Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Food TPiB: Waffle It Edition

As I mentioned yesterday, right now my life is all about waffles!

And in my waffle obsessed state, I finally figured out a way that I – the person who hates to cook – can host an Unconventional Cooking Club with teens. Today, I will share with you the Waffle It! Edition.

It turns out, you can use a waffle iron to make a lot of stuff besides traditional waffles. The Teen, The Bestie, Thing 2 and I spent all of Thanksgiving week exploring – scientific method in action! – what does and doesn’t work in a waffle iron.

The Week of Waffling Dangerously

We began with cinnamon rolls.


Let’s not kid ourselves, I did not make a mix from scratch. Nope. I popped open a tube of ready made dough and we had amazing tasting cinnamon rolls in less than 5 minutes.

We moved on to cake . . .


We bought a $1.00 cake batter and a tub of icing. Mix it according to the directions. You can make a chocolate waffle cake in about 1 minute. And they taste like heaven. Seriously, we did this 3 times last week because it was gloriously good and better than traditional cake.

Then I thought we should try some real food. Thankfully, we had Thanksgiving leftovers. I made stuffing waffles, mostly because Robin dared me to and who can resist a dare. I topped than we reheated turkey and gravy and it was pretty good. The Mr. took it one step further and smothered his in mashed potatoes, turkey and gravy and this was almost better than Thanksgiving dinner.


Then I thought, I need something that is snacky to teens, so pizza obviously. We made pizza using bagels, spaghetti sauce, shredded cheese and pepperoni. The teens were skeptical but impressed. The pizzas themselves were a little thick for the waffle iron and we had to hold it close because it wouldn’t latch, but this was a good moment of problem solving and creative thinking.


We made omelets, which worked. We tried cookies, which failed. Although we did end up with a type of cookie crumble that we thought would taste really good on ice cream.

And along the way, we had a lot of fun.

As I mentioned yesterday, one of my most popular programs was a play on Iron Chef. So my plan is to redo this program with a Waffle It twist. We will supply waffle irons (I have seen new ones for as low as $15.00) and a variety of possible foods. Then we’ll let the teens see what they can come up with.

Some food bases I recommend include:

  • Various doughs, such as pop can biscuits and crescent rolls (note: corn bread came out really dry)
  • Things to make pizzas
  • Things to make sandwiches
  • Things to make deserts, including cake mix and various toppings
  • Buy a lot of Pam – and I mean a lot – and remind teens to spray their waffle iron in between each use to make it easy to clean

How to Set Up Your Program

Take a page out of the Chopped book and have three courses: an appetizer, an entree and dessert. For someone who hates to cook, I watch a lot of Chopped. The rounds are also fairly quick, 20 minutes and then 30 and 30 minutes, so you can do a program in around 2 hours.

Here are some resources you may find helpful:

Other Tips to Keep in Mind

Because there is a chance that teens will over spray their Pam and it will drip – not that I know this from experience or anything – be sure and use table cloths. Preferably use table cloths AND some type of surface like a thin plastic cutting mat or vinyl place mat.

There were only four of us experimenting in my home this past week, but when I have done programs like this in the past I start out with teens and then do eliminations until there are just a few teens competing against one another. Feel out the room and see how seriously they want to compete or if they just want to play and taste things, which is also perfectly fun as well.

Keep in mind there are a variety of waffle cookbooks out there that would make great tie-ins. You could also have your teens put together their own when they find out what works and what doesn’t and share it on your social media.


And finally, share this fun YouTube video with your Teens before you begin or on your social media to promote your program:

Tomorrow, the Mug It Edition!

Food Based TPiBs

MakerSpace: Rethinking Food in Programming, Again? Yes, Again.

makerspaceThing 2 loves waffles, which is why The Mr. had a moment of brilliance: let’s buy a waffle iron. It did not realize that this small purchase – we bought ours at the local thrift store for $3.00 because we are poor – would become the inspiration for what may become one of my most popular program ideas. But let’s back up and lay some groundwork first.

Food programs tend to be incredibly popular for me. This is not surprising, teens love to eat. A lot. The library I currently work at – The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County in Ohio – has an amazingly well developed and attended adult cooking club. They also have a program room with a full kitchen, including an oven and stove. I have thought about having a teen cooking club but there is one problem: I do not cook. At all. This is not an exaggeration.

