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.
This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: III. Programming Skills.