We had our after hours pajama story time and stuffed animal sleepover last Friday. We had 33 kids, 36 stuffed animals, and 35 adults. The animals got to spend the night in the library!
I tried out the Alphabet dance/stretch that I learned from my calligrapher friend, Ewan Clayton. You draw invisible letters of the alphabet, with flourishes, using your full reach like Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man. The kids had a blast with this. What fun to have a full body physical memory of each letterform. I am going to make this a regular feature of my story times.
Then we presented Interrupting Chicken, by David Ezra Stein, as a puppet play. The chicken puppets used the top of the puppet theater as their stage, disappearing behind it when each bedtime story began.
As Papa Chicken began to read, Jill, our branch manager, lifted the book into the puppet theater stage, open to each bedtime story spread.
Chicken jumps in front of the book to interrupt the story, and Papa Chicken reappears above the theater, calling, “Chicken.” “Yes, papa?” Chicken answers, appearing next to him. Kids and parents loved it.
Before our second story, The Owl and the Pussycat, by Edward Lear, we all sang “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” to get in the mood. We split into groups and sang it as a round, which worked really well. Choral singing starts young in this community!
The action took place on the puppet theater stage. The pea-green boat, the small guitar, the Piggywig, the runcible spoon….we had it all.
The Owl and the Pussycat kept stopping to smooch as they danced by the light of the moon, which the kids enjoyed hugely.
After the stories, the kids made paper bag puppets. They could make a Chicken, an Owl, or a Pussycat.
Note to self: mammals win every time. Chickens were least favored, followed by Owls, with Pussycats the clear winner.
Fortunately, I was prepared for this contingency and was able to quickly make up some extra Pussycat sets. I designed the three animals to use almost identical, largely interchangeable parts.
Thanks to the great work of Jill and our super volunteer, Janet—and always Stuart!—handing out all the project supplies went amazingly smoothly.
Here are some of the fabulous puppets made that night!
After singing “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star,” led by Maestro Copernicus Mouse, the kids said goodnight to their toys and headed home. There were a few tears, and daddies substituted some less well-loved toys that could be parted with for one night.
Then it was time for the stuffed animals to explore the library!
My friend Linda, musical partner and former boss, just sent me a link to this Harvard Business Review blog piece by Grant McCracken, who was charmed by a similar event at his local library. He speaks of libraries as portals to magical realms, reaffirmed by programs such as this.
The library as place, a home away from home filled with possibility and serendipity, coexists easily with the virtual library we can access electronically any time, any place.