I have also gone back and forth with the idea of food based programs because I am the parent to 1 of the 1 in 13 kids today who has severe food allergies. If she eats the wrong things we all suffer for days as she writhes in pain and suffers a variety of other effects that I will do you the courtesy of not describing. She won’t have an anaphylactic reaction, but it will cause her protracted health issues. And nobody likes to see their children suffer. For a while I was totally anti-food at programs for this very reason, but as she gets older I realize that I’m actually more anti-food for younger kids at programs. Teens, of course, can better understand their food issues and needs and can make better decisions in a environment with food. I would still like to see some programming that doesn’t involve food, because we live in a socially food based society and I want to remind teens that other things matter: like books and making and relationships.


Pizza! At a recent TLT TAB and Book Discussion Meeting

Also, as part of the Maker Workshops I have recently taken with School Library Journal – and I highly recommend that you take them when you have the chance – I am reminded of several things:

1) Learning to make food is indeed a type of making.

2) Kids and Teens need adults to teach them about food, food choices and yes – how to cook. This is part of my problem, there was no one to teach me how to cook so I don’t know how and I don’t embrace it.

3) 1 in 5 kids goes to bed hungry every day. Having food at programs – especially if you have food based programs where kids and teens are learning about food while eating food – can be a good way to help address this important need in our local communities.


As part of the LJ Lead the Change Maker Workshop that I participated in this summer, we heard from Spoons Across America. Spoons Across America’s “is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating children, teachers, and families about the benefits of healthy eating. We work to influence the eating habits of children through hands-on education that celebrates the connection to local farmers and the important tradition of sharing meals around the family table.” They presented a variety of ways that libraries could involve kids and teens in learning about food and meal preparation, depending on your library’s space and resources. You can learn more about them and the ideas that they shared at their website.

Libraries are about education, and there is a lot of education needed around the topic of foods. I discuss food a lot in parenting and those same discussions can be the foundation for some good program ideas. We talk about making healthy food choices. I have to talk with my daughter, recently turned age 7, about her food issues and how she can navigate them and make healthy food choices for her. We have talked about religious customs and food. We talk about food processing, distribution and yes, because I am me, we talk about how the food chain would break down in the event of an apocalypse so knowing how to grow your own food and recognize edibles in the wild is important. (What, doesn’t everyone talk about this with their kids?)

I think I am also self conscious about how we talk about food and use food in our programming because I have had (and probably still have) an eating disorder. And I had Hyperemesis Gravidarum. I have a complicated relationship with food. I want to teach teens about good eating choices but not overly emphasize food, eating, diets, or body size. Coming from my background, it can be difficult for me to know if I am doing this well or not. I don’t want to imprint my food issues on the next generation of teens, but I’m not sure that never talking about food is a good way of addressing that problem either.


But at the end of the day, teens want and need food. Just as they need in everything else, they need good eating opportunities, education and mentors. Because yes, they learn eating habits from the people around them. I didn’t develop anorexia on my own, I developed it in a world where adults reminded me time and time again that being super thin was the ideal, that being fat was to be feared and loathed, and that anything less than perfection meant that I was a personal failure unworthy of love, respect and value. As teen librarians, we can do little things to help break these cycles and to help teens question these messages.

And to be honest, I’m still trying to figure out how to acknowledge that being and eating healthy is important while still learning to love myself in the body that I am currently in while working towards a healthier way of life. It’s a delicate message to balance: love yourself but always work towards being healthy. I was unhealthy when I was anorexic. And I’m unhealthy now that I am over weight. Somewhere in the middle of it all I was healthier and I felt at my best and that is what I am working towards and want to teach my teens to work towards. Not am image, but a feeling of health, and yes that comes in all different shapes and sizes. But I think the feeling is the goal, that feeling of having enough energy to engage in and enjoy the various activities that you love and to be able to engage with the people around you.

Tomorrow I will share with you one of two fun food based program ideas that I have recently found. Wednesday I will share another. And then on Thursday as part of our #MHYALit discussion we will talk about the book BELIEVARAXIC, a book about teens with eating disorders. And this too is part of our discussion of food in the life of teens. It’s an ongoing discussion. It’s a complicated discussion. At least it is for me.

