Programs for school-aged kids
Book related activities | Community service programs | Craft programs | Drama and performance programs | Food programs | Gaming programs | Guests in the library | Potpourri of programs | Programming in a pinch | Science programs | Tech programs
Author visits school/library and gives 30-40 min. presentation followed by either an activity (writing workshop) or Q/A. Local authors often will appear free, or for the cost of transportation. Check with other venues to see about coordinating a visit and share fees. Many authors will also agree to participate in a Skype session for a minimal fee.
Author/Illustrator Fan Mail
Make your favorite author/illustrator’s day by creating fan mail with the children in your library. Share their books, mail or upload letters and artwork. If your author/illustrator has a blog be sure to check back to see if they post artwork.
Battle of the Books
Participating teams read a list of several books, train to remember the story details and then battle it out against other teams. Librarians ask progressively harder questions.
Bit & Bridle
Discuss a great horse book and complement it with fun horse-related activities. Bring horse equipment in for a demonstration. Look at different feed, include a horse craft and horse snack.
Use book cover art or book titles to make Bingo cards. Booktalk the books and then play for small prizes.
Celebrate Seuss Party/Read Across America
Have a birthday party with Seuss stories, crafts, activities and end the fun with cake and signing a giant card. Be sure to check out the website at www.readacrossamerica.org for current information and the official site of Dr. Seuss at www.seussville.com for tons of ideas and printables.
Cinderella around the World
Pick several versions of Cinderella to read to a group of kids. Prepare a simple craft and play a game - Pass the Glass Slipper. Once a year, choose a book for both adults and kids to read. It will make for a memorable program and discussion.
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Party
Do a “Manny Cereal Toss” of mini boxes into a toilet seat: a “clothes” relay race, trivia and chat about favorite passages. Serve mini bags of chips like Dad likes to stow away and eat.
Kids love the Rainbow Magic series, so why not let them put on their own wings and come to a book-themed party. Each child can create their own fairy persona and participate in fairy-themed crafts and games. Maybe even try building a fairy house for the garden.
Create some “horrorgami”; Choose Your Own Adventure Books; explore some world records, illusions and gross, nasty “stuff” of particular interest to young boys.
Happy Un-Birthday Party
Read birthday books have birthday cake and play Pin the Tail on the Donkey. Celebrate everyone’s birthday!
Intergenerational Book Group
Once a year, choose a book for both adults and kids to read. It will make for a memorable program and discussion.
Kids’ Choice Book Awards
If your state or district does not have their own Kids’ Choice Book Awards then start your own! Librarians in schools and public libraries can choose ten books for kids to read during the year. Help promote by hosting book discussions and other activities. Have a party or celebration in which kids can vote on their top choice. If enough kids participate you may even be able to host a Battle of the Books.
Meet Someone New
Generate interest in picture book biographies by book-talking titles like Candy Bomber, Tom Thumb, Amelia Lost, Drawing from Memory, etc
Murder Mystery at the Library
This can be a 3-hr event or a part of a sleepover event in the library Mystery stories for re-enactment are available online, or in books.
Newbery Book Club
Starting at the beginning of November librarians book talk 7-10 of the best new titles for the publication year to a group of readers, who will rate and discuss books at meetings culminating in a Mock Newbery Award party the week before the actual award is announced. Incorporate the ALSC Mock Newbery and Caldecott Toolkit ($35)
(ALSC webinar also available)
Use the -Ology series of books to create a workshop series. Each week focus on a different book and create spy activities; Egypt-themed events, wizardry fun and ocean amazements.
Origami Yoda - Make and Take
Kids create their own Origami Yoda to carry with them or to share the “wisdom” with their friends.
Pen-Pal Book Club
Children can “buddy read” with a student from a different location. Children can communicate via email, private blog, or if available Skype. Book pairings can be worked out between children off of a pre-determined list based on the locations’ collections.
PJs at the Library
Children come to the library (in their pajamas, of course!) for bedtime stories, songs, and fun! Children attend with an adult caregiver.
Read All About It!
Book talk new and excellent picture books and browseable non-fiction. If time permits hand out books with a couple of sticky notes for children to browse and share interesting finds.
A Snowy Day (and crafts)
Storytime focused on snow stories, including A Snowy Day (Keats), or Snowflake Bentley (Martin) - Craft might include building a snowman out of paper.
