When I first found out about stuffed animal sleepover programs in my children’s services class in grad school, I made it my mission to host one. This program plan is from September 2016, when I finally had an opportunity to complete that mission. Due to the program’s overwhelming popularity, we’re hosting it again this September. Another staff member will be taking the reins this year—which is awesome because literally every librarian deserves to experience the warm fuzzies this program brings.
At the start of this evening program, I came out of the staff area dressed as Max from Where the Wild Things Are. The kids immediately glommed onto me but, surprisingly, no one could guess who I was (they thought I was a bunny!). I was glad I brought along my little Max doll (and his book, of course) to help them guess until they got it. We then launched into a pajama storytime.
Song: “Hello Everybody, Yes Indeed”
Book: Knuffle Bunny Too by Mo Willems
The link here is to a similar song, “Silly Dance Contest.” I played the track and we stopped and started as the music indicated. The best part about the “Silly When You Stop” version is that it ends with the kids melting and calming down so they are ready for the story!
Book: Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett (with puppets)
Rhyme: “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear”
We used the whiteboard on the other side of the felt board easel to brainstorm bedtime rituals that kids had. It was a lot of fun, but so many kids wanted to share that it took an extra nudge to move on.
Book: How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Jane Yolen, illus. Mark Teague
Goodbye: “The More We Read Together”
After storytime, I invited participants (who wanted to leave their animals behind) to make a name tag for their stuffed animal friends that listed the child’s name, the animal’s name, the animal’s hobbies, and a contact number for the patron. It was so cute watching children say goodnight to their furry friends with kisses and hugs. Once all the patrons were out, I got to work arranging the animals and taking the photos. Using our Maker Hub’s Polaroid Zink printer, I printed out a picture for each of the children to keep when they came back the next morning to retrieve their friends.
How It Went: This is probably the most fun I’ve ever had at a storytime. At one branch, we had 60 participants—a count we only come close to reaching during special presenters during Summer Reading. Larger crowds made for extra-squirrely participants. The puppets in Monkey and Me were fun but I had to quickly adapt to control the crowds because all the children wanted to touch them. I ended up have them count down “3, 2, 1” with me while I turned the page (a trick I learned from Megan Dowd Lambert). This allowed us to shout out the animal/puppet and move onto the next thing.
By the time we got to the last book, most kids were pretty worn out so we read it pretty quickly. It was great to compare the bedtime rituals we had brainstormed with the dinosaurs’. Next time I would dress as a character more recognizable and make sure my tail and props were further out of kids’ reach.