by Brad McNally, Head Editor, INALJ Ohio
Unique Library Programs: Stuffed Animal Sleepover
Before I worked in my current position in higher education institution, I was working in the children’s department of a public library. I think one of the coolest programs we ever were able to pull off was the Stuffed Animal Sleepover Story Time. This happened during the summer reading program Dream Big Read, but it could easily be done any time. The staff had seen other library programs that used the same premise: children bring their stuffed animal friend to a story time, leave it in the library overnight, and come back to get them the next day. The animals, of course, get into a bit of trouble over the course of the sleep over, and they are all moved around and have been photographed behaving wildly in the stacks. Later, a presentation of this photography is available and the kids get to see their animals having a wild time.
Not one to overdo things, I suggested that instead of a slideshow of pictures we make a stop-motion animation film using all the animals that would be left at the library. Beyond that, there were even mentions of having the animals “pick out a book” for the child but logistically it wasn’t very possible (the program ended up taking place in one building, animals were picked up at another). It wasn’t the greatest production, but the kids really enjoyed watching the video. One of the important things about this was getting the kids to still have a bit of imagination about what happens in the world. Most of them thought that they would just come back and pick up their, but staff met them with a link to the video and showed it to them in the library. The video was left up so they could watch it later also.
The story time was planned as a normal event, and the only actual equipment used was a Nikon camera, a tripod, and Windows movie maker. In all, it took less time than some other programs we put on, and could be a simple way to get a few creative volunteers involved as well.
I’ve seen a series of photos online titled “Welcome to Dinovember: A month-long imagination invasion.” This shows pictures that parents had taken after moving small plastic dinosaurs and telling their children stories about the dinosaurs coming to life at night and allowing them to find the mischief-making dinos after they had gotten into some trouble. The idea behind this, according to the site, is that it promotes the use of imagination for the kids and provides a sense of wonder. Libraries can do similar activities at any time of year, using any background story (such as the stuffed animal sleepover). It can definitely be a great introduction to the library for young people.