Star Wars Party
Kids dress as character and enjoy all things Star Wars. Show a Star Wars movie.
Storytime in a Foreign Language
Invite a community guest /staff member to read books in their language. Bring books to share with children sharing the written language as well. Complete the session with pieces of information about their culture.
Learn about vultures and turkey buzzards. Read Vulture View by April Pulley Sayre, include some vulture trivia.
What a Disaster!
Feature non-fiction disaster books. Combine with YouTube clips if available: Hindenburg, Titanic, Halifax explosion, Hiroshima/Nagasaki, Challenger, Chernobyl, earthquakes, volcanoes, Pompeii
Which Is Better? Movie/Film Series
Select movie/book titles - four for four months - read/watch/discuss/repeat each month - don’t forget the popcorn and the movie license!
Young Critics Book Club
For serious readers only! Publishers provide pre-pub galleys of titles to receive kids’ feedback. Librarians pre-screen and booktalk kids read, rate and discuss, and librarians provide publisher feedback. Consider having kids apply for membership.
“Cans” Film Festival
Show a new DVD around the time of the Cannes Film Festival and ask attendees to bring in a canned donation for the food pantry.
Community Service Club
Teen library volunteer program that could fulfill volunteer hours requirement for schools, churches, service clubs, etc. Recruit teens to assist with the summer reading program, storytime crafts, shelving. and other jobs. With training they could also do outreach storytimes with community daycare groups.
Kids are trained on various e-readers and then volunteer in the library assisting others with their devices.
Find out if there is a group in your area that needs help with a service project you can work on in the library. It can even be the library - perfect for summer reading assistance! Invite kids to lend their hands to the efforts - a great way to teach community involvement.
Holiday Book Giving/Community Service
This program can be done in many ways - emphasizing giving and literacy. Children/classes/library program regulars select, purchase and donate one of their favorite books. Givers can write and decorate cards and wrap books.
Hometown Hero Night
Invite a returning veteran to talk about life in another land and show different equipment. End the program with card making for service members still overseas.
Spin 1950’s sock-hop music - the entrance fee is one pair of socks or an article of clothing that will be donated to a local charity.
Altered Books Projects
Save your scraps and discarded books to use in this fun crafting event. Starting with a discarded book as a canvas, kids can use glitter, sequins, and stickers to decorate their artwork.
Teach kids about different ways to create a blank book. You may also want to give them some story starter ideas or ideas for illustration.
Book Charms Workshop
Create “charming” book markers with twin, beads, buttons and more.
Cartooning for Beginners
Seek out a local expert to teach kids the basics of cartooning. A high school art student may be more than willing to gain some experience and to highlight some of their own work.
Design Your Own Campaign Poster
Invite children to pretend they are running for Mayor or President and create a poster including a self portrait and two or three short position statements. This can be done as a technology program using MS Publisher or a craft program using poster board and/or construction paper.
DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Day
Set out “Stations of Stuff”: origami, jewelry-making, picture frames and let kids create take-home fun.
Spend the afternoon learning about different types of temporary tattoos from around the world, then apply one (or more) to show off to your friends.
Local knitters help kids learn to knit and create fun projects.
Make-It and Take-It Craft Day/Crafternoon
Provide materials for a variety of simple crafts for kids of all ages. This can be a drop-in session where kids stay and make as many items that interest them. You can choose a theme or ideas that use materials you already have on hand!
Brush up on your origami skills and teach kids this wonderful art. Advanced students can also act as helpers for beginners.
Puppet Making Workshop
Provide a variety of materials - paper bags, socks, wooden spoons, etc. and let the kids be creative! Hang a tension rod in a doorway and drape with a sheet or blanket for an easy puppet theater.
Using recycled items that have been donated, kids get a chance to construct their own robot.
Bring a plain T and learn to tie-dye - shades of the 60’s! Or, use scissors and fabric paints and glue to “bling” a t-shirt. Runway stylin’ optional!
Three Cheers for Recycling
Create pompoms by tying the ends of plastic bags in knots, then cutting shreds in the bottom of the bag with scissors. Locate or compose chants celebrating recycling. Ask children to participate in cheering with the pom poms, creating their own cheer, and/or choreography. You might also want to add your own recycling Olympics - sort the recyclables game, pick up trash relay, toss the water bottle, etc.
Drama and performance programs
Read a book about emotions, like “How Are You Peeling?” After the story, the presenter assigns each player a specific emotion to act out while the others guess.