Body Image and Eating Disorders

Hunger and Poverty

Food Based TPiB

Take 5: YA Lit with Food Allergies

Earlier today I talked a little bit about food allergies and shared some ever evolving thoughts I had about food in teen programming. Now I want to share 5 MG and YA lit titles that have characters that deal with food allergies. I have only read 2 of the following 5 titles, but the rest are now sitting on my TBR title after doing a little bit of research and finding them.

DELICATE MONSTERS by Stephanie Khuen

Publisher’s Book Description: From the Morris-Award winning author of Charm & Strange, comes a twisted and haunting tale about three teens uncovering dark secrets and even darker truths about themselves.

When nearly killing a classmate gets seventeen-year-old Sadie Su kicked out of her third boarding school in four years, she returns to her family’s California vineyard estate. Here, she’s meant to stay out of trouble. Here, she’s meant to do a lot of things. But it’s hard. She’s bored. And when Sadie’s bored, the only thing she likes is trouble.

Emerson Tate’s a poor boy living in a rich town, with his widowed mother and strange, haunted little brother. All he wants his senior year is to play basketball and make something happen with the girl of his dreams. That’s why Emerson’s not happy Sadie’s back. An old childhood friend, she knows his worst secrets. The things he longs to forget. The things she won’t ever let him.

Haunted is a good word for fifteen-year-old Miles Tate. Miles can see the future, after all. And he knows his vision of tragic violence at his school will come true, because his visions always do. That’s what he tells the new girl in town. The one who listens to him. The one who recognizes the darkness in his past.

But can Miles stop the violence? Or has the future already been written? Maybe tragedy is his destiny. Maybe it’s all of theirs.

Karen’s Thoughts: I have read part of an advanced copy of DELICATE MONSTERS and I was immediately drawn to how it discussed food allergy issues. It also mentions abdominal migraines, which is an ailment a teen girl I love suffers from that I had never heard of before meeting her. In addition to handling food allergy issues and the emotions surrounding them well, Khuen also just writes really fantastic thrillers and this is no exception. This book will be published in June by St. Martin’s Press.

MY YEAR OF EPIC ROCK by Andrea Pyros

Publisher’s Book Description: If Life Was Like a Song

Nina Simmons’ song would be “You Can’t Always Eat What You Want.” (Peanut allergies, ugh). But that’s okay, because as her best friend Brianna always said, “We’re All in This Together.”

Until the first day of the seventh grade, when Brianna dumps her to be BFFs with the popular new girl. Left all alone, Nina is forced to socialize with “her own kind”–banished to the peanut-free table with the other allergy outcasts. As a joke, she tells her new pals they should form a rock band called EpiPens. (Get it?) Apparently, allergy sufferers don’t understand sarcasm, because the next thing Nina knows she’s the lead drummer.

Now Nina has to decide: adopt a picture-perfect pop personality to fit in with Bri and her new BFF or embrace her inner rocker and the spotlight. Well..

Call Me a Rock Star, Maybe

Karen’s Thoughts: I actually came across this title when the author Tweeted about it earlier this week for #FoodAllergyAwarenessWeek. It will be published in September from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, it’s Middle Grade.

PEANUT by Ayun Halliday

Publisher’s Book Description: “A smart, affecting graphic young adult novel,” declares the New York Times.

Before you write me off as a delusional psycho, think about what it’s like to be thrown into a situation where everyone knows everyone… and no one knows you. Sadie has the perfect plan to snag some friends when she transfers to Plainfield High—pretend to have a peanut allergy. But what happens when you have to hand in that student health form your unsuspecting mom was supposed to fill out? And what if your new friends want to come over and your mom serves them snacks? (Peanut butter sandwich, anyone?) And then there’s the bake sale, when your teacher thinks you ate a brownie with peanuts. Graphic coming-of-age novels have huge cross-over potential, and Peanut is sure to appeal to adults and teens alike. (2012)

Karen’s Thoughts: This title is not about a person with a food allergy, but about a teen who fakes having a food allergy. And it’s a graphic novel. The New York Times said, “Sadie’s allergy may be fake, but the sentiments in “Peanut” are not, and that’s what matters.” You can read the entire review here.

BREAK by Hanna Moskowitz

Publisher’s Book Description:

Jonah is on a mission to break every bone in his body. Everyone knows that broken bones grow back stronger than they were before. And Jonah wants to be stronger—needs to be stronger—because everything around him is falling apart. Breaking, and then healing, is Jonah’s only way to cope with the stresses of home, girls, and the world on his shoulders.

