Developing Programs With Picture Books

Coming up with programming ideas sometimes can be a challenge – especially when you’re on a time crunch. Children’s librarians will often ask me how and where I come up with my ideas. I try to develop programs that have a literacy component as well as a craft or activity. Remember, you want to INCREASE circulation with every program. A child should always bring home a book when they attend your program. Make that your goal. Here’s one of my tricks.

  1. Go to your picture book section of your library. Pull out four or five children’s books and read them.
  2. Identify some of the themes in the book. Who are the characters? Are they animals? People?
  3. Identify the moral of the story.
  4. Then begin developing your program with what you have. (You can search on Pinterest for activities)

Here’s an example:

Book Cover of Extra Yarn

How to create programs through literacy and picture books

I picked out the book Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett & John Klassan. Extra Yarn is about a story about a young girl named Annabelle. Annabelle finds a box of yarn and decides to bring colour into her world. She knits herself a colourful sweater. She had extra yarn so she knit one for her dog too. When she finishes that, she has extra yarn. In fact, she has extra yarn to knit her entire town a sweater. Yet, the box of yarn still has yet to be emptied.


  • Sharing
  • Recycling
  • Community (Bringing people together)
  • Bullying/kindness
  • Connections
  • Change – adding colour
  • Creativity
  • Community Transformations

Moral of the Story

  • Kindness and generosity cannot be bought
  • It’s okay to be different
  • Above all else, be kind
  • With a little creativity and a steady hand, you can brighten the entire world

Program Ideas

  • All Ages: Have the children make a card for someone. It can be to a friend that they hurt or bullied, or it could be a card to someone that has hurt them
  • All Ages: Make a community “quilt” out of paper. Have the kids draw a picture on a square of something that makes them unique. Display the quilt in the library afterwards
  • Older Children: Ask them to write a letter to the mayor or councillor in their town/city. Ask them to write about one thing that they are going to do for the community.

Those are just some of many that can come from one picture book. Give it a try!


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