Choose a children’s book with loads of action. As the librarian narrates, kids act out the parts.
Improv Comedy Workshop
If you have a local comedy troupe or a college/high school drama department close by, ask them to come and lead kids in improvisational comedy exercises.
Kids use themes or prompts to write poems and share them as shout-outs!
Organize a group or two of kids to perform a short readers’ theatre series. Some free scripts are available online (www.aaronshep.com/rt/RTE.html) or you can write your own. Several collections are also available for purchase.
Inspired by books like Hello, Cupcake!, decorate pre-made cupcakes into fabulous pieces that are book themed.
Read a folktale or story from another country and have kids participate in making a special dish from that area of the world. Dishes may include Indian Raita, Spanish Gazpacho, Tabbouleh. Recipes can be adapted to make them kid-friendly.
Ask a local chess player to volunteer to lead a group of kids in learning how to play chess. Students bring their questions and work on strategy, developing their skills and participate in practice challenges.This would be a great way for teen volunteers to get involved.
Learn to play dominoes, watch videos f course and try making your own with simple supplies.
Family Game Night
Invite families to bring a game to share and gather with others to play.This is a great winter-time event and a fun intergenerational program.
Create magical sets where kids can use their imagination to act out scenes and play games. Ideas may include: searching for buried treasure on a deserted island, traveling through the jungle, or even flying through outer space.
Kids can come enjoy an evening of Karaoke, use Disney Sing It for the Wii Karaoke game (must already have Wii game console)
Let kids have free build time or give them ideas of specific things to build related to a book or subject of your choosing. It could be a competition or just for fun! Members break down bricks and help clean-up.
Try a variety of parachute games with a bunch of kids.
Show cartoons, play the Wii game, and kids bring in card collections and Nintendo DS to play against each other.
Gamers gather with their boards and imaginations to enter fantastical gaming worlds.
A great way to get families familiar with different parts of the library and different collections. Kids can hunt for picture clues or you can write clues that must be solved to find locations. All those that complete the hunt can enter their name for a prize drawing.
You choose the subject and let patrons choose their teams. Write questions about favorite books, geography, local facts, etc.
Whether or not you have a Wii or one of your staff or patrons is willing to let you borrow theirs - this is a great way to bring kids together for some friendly competition. You could also check to see if a neighboring library is willing to loan their system and games.
Guests in the library
Ask the local school theater departments to come and teach kids how to transform themselves into something ghoulish for Halloween.
Good Doggie! Meet Doggone Good Guide Dogs
Ask a guide dog trainer to demonstrate how dogs are trained and give kids a chance to meet a dog. Also consider therapy dogs, kennel clubs or police dogs.
It’s All About the Money!
Ask a local bank representative to come and speak with kids about money - history, what symbols mean, saving, spending, etc. you can also incorporate some origami into the program if the crowd is older using dollar bills.
Ask a local magician to share their talents with a group of kids choosing 3-4 simple tricks. Depending on their skills, they may be able to perform for a larger audience at a later date!
Red Cross Babysitting Certification
Participants learn basic first aid and skills to make them safe childcare providers.
Cost: Paid by participants for manual and there may also be a fee for a trainer. Contact your local Red Cross Chapter.
Check to see if you have a local herpetology club and ask them to bring in some of their critters so kids can get up close and personal.
Tae Kwon Do/Karate Demonstration
Local martial arts schools are often looking for locations to showcase their students’ skills. If you have an open space, this is a great crowd pleaser.
Create an easy series of no-bake cooking and/or demonstration workshops with talented staff or a local chef.
Kids wear comfy, loose clothes and bring a beach towel or yoga mat. Invite a local yoga instructor to take them through some zen moves.
Yummy Snacks - You Can Make!
Ask a local nutritionist, budding chef, or parent with cooking skills to come and teach kids how to make some healthy snacks they can prepare themselves. There are many no cook or bake options available.
Potpourri of programs
Black History Scavenger Hunt
Create scavenger hunt using African American authors and illustrators. When kids find a book by a certain author, they can then find information about them in reference materials for further prizes.
Halloween costumes and progressively scarier stories with Trick-or-Treating around the library as a finale.
Countdown to Noon
For the little ones who may not make it to the New Year’s Eve ball drop. Make noisemakers and party hats, play games and at noon, release confetti and celebrate the “Noon Year!”