When Jonah’s self-destructive spiral accelerates and he hits rock bottom, will he find true strength or surrender to his breaking point?

Karen’s Thoughts: This is a book I have not read, though Moskowitz is the author of the incredibly fascinating TEETH and NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED, which Amanda reviewed earlier. It doesn’t say this in the publisher’s book description, but apparently Jonah’s self destructive spiral is sparked in part by the pressures of dealing with his brother Jessie’s life-threatening food allergies.

FREE TO FALL by Lauren Miller

Publisher’s Book Description: What if there was an app that told you what song to listen to, what coffee to order, who to date, even what to do with your life—an app that could ensure your complete and utter happiness?

What if you never had to fail or make a wrong choice?

What if you never had to fall?

Fast-forward to a time when Apple and Google have been replaced by Gnosis, a monolith corporation that has developed the most life-changing technology to ever hit the market: Lux, an app that flawlessly optimizes decision making for the best personal results.

Just like everyone else, sixteen-year-old Rory Vaughn knows the key to a happy, healthy life is following what Lux recommends. When she’s accepted to the elite boarding school Theden Academy, her future happiness seems all the more assured. But once on campus, something feels wrong beneath the polished surface of her prestigious dream school.

Then she meets North, a handsome townie who doesn’t use Lux, and begins to fall for him and his outsider way of life. Soon, Rory is going against Lux’s recommendations, listening instead to the inner voice that everyone has been taught to ignore — a choice that leads her to uncover a truth neither she nor the world ever saw coming.

Karen’s Thoughts: FREE TO FALL is not a book about food allergies. In fact, it never mentions food allergies at all. There is, however, a scene where a teen boy working as a coffee shop barrister gives coffee to a teen girl and instead of giving her what she orders, he gives her a coffee he thinks she would like. What this means is that he deceives this teenage girl about what she is putting into her body not knowing if she has any dietary restrictions, thus violating her and putting her in potential harm’s way. The book itself is quite good and fascinating, very discussable, and I think this scene can lead us to talk about food safety issues in ways that perhaps the author didn’t originally intend. In my post earlier today I shared with you the story of Kaye M., a young Muslim woman with religious food restrictions and how food prep people had purposely tried to get her friends and family members to violate those personal restrictions through deception. And when I originally reviewed FREE TO FALL I shared my personal concerns about the safety issues surrounding this scene regarding food allergy issues. This scene, completely unrelated to food issues and stuck in the middle of a thriller, is a poignant reminder that sometimes we can have meaningful discussions about important issues that the author never intended. It’s a good book and the scene is a good discussion prompt.

Edited 5/15/15 to Add::

Who I Kissed by Janet Gurtler

Janet Gurtler’s latest contemporary YA novel is by turns gripping, heart-wrenching, and joyous as one teen girl has to find the courage to carry on after a devastating tragedy.

She never thought a kiss could kill…

As the new girl in town, Samantha just wants to fit in. Being invited to a party by her fellow swim team members is her big chance…especially since Zee will be there. He hasn’t made a secret of checking her out at the pool. Sam didn’t figure on Alex being there too. She barely even knows him. And she certainly didn’t plan to kiss him. It just kind of happened.

And then Alex dies—right in her arms…

Consumed by guilt and grief, Sam has no idea what to do or where to turn when everyone at school blames her. What follows is Sam’s honest, raw, and unforgettable journey to forgive herself and find balance—maybe even love—in a life that suddenly seems to be spinning out of control.

In addition, there is a self-published book called SUNDIAL by M. I. Pearsall that exists and there are discussion questions available. I don’t normally read and review self-published titles because I have never worked in a library that purchased them for their collections, which I think will someday change, but I wanted to let you know it was out there because of the discussion questions that were available.

Let’s Talk Teens, Food and Programming

This is Food Allergy Awareness Week, which seems like a good time for me to revisit my thoughts regarding serving food at teen programs, which seems like a constant work in progress. Back in 2011, prompted in part by my own personal struggles as a mom to a child with extreme food allergies, I wrote an article in VOYA discussing how we – YA librarians – shouldn’t have so much food in our teen programs. It’s an article I still mostly stand by, though with some modifications. But first, let me share with you some of the various conversations I have been having that involve food that have really been leading me to rethink all things food and programming related.

