Star Wars Reads Day 2014

You guys! I never posted about Star Wars Reads Day 2014!!
How did this happen?



I feel like I’m losing nerd cred…ok, on with it.




We had done May the 4th Be With You day but now it was time for Star Wars Reads Day

This day was full of Star Wars crafts, games, and lots of books. We made masks, had puzzles, screened the Star Wars the Clone Wars animated movie, and completed our Jedi training by building our very own lightsabers before posing for our glamour shots in the photobooth.

I actually “did” the program at TWO libraries because I’m magic and can be in two places at once (kidding, probably).

I planned, ordered and printed materials, booked, and coordinated both but was only at one library for the day while relying on amazing co-workers and volunteers to run the event at the other library. Star Wars Reads Day 2014 marks my 3rd year doing SWRD program and my 3rd year starting the program at a new library. I’ve started the program at 3 different libraries, one each year…to keep that trend going, it means I’ll have to find a new library to begin working at and start it there this year! (won’t happen, hah)

The day was full of awesome crafting, games, reading, and Star Wars. Here are pictures from the photobooths at each location!

Here’s me with one of my favorite costumed characters I saw all day!


is this not adorable!?!


As for the activities, aside from the photobooth, One year I had a really awesome Trivia session (if you ask really nicely, I might even share the powerpoint I made)


I’ve also stuck with the classic DIY lightsabers craft which you can find a variety of different ways of doing. I personally found that some basic posterboard and craft tubes work best. Here are the links to the printable hilts and a link to the posterboard I used which is inexpensive and worked perfectly!

Lightsaber Hilt from Disney
Discount Poster Board

I’ve also had a Star Wars Character Mask station each year with very basic printouts out cardstock which only require that the kids cut them out, punch the holes and tie them on. Easy peasy and super popular.
Excellent Printable Star Wars Masks from GeekMom Mashup
(love her site!)

I’ve also found the “Droid Creation Station” to be a big hit. Basically, I gathered various cardboard supplies (think trash lab programs) and supplemented them with a plethora of shiny, sparkly, do-dads and let kids go wild in our craft room and build their own droid, just like Anakin!

buy all the shiny crafts!

buy all the shiny crafts!

I’ve also had games that range from very basic lo-tech like the “force relay race” game that we did using our red and green (perfect colors for jedi and sith!) wooden rhythm sticks to keep our storytime scarves afloat as they walk up and down a line as fast as possible or our Deathstar beanbag toss game to a much more hi-tech game using Speros (spheroes?) to play our “Drive a Droid” station where kids or staff create an obstacle course that they then have to navigate a droid (sphero) through.

I made two versions of the Deathstar Beanbag toss game. The first one was very last minute and kinda crummy, the second one (next year) was way better since I planned ahead.


here’s the first one I made that was only cardboard so the force was not very strong with this one. The paint came out pretty great though so I may try to mount it to some wood for strength.

The second version I made out of wood with the help of my boss who did all the woodworking for me. (yay, boss!)


Random Star Wars crafty things. This page has a great collection of crafts, games, and printables. Many of the crafts are things I’ve considered for events but couldn’t manage for our large crowds of 200-300, maybe I’ll use them for a smaller event, or they would work great for smaller libraries.

For most of the crafts / activities I’ve done, I’ve tried to make them relatively simple so that people can drop in and work at their own pace and not have to worry about what time they get there or how busy it is. For example, one of the stations I put together was a writing station. this isn’t just any writing station though, it’s writing in Aurebesh which is “a writing system commonly used to represent the Basic language” Kids could write their name, a secret note, a whole story if they wanted! This might seem silly or just fun, but it also encourages literacy and creative writing skills.


I’ve always gotten excellent feedback about these programs. I love not only seeing the kids dress up and geek out, but their parents and even older kids do as well which I think makes it even cooler for the little kids to be able to see that. The event itself is awesome in so many ways but I just love that they have such a recognizable and well loved franchise that pairs up SO well with reading! there are Star Wars books GALORE! And have you seen Wookieepedia?!  And these are not just books, these are graphic novels, Omnibus collections, phonics learning tools, chapter books for kids, early literacy readers, and even picture books. There is literally a Star Wars book out there for any kind of reader. Or if you’re an super-nerd, like me, sometimes you get so into a book or character that you then have to go read up on their entire history and other character relations and back stories on their wiki page which can take HOURS. ok, this analogy might be a bit…brash, but talk about a gateway drug, these books have the ability to not only get kids hooked, but they are so many formats and option our there that before they know it, kids (or reluctant adult readers) will soon find themselves perusing other sci-fi books or mysteries, or even, (GASP) non-fiction! Science of Star Wars anybody?

