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.