Published on July 13th, 2015 | by Molly Virello
Throwing a Super-Hero Bash at Your Library
Superhero popularity is at an all-time high—what with the recent Marvel explosion (And Summer Reading 2015 being Superhero themed). You’ve heard the hype. You’ve seen the positive effects that such characters and stories have had on kids and parents and the public at large. And you find yourself asking, now what? How can I keep this positive momentum going? How can I be a part of this superhero movement? How can my library become a Hall of Justice? A Batcave of Badassdom? A Literary Cave of Wonders?
Fear not, citizen! As a librarian who as dabbled in the strange and wonderful world of Free Comic Book Day and other Superhero themed programming (for kids of all ages), I have a sure fire guide to get you on your way.
First, you need to think about your space, your library’s policies, and your goals, not necessarily in that order. What do you want to accomplish? What kind of program do you want to have? Games? Crafts? Book group? Storytime? Think about what your patrons would most appreciate and enjoy.
In preparation for my own programming, I did some research on what works, what doesn’t, and how to go about fostering partnerships in order to put on Superhero program of your dreams. I figured that now is the time to pass on the knowledge to you, my fine fellows, about how to run your own superhero themed program.
My tips below are slightly skewed toward a Free Comic Book Day event, but could easily be adapted to a Summer Reading or general hero-themed program.
- “Don’t ever tell me there’s no way.” –Phil Coulson
There is programming potential for all ages: from toddlers to teens, adolescents to adults. It’s just a matter of knowing your audience. Who has been clamouring for the most Batman books, who wears the Superman t-shirt every other day, who subtly slips Marvel movie quotes into everyday conversation? These are your fans. This is your target audience.Once you’ve figured out your intended audience, and the scale, choosing the activities is relatively simple. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. There are tons of resources out there from libraries and librarians who have done superhero programs through the years. Their experience is your gain! Look to other blogs for a breakdown of what activities worked and flopped, hit up Pinterest for general ideas. These are great places to start, and then put your own spin on the ideas that interest you the most.
Here are some great places to start around the web, keeping in mind that this is not an exhaustive list by any means:
- The ALSC always has some interesting ideas, and are a great jumping off point when starting to think about program ideas.
- This site is a great resource for program ideas for all ages. It has some great STEAM tie-ins.
- This Pinterest board is a great resource to visually start planning, as is Pinterest in general.
- Here is an idea for a Superhero training camp:
- Jbrary put together a fabulous school age program that incorporates a craft:
- The librarians at Storytime with Miss Tara and Friends put on a fabulous program for massive amounts of kids and provided some wonderful visuals for photo ideas.
What I want you to keep in mind with this round-up is that you don’t have to be super (pun-intended) involved in what you choose to do. If you only do 2 or 3 activities, just make sure that you do them to the best of your ability, and that the kids (teens, adults) attending have fun. Patron happiness is the ultimate goal. At least it is for me.
And don’t forget about simple games. There were some suggestions in the above blogs, but here are a few more quick ideas.
Super Villain Search and Find: Print out several images of famous comic supervillains and hide them around your venue space; keeping in mind to vary the difficulty according to your audience age group. Let your players know how many villains are hiding, and send them on the search. You can even give them a piece of paper that shows the images of the villains that they are looking for, and perhaps a clue or two about where they might be hiding.
Guessing games: This is a simple game, which can also double as a prize. Something like Professor X’s Mind Bending Exercise—or, guess the number of jelly beans, gum balls, buttons, etc. in the jar.
Super Agility Stations—This can be a series of activity stations around the venue space that attendees can go to. There can be a station for target practice: bean bag toss, hit a target with silly string, or go super villain bowling. There can be a balance beam over ‘hot lava’ to practice super balance.
Create a Hero: Have a station where attendees can decorate a mask or a cape, or Wonder Woman-esque cuffs.
- Batman and Robin: Partnerships FTW!
The next step in building your program is partnering up. Do you want to give away comic books? Who can you partner with to make that happen? The Free Comic Book Day website has a search tool which can help you find comic shops in your area; this tool also tells you which shops participate in donating to schools and libraries. By reaching out to these shops, you can often times snag some awesome comics for giveawaysDo keep in mind that these shops do pay to participate in FCBD, so the comics they give you will probably not be the current years’ ones. And that’s ok. Each year’s selections are different, and there are always fabulous choices.Ok, so you’ve got the comics, who else could you partner with? Here are a few more ideas:
- Local Cosplayers—so you can have costumed heroes, to roam around the program and pose for pictures.
- Comic authors/artists/illustrators—for demonstrations about what goes into the comic art process or how-to draw. Not only will this promote their work, it will also help your patrons get exposure to something interesting.
- “A Picture is worth one thousand words.” – Arthur Brisbane
Everyone loves photos, and they are a good way to drum up excitement before, during, and after a program. A good option, and also very popular one, is to provide an opportunity for attendees to take photos, or have their photos take—be it around the space, with costumed heroes, or with one another. Photo booth style props are very simple to make and a lot of fun. I made a giant S.H.I.E.L.D ID cut-out prop for people to take pictures with/in. Which I changed to be more Library specific. It’s not perfect, but it is fun.
- “Riddle Me This” –The Riddler
A superhero day isn’t complete without some kind of giveaway prize and super trivia!I am sometimes crafty, I had some jelly jars and pickle jars lying around that I removed the glue from and etched with superhero symbols. Are you good at painting? Paint a box. I modge podged a wooden box comic book style. Simple projects make great giveaways, and it upcycles those otherwise useless jars!As for superhero trivia, supervillain trivia, movie trivia, there is a plethora of material available online and in hardcopy. This is a simple, fun way to keep people engaged, or at least kill time while they are waiting to take a picture with their favorite hero. Even if you aren’t an expert, you ARE a librarian! Searching for information is your bread and butter. Look up trivia and confirm it in several sources before you put it to paper. And don’t forget your own answer key!
- Suit Up: Cosplayers and costumed heroes versus a cut-out background:
Do you have any cosplayer connections? Have you always wanted to dress up, but never thought you had a reason? Are YOU looking to debut that awesome costume you just made? Your event would be the perfect time to do so! Another simple way to keep with the theme is a background; something simple is fine like a city scape, like Gotham.
You can make this, or you can find a table cloth that’s already made. This is also an easy way to have heroes present is you aren’t comfortable dressing up and don’t have cosplay contacts.
- Encourage Super Readers:
While it isn’t a requirement, a program like this is a prime time to have book displays laid out—and I’m not just talking about comic books (which should definitely be displayed!). Also consider titles such as these:
Search your collection and pull your favorites. Try to make sure that there is a wide range of appeal for differing tastes and reading abilities.
- “My Common Sense is Tingling” – Deadpool
Remember that this is supposed to be fun. Your program shouldn’t be overly stressful. You should enjoy planning, publicising, and hosting the program just as much as your patrons enjoying attending.