So a year ago, we decided to re-imagine the tours into field trips with a concentration on fun and giving kids a glimpse into how libraries really work. But before the fun we had to work on the mechanics.
The first thing we did was make some decisions on dividing field trips into appropriate content depending on age/comprehension. Then we worked on some messages we felt all kids needed to hear: Books belong to everyone in the community and are shared. A library card allows access to great books and information. We are like your school library but you have more time to browse for books and we are open when your school library is closed (evenings; weekends; summer).
We use this scenario to explain how a library works:
Ask who the books belong to (librarian? Nooooo; Library? Nooooo. You? YES!)? The books belong to all the kids and people in La Crosse. They live here at the library but they love to visit you. When you have a visitor, do they stay forever? Noooo. That’s right, they go back home. When a book “visits” you, it stays for 3 weeks then you bring it back here to the library- its house. Then another child checks it out. We all share. [This can be expanded and played with depending on your crowd.]
For their tour, we do a theme each school year based on a children's book. Last year it was based on Mo Willems' Knuffle Bunny. We placed stuffed book characters at the collection or room points we wanted to highlight. Then we searched for Knuffle Bunny and found all the other characters and told kids about those collections. Knuffle Bunny was found back in the storyroom where we shared another book or two. This year we are using Emma Dodd's Dog's Colorful Day. We'll have a white dog cut-out for each child and they will collect dots at each stop on the room tour. More great books to use include Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Where's Spot by Eric Hill.
We can "play" a bit more with this age group. Our new colleague Sara came up with a great way to engage these kids. You can read about it at S. Bryce Kozla.
We also give the teachers options for an activity rather than just stories. So kids can be cataloged, barcoded and shelved; can do origami ; can create spine poetry; can play Book Bingo or get a booktalk. If teachers want a non-fiction concentration we let the kids know that the non-fiction is arranged alot like grocery stores. In stores, all the cereals are together; all the canned veggies are together -they aren't arranged alphabetically and that's how it is in non-fiction. I also like to ask kids if they know words in other languages. Then I tell them my other language is Dewey Decimal and it helps me know exactly where the books are that they crave!
Finally, no matter what the age, we build in time for the kids to browse and ask questions while they go through the collection. These changes have really refreshed what we do and made our old tours into SUPER fun adventures for kids. What do you do to sparkle up these opportunities for kids at your library?
Image: 'Thor vs. Superman (49/365)' http://www.flickr.com/photos/83346641@N00/4369073183