Baby animals and snow cones: the best summer reading party ever!

[Note from Anna: this was in my drafts folder for like 7,302 years or since August but whatever. Enjoy this late Summer Reading post….]

That’s right: BABY ANIMALS and SNOW CONES. These are the two things we had at our Teen Summer Reading Kick-off party this year. Do I have the best job or do I have the best job?!

Renata had the idea to have a petting zoo at our kick-off party and I jumped at the chance. After permission from our director – who was totally on board because who doesn’t like baby animals? – we booked Farm Visits. They will bring an assortment of baby animals from their farm in southwest Mass. and let your patrons hold, pet, and cuddle them! Farm Visits was amazing. They set up and tore down quickly and educated the over 100 teens, parents, and children (more on the kids later) about how to interact with adorable creatures. They brought a baby goat in a diaper, a pig, bunnies, chicks, and baby ducks. It was a huge success but there were a few hiccups. Here’s the breakdown:

Cost: $375 for an hour

Booking: We booked in February for the visit at the end of June. They were really easy to book via email. Because I’m a garbage millennial, I hate having to call people to book programs.

baby goats
The flyers we handed out at school visits and plastered all over the library.

Promotion: Renata and I talked about this at all of the summer reading school visits we did. We talked to about 800 students and talked about the program constantly in the teen room. We also had information up on the website and did some promotion through our library’s email list. I made the flyer in Canva like I do almost everything else because it’s my crutch.

Preparation: Mostly it was promotion once we had settled on a date and made flyers/signs. There was very little prep related to the animals. We did work really hard on our other summer reading items like making the flyers, reading logs, buying all the prizes, and raffle tickets.

Bumps in the road: PARENTS OF SMALL CHILDREN. It was very difficult to explain to parents that this was a program just for teens entering grades 6 – 12. I realize that it seems like a program geared toward small kids, but everyone likes baby animals! Our Children’s Room decided not to book them out of some concerns, but I think it would make a great program for any age. Many parents were miffed that their elementary aged kids – who are very advanced readers, thank you very much – weren’t really allowed. Except. That we did let them in because it’s hard to say “no” to people in the moment. Some also didn’t understand the need for teens only programs or why the presence of little kids at a teen program may make said teen program less fun. Don’t you remember being a teen, parents?

The other problem was just crowd control. We could only send out teens in groups of 20-25 to meet the animals so we had to last minute improvise a group system. Renata gamely grabbed some stamps and made groups. Next time, we should probably do timed tickets so people spend less time waiting around for their turn. We also did door prizes and we could do door prizes throughout the program rather than at the end.


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