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Book Event Planning Tips

From the SLA Guideline Brilliant Books: Running a Successful School Library Book Event by Geoff Dubber and Elspeth Scott (available from our Guidelines page). These tips were made available as part of International School Library Day.

Popular Themes

The following are some popular themes for book events.

  • Historical fiction
  • Books for younger readers
  • Science fiction
  • Fashion - past and present
  • Crime/Horror
  • Black History
  • Local history/events/traditions
  • Famous people - biogs/autobiogs
  • Travel
  • Ghost stories/supernatural
  • Holidays and other countries
  • Reading and writing diaries
  • Cartoons
  • Fantasy
  • Picture books
  • Sport
  • Machines
  • Pets and animal behaviour
  • Songs and song writing
  • Poetry
  • Cooking and cookery books
  • Newspapers/magazines - reading and writing
  • Play writing and drama
  • Environmental issues
  • Conflict of all kinds
  • Romance
  • Pop up books
  • Art and design
  • Hobbies
  • Producing books
  • Craft and craft books
  • TV themes/series/soaps
  • Customs around the world
  • Book links to other countries
  • With an ICT focus
  • Favourite books
  • Book characters - Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket etc
  • A special author/illustrator
  • Reading and writing ICT: e-books
  • Nursery Rhymes

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Choosing an Audience

Who needs a brilliant book event?

Which of your groups could really benefit from a book event in the next few months? Who was targeted last time?

  • Year 7s
  • Year 8s
  • Year 9s
  • GCSE years
  • Years 12/13
  • Lower School Learning Support
  • Upper School Learning Support
  • Induction and Y7 pupils
  • LRC helpers
  • G and T Lower School
  • G and T Upper School
  • One target department
  • The community
  • OHSS
  • Reading club
  • Others

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The Perfect Performer

Finding the Perfect Performer!

But remember that one person's perfect performer might be another's perfect disaster!

Any of the following might just be your answer:

  • authors
  • illustrators
  • story tellers
  • poets
  • journalists/photographers
  • magazine editors
  • playwrights
  • radio and TV performers
  • paper engineers
  • rap artists
  • booksellers
  • staff from your School Library Service
  • local library staff
  • local celebrities
  • local sports personalities
  • local policemen, doctors, firemen etc.
  • street artists
  • musicians
  • puppeteers
  • museum staff
  • archivists
  • local dignitaries
  • local LEA advisory staff
  • colleagues who run other school libraries

Ask all and everyone in school to perform for/with you!

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Ideas for book event Activities

  • Performer visit
  • Book assemblies
  • Book lists/displays
  • Book quizzes and competitions - set by staff and students
  • Dress up as a book character - with or without cryptic clues
  • Book Fair
  • Book differences - books that our grandparents and parents enjoyed
  • Desert Island books
  • Design a / Draw a / Make a ................
  • Drama workshops with a book theme
  • Favourite book readings - staff, students, parents, community
  • Swapshop - magazines / comics / books /videos etc.
  • Story / Letter / Diary / Script / Play writing and ICT work
  • Use book based ICT websites
  • Book making
  • Readathon
  • Book and Reading surveys - school, local, other schools - national, international (via the Internet), well known personalities
  • Book sale - new and not so new
  • Visit a ......... library / SLS base / bookshop / publisher - specialist or general / newspaper office / printing works
  • DEAR time - Drop Everything And Read - every day / everybody
  • Invite groups of pupils to decorate / display a corner of the library / LRC for use by a book character
  • Match the first / last line / illustration of the book to the title
  • Guess the reader - Display school readers' book / poetry choices with some cryptic clues to identify the reader - staff and students
  • Use the Library Game and / or the Reading Game
  • Bran tub - pick one and review it
  • Basket / box full of props to activate ideas for writing
  • Display a book plