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School Children Coming to the Public Library

Page history last edited by Jane McManus 1 year, 9 months ago

Storytelling, booktalking, library card sign-up, summer reading promo visits... I gleaned the following from PUBYAC contributors. If you're a member, see the archives for 10-29-2009, Perfect One-Shot Elementary School Visit.  What works for YOU? Please add YOUR comments. Your colleagues would appreciate hearing what works, and what didn't!




  • The key is ENTHUSIASM, a pleasant, approachable demeanor and offering time for questions.

  • Wear a funny hat, (or something else eye-catching and attention-holding)



  • The more audience participation the better for any and all school visits-liberally hand out bookmarks and stickers in return for answers--ask the kids to tell about the different parts of the library (Where is the place you return books? What do you think you do here at the catalog computers?)

  • Fill a bag with items you can check out from the library, including games, cds, etc and have the students tell what they know you can check out.  When they gave an answer, give them a prize.



  •  Shorten a storytime to 20 minutes.

  • At the beginning do a really brief rundown of the kinds of items patrons can check out and how to get a library card. Then sing songs, play with the bells and shakers, jump around, and generally have a good time.

  • Start with a story, as that will most likely grab their attention.

  • Invite the kids to participate in a movement activity. Or act out a story.

  • Read a story that has a specific theme that then ties into a craft, (aliens or pirates, etc) since there are some great stories that aren't scary for this age group.



  • Before you start the tour, ask the kids what THEY like best about the library.  Make sure to point out those books or areas on the tour.

  • Be sure to take them into all the back spaces you have.  Tech services, workrooms, delivery dock, staff room are very intriguing to them.  At that age, they tend to think staff live at the library and are very curious to see those places we disappear to when we are not on the desk. 

  • Show them the book drop. For some reason seeing books shoot through the slide from the outdoor drop and into the big book bin is a huge hit! It gets them really excited. Ask another staff member to take a stack of books outside & stay by the bin to make sure that large groups keep moving so that everyone gets a chance to see. Weird, but highly entertaining! 

  • A simple scavenger hunt to reinforce the library tour...for the younger kids, use colored Popsicle sticks, with each color representing a part of the collection (yellow = books, red=puzzles, blue=magazines, green = video/DVD).  On the sticks in each category write a description of something to find in that area, (book with a cat on the cover, book with a dog on the cover, book with a baby on the cover...Barney video, wiggles video...etc.).  The kids each draw one stick of each color, and go around the children's area collecting the items.  When they bring all of their items to the children's desk, they get a pencil or sticker as a prize.  The only downside of the scavenger hunt is that you have to reshelve all the stuff they've pulled!

  • Have the various parts of the library labeled with shapes cut from construction paper.  For instance, the magazines may have a circle on them, the reference section a square, etc.  The shapes help them know when they've found something and gives them a way to record what they find; they write the shape next to the item on their lists.  This works better than trying to get all 25 kids to see/hear at the same time and they enjoy it more.

  • If you don't mind a little (or possibly a lot) of chaos.  Turn the Show and Tell part into a treasure hunt. Makup a set of index cards listing all the things that are in the library, for 1st graders, add a picture or at least announce what it is they are looking for and then send them off to find one of whatever it is.  If the class is large, send them in teams of 2. They need to find their item and come back to the storyroom and sit down after returning just the card to you. Then. pull out either the largest L.L.Bean tote bag (one of those boat bags big enough to stuff a toddler in) or a laundry basket and call out each item 1 by 1 and have the kids bring it up and add it to the bag or basket. By the time you are finished it makes a very big impression, don't forget to break the book collection down into pieces, ie. a board book for a younger sibling, a beginning reader, a paperback, etc so the stack gets really tall. Lastly, remind the students that these are just the things they can check out of the library but that there are many programs that they can come to at the library. This may not be the most inspired program but it does give the kids a chance to move around a bit rather than just listening to someone  talking.  If the time is really short, collect all the items and either pull them out of the basket 1 by 1 and name them, or call on the kids to come up and pull things out of the basket as you name them.

  • Make sure to handout copies of your calendar, flyer and bookmark with hours and phone numbers to the teacher so that each student goes home with something even if they aren't checking out books. 

  • The last thing that you might pull out is a library card. Remind the kids that a card is all they need to borrow all these things and either give out their cards if they are getting them or let them know they need to stop by with a parent to pick up a card.

  • Pretend the kids are all new books that have just come into the library and walk them through what happens:

               Jump out of a big box

               Get a date stamp

               Decide what kind of book they are and where they'll go (this is basically a library tour)

               Get a library stamp and call number label

               Go to the shelf

  • STORYTIME UNDERGROUND: (Jan. 2018) Heidi Harrison suggested taking actual pictures of things in the library and then give the kids dot stickers to put on the picture when they find it in the library. Paste the pics into a word doc. Voila! 



  • If it was a group that wasn't likely to return to the library,  try to give the kids a free book. (Or bookmarks, pencils, etc.)

  • Make a black & white border (81/2 x 11) with library designs and the name/address/etc of your library with it.  Cut the center out.  Let the kids place their hands in the page and make a photocopy.  It's a take-home that says "I was at the library."

  • Pre-make mini books using colored construction paper folded for front and back covers and several pieces of white paper folded inside. To make these, cut paper in half long ways and centered the white inside the construction then stapled. Then have the children design the covers of their books with crayons.

  • Send postcards to the kids after their visit to let them know if they are eligible for a library card.


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