Have kids and parents come to the library for a fun night of dancing to their favorite songs. Get the kids to share what’s on their MP3 players or use Just Dance for the Wii.
Students and parent are invited to a session for homeschoolers to learn about the resources and services at the library.
“The Impossible Day” Leap Year Party
Just like Platform 9 ¾ to Hogwarts, February 29th arrives and then disappears for four whole years. Celebrate with magic tricks, science experiments - things that make kids go “Huh?! Cool!!”
Junior Book Cart Drill Team
Join in the fun of putting together a book cart drill team, then show off your skills at the next community parade.
Kids Spa Day
Kids can enjoy a relaxing spa day at the library and whip up some customized lotions, lip balms, and face masks with all natural ingredients.
Library Sleepover and Scavenger Hunt
A great fundraising opportunity for public libraries! Kids and their grownups can spend the night at the library, and participate in a scavenger hunt before the library lights go out.
Mardi Gras Fun
Laissez le bon temps roulez? Decorate plain masks with feathers and sequins; then decorate book carts and have a parade around the library.
Pirate Day Party
Kids get their pirate on by coming in costume and enjoying seven seas hi-jinks and the always popular “Talk Like a Pirate” station.
Stuffed Animal Sleepover
Invite kids to bring their stuffed animals for a sleepover at the library! Staff takes pictures of their animals in various parts of the library having a great time at their “sleepover.”
Tech-Free Family Nights
Create a reading corner with books, board games, an area for story extensions, a simple literacy craft or conversation starters and open for business. A true do-it-yourself program.
Programming in a pinch/pocket programs
Draw the Story
As a story is read aloud, children draw their interpretations of the characters and settings on large pieces of paper.
Drawer in a Drawer
Invite an art teacher to explore an art form in children’s books and then let kids create their own art. Put materials in a drawer for kids to pick from.
Rhyming (Cipher) Circle
Ask children to gather in a circle. Throw out some easy to rhyme phrases such as “I’m so cool” and ask each player to come up with a following statement which rhymes. You can record responses to try and come up with a collectively written rhyme.
If you were a superhero, what special powers would you have? What would your costume look like? Draw yourself.
Thank You Letters
Write letters to friends, family or community members, using library books about letter writing. Could be a great way to recognize donors to your library!
Learn about chemical reactions in this hands-on workshop. Find experiments online.
Go green in this environmental education program. Kids will learn about the importance of their carbon footprint and gain global awareness with a variety of activities, games and crafts.
Gross Me Out at the Library
Feature cringe-worthy non-fiction - iceman, mummies microscopic bugs, giant squids, movie special effects, etc. Give kids stickies and time to browse and share interesting finds.
Each month kids come together to discover the wonders of science through hands-on activities and takeaways.
Mythbusters: Meet Moebius
Can one piece of paper go to infinity? Kids experiment to see how endless one piece of paper can be and stre-e-e-tch their brains.
Paper Airplane Workshop/Science of Flight
Enlist some of your older kids to learn to make paper airplanes, whirly copters and balloon-powered rockets and then volunteer to lead a program where they teach younger kids.
Scintillating Science (or Mad Scientists Club or Ms. Frizzle’s Magic School Bus Presents . . .)
Kaboom! Create a workshop science series in cooperation with a local museum or science teacher.
Prepare to get wet in the name of science! Test local water quality, use water pressure to launch a rocket and sink a sub, propel boats, float objects and make watery art.
Action! Bringing Books to Life
Show a few great book trailers advertising books at the library. Use FLIP cameras and let kids make their own trailer. Mount them on your webpage.
Create a Personal Commercial
Kids create a commercial about themselves: their likes/dislikes, dreams for the future, and talents. Film them and be sure to share them with the group - a great way to meet new friends!
Mystery Movie Makers
Using a boxed mystery kit, kids film their mystery adventure using FLIP cameras, then have a red carpet showing of the movies.
Using Windows Movie Maker or Garage Band, teach students the basics of recording and editing a Podcast. Projects can include mini-book reviews, jokes and readers’ theater scripts.
Try podcasting, cartoon animation and flip-filming and let kids create. Mount on the library’s webpage.
Tech Time: Lego Robotics Club
Using PicoCricket technology, kids gain programming skills by creating (Seek out partnerships to cover the cost of the technology needs).
A tech class for early elementary students. Participants are introduced to new technologies, programs, websites, while also learning computer vocabulary and online safety.