Puppetry is a surprisingly old art-form: more than 3000 years old, as a matter of fact. The history of puppetry in libraries is probably not so ancient, but I suspect that, as long as there has been dedicated children’s programming in libraries, there have probably been puppets.
There’s a good amount of research into puppets and their benefits for literacy, however anyone who has ever used puppets in a story time can probably guess at what some of these benefits are. You’ve probably noticed that children often seem to find puppets easier to talk to. Not only does this make story time more fun and engaging, but it can encourage children to share in a way that they may not if a real person were asking them questions.
Interactive story times are story times that engage children, encourage them to be active, not passive participants, helping them to better grasp and remember the ideas presented. Puppets stimulate the imagination.
Another persuasive argument for puppetry in the library might be the draw: special puppet programs can generate huge audiences. This library finds their puppet programs frequently bring in around 200 patrons to the library. My own experiences back this up: my first library job was at a library with an incredible history of puppetry. When I worked in Children’s Services at the Nashville Public Library, we had regular visits from their awesome puppet truck – performances that drew in crowds of 100 or more.
Dayton Metro Libraries also understand the importance of puppets in libraries – they even have a puppet committee. And we at SWON Libraries are lucky enough to have two members of that committee, Dorri Hegyi and Jennifer Reis, share tips and tricks for libraries to use puppets on a variety of budgets and comfort levels.
Our Picture Book Read-In event provides a great opportunity to dig in to thousands of picture books, as well as the chance to hear from “Ms. Dorri” and “Ms. Jen” about how to incorporate puppets into your library. And, to help you along, SWON Libraries will have several drawings throughout the day with a chance to win one of the beautiful Folkmanis puppets pictured below, along with a companion story book.
We hope you will join us on August 23rdfor a chance to win these puppets, learn from Dorri and Jen, and much more at our 21stAnnual Picture Book Read-In in West Chester, OH!