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TPIB: Bring Out Your Dead! Zombie Programming Redux

Teen Read Week (a Yalsa event) and Halloween is coming, and the creepy crawlies are coming, and oh, what fun we get to have.  Personally, the best way to celebrate is with ZOMBIES!  Vampires?  Been there, done that.  Monsters?  Baby things.  But ZOMBIES- oh, mysterious appeal, grown-up creepiness that will fascinate your teens.

THINGS TO THINK OF:  What type of program do you want to have?  Do you have the staff to have an all-out Zombie Day of programming, or do you need to tone it down to movies and a craft?  What resources do you have available?  I’ve put together what I’ve done at various libraries for a variety of different programs that can be thrown together for different styles and different ages.
Zombie Attack Prep Drill
·         Pregame prep:  gather a variety of sizes of sweatpants, sweatshirts and t-shirts from your house and other staff members, and then separate them according to type.  Place each type (pants, t-shirts, sweatshirts) into pile in a separate corner of the room.

·         Game time:  Ask for two volunteers to be zombies, then separate your teens randomly into even teams- two large groups, four groups, etc. – completely depends on your attendance.  As the zombies speed around the middle of the area, the teens must go in order around the room getting dressed in relay team style:  first to go grabs and puts on a shirt, then runs and puts on sweatpants, then runs and puts on a sweatshirt, then runs home.  The second to go then must run the clothes back in the opposite order:  sweatshirt, then pants, then shirt, then home.  If runners are tagged by the zombies, then they must return to their team start and go to the step they were on.  First team to finish the course wins.

·         Pregame Prep:  Clear a large area around your programming room, and mark the play area with masking tape if needed.  You’ll also need 1-2 bandannas.
·         Game time:  Ask for two volunteers to be zombies, then scatter your teens around the room.  The two zombies get blindfolded, and will then try and infect the other players by contact.  When ready, yell go, and the non-zombies walk around the room as quietly as possible.  The zombies moan BRAINS! And the non-zombies scream, so that the game is a twisted version of Marco Polo.  Once a teen is caught by a zombie, they become infected- they can’t turn others into zombies, but they can help catch others for the zombies to turn.  Game ends when there is one teen left standing.

Zombie Fluxx
A fun card game with ever-changing rules, Zombie Fluxx is made by Looney Labs.  You start with the basic rules:  you’re dealt three cards, then on your turn, you draw one card, then play one card.  However, as you play, the rules can change, and the way you win the game changes as well.  And watch out for Larry!  2-6 players, ages 8 and up.

Zombie Dice
Made by Steve Jackson Games, Zombie Dice won the Origins Award for Best Family,Party or Children’s Game in 2010.  You are the zombie, you want brains, you don’t want to get shot.  Roll the dice, and see what you get.  First to 13 brains wins.  2 or more players, 10 and up.
Munchkin Zombies
Munchkin Zombies
Also by Steve Jackson Games, Munchkin Zombies runs just like Munchkins.  You’re zombies, you’re attacking people, your armor is whatever you can find, and you level up by eating braaaaaaaaaains- good luck!  3-6 people, ages 10 and up.

Zombie Cuponk
Play a fun “undead” version of Cuponk, the game where you try and get ping pong balls in a cup.  Yes, it’s based on a drinking game, but this a non drinking version. ($14.99)
MOVIES (all covered under Movie Licensing USA)I love movie programs because we can darken the room, throw together a craft and it’s a relatively low-energy program on my end.  With older or hokey movies, we often turn it into our version of Mystery Science Theater with everyone mocking the screen.

Beetlejuice: A couple of recently deceased ghosts contact the services of a “bio-exorcist” to rid their house of the hideous new owners.  Rated PG.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978):  In San Francisco, a group of people discover that humans are being replaced by those who are devoid of emotion.  A really good one if you can tie in the fact that Donald Sutherland is Matthew here and President Snow in The Hunger Games.  Rated PG.

Tim Burton’s The Corpse Bride:  When a bashful groom gets cold feet, he gets more than he bargains for in the woods outside his home….  Rated PG. 

I Am Legend:  Years after most of humanity is killed off, the sole survivor works to find a cure.  Bonus points for being book based.  Rated PG-13.

Resident Evil Series:  Starting with a lab experiment gone bad, this is the series that may never end.  Based loosely on the video games of the same name- the CGI versions are more faithful to the video play.  Rated R.

Shaun of the Dead:  Unable to get anything in his life together, when he finds his whole town has turned into zombies, Shaun is determined to save everyone, or die trying.  Rated R.

Not every program has to be done by you- if you don’t have the staff, see if you can bring someone in to tie into the theme!

FEMA and the Red Cross:  tie in your zombie theme with disaster preparedness and see if the local branch of the Federal Emergency Management Agency can bring someone in to talk about emergency preparedness.  This could be anything from building an emergency kit to what to do if something actually happens.

Cosmetology and Stage Make-up:  See if your area has a local stage make-up artist or theater personnel who could do a workshop on zombie and stage make-up for your teens.  They could go over what it takes to make the make-up look real, how to make fake blood, and perform actual applications.  As an added bonus, you get to send real zombies home to their parents!

Zombie Hunters:  see if you have a local chapter of the Zombie Hunters in your area, and if they’re willing to come talk to your teens.  http://zombiehunters.org/chapters/
If you have a way to display things, you can easily have a passive program with little staff involvement.

POP UP TRIVIA:  Use a book like The Zombie Survival Guide, and make your own multiple choice questions.  Post them on a bulletin board, and make up an answer sheet for teens to fill out.  Have them turn them in, and out of the correct answers, give away small prizes like extra computer time, or fines waived, or extra summer reading prizes.

ZOMBIE SURVIVAL KIT:  Based off of the FEMA survival kits or books like Rot & Ruin series by Jonathan Maberry series or The Zombie Survival Guide, gather together a collection of things that might be useful in a Zombie invasion, and things that might not be so useful.  Assign a number value for each item, and keep the master list in your desk.  Place them in a display case with letters next to them, and ask teens to choose their own personal Top 10. Once the contest is over, display the point value and the reasoning, and give the winners their prize.

More Zombie Posts on TLT:
TPIB: It’s a Dead Man’s Party
TPIB: Monster Fest
Top 10 Apocalypse Survival Tips I Learned from YA
Reading the Zombie Apocalypse
“What’s the Deal with Zombies Anyway?”


  1. […] take too long. School Library Journal suggests using the Zombie edition of Fluxx as part of a Zombie themed program.  And this public library in the US used Fluxx as part of an adult game night – so there are […]

  2. […] Jensen, K. (2012, September 5). TPIB: Bring out your dead! Zombie programming redux. Teen Librarian Toolbox. https://www.teenlibrariantoolbox.com/2012/09/tpib-bring-out-your-dead-zombie-programming-redux/ […]

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