A Library In The USA Had A Stuffed-Animal Sleepover And It Was Adorable

By: Mandy J Watson
Posted: 26 July 2018
Category: Feature
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The stuffed-animal sleepover, an endearing initiative that started in a library in the USA 11 years ago, has expanded to libraries and book stores across the world. It's an exercise that is proving to have a positive influence on children and their reading habits in a world dominated by screens.

This past weekend Lake Forest Library in Illinois in the USA held a sleepover for the stuffed-animal friends of its young patrons. The children were instructed to drop off their toys on the Friday night and the library staff then spent the evening posting updates on Facebook and Instagram with photos of what the stuffed animals were "getting up to". The children could enjoy the events from home by sneaking a peek into the library with the help of social media.

A Library In The USA Had A Stuffed-Animal Sleepover And It Was Adorable
The "activities" including reading, playing board games, searching for snacks in the fridge and store cupboard, exploring the library shelves, and investigating the storage room.

At the end of the evening all the animals were tucked under little blankets so that they could sleep peacefully and be fresh for story time the next day, when their owners would also be stopping by to pick them up.

A Library In The USA Had A Stuffed-Animal Sleepover And It Was Adorable

A Library In The USA Had A Stuffed-Animal Sleepover And It Was Adorable
Above: [ Image Credits: Lake Forest Library's Facebook album ]
It turns out that stuffed-animal sleepovers are a regular occurrence at libraries all across the world after having originated in 2007 in a library in Pennsylvania in the USA. In fact, a sleepover on the same weekend as the Lake Forest Library event, this time at Somerville Public Library in Massachusetts in the USA, has caught the eye of journalists in the USA who are all writing about the practice.

Its benefits haven't been well studied and, instead, are anecdotal but last year a team of researchers from the Okazaki Laboratory in The Department Of Educational Psychology at Okayama University in Japan released the results of research it had conducted in 2016 to determine the effect, if any, the sleepovers had on preschool age children in relation to reading.

A Library In The USA Had A Stuffed-Animal Sleepover And It Was Adorable

A Library In The USA Had A Stuffed-Animal Sleepover And It Was Adorable
Above: [ Image Credit: Lake Forest Library's Facebook album ]
The researchers determined that there was an immediate effect on the children reading to their stuffed animals after the event (this was a request the children were given as part of the project's aims) but this reduced measurably within three days and was lost completely after a month - until the children were guided to remember the request again, which resulted in more reading to the animals.

You can learn much, much more about library sleepovers - and view lots of endearing photographs - in a Twitter thread started by writer and artist Juliet Kahn about the Somerville Public Library sleepover event that led me to the Lake Forest Library event.

Libraries all over the world are under threat of being reduced in size or shut down entirely even though they provide valuable services beyond just access to books. (In Cape Town, for example, most of the libraries offer free computer services and Internet access to everyone, with direct links to the city's municipal feedback services, career guidance, and job opportunities via the SmartCape system.)

A Library In The USA Had A Stuffed-Animal Sleepover And It Was Adorable
It's great to see how some imaginative efforts by librarians, and the participation of enthusiastic parents, are guiding young people to books, which leads to a lifetime of knowledge gathering and self education. Hopefully their formative experiences will encourage them, as adults, to help with the fight to keep libraries going for many more centuries to come.

Somerville Public Library: Official Site, Blog, Facebook, Flickr, Instagram, MeetUp, Twitter
Okazaki Laboratory: Official Site, Twitter

Via @prynnette and @ekverstania

Tags: Arts And Culture, Books

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