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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Bear, a Book or Two and a Sleepover in the Library

Several years ago our select group of library helpers (4-5th graders) were invited to a sleepover at our elementary library.  They came prepared with their pillows, sleeping bags, ideas for games (computers were not used) -- we played "Ruth and Jacob," checkers, chess, Sorry®, Monopoly®, ate pizza (Happy Joe's delivered), told scary stories, watched a Harry Potter movie, ate popcorn, and just had fun.  Plenty of adult chaperons stayed the night too.  The next morning, children were feted with a pancake and egg breakfast and sent home for the weekend.  It was a lot of fun and a lot of work.  We knew the children well and had no qualms about having them in our care for the evening.  Not so sure I would do that today -- and especially in a public library or a larger school.  But what fun it was -- so ...

Today I was talking to the newly minted librarian at the Dike (Iowa) public library,  Rebecca Berg - a graduate of the University of Iowa School of Information Science.  She mentioned a program her co-worker, Lori Reynolds, had suggested as an idea for their library.  Seems that one can have a sleepover WITHOUT the children.  Instead the children bring their stuff animals and after a few refreshments, a story or two, the animals are tucked into bed and the children go home.  In the morning the children return to pick up their animals and find out what mischief the animals get into during the sleepover. 
Just like the Flat Stanley project where Flat Stanleys are sent out into  the  world and photographed, so are these animals -- only these animal friends are sent into the library for their adventures. Photos are taken to share their activities, on the inside.  Some animals put on a puppet show, others read, and still others browse through the book shelves.  Eventually it's time for bed but in the morning, the animals (and their pals) get to come to the early morning breakfast.
Seems that Rebecca and Lori have found an idea  that others have used (just google "animal sleepovers in the library" and take a look at the adaptations that others have made and used).  Some lucky animals (and  their human pals) will be fortunate to be a patron of the Dike Library (and others that have "building a literate community" in their sights).  The first sleepover in Dike is scheduled for September 29, 2011 - watch for the announcement and for many great programs to emerge from this library on the move—Dike Library, a place where literacy happens.


  1. I triple LOVE the idea! The coach I used to work with did a similar thing called 5th grade lock-in in the gym and I was a chaperon and even the adults have fun! But I never even thought of doing this in the library....THANKS FOR THE IDEA! I'm pitching it to my principal tomorrow!

  2. Anonymous6:28 AM

    Another idea on a similiar vein is "Night in the Library" based on the movie "Night at the Museum". We held this at our library at night with flashlights, candles, and lanterns. A tour guide led groups of 5-8 people through a maze where they encountered a vignette and a character from books, magazines, and newspapers who delivered a monologue. The families learned about what range and genre of books we carry and the students enjoyed the storytelling and characters. We held a similiar version in year two entitled "Ghosts of Union Parish Past" where we told stories from our history with a similiar design.

  3. I did this activity when I was teaching second grade. We first read "Ira Sleeps Over." Then, we made invitations for a sleepover party. The kids all brought their stuffed toys to school to spend the night. Prior to them bringing their toys in, I had told the children to make sure they brought one that they would not miss sleeping with themselves that night! I actually ended up having two children become a little teary about leaving their stuffed toys behind for the night. One child decided to take hers home with her! Overall, the kids had fun with this and I am happy to try it again as a library teacher.