Monday, July 9, 2012

Thinking Outside the Book: Bring the Celebrities!

Celebrities. They're the faces we all recognize, the folks who make our hearts flutter at the anticipation of seeing them. Imagine if a bona fide celebrity visited your library. People would flock to your branch, right? That's exactly what happened at my branch not that long ago, when we had one of the biggest celebrities make an appearance at an evening family story time.

That's right. We got Curious George.

They're so excited to see Curious George!
"Booking" celeb visitors for your library programs isn't actually all that difficult. You really just need to find a costumed character that your kids love and that your library feels you can afford. Lots of costumed characters come at a flat fee for about a week stay at your library; which means if your character visits several branches, the relative cost keeps going down, down, down. And when you consider just how many kids will show up, very excited, to see your celebrity guest? Yeah, it's totally worth it.

Building a program around a celebrity visit is pretty simple, too; after all, the kids are excited to get to the meet-and-greet portion of the program. Whenever a celebrity visits my library--Max from the Max and Ruby books has also made an appearance this year--I plan a simple three-step lead-in to the character's arrival. We always start with my opening song, "Open, Shut Them," since a room crowded with kids full of anticipatory fidgets can be quite noisy. Then I read aloud a (hopefully) brief story featuring our celeb of the moment (in George's case, Curious George Visits the Library, with a few pages paper-clipped together). Finally we sing a song, which usually gets loud enough to signal to our celebrity guest that it's time to come into the program room. When George visited recently, we had a rousing rendition of "Five Little Monkeys." Let's just say it's a good thing our quiet rooms are way on the other side of the library.

And then Curious George came in. Applause! Giggles! Waving hello! After I introduced George and helped him to his seat, I invited families to make a line to meet him and get a picture with him. Since we always have 50+ kids at these celebrity story times, I make sure to have plenty of activities to keep them busy until it's their turn to meet the character. With Curious George, we had tables with Curious George coloring sheets (from the PBS website), a yellow hat craft, and a swinging monkeys craft. Sure, there was a lot going on at once during that latter half of the program, but everyone was engaged and having a good time. And by the time the last child left the program room, having gotten a picture with Curious George and clutching a variety of Curious George craft swag, the program felt like a total success.

It's not every day you can have a whirlwind program resulting in so many happy kids with relatively little staff and materials cost. Just another reason to think outside the book and consider inviting your favorite characters to visit your library.

No comments:

Post a Comment