Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Fav 5 Programs of the Year: Christie’s Version

“Don’t count every hour in the day; make every hour in the day count.”

– unknown

Everyone always has their favorite things that they love to do at work, things that just make your day.  Mine is doing things with the kids, whether it’s just sitting down and hanging out or having a formal program.  There’s always something going on at my library, and while we have a lot of programs, I thought that I’d share my favorite 5 of the year.

Championship Round of the Thanksgiving Halo Tournament

Gaming Events

From running informal gaming afternoons to formal tournaments with Mario Kart, Smash Brothers or Halo, I love running gaming events. Maybe it’s because I’m a halfway decent gamer (I have a bit of talent, and a LOT of enthusiasm), but I enjoy watching and playing video games, and am always up on the latest games.  While my library may not have the latest and greatest titles (Wii, PS3 and XBOX 360 w/o a Kinect), I do let the teens bring their own games- and they know that a. they’re responsible for their stuff, and b. nothing comes up missing or I will find out who took it before everyone leaves.

Surprise Saturday: Yu-Gi-Oh Free Play 

Surprise Saturdays

I adore Surprise Saturdays.  Maybe it’s because I’m actually caught up on everything, and everyone is actually here, but I think it’s more because it makes the day special for the kids.  I’ve done crafts, freeplay Wii and PS3 gaming, holiday movie days, Yu-Gi-Oh free play, board games…  And it only takes a little bit before the word gets around and while I may start with two or three people, I end up with a room full.

Star Wars Reads Day/ May the Sith Be With You
I have had two different Star Wars based programs, and both have been HUGE successes, so if you were deabting whether or not to have one: DO IT.  The most recent one was Star Wars Reads Day, and we did origami crafts from the Origami Yoda books, had free play sessions on the PS3 for Lego Star Wars, played Star Wars Monopoly, and had a surprise visit (to all of us) from TIE fighter pilots from the 501st (picture on the left).  The first program I had I coordinated with the 501st directly, and had 6 members of the Fist able to come out: Lord Vader (pictured on the right reading silently as my kids looked on), an Imperial Royal Guard, a Storm Trooper, a Sand Trooper, a Scout Trooper and one of the Imperial Crew.  Both times, after pictures with the kids, they went around and interacted with everyone- playing pool, looking at what they were doing on the computers, and loving the Star Wars books that we had on display.  The 501st do need a locked room to store their weapons and other gear away from the Rebel Alliance, but it is definitely worth the effort to get them to your library.

 Reading Program Lock-Ins
Karen and I disagree on this one, but I adore lock-ins, and use them as a huge added incentive for my teen reading programs.  I make it an added challenge by tacking it above and beyond what they need to actually complete the program to our system’s standards, and every year the number of teens meeting the challenge increases.  It is a lot of time and energy to produce the program: gathering donations for food, coordinating prizes and reading logs, getting the building ready for the lock-in, making sure you think about everything before hand, etc.  However, it is definitely worth it in my opinion. The teens that have been participating in the lock-ins (and therefore the reading programs heavily) have been improving their reading scores at school, and are staying involved at the library and at school.  And in my area, that’s huge.

Talk Like a Pirate Day
I think Talk Like a Pirate Day is hysterical, and adore it.  Besides, I get a legitimate excuse to bring a sword to work!  This year, I was able to coordinate with the after school program in my building and we showed movies and did pirate flags for everyone- 90 kids and adults in all.  A lot of leg work, especially as there was just me setting it all up, but definitely worth it as the next two weeks we were buried in requests for pirate and shipwreck books.

So, what were your favorite programs that you did?  Or what are you looking forward to doing in the coming year?  Share in the comments below!


  1. I love doing “create” programs with teens.They always astound me with their creative efforts be it duct tape, food, painting, or any other materials we give them. Last summer we cut a painting of Starry Night into squares, gave each teen a peice of canvas and a square of the painting to replicate.The peices were assembled into a painting that hung in the teen area all summer.We also did a graffiti program that was fun to watch and produced some fun results.

  2. that woild be i before e in piece!

  3. I have a question about your gaming (especially halo), we've run into some issues with game ratings. So you have the kids fill out permission slips? or, do you just go for it?

  4. Hi Wendy-
    All the games that I use are rated T or younger- the system that I work in does not allow for using M rated games or R rated movies for teen programs at all. The Halo version that I've used is either the free Halo trial (for PCs- which you can search and then download) or Halo Wars for XBox. I've been researching whether or not the content of one-on-one battles (the way I run my tournaments) would reflect a T rating so that I could use other versions, and I *think* it would, but I haven't tried it yet.

    The only time I use permission slips is for my lock-in programs, and that is because we're overnight when the building is closed. My teens know that if they fake a parent's signature, there will be IMMEDIATE and HARSH punishment, and so far, no one has- I've called parents when teens are five minutes late, and when a signature has been suspicious, so I have a reputation. 🙂 The teens also know that if they bring their own games, they have to be T rated, and that they're responsible for them; however, the gaming programs are in enclosed spaces (no one is running in and out) and if something is missing, I'll track it down before people leave. >:-)

  5. Hi! I love doing those as well, some times I just let them loose with my craft supplies and see what happens! I think a lot of times they're so overscheduled that they're loosing the time to just be free, and with schools cutting art, they just need that expression.

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