Beyond pencils and stickers: Making the most of an Elementary School visit

Last week I had my first official school visit in my new location. I attended a local elementary school’s Reading Night event, where I was offered the opportunity to set up a table with library resources. I’ve done my fair share of sitting at booths for the library. Sometimes I feel a little bit like a vendor peddling my meager wares of free pencils and stickers while trying to give my “elevator pitch” about what the library offers. This time, I wanted to try something different, while still keeping things fairly casual and laid-back. I wanted to try to avoid Doing Too Much, as this sometimes tends to be my downfall. While talking with one of the higher-ups in my organization, she shared an idea from her YS days and now I’m sharing that with you.

It’s super simple and interactive with multi-purpose benefits. I had a giant pad of paper with the prompt “What are YOU reading?” and asked kids to add their favorite books or a book they are reading right now. Not only was it a good ice breaker, but it gave me insight into what the kids are actually reading–Harry Potter? Goosebumps? No surprise there, but I learned a few new titles, too.


My favorite part? The next day, I compiled the list and emailed it to my contact at the school, inviting them to share it back with the students and teachers or possibly print it in an upcoming newsletter for the families. I also plan to use the titles in a display next month, highlighting them as “Recommended Reads” from the students at that school. Like I said, super simple with multiple uses.

I liked that it put the power in the hands of the kids, rather than me coming in trying to be the all-knowing librarian with a list of books they “should” read. I’ll definitely do it again.

What’s your go-to school visit activity?