1. Food, Programs and Hungry Teens

I recently was having a discussion with a staff member who objected to serving food at programs because it was a waste of money. Although I have concerns about food for food allergy reasons, I recognize that for many of our library patrons hunger is a real issue and it’s hard for our teens to be engaged in a library program if they are hungry or stressed out about food insecurity issues. We can’t solve their ongoing food issues, but serving food at a program can help eliminate immediate hunger pangs so they can engage and feel at peace for the duration of the program. Having food at a program not only meets a food need, it helps the patron better meet their recreational and educational needs because for this brief time they are able to engage. This hunger doesn’t even have to be a food insecurity issue, it could just be it’s after school and it’s been 5 hours since I had my 20 minute lunch issue. Immediate and long term hunger issues are things we need to consider when deciding whether or not to invest part of our programming resources into serving food.

2. Food and Religion

Kaye M. recently shared on Twitter a series of stories about food handlers trying to force her Muslim family members and friends to eat pork products through deception. I have never thought about food issues in terms of religious issues before, a major failing on my part to be sure. But many religions have food restrictions, sometimes permanently and sometimes for a short duration of time like Lent. It’s important for those of us serving the public to be aware that food restrictions exist and to be respectful of them. And please, let’s all remember it is never okay to force or deceive someone about the things they are putting into their body, it is dangerous, disrespectful and an incredible personal violation of one’s personal autonomy.





3. Food Allergies

Now 6, this is a graphic I put together when Thing 2 was 2 to help explain the food issues we were facing

Current research suggests that 1 in 13 kids has some type of a food allergy. These can range from mildly crippling to life threatening. As the parent to a child with non-anaphylactic allergies let me assure you the worst thing you can do is to try and suggest that non-life threatening allergies are not a big deal. Exposure to food allergies causes a range of symptoms that cause discomfort, health issues and generally impact one’s ability to thrive. My child’s food allergies were so severe that she had lots of internal damage that caused her constant pain and so destroyed her gi system that for a period of time she was not properly digesting her food and absorbing the nutrients; she went from being in the 90th percentile to the 4th in the course of 6 months as we tried to figure out what foods she was allergic to and tried to eliminate them from her diet. At the same time she cried 24/7 due to the pain and fell behind developmentally because she didn’t have time to worry about learning her ABCs and 123s. And yet, through it all, people still suggested it was not that big of an issue because she didn’t have anaphylactic reactions. All food allergy issues should be respected because they all present a host of issues for the individual. One good thing about working with Middle Grade and High School students is that they tend to be aware of their food allergies and are capable of making informed decisions if given  the proper information to do so. Although it is worth mentioning that a person can present with a food reaction suddenly and without previous knowledge. Heather Booth keeps all packaging for the food and has it available for a program if someone needs to read the ingredients, which is a great suggestion.

4. Disordered Eating, Body Image and Food Issues

When talking about food I also want to make sure that we acknowledge that many teens have complicated issues with food and their body image. This is not necessarily something we will ever know about in our individual teens, but we need to keep in mind that this is a real issue for many of our teens.

5. Food Means Time, Space, Storage & Handling and, Of Course, Money

We all know that food comes with a great cost, and not just a financial cost. Someone has to go and buy the food and your time equals money. You have to have a way to properly store then serve the food, which is a safety issue. You may be subject to local health department restrictions regarding handling and serving food, be sure to investigate them before buying and serving food. And the food itself is not cheap by any means. These are additional issues surrounding food that libraries need to keep in mind when considering when, how, how much and what kinds of food to include in our teen programming.

So where does this leave us with regards to food in teen programs?

I have worked in libraries that served food and those that forbid it, and I am the first to tell you that having food available does make a difference. The old adage of “if you feed them, they will come” does hold a lot of truth. And food based programs are fun and incredibly popular. But here are some of the rules I have developed for having food at programs that I recommend all libraries consider implementing If you have any additional ones, please share them with me in the comments.

1. No Nuts Not Ever Seriously Don’t Do It Please

Nut allergies are notoriously one of the most severe allergies. If you are going to have food at a program, please consider not having any peanut or tree nut foods, including anything with peanut butter. And I say this as a person who eats peanuts daily and never met a peanut butter cookie she didn’t like. This rule is just about safety, for your teens and you.

2. Know Your Food Allergy Basics

Just be aware of the current statistics and basic information like the top 8 allergens. Food Allergy and Research Education (FARE) is a good basic starting point.

