Special Library Events and Programs

What special events have you hosted in your library to promote literacy or celebrate reading? Share your ideas and resources here!

Event or Program



Book Character Parade

This is a tradition that I "inherited" from a previous librarian. It's a lot of fun for our students, and the community really enjoys it. It also gives a bit of focus to those last days of school, when teachers and students are all tired and just want to get those last 2-3 days over with! Each class adopts a book that they want to portray in the book parade. All preparations are done by students
at school. This way all students are able to participate equally, and no one is left out b/c their parents didn't have time to help with a costume, etc.
All students create a costume that fits with their class book, and each class also makes a banner with the title and author's name. Some years, we've had a theme for the parade, such as multicultural folk/fairy tales, or Texas tales. Most of the time though we just encourage teachers to let their classes choose their favorte book that they have read together during the year and celebrate that. We want it to be fun! Usually, the 5th grade classes choose a silly or funny book & make this one last fun event of their elementary days!
On parade morning, we decorate the parade route with balloons and streamers, a bubble machine, etc. Students parade out to the neighboring middle school's track. I am the announcer, and dress up like something outlandish too, which the students like. Parents enjoy from the bleachers, and fun is had by all! The local rotary club always gives away 2-4 bikes at the parade too--they draw names from kids with perfect attendance. (jamie camp)

Door Decorating Contest

I also inherited this special event at my school. We have a door decorating contest that coincides with book fair and Family Reading Night (busy week). I tell the teachers the theme for the book fair weeks in advance. They and their students decorate their classroom door using this theme. Participation is optional, but the top 3 winning classes receive $25 in free books from the book fair. The door must be ready the week before Book Fair. For voting purposes, I made a page on the library website called Door Decorating Contest and added pictures of all the doors, with a different letter for each. Then I sent the link and an invitation to vote to all the other library media specialists in my district, as well as several administrators, reading specialists, and our own office staff and principal. After announcing the winners, I update the webpage to showcase the winners. (Regina Hartley)
First Place Winner 2010

Beach Ball Book Character Contest

I just thought this was a wonderful idea--a colleague of mine sponsored this contest at the very end of the year last year, and it was a huge success at her school.
Anyway, each class chose a book to portray, and they transformed their beach ball into a character from that book & made a display. They then had a contest, and the winners got something like a Chick-Fil-A coupon or something.
We are planning to "morph" our Book Character Parade into something like this next year, I think. One of the problems with our parade described above is that we do it in the hottest possible weather of the school year! It's really miserable, most years--and teachers don't love it for that reason. So. We may do it in the fall with
pumpkins. And instead of a contest, we will put our pumpkins on scooters from the gym and have an inside parade. Plans aren't finalized yet, and the cost of the pumpkins might be a problem to work around, but that's what we're thinking about! Go see all of the darling beach ball characters on their library web site! Fun!
(jamie camp)

Laura Ingalls Wilder Party for 4th grade girls

When asked by my daughter why I have this celebration each year, I answer that if my librarian had done this when I was in elementary school, it would have rocked my world. I loved the Laura books and it is my life's mission to get kids to love books. This is just one of the ways I try to do that. I make the girls name girls, which is a chapter in Little Town on the Prairie. Each one has a different font/flower and the girls love them. They trade them during the party, I read aloud a chapter, and we eat cake. I've had amazing cakes made! That's it...simple, elegant, memorable.

The name cards are printed on a sheet of business cards that I just cut out for the girls. They are printed on card stock, so look very nice, printed in color. Each girl gets 10 to trade. Note: you will have girls who want to trade with you. The first few years, I would tell them to save them to trade with friends but then I realized some girls don't have 10 friends to trade with and don't want to leave with so many of their own cards so be sure to trade with them! I also make the teachers and principal and volunteers their own cards to trade. You can find nice Victorian flower clip art on line to use. You can easily find something for the male teachers. (Catherine Trinkle)

A School Full of Readers

This tradition was inspired when we celebrated Dr. Seuss' 100th birthday. An off the cuff remark, "Do you think we can get 100 guest readers from the community to celebrate Read Across America?" has blossomed into a yearly event. It's been tweaked from year to year but the reason is steadfast - adults sharing their love of reading with our students.

One major change that took place last year had to do with the date - living in the Northeast we fell victim to crazy weather patterns and decided to move our celebration to the fall so that we didn't have to reschedule or cancel the event. We did a small Read Across America celebration but A School Full of Readers is our big shindig.

Who is invited? Anyone and everyone. Initial invitations go out via email to district administrators (Superintendent, subjects coordinators, etc); elected officials (1st select people, Board of Ed, Representative Town Meeting Members); police and fire officials; local public librarians; local journalists and any celebrity we have an email address for. We give them about a week to respond - they get first choice on the schedule. After that we invite parents and family members. I will be honest here - I have a phenomenal assistant who does the scheduling. It involves far more than filling slots - she is constantly cross referencing with specials schedules, etc. And then when we land a big fish, we double check with the principal to see where we want them.

A week before a confirmation email goes out to each reader explaining the day (where to be, what to bring). We have parent volunteers greeting the guest readers throughout the day - handing out special certificates, name tags, etc. In addition, we have crates of books for readers to choose from, if they need to. We also use parent volunteers to photograph the day.

Oh yes, we have balloons too....

Reader's Cafe

Every December we close down circulation and open up a Reader's Cafe for the kids. We make fresh popcorn and serve juice (PTA reimburses us for the cost of supplies). It's a chance for the kids to sit back, relax and read for the pure joy of it. We try and grab as many adults as we can to join us - there can never be enough reading role models in my opinion.

Rock Star Readers

Each year my intermediate building has a theme for reading. We use Scholastic Reading Counts to keep track of students' points and once they reach a certain goal they are given a prize. I display names and items that go with the theme in the hallway that leads to the cafeteria. This was last year's theme, TZ's Rockin' Readers. I tie the theme in with our Young Hoosier Books as well.

Book of the Month Program

In prior years, our school had a Book of the Month program. Any staff member would recommend a book to the principal. The book would address the climate of the school at that time and would be related to one of our CARES skills. The principal would purchase 1 book per classroom. During that month, 1 classroom would be assigned to create an "artifact" to display in the hallway around the book. The artifact was as simple or as complex as the teacher wanted to make it.

Now that we have $0 budget, I proposed that we begin a "virtual" Book of the Month program where we select books that are available online.

Every Student's an Author!

Student Treasures is a FREE student publishing company. You set your publishing date. They mail the book making materials...FREE! You work collaboratively with classroom teachers to create books. Grades K-2 create 1 classroom book (each student creates 1 illustration and 1 page of writing and the class receives 1 free book). Grades 3-5 create individual books (EACH student in grades 3-5 receive 1 free book). I thought it was too good to be true or there would be some catch. When I received my finished books I could have cried! Families can purchase additional books for about $20 each. You spend $0 and EVERY student in your school becomes an author! The FREE books are the actual pages you created bound in a hardcover. The title is printed on the spine as well as the author's last name. It looks like a professional book.
Yay!! Every student is an author of their own hardcover book!!! on Twitpic

Guessing Games

I do this with all of my students. For each season I have candies or seasonal items in a jar and have students guess. It sounds simple but the students just love it. I make sure everyone has guessed and then I announce winners that got close to the actual number over the loud speaker. I also give them a special prize.