One way to launch a library! (or 4 ways to celebrate World Book Day)

If you were invited to design a school library launch, how would you go about it? What events would you want to facilitate? Who would you want to involve?

These questions have been very much on my mind since the start of the year, for designing and delivering a school library launch is exactly what I have been asked to do by a local infant school. Can you imagine how excited I feel?

It’s an honour to be asked and trusted by the school to design a whole day of activities and I’ve loved every minute of it so far. Library Launch day is February 12th and now we’re counting down the days…

With apologies to NASA, whose original image I've modified.
With apologies to NASA, whose original image I’ve modified.

Having got to the stage where I’ve everything prepped and in place, I wanted to share my plans and resources with you as many of them are easily replicable in families, in classrooms, in clubs, anywhere would you might like to help young children and their families get excited about books. And with World Book Day coming up next month, you could take any of these ideas and use them to celebrate perhaps my favourite day of the year 🙂

Today I’ll share the activities the 3-5 year olds will be getting up to, and next week I’ll share the session plans for Year 1 (5-6 year olds) and Year 2 (6-7 year olds), although I believe many of the activities could be adapted to work with children of any age.

ottoWe were keen to get as many children into the new library during the day as possible so each class of 3-5 year olds will spend one session going on a treasure hunt for book characters in the library. The basis of this session with be Katie Cleminson’s Otto the Book Bear, in which a bear in a book steps off the pages and into real life. Having read the book, kids (in pairs) will be given a treasure card to identify which books and book characters they need to find in the library.

Some of the sheets of cards kids will be given so they know which characters to hunt for in the library
Some of the sheets of cards kids will be given so they know which characters to hunt for in the library

No doubt 30 kids hunting 30 soft toys is going to be quite chaotic! Once all the characters are found, the session will finish with a reading of one of the books found by the kids during the session.

A couple of trips to charity shops resulted in a good number of soft toys that either were actual book characters (for example I found Paddington Bear, Pooh, and Poppy Cat without even really looking), then I raided my kids’ soft toys and chose ones which matched (near enough) great books. So, for example, I am borrowing a soft toy squirrel and teaming it up with A First Book of Nature, by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Mark Hearld.

I supplemented these with a few extra official character soft toys (who wouldn’t love the excuse to get a Mog cat or Tiger who came tea toy?). Castlemere Books, based in the US, is the most comprehensive site I found for official book character soft toys, though I didn’t end up using them because of shipping costs to the UK.

Some of the characters kids will be searching for in the library!
Some of the characters kids will be searching for in the library!

On returning to their classrooms the kids will paint/colour their own bookshelves and Otto the bear. You can download the shelves here and the bear here.


lululovesstoriesThe second session will be based around Lulu loves Stories by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw (follow the link to read it for free online). This is a gentle story about a child who is taken to the library every Saturday by her father. Each book they read together inspires different sorts of play, from being on a farm (having read about Old Macdonald) to making a pretend aeroplane (having read a story about going on an adventure).

Each table in the classroom will be set up with a different activity taken from Lulu Loves Stories: there will be one with princess dressing up, one with farm animals and one with construction toys. A fourth table will be set up for each child to create their own library to take home, by selecting and gluing lots of images of children’s book covers onto these shelves.


I’ve spent a fair few evenings cutting up old publishers’ catalogues to create enough “library stock”, but other than time in preparation, this activity has been very cheap to prepare with many publishers willing to send catalogues upon request. (If you were working with older kids you could simply give them the catalogues and ask them to do some fantasy shopping – seeing what books they themselves would chose for their library would no doubt be very informative.)

On a fifth table children will be able to cut out Lulu bookplates. These are available as part of an activity guide on the US publisher’s website. Don’t be confused by the name change – Lulu (in the UK) becomes known as Lola (in the US), but this doesn’t affect the bookplates.