Food Allergy Infographic from FARE: ww.foodallergy.org/infographic#.VVIgMJN_TzR

3. Know the Signs of an Anaphylactic Reaction

Many people have reactions that don’t include anaphylaxis, but analphylaxis is fast and deadly, responding quickly and appropriately can mean the difference between life and death. Immediately call 911 whenever you suspect that someone may be having an anaphylactic reaction. As part of a staff training day have a local nurse come in and talk about food allergies, anaphylaxis and how to administer an epi pen. Consider having a section on what to do in case of an allergy emergency as part of your staff safety protocols and training. FARE has a good one page document here that you can print out and include in your staff training. This is also where developing a relationship with our teens comes in handy, learn who the teens in your library are that have food allergies and whether or not they carry an epi pen on them that you may have to administer in an emergency.

4. Include Food in Your Marketing Materials

If you are going to include food in a program, consider putting this information on your marketing materials so patrons can make informed decisions about attending or not. If you know what specific foods you will be serving, consider putting this information in your marketing as well. If we believe information is power then maybe we owe it to our patrons to give them as much information as possible to make the best decisions for them regarding their health and safety at our programs.

5. Have a Variety of Food Options

Pizza is cheap and easy, but it also contains 2 of the top 8 allergens – dairy and gluten. Cookies and cupcakes are another staple of teen programming, but in addition to having food allergy concerns – hello gluten and often dairy! – they are also an issue for a country facing an obesity and health crisis on the scale that the U.S. currently is. So in addition to these items, consider adding some alternatives on your menu, like gluten free cookies and some more nutritious options like baby carrots and celery. As an anorexic teen, I know that I would have appreciated having healthier options at many of the functions I went to as I struggled to work through my food and body issues, it would have made the experience more inviting and comfortable for me as I privately struggled.

At the end of the day, teens are of course perfectly capable and fully responsible for the food choices that they make, but as people who care about teens I think we need to be aware of the various ways that food plays an important role in the life of teens and consider them in our programming and service choices. As G. I. Joe used to say, knowing is half the battle. The other half is what we choose to do with the information once we have it.

For more on teens, food, body image, poverty and other issues discussed above, please visit the TEEN ISSUES section of TLT.

TPiB: Tiny Food Party

Puppies, kittens and babies (oh my!)  What do they have in common? A large portion of the population thinks they are cute.  I propose they are cute because they are tiny.  I mean, have you ever seen those tiny baby shoes? Totes adorbs, as my Tween would say.  Because we seem to be drawn to tiny cute things, I present you with Tiny Food Party by Teri Lyn Fisher and Jenny Park.  A book full of – wait for it – tiny food.

There are 5 things to love about this book:
1) Tiny food!
2) Tiny homemade pop tarts – so awesome they have to be listed separately from tiny food
3) Full color pictures for the win! (a must for any real recipe book I would argue)
4) It has an awesome equivalents chart and index
5) They have organized the various foods into “A Little Menu” ideas which means they have given you some built in party planning ideas that include things like a Tiny BBQ/Picnic, a Tiny Vegetarian Food Party, a Tiny Comfort Food Party, a Tiny Food Fiesta, a Tiny Dinner Party, a Tiny Fair Food Party, a Tiny Breakfast Food Party, a Tiny Asian Food Party, and more.  Right there they have given you some great party or library program ideas. (My only wish is that the Little Menus were easier to find as I didn’t see them listed in the table of contents or index, I had to flip through the book when I wanted to refer back to them).

A Tiny Fairy Party

Pick out some of your favorite mini recipes from the book and make Fairy Gardens.  Or fairy stick puppets.  Actually, here is a list of some good fairy crafts that you could easily do.  And here are more, including fairy snowglobes. As a bonus, you can also do a fairy themed book discussion to go along with the theme.  Or read parts of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.  Or watch The Dead Poets Society.  Or, read and watch Ella Enchanted.  Goodreads has a shelf of fairy books.

The Borrowers Book Discussion

I can’t help but think of The Borrowers when I think of tiny things.  Or even Stuart Little.  See, there are a lot of great book titles you can pair with the menu items in Tiny Food Party and have some fun book discussions.  Here is a Borrowers book discussion outline.

