Take It and Run

Countdowns Beyond Advent

Take It:

This isn’t actually my daughter’s first Christmas, as she decided she couldn’t wait until New Year’s last year, but it’s the first time it makes sense for us to start some family traditions, including an advent calendar.

Pinterest is full of advent calendars. There are knitted advent calendars, origami advent calendars, paper advent calenders. Advent calendars with activities for each day, with a book for each day, or with a treat. The options seem nearly limitless.

And Run:

Now, I think there are very good reasons for limiting certain holidays in the public library, but that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace some of the ideas and use them to promote our mission.

At its heart the advent calendar is a countdown, and there are many ways you can use countdowns in the library. It depends on your patrons and what you’re looking for, but you could set your countdown up as a bulletin board, a take home activity sheet, or a passive program.

Countdown to Kindergarten – Starting a month before school starts in your area offer a book title or kindergarten readiness activity for parents to share with their soon-to-be kindergartener each day. This would be a great bingo board style activity.

Countdown to Summer Reading – This might be a little obvious, and it might seem like starting even earlier and we all know nobody wants to do that. However, it doesn’t have to be complicated and it’s a way to pull patrons who usually use the library during the school year into your summer program. I’m thinking of something simple like this board of cards from The Girl Creative

countdown cardsYour library version could be something like “25 Great Things About Summer Reading”  and cards could include special program info, pictures of prizes, or “Read Anything You Want!” , “Open to all ages!”  as appropriate for your library. As you flip the cards each day you are revealing more and more information about your program. You can even let children take turns flipping each day’s card.

You could also hang a series of boxes or bags from the ceiling with different objects related to your theme and open one each day.

Countdown to TAB – Is your Teen Advisory Board getting ready for another year? Why not do a countdown (it doesn’t have to be a month long) of cool things the TAB has done in the past, or “Did you know TAB members help the librarian decide X?”. If you are starting a brand new TAB you could do a short countdown to the first meeting by asking a new question for teens to answer every day. The giant Post-It notes are great for this.

Countdown to Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving seems to be one of the least problematic holidays to celebrate and the number of books on the theme makes it a good choice. You could set up any type of physical board, but I really like this tree idea from Pottery Barn Kids because a paper version would be pretty simple.


Each day’s leaf could include a Thanksgiving book or other holiday themed material, something the library is thankful for, or an activity for families to do together. Travel related entries like “Audio books are great for long car rides” would fit well too.

Countdown to a Book or Movie Release: Is there a big movie or book coming out soon that you want to highlight? Maybe you can’t do an entire traditional program, or maybe you’ve already planned one and just want to get the word out. Take your countdown set-up and fill it up with trivia questions, read-alikes, fun facts, and other things related to the book or author.

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