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Star Wars Reads Day 2015 at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County


The Children’s Librarian and I do a little cosplay for our event.

Saturday October 10th was Star Wars Reads Day – one of my favorite holidays of the year! Why? Well for one, I got to dress up like Princess Leia. Of all the princesses I think she is my favorite because she saved Han Solo and Luke Skywalker just as much as they saved her. Never forget that one of her best quotes ever is this: Someone has to save our skins! She then proceeds to do exactly that.

Star Wars Reads Day is also one of my favorite days because it’s really easy to program for. We had a fantastic day at The Public Library of Mt. Vernon and Knox County with a variety of activities for our tweens and teens, many of which we found of course on the high holy programming deity: Pinterest.

We made light sabers out of pool noodles and duct tape. This turned out to be very easy and very popular.


A staff member painted a white trash can to look like R2D2 and we did a bean bag toss. It should be noted that the staff member in question is not me, I could not do this. Look at how fabulous this looks!


We of course made Fortune Cookie Wookiees because how could you not!


Because we have a large number of Legos available for our programming, I put together a variety of Lego challenges for our tweens and teens to do. They were supposed to do various activities in 5 minute challenges, but in the end it turned out they really just wanted to build and play so that’s what I let them do. I have learned over the years that it is important to listen to your audience and be adaptable. Even though they did a free build, many of the participants still ended up building space ships and incorporating Star Wars Lego Minifigures that we bought for our event.




I also created a station that involved using my new favorite thing: The Button Maker! We wanted to do Star Wars Thumb Print Doodles (there is a Klutz book), but I thought we would take it a step further and make buttons out of the doodles. This too proved to be a very popular activity.



I also downloaded some free Star Wars silhouettes from SilhouettesFree.com and combined it with my second new love, the Fused app, to create these cool Star Wars buttons.


The librarians were not the only ones to cosplay, we had several of our kids come in costume or bring fun props.



To be honest, the highlight of the day for the kids was probably when this young lady below walked in and I proclaimed, “Oh my gosh you have great buns!” I totally should have known better after working with tweens and teens for so many years, but I had some genuine bun envy because I don’t have enough hair to do legit Princess Leia buns. Needless to say, there was a lot of snickering.


And because it was Star Wars READS Day, we made sure and had plenty of new Star Wars books on hand for our tweens and teens to check out, and R2D2 was there to lead the way.


It was a great Star Wars Reads Day. Until net year, remember: Read More, You Must!

MG Book Review: Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown

So much fun! As a casual enthusiast of Star Wars, I was fully engaged by this story of Roan, a young boy from Tatooine (sound familiar?) Roan comes from a family with a long history of serving as Star Pilots. His Father and Grandfather are Star Pilots, and his older brother is attending Pilot Academy. At the beginning of the novel, Roan is understandably disappointed to receive a rejection letter from Pilot Academy Middle School. It’s all he’s ever dreamt of – becoming a Star Pilot in the family tradition. What will he do now? His only alternative is Tatooine Agriculture Academy. He will be stuck on Tatooine forever, as a farmer.

More Star Wars fun here and here.

Mysteriously, just before he leaves to attend TAA, Roan receives a letter inviting him to attend Jedi Academy, on the strength of Master Yoda’s recommendation. What follows is Roan’s immersion into an almost foreign world. All of the other Jedi Academy students have been there since toddler-hood, why has Roan only now been accepted? We see the world of Star Wards through Roan’s eyes, visiting familiar places like Kashyyyk (home world of the Wookies), and learning more about what early training of the Jedi involved. Roan is a typical, slightly confused, moderately sarcastic, very funny and engaging middle schooler. This title is an excellent introduction to both the world of the Jedi and the world of Middle School. I would highly recommend its purchase for 3rd through 8th grades.

On a side note, this is an ‘alternative format’ novel, written as a mixture of journal entries, cartoons, letters, and other ephemera. Anywhere that this type of novel is popular (almost everywhere) would be best served by purchasing multiple copies.  Check out more great alternate format reads for Middle Grade readers here.

Kicky Says:  So, the tween got a copy of the book and read it 3 times in 2 days.  That’s right, I sat there and watched her finish the book just to open the front cover and start it all over again.  She says it is “really good” and “very funny”.

Star Wars: Jedi Academy (ISBN 9780545505178) from publisher Scholastic will be available on August 27, 2013

Star Wars Reads Day, Take II

In a galaxy not so far away, librarians everywhere are beginning to plan once again for Star Wars Reads Day.

Saturday, October 5, 2013 is Star Wars Reads Day II.

Last year, Christie and I participated and we blogged about our experiences and shared some programming ideas.  Star Wars Reads Day is a great way to tap into popular culture and reach out to your tweens and teens so you can get them into your library and reading.  That’s our goal: to nourish growing minds so that they grow up to be thoughtful, free thinking persons doing positive things in the world.

This year, Scholastic is introducing a new book for tweens called Star Wars Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown.  Brown is the author of Vader and Son and Vader’s Little Princess. Jedi Academy is part graphic novel, part traditional narrative and taps into the growing trend of Wimpy Kid-like reads for this age group.  Readers are loving this format at my library and I can’t get enough of them, so I am definitely thank for this fun, new addition to the format.  The book follows Roan, a boy who has been invited to attend the mysterious Jedi Academy.  I really liked the Inside Your Lightsaber diagram and Stuff Yoda Said This Week pages.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zx86EX05xMQ]

In the immortal words of Yoda: “Read, You Will” (I saw it on a poster once)

5 Fun Star Wars Reads for Tweens:
Star Wars Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (first in the series)
The Star Wars Visual Encylopedia from DK Publishing
Lego Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles
Angry Birds Star Wars

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!

