Blogger Chelsey Roos

Programs for Gratitude

Gratitude feels a little hard to come by this year. Maybe it’s just me. Normally at this time, I’d be prepping for programs to put on during Thanksgiving break. But programs around the holiday can be tricky. COVID restrictions might have changed how your library is able to program (it has for my system), and you might be short-staffed (from vacations, illness, or disaster service work). And that’s not even to mention the racism and colonialism involved in the holiday’s history.

For these reasons, here are some programs (passive, with low staff involvement, and the ability to socially-distance) that you can do to celebrate thankfulness and gratitude.

The Thankful Tree

After the last eighteen months, we could all use a chance to celebrate what we’re thankful for. Build a tall brown tree out of butcher paper along an empty wall and set out a large stack of die-cut leaves in fall colors (you can also buy them pre-cut online) and writing utensils. Create some signage to encourage your patrons to write down what they’re thankful for this year and stick them up on the tree. You may want to have library staff make the first few to get your patrons started.

A paper tree with paper leaves is hanging on the wall, with a paper owl that says "Whoo are you thankful for?"
The Thankful Tree at the Palo Alto Children’s Library, way back in 2015

Community Gratitude Quilt

Community paper quilts are an easy program to adapt to a theme (and use up paper scraps!). If you’re able, you can host this in-house, or pack the supplies into grab-and-go kits. Everyone gets to make a paper quilt square to show what they’re grateful for. I usually provide drawing supplies, paper scraps and old magazines for collaging, lots of stickers, and any other fun odds and ends you can attach to paper. A lot of kids will completely ignore the “gratitude” aspect of the assignment, but that’s okay. Tie all the completed squares together into a large quilt to display. If kids are reluctant to leave their creation behind, take a close-up photo of their art, print it out, and tie that into the quilt instead. If your patrons are creating at home, encourage them to bring back their finished squares or send you a picture to print out.

Colorful paper squares, decorated in marker and stickers, are stitched together like a quilt.
Part of a Community Quilt at the Castro Valley Library, circa 2019.

Does your library do any programs to celebrate gratitude and feeling thankful this time of year?

Today’s blogger is Chelsey Roos. Chelsey has been a member of ALSC’s Advocacy and Legislation committee, and is a children’s librarian for Santa Clara County Library.

This blog relates to ALSC Core Competencies of III. Programming Skills

One comment

  1. Tara Phethean

    Grateful for your sharing this, Chelsey. I appreciate how these ideas will work and how they fit for November 2021.

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