Bookworm Love

In January we had one very upset little girl at the library who couldn’t understand why we didn’t have a library scavenger hunt that month. We had done Build a Band instead – which did alright in terms of participants, but nowhere as good as our scavenger hunts.  She loudly bemoaned this fact on two separate occassions and we all felt terrible.  We also promised her that we would have a scavenger hunt in February.

I didn’t want it to be a typical scavenger hunt (we’ve done that a lot), therefore we decided to add some writing skills to the challenge.  Again, I wish I could tell you how my mind came up with this (since I always enjoy hearing how others come up with their ideas).  It might have been something like “well, I have this nice book worm clip art and I could add a little heart to the book.”  Which then likely led to “omg – the bookworms could be like bookmarks sticking out of the books in which they’ve fallen in love!” Squeee!!!!!

And our Lovesick Bookworm activity was born:

A fun scavenger hunt for lovesick bookworms throughout the library that helps children work on their writing skills.

The child (or parent) writes down the name of the book in which the bookworm resides.  We’ve actually had siblings working together as a team on this one which has been wonderful.  Once they bring their list up to the desk we double-check that they have the correct titles.  We have a master list which also helps us keep track of where the worms should be.  This ended up being invaluable when on the first day the very first family came in and the youngest child played with the worms and moved them to different books.

The prize?  A simple sticker that I made:

The simple design for a prize sticker (and kids still love stickers).

It’s been very gratifying to see the younger kids practice their spelling – especially when the parents help them.  The youngest crowd is also mainly why we kept the list so short. The secondary reason is that we don’t want the activity to take too long (since we had noted that many times the patrons realize that there’s a game just when they’re ready to leave). Furthermore, we’ll be switching the worms around every Saturday.  We discovered that this is a wonderful way to keep interest for the whole month.  After all, we have a strong core of families who come in weekly – so why not give them something they’re familiar with, but that continuously challenges them?

Here’s a sample of our bookworm bookmark:

A lovesick bookworm "bookmark."

I wish that I could give you the printable for these little guys, but the bookworm itself was a paid-for piece of clip-art and I need to respect that.  But I thought it’d be good to give you an idea of what we did.

Brittany and I worked on this together (well, I sort of gave it to her and then took it back when I got super-excited about it – I sometimes struggle with self control). She ended up being the head “worm wrangler” in terms of assembling them (since they’re double-sided and “laminated” using shipping tape). We also numbered each worm front and back on their “tail” so that we could keep track of them even better.

A special "bookmark" scavenger hunt in our library - we'll definitely have to do this again with another theme.

The sweetest thing that we didn’t anticipate was how concerned some of the children are about what happens to the bookworm if their book is checked out.  Some want to keep the bookworm with the book.  Others are genuinely concerned that the bookworm’s heart will be broken when they’re separated.  We always reassure them that as librarians we’re experts at finding bookworms a new book that they will love as much (if not more) than the book that’s being checked out.

I hope that this inspires you to have your collection infested with happy bookworms. Please let me know if you do this (or a variation of it) – I always love to hear what others do even if it’s only loosely based on what I’ve shared.

Update: This wasn’t our most popular scavenger hunt, but it did very well. I think that the kids were a little less enamored with this particular program because it took extra effort. There were less weekly-repeat participants than we’re used to. However, I think that the parents were overall pleased that we were adding a bit of writing practice to it (we also had to do some lessons on what a book title is, and where to find it on the book).

There are a few things I’d do if we ever did another “bookmark-style” scavenger hunt again. The biggest thing would be to use some sticky tac and secure the bookmarks into the front or back of the book cover. This would keep the bookmark from slipping, and making it tougher for little fingers to pull the bookmark out. We lost three worms throughout the month – they either walked off or were tucked down in other books and we’ll find them at some point.

The other thing I’d do would make it a quick opening or closing task to go make sure that all of the bookworms are where they should be. There have been two instances where either a bookmark had disappeared, and one where several bookmarks had been moved to different items.

Finally, I would probably reduce the number or bookworms to six. Even the slightly older kids struggled to find the worms and then write down the titles (even though we deliberately went for short titles). Adding the writing element really added to the time it took to complete this – but it was a great way to make sure that the kids weren’t cheating.