Read Think Do · Self-Directed Programs

A Year of Read, Think, Do

Last June, Katie debuted a new self-directed program called “Read, Think, Do.” (Katie is a children’s librarian/elementary school liasion/assistant department head at my library and, frequently, my partner in crime.) Every month or so, she puts out a new activity for kids to engage with. The activities are generally geared towards school-aged kids, but we definitely get all ages participating, from preschoolers through adults. It has been a huge hit from day one.

Tell Us a Joke! program at the Ela Library

Read, Think, Do took over the space at the entrance to the Children’s Department. It gets reconfigured depending on what we have out at any given time, but generally there’s a table and chairs, 2 large magnetic boards that we bought for this purpose, and display space for books that tie into the activity.

We’ve had a wide variety of activities in the Read, Think, Do space:

  • Wishes for summer vacation: We put out pads of star-shaped paper for kids to tell us their wishes for summer vacation. We got hundreds of responses! You can see pictures here.
  • What would an alien library look like? (This tied into our summer reading theme, Take Me To Your Reader.) Kids drew pictures and wrote a few sentences about what they thought aliens would have in their libraries. The most popular answer was “lots of 3DS games.”
  • Giant, magnetic Mr. Potato Head: We put this out multiple times, including at Halloween, since he has a lot of costumes!
  • Books you love: Kids wrote book recommendations, which we turned into a display with the books themselves.
  • I’m thankful for… At Thanksgiving, kids told us what they’re thankful for. They gave a lot of thoughtful responses.
  • Make a Christmas card: We sent the cards to residents at an assisted living facility that our Outreach Department regularly visits.
  • Optical illusions: We posted oversized prints of optical illusions for people to look at.
  • What book characters do you love? For Valentine’s Day, we put out pads of heart-shaped post-its so kids could tell us what book characters they loved.
  • Tell us your favorite jokes was a huge hit and made me laugh every day, when I read the new jokes.
  • Versus Madness coincided with March Madness. Kids voted for their favorite things until a winner was crowned! (Spoiler: Frozen, the movie, won. Shocker.)
  • Draw a picture inspired by your favorite book. This was for National Library Week, and was done in partnership with fast food chain Culvers. Kids who participated  received a coupon for a free ice cream, and we’re raffling off a few kid’s meal prizes as well.
  • Giant, magnetic Tic Tac Toe

Friend wishes

One of the inspirations for this space was the Oak Park Library’s Idea Box. It’s much larger in concept (and size!) than our Read, Think, Do space, but the general idea is the same: library visitors can interact with the library in interesting, self-directed, ways. We’ve had great feedback on this and plan to continue it for the time being.

Do you have any ongoing, self-directed programs at your library? Please share in the comments!

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