From the Office of the Future of reading

Please welcome Michelle L. N. Gray as today’s guest blogger. Michelle has been a Children’s Librarian at the Canton Public Library in Michigan for a little over 6 years. She loves reading children’s and teen books, photography, writing, and spending time with family and friends. One day, she will get to pet a penguin in the wild, or have one of her very own, or most likely just get to pet one at the zoo.
Michelle L.N. Gray

My Penguin Party of Awesome!
In my day job, I am a Children’s Librarian in Canton, Michigan.  I love my job and one of the things that makes it truly amazing is when I get the chance to not only plan and execute fun programs related to books and reading, but sometimes I even get to give books away. It can feel like Christmas in the middle of May.
My library was the recipient of a grant from the Target Corporation sometime back and it enabled us to do one program a month for eight months and give away one book per family for up to 50 families at each program.  My topic was penguins, which I love, and the book I gave away was The Penguin and the Pea by Janet Perlman. The kids who come to these programs are between the ages of four and nine years old, so the program has to be fun and entertaining.

The Penguin and the Pea by Janet Perlman 

Now I love reading to kids and I love doing crafts, but to give away a book too—well, there were smiles all around! The highlight of my night was giving a book to each family and watching them sit and read it during activity time. They curled up on the floor and gently turned the pages of their new treasure while eating Goldfish crackers (because that’s what penguins eat—fish) and sipping juice.
When I do these programs, I love to plan some games and crafts. One of the crafts was directly related to the book as the kids were able to glue construction paper together, place a pea in the mountain of mattresses, and finally, glue a penguin I copied from the story to the top of the pile.  This way, they could use this to help retell the story to their family and friends. Or they could hang it on the fridge. I am totally happy with both outcomes. My second craft was having them make dyed macaroni necklaces, in honor of the Macaroni penguin, of course.
I also liked to work with some non-fiction, so that the kids not only heard a fun story, had a great snack, and made a craft, but hopefully learned something about penguins too. To help pique their interest, we did a penguin guessing game using pictures, facts, and lots of hints. I love PowerPoint for this reason especially because we can project it on the
wall and have great fun laughing and guessing each penguin based on the clues I projected on the wall.
My goal for these programs is for kids to have fun and realize that a book can go beyond what is just in those 32 pages of words and illustrations. Have fun with your own Party of Awesome!

Thank you Michelle for sharing those fun ideas on how to take a book past the pages and make it more interactive!

Want to follow Michelle’s lead and apply for a Target grant? Click here!