Book Bash 101: aka “How to Throw a Book-Themed Party”

At my library, we are immensely fond of Book Bashes. A Book Bash is basically a shindig centered around a particular novel or series.  For example, to celebrate “Read Across America” this past Saturday, our library threw a Dr. Seuss-themed book bash and we had over thirty local children and their parents attend.

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Book Bashes are a fantastic way to increase foot traffic at your library. Not to mention the obvious fact that it’s a great way to foster kids’ love of reading and build relationships in the community. Plus it’s fun! Tweens and teens love them too – as long as you maintain the “cool” factor.

Book Bashes take an incredible amount of work, but they are definitely worth it. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when throwing a book bash of your own.

1) Plan Ahead

This is not something you can throw together at the last minute – no matter how good you are. I’m a procrastinator by nature but, for Book Bashes, I plan at least three to four months in advance. It helps to surf the net and see what major literary events are on the horizon: author birthdays, book releases, movie debuts, etc. For teens, in particular, I like to focus on book-to-movie releases. That way, the weekend before a movie comes out, I can throw a Book Bash to match it.

Divergent, for example, comes out March 21st. So on the 15th, we’ll be having an epic, faction-finding, mission-completing Book Bash (more on that in another post).

2) Food & Giveaways

Basic rule for any youth services event: if you feed them, they will come. Especially when there’s free stuff too.

But the food shouldn’t be random, nor should the giveaways. Everything should tie into the theme of the Book Bash you’re throwing.  Think oozing finger-shaped cookies for a Warm Bodies, zombie-themed party or glittering cupcakes for Fancy Nancy. If there are specific items mentioned – ex: nightlock berries front the Hunger Games – they should be included in your event.

For little ones, save up book donations you don’t plan on keeping and give them away as prizes. For older kids and teens, raffling off a book series or tickets to see the movie version can be a big draw.

3) The Dollar Store is your best friend. So is FOL.

Book Bashes are NOT cheap in any shape, form, or fashion. So clip your coupons and prepare to bargain hunt in order to get everything you want. Sometimes this means thinking out of the box and doing extra work yourself. For example, I often bake treats myself instead of paying full price for them at the grocery store.

And don’t be afraid to bat your eyelashes at your local Friends of the Library Members. 😉 They are generous, giving, wonderful people and are a great resource. Most of my Book Bashes are funded by the Friends and I’m eternally grateful for their support.

4) Stations, Stations, Stations

Once you’ve amassed your horde of attendees, they have to have something to DO. So set up stations around the room with unique, book-themed activities. At our Dr. Suess Bash, we had a crafting stations where kids could make a Cat in the Hat decoration, a Fox in Sox puppet, or color a red fish/blue fish bowl. At our “Fantastic Food” station, they decorated Seuss-style cookies and made fruit loop necklaces. At our game station, they played Thidwick Moose ring toss (where they tried to get the rings on his antlers). Finally, we had a Thing One and Thing Two picture station where kids could pose with their friends.

In essence, a Book Bash should be a completely immersive event. Kids should feel as though they’ve been transported inside the book the moment they walk in the door.

I hope these tips have been helpful and that they inspire you to plan a bash of your own! I’ll be posting photos and play-by-plays from my Bashes soon, so stay tuned for more details! 🙂

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