Cool Story Programs for the School-Age Crowd

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What kid wouldn't love literary explorations of the stinky, creepy, and dirty? Throw in rats, witches, aliens, and underwear, and it's irresistible. Yet few story times are designed for elementary school children, who are intent on separating themselves from younger siblings.

Why aren't there more events for these kids? It's not a lack of great material insists librarian-humorist Reid, who builds upon his earlier ALA bestseller, Something Funny Happened at the Library (ALA Editions, 2002), to offer 18 new wacky and offbeat programs, guaranteed to delight this discerning younger audience.

Each plan opens with a thumbnail overview, then draws on unusual combinations of poetry, picture books, chapter book excerpts, and short stories. The mix varies by theme, but all the programs touch the concerns, interests, and humor (Think: Captain Underpants) for this age group. Audience involvement includes wordplay, reader's theater, dramatics, writing, music, sports, or crafts. Reid also illustrates how to tweak programs to appeal to younger (or older) audiences.Plans for fun story programs encompass:

  • Catching some Zzzz's

  • A1 Stories

  • Big and Bad in four separate flavors

  • Cool school, alien school, and don't wanna go to school!

Designed to inspire public children's librarians, school media staff, classroom teachers, and anyone who wants to help literature come alive for kids in grades K–4, Cool Story Programs is a proven, adaptable resource, and a must-have for libraries serving kids.


1 A-1 Stories
Stories, activities, authors, and illustrators that feature the letter A or prominently feature the number 1.
2 Clickety-Clackety, Creaky-Squeaky Stories
Alliterative stories and activities plus a few tongue-twisting challenges.
3 Three
The number three is prominently featured.
4 The Coolest School
Let's look at the positive, and sometimes silly, aspects of elementary school.
5 I Don't Wanna Go to School!
Stories and activities that feature the fears and concerns that kids, and sometimes teachers and principals, have about school.
6 Alien Space School
There are an unusual number of books featuring alien encounters with schoolchildren.
7 Big and Bad: The Big Bad Wolf
The poor wolf has always been portrayed negatively in literature and folklore.
8 Big and Bad: Fox and Coyote
The wolf's canine cousins are especially tricky.
9 Big and Bad: Lions and Tigers and Crocs (Oh My!)
Predatory cats, both big and small, and these dangerous reptiles are featured in these stories and activities.
10 Big and Bad: Monsters, Witches, Ghosts, and Other Creepy Characters
Beware of these horrid, supernatural guys and gals.
11 A Good Frog Story
There's nothing like a good frog story.
12 Rats!
Like the Big Bad Wolf, the rat usually has a poor image in children's literature.
13 Rat's Rodent Cousins
Stories and activities that features mice, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, chipmunks, porcupines, beavers, and other rodents.
14 Down and Dirty
Here's a fun combination featuring life underground, being filthy and messy, and buried treasure.
15 What Stinks?
Hold your nose for stories and activities that feature odor (mostly bad).
16 What's Black and White and Red (Read) All Over?
The answer is stories and activities that feature black-and-white animals and objects (plus the color red).
17 Underwear and Other Unruly Clothing
Underwear is the one word that gets the biggest reaction from kids everywhere.
18 Catching Some Zzzzzz's
Let's close with stories and activities featuring the last letter of the alphabet.


Rob Reid

Rob Reid, with more than 20 years' experience as children's librarian, teaches courses on children's and young adult literature and librarianship as full time lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He is the author of Family Storytimes, Something Funny Happened at the Library, Cool Story Programs for the School-aged Crowd and other ALA Editions favorites. A regular contributor to Book Links, he is also a popular and entertaining presenter at conferences, libraries, and schools.