Multicultural Night

Have a multicultural night with crafts and food tastings.  You can go for a general multicultural theme, or get more specific for things like The Chinese New Year and Cinco de Mayo.

Tiny Food Fiesta menu includes Taquitos, Beef Empanadas, Arepas, Fried Tacos, Candied Bacon Churros, Sweet Corn Ice Cream Tacos and Lemon-Lime Frizzes.  Pair this with a fun mini pinata DIY from Oh Happy Day.

Tiny Asian Food Party menu includes Kimchi Deviled Eggs, Pajeon, Banh Mi Sandwiches, Mochi Ice Cream Balls and Bloody Marys. Gyotaku is the Japanese art of fish printing.  You can use a rubber fish (or real fish if you are bold) and make fish print t-shirts.  Martha Stewart has some good instructions.  The Mr., who was an art major, has done this and it really is quite fun.

The Heartbreak Movie Film Festival

What better way to host an Anti-Valentine’s Day party then to watch a movie marathon of the greatest breakup films of all time and eat some tiny comfort food. The Tiny Comfort Food Party menu includes Coxhina, Shepherd’s Pies, Meat Loaves, Deep-Dish Pizzas, Chicken ‘n’ Waffles, White Chocolate Cheesecakes and Bloody Marys.  Coxinha is a Brazilian street food made mainly of chicken for those of you like me who did not know this.  Karen recommends: The 500 Days of Summer.

The Library Lock-In

Christie has library lock-ins as rewards for her winter and summer summer reading clubs.  Look Christie, they have a breakfast menu for you! Tiny Breakfast Food Party includes Savory Scones, Chicken ‘n’ Waffles, Stuffed French Toast, Country-Style Eggs Benedict, Cinnamon Spiced Cupcakes, Homemade Pop Tarts, and Coffecake Cocktails (which you probably don’t want to serve to minors)

Carnival/Fair Day

You can set up a little mini carnival in your library, which would be a great after hours program.  Or take the Karen easy approach to this program and bust out the video game system and the game Carnival Games. Or have your Minecraft teens put together a Minecraft carnival. Pair this with the Tiny Fair Food Party menu which includes “Onion” Rings, Bolinhos De Bacalhau, Corn dogs, Chicken ‘n’ Waffles, Mac ‘n’ Cheese Bites, Snickerdoodle Ice Cream Sandwiches and Funnel Cakes

Mini Cupcake Wars

Make (or buy) mini cupcakes and let tweens and teens decorate them. Seriously easy.

Mini Bowling or Eyeball Miniature Golf

Set up a mini-bowling alley and a miniature golf course in your library and serve your favorite tiny foods.  This would be a great after hours program.  If you do miniature golf, you can let the tweens and teens set up the course as part of the fun.  I say eyeball miniature golf because I like playing it with balls that look like eyeballs. It gives it a certain flair.


I honestly think just having a “Tiny Food Party” would be fun.  Pick your favorite recipes and pick some fun crafts out of the Microcrafts books to do.  Who could resist an invitation to attend a “Tiny Food Party”.

A note about food at library programs: I have actually worked at a library that had a full kitchen in the programming room.  And I have worked at libraries for which providing any type of food is incredibly difficult.  I have worked at libraries where the children’s librarian baked dozens of themed sugar cookies for kids to decorate to go along with a program theme.  So obviously people have various abilities and access when it comes to providing food at a library program.  But you can always do the crafting and gaming and book discussion parts of the program and then make a bookmark for your participants with a menu outline from the book with the information they need to check it out later.  

You could also make various bookmarks with party outlines – including craft and game ideas – that patrons can pick up at the circulation desk.  I don’t know about you, but my patrons love that type of stuff.  People are always looking for party information so giving them an outline of the Comfort Food Party menu with a few heartbreak films and books around Valentine’s Day would be a fun little promotional item and display.  Think of all the displays you could put together with a little bookmark of food suggestions, book and movie recommendations, and a craft outline.

As part of Quirk Books Week, Quirk Books has generously donated a prize package for one lucky winner that will include 2 of the above cookbooks, a copy of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, the first book of the Lovecraft Middle School series, and a copy of William Shakespeare’s Star Wars. I’ve tried to give you as many ways as possible to enter so pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and do the Rafflecopter thingy below.  The giveaway closes on Saturday, December 14th and is open to U.S. Residents.  The books will be sent to you from Quirk Books and they are worth it.