This session will be rounded off by reading Lulu reads to Zeki also by Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw, which is a simply delightful (and funny) window into a later stage in Lulu’s life;she now has a younger brother, and is passing on the love of books her father instilled in her to little Zeki, reading to him whenever possible.

mylittlestorybookThe third session for the 3-5 year olds will open with a reading of I Love My Little Story Book by Anita Jeram, which is all about the delights you can find inside different books, and the various places they can transport you to.

Each child will have the opportunity to make their own bunny which comes with a hidden story book of its own. It’s a simple collage activity to make the bunny out of an envelope, a pompom, some dried spaghetti, googly eyes and cardboard ears, all stuck on to an envelope, inside which each child will find a blank mini book (blue to match the one in the story). Kids will be encouraged to make the story book their own with whatever mark-making they like.


bunnysbookThe mini books are each made from a sheet of A4 paper, using this technique, my favourite way of making small paper books as it requires no sticking or stapling.

As well as there being tables set up with fairy tale activities (castles and knights to play with, dressing up, plastic animals in a forest play scene) kids will also be able to colour in and cut out several book plates designed by Anita Jeram.

These are all available to freely download (as long as you’re not using them for commercial purposes) from this brilliant website,, created by former Children’s Laureate, Anne Fine.

If time allows a reading of I like books by Anthony Browne will finish off this session. This is a very simple introduction to different types of books with just one sentence on each page. It’s a great reminder that there are all different sorts of books you can enjoy reading, not just story books.

charlie-cook-s-favourite-bookThe fourth session of the day will be based around an all time classic, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler. Once the story has been shared, each child will be given their own cardboard treasure chest to embellish with sticky jewels. I sourced some great treasure chests (from so large that kids will be able to store favourite books inside them.


Elsewhere in the classroom during this session kids will have the opportunity to dig for buried treasure in a sandpit, make aliens out of green playdough, and play with plastic dragons, as well as the chance to colour in this Charlie Cook sheet which you can download from the official Gruffalo website, or to draw their favourite book on this Charlie Cook activity sheet from the US Scholastic website.

This session will be wrapped up with a reading of We are in a book by Mo Willems – a perfect book for this age range where the oldest kids may well be able to join in with reading this funny story about what characters in a book think about their readers.

And as well as all of this, all classes will have a session with the award winning author who is coming to join the school for the day… but more about this in a later post!

19 Responses

  1. BooKa Uhu

    This is BRILLIANT. Just… gah, why don’t more schools have librarians, if they’re all is awesome as you when it comes to events?!

  2. Zoe

    Thank you Elli, Rhythm, Booka Uku, Sarah and Amy – how lovely to wake up to your encouraging comments this morning! *Much* appreciated!

  3. Zoe

    Thanks Se7en. The new library looks gorgeous – a very inviting space. Unfortunately I won’t be able to share any photos from the day itself (quite reasonably not allowed to make photos from inside school public), but I will report back!

  4. Sam

    Zoe, you never cease to amaze me with your energy and creativity. What a fantastic day those children have in store for them. I love all the activities, especially the one where they can create their own bookshelves with the book covers. Is this a new library in the school? I am trying to think of ways to raise funds for my school’s library which is in desperate need of a revamp.
    Sam recently posted..Me in Barcelona, by Holly

  5. Ann Wright

    Such wonderful ideas – just shows what books can inspire. I hope the launch goes well and I’m sure the children will love all the activities. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Iona Burchell

    Some absolutely brilliant ideas, thank you so much for sharing them.
    Wish my daughter could experience these types of activities at her school-will just have to try them out at home instead.
    Fabulous way to celebrate National Libraries Day too.
    Iona Burchell recently posted..National Libraries Day

  7. Katherine

    Wow, sounds amazing! I used to enjoy doing children’s work when I was a public librarian, if only more primary schools had staffed libraries because that is a job I’d love! Hope the day goes well, am sure it will.
    Katherine recently posted..Bagl Eats: Burns Supper

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