Star Wars Reads Day: a recap in pictures

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (sometimes referred to as Texas),
two library branches got together for an epic – and out of this world – day of books and fun with Tweens and Teens known as
Star Wars Reads Day
A battle was being fought between good (reading good) and evil (ignorance and illiteracy evil)

So two librarians, strong in the force, took up their light sabers and began training young readers in the way of the Force
We challenged ourselves to create space ships out of Legos and ended up creating entire space scenes


We read the Origami Yoda books (and other books about space, aliens, ufos, and origami) and tried our hand at Star Wars Origami
Read, you will (said in my best Yoda voice)

We tried to do some Star Wars trivia with our “light saber” pens

One of the branches even had some Star Wars Re-Enactors show up dressed as Tie-Fighters

At the end of the day, one of our participants gave the day a Thumbs Up!
May the Force Be With You!
Stay tuned for Episode II (or would it be IV?) in which a young princess falls in love . . . with the green guy (but if you had to choose: Han Solo or Luke Skywalker?)
(I just had to share because later that night my tween put her Origami Yoda on the end of a broom stick and danced with him to Taylor Swift.  She loves the Origami Yoda books series and book 3 is lost somewhere in my house and now overdue)
(check out the official site for a complete listing of supporting publishers and a great booklist including Star Wars trivia, origami and Legos. Read the FAQ)
For more Star Wars Reads Day pictures, check out the Bowles Flickr
These pictures were taken at the Bowles and Betty Warmack Branch of the Grand Prairie Library system in Grand Prairie, Texas.  The Grand Prairie Library is “out of this world” awesome and we love working there, but our comments on this blog, which is privately owned by Karen Jensen and the TLT peeps, never ever reflect our employers.  They can not be held responsible for us. (But we hope occasionally they want to claim us.)
Curriculum tie-ins: Math, Science, Language, Social Skills
Also promotes creativity and self-directed learning

In a galaxy not so far away: Star Wars Reads Day (TPIB: Space)

In a galaxy not so far away . . .

“The Force is strong with this one.” 
– Darth Vader, Star Wars, Episode IV, A New Hope

The Force is coming strongly to libraries across the country on October 6- StarWars Reads Day is being held nationwide in conjunction with Lucasfilms and its publishing partners (Abrams, Chronicle Books, Dark Horse, Del Rey, DK Publishing, Random House Audio, Scholastic, Titan Magazines and Workman).  While registration is closed for libraries that want to be labeled an “official site,” you can still join in the celebration of all things Jedi and Sith.

Get practicing on your origami by creating Origami Yoda, Darth Paper, or the new Fortune Wookie from the books of Tom Angleberger.  Or simplify the designs by breaking them down to their basic shapes (triangles, rectangles, etc.) and pasting them onto popsicle sticks for book marks or puppets.
If you have good support from your patrons, ask them to bring in their paper towel rolls, and use them to create small light sabers from construction paper or colored copy paper.  If you have the money, you could even create light sabers from pool noodles, and then have a light saber battle afterwards!  If you have the budget for it, pool noodles would also make for some safe but fun “light saber” jousting.  My branch manager also assures me that you can make lightsabers out of long tubes of bubbles found at places like Wal-Mart.

You can create mini galaxies by upcycling (don’t you just love that word?) baby food jars.  All you need is an empty (and clean) baby food jar, water, glycerin, glitter and whatever other little doodads you want to place inside (like colored aquarium rocks).  You can get complete instructions at Inhabitots.  I have done this craft with teens and they loved it.

You can also use a variety of recycled cans, computer parts, etc. – whatever you can find – and have older participants make robots.

If you want to get really creative, have a collection of flat rocks, and have your participants paint their favorite characters.  Then, after they’re dry, have them judged by “experts” for small prizes.
Visit the Official Star Wars Reads Day FAQ for complete information
You can download the full color activity pack at the Star Wars Reads Day site
If you have a Lego club, or access to Legos, this is a perfect program to bring them out and let the creativity flow.  Print out pictures of the different ships throughout the series, and let them create off those images, or create new ships that would fit within the series.  Take pictures of their designs and post them online.
Track down one of the Star Wars themed board games and have a tournament.  There’s Monopoly, chess, Risk, Stragego, Guess Who?, and many others…
If you have the equipment, have a video game free play station.  Lego Star Wars is good for all ages and is available on Wii and PS2 (and compatible with PS3).  Star Wars:  The Clone Wars Lightsaber Duels has actual light saber duels.  And in Soul Caliber IV, for a small fee you can download Yoda, Darth Vader and Starkiller for both PS3 and Xbox 360 and have a Jedi/Sith tournament.
If you’re really adventurous, set up an indoor (or outdoor) obstacle course and hold your own Jedi training academy for new recruits.  End with a medaling graduation ceremony and play the music from the Throne Room scene.
No library programming is complete without books, and SWRD is no exception.  What books do you plan on sharing with your patrons on October 6?  Share in the comments!

Last Stop: The Cantina!
Don’t forget to bust out the techno music and have your teens do their favorite robot dancing.  Take a page out of the popular Comic Con and do some cosplay (costume play) and ask teens to come in their best Star Wars costume, with points for creativity.  You can even get some dry ice and have some amazing drinks to serve.

When thinking Star Wars, remember it doesn’t have to come directly off the silver screen.  Anything space, aliens, robots and technology would apply.  This is a great way to use popular culture to get teens thinking creatively, thinking tech, and turn your library into a place that is out of this world!