Monday, February 11, 2013

It's Scouting Season

Last week marked the beginning of scout visit season at my library. Over the next few weeks, I'll have a dozen troops of young Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts visit my branch for a story, tour, game, and library card. I've talked a bit about the types of scavenger hunt games we have in the library for tour visits such as these. But those scavenger hunts are the finale of the visit; I always start with a story. Some years I focus on storytelling and share a folktale; the oldest scouts in particular (think fifth or sixth grade) appreciate a somewhat scary tale. This scouting season, though, I'm primarily sharing Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watt and Here Come the Girl Scouts! by Shana Corey.

Ordinarily I am opposed to using one book for a male audience and another for a female audience. This year's scout visits represent a rare deviation from my books-have-no-gender book sharing strategy, though. Why? Scaredy Squirrel is always prepared, and the Boy Scout motto is "Be prepared"; and Corey's non-fiction picture book tells the story of the formation of the Girl Scouts organization. Each book speaks to these specific audiences quite perfectly.

Both of these books keep the scout audiences engaged, and I have had more than one den/troop leader ask me how I can keep the attention of a group of squirmy 8-year-olds for 45 minutes from start to finish. What can I say? A good story, the chance to explore a place filled with things to read, watch, and play, and a scavenger hunt around the library can do wonders for engaging kids.

What do you do when scout groups visit your library? Do you lead more specific badge-earning activities, or is it mostly getting them acquainted with the library?

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