Star Wars Reads Day 2013

For someone like me, Star Wars Reads Day (SWRD) is a thing of beauty since it combines two things that I love: reading and Star Wars. Our library has had special Star Wars events almost every year for the past few years, but with no real literacy tie-in.  So when I stumbled across SWRD I was ecstatic.  I’ll try to keep this post to just a good overview of it.  It was a big success (despite being during a NE Cornhusker football game)!  I honestly couldn’t have done it without the help of everyone on our staff – they are an amazing group with whom I’m honored to work.

See the above picture of the Yoda girl?  I Photoshopped her out of the cardboard stand she was behind and put her on a space field just for the drama of it (I was also practicing a new (to me) Photoshop technique.  Mary made another photo-op stand, but this time on one of those cardboard tri-fold displays that kids use for things like science fairs.  This made it very portable, and easy to store.  This was a huge hit, and we’re definitely looking to have more of these simple photo-ops for other events.

We set up a Jedi Mind Tricks table with a bunch of the provided activities from the official activity kit.  Near that was Jedi Bowling along the whole length of our non-fiction aisle. I painted a set of bowling pins all white with one black and then put stencils of stormtroopers and one of Vader on the black pin.  I had hoped to make the ball into the Death Star, but ran out of time.  The bowling was wildly popular with the slightly older crowd.

The two most popular activities were the Thumb Print Vaders that were included in the official activity kit.  We had that at a completely separate table and it was the first thing that the kids gravitated to for the most part.  The other one (which we’ve done before at the Children’s Library) was I Spy with My Jedi Eye where kids had to find 10 characters hidden throughout a portion of the library.  If the child got all of the names right, then they got to enter for the prize drawing.  This was the best event since it really got people spread out (we’re a small space) and even looking in the books to figure out characters’ names.  I was surprised at how many people didn’t know Admiral Ackbar’s name.

We also had a Wookie Growling Contest with a boy and girl division – each winner received a new copy of Jeffrey Brown’s Jedi Academy. We had three of each sign-up, one girl drop out due to shyness, and overall one child who showed no fear.  I don’t know that we’ll do this one again.

The best part was having members of the Imperial 80th Squad Central Garrison of the 501st Legion come and do amazing cosplay.  They interacted with both children and adults beautifully and were a lot of fun – they completely made the event.  They wandered the library posing for pictures, and signing autographs.  I had set up a nice taped-out area for participants to line up for photos, but that proved completely unnecessary.

After all the families left, they remained in costume and posed with staff, and even ran across the street to get some photos in the elementary school’s playground. Did I mention how funny they were? Darth Vader seemed to enjoy the thumb print station, and even reacted gracefully when the kids excitedly showed him how they could knock him down (i.e. knock over his bowling pin). And let me tell you – you’ve never lived until you see a Tusken Raider do the Gangnam Style dance.

The one other thing we did was take the giant bean bag that’s usually in the Teen area, and added some felt eyes, nose, and a mouth to make it look a bit like Jabba the Hut (or Voldemort, depending on who you asked).  We moved him into our meeting room, and I think next year we’ll keep it in its place – the kids who were unsupervised in the meeting room practically ripped his face apart.

Finally, I had designed some posters to sell as a suggested donation of $5 each to benefit our Friends of the Library group.  They were a big hit with the 501st Legion members, and some of the families too.  We set up “tip jars” for when people made their donations, they could either pick the Jedi or the Dark Side jar.  Naturally, the Dark Side beckoned with the temptation “we have posters.”  Unfortunately (depending on how you look at it) the Dark Side lost.  I may make these 11″X17″ posters available for a super-cheap .pdf file through my blog in the near future, but until then just contact me if you’re interested in acquiring one.

I really look forward to next year and am excited to make SWRD an annual event that our community can count on happening.  I have a better idea of what works (and a lot of it did) and what didn’t (only a few things – woohoo!).