Check out my May the Fourth post to read more about our Star Wars programs and to see some pictures.

I’m REALLY hoping that we secure a visit from the 501st for this Star Wars Reads Day at one or both of my libraries because it makes it just that much more amazing.

This coming year I plan to keep the old standbys of DIY lightsaber, and the print out masks, but I’d like to change the event up a bit as well, maybe instead of a photobooth we make a mural wall for photo ops? Maybe make your own Star Wars graphic novel with pre-drawn scenes that just need words in the word bubbles? Who knows!? I’ve got a bunch of ideas a brewin’ and I can’t wait!

DIY Lightsabers are excellent for protecting against cupcake thieves.

DIY Lightsabers are excellent for protecting against cupcake thieves.



MLA Spring Institute 2014

This past week I attended the MLA   2014 Spring Institute. It was my first time going since I’ve not previously worked specifically in a youth department at a library but I was really excited to see what it was all about.

I was hoping and planning to go both Thursday and Friday but was unable to make it work due to scheduling but was still able to make it out for the full day on Friday. It was an early and LONG day for me as it was almost a 2 hour drive and registration started at 8am. Yikes! I had a hard time deciding which sessions to attend as they all looked really interesting, but I finally nailed down my schedule:

10:30 am – Early Brain Development 

11:30 am – lunch with speaker – Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, 2013 Mitten
Award Author

1:45 pm – Makerspaces kid style

3:00 pm – iKids: Adding Tablets and Apps to Your Programs for Young Children

Let me just start by saying that I was 3 pages of notes in by the end of the first session. hah.

I haven’t yet actually looked back through and organized all my notes yet, but I hope to do that soon and will update if I end up writing anything decent.

The lunch with the speaker was great; I felt like a kid again listening to her stories about travelling around the world and writing about nature and animals as I caught myself thinking “I wanna do that when I grow up!”  🙂

I’m a staunch animal advocate and firm believer in their ability to help people and people’s responsibility to help them so some of her titles especially“Dogs on Duty” and “Saving Audie”  really touched a nerve with me. I really enjoyed her presentation and had hoped to speak a bit with her during her book signing, but I had to hurry on to my next session.

The two afternoon sessions that I attended were also pretty great. I have been planning on starting similar things in the near future but am not quite 100% done brewing them up so it was really helpful to hear what some others had done and what worked or didn’t work. The makerspace session actually really clarified things for me; I have some basic experience with makerspaces and I was having a hard time figuring out how exactly I could take the concept and sort of scale it down both literally and figuratively so that it would work for kids, but this presentation made me realize that I was still dreaming a bit too big and that baby steps are ok and that I don’t need to make everything mind-blowing right from the get-go.

The iKids session was also neat, but I was already familiar with many of the things they talked about so I didn’t learn too much new info, but it’s still good to hear what people are using and how they work for them.  They also talked about some good books that have information on research involving screen time and children.

The one I think I took the most from was the Early Brain Development session with Sally Keller, Noah’s Ark Preschool Director, and Stephen Williams, Retired Neuroscientist.

The presentation was quite science heavy, but they did an excellent job of presenting it in a way that was very accessible and easy to understand. I was excited to hear them talk about some of the things I’ve done in my storytimes that I’ve mentioned here in my blog like giving kids something to hold while you read to them, or the importance of having varied activities during storytime. Now I had some hard science to back all that stuff up! I loved learning that the more senses involved in an activity, the harder the brain works, therefore the stronger the connections become and the better the reception and retention of knowledge! Movement increases oxygen intake which also strengthens the brain and fun isn’t just fun, it’s a positive experience which releases healthy happy chemicals that also helps the brain to develop! Yay!

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find their powerpoint online, but I was able to find some other excellent information here.


All in all, I quite enjoyed the conference and think I was able to take a lot of good info away from it; I’m also looking forward to my next conference coming up at the end of April. I’ll be attending the Loleta Fyan Small and Rural Libraries Conference. Unfortunately neither of the libraries for whom I work are small OR rural so they won’t be sending me and I’ll have to pay my own way and use vacation time but that’s ok, it just shows I’m committed, right?  😉 and being that it’s on Mackinac Island is an added bonus; I visit the island just about every year but it’ll be my first time staying at the Grand Hotel so even if the conference falls flat, I’m sure I’ll have some good updates about the beautiful hotel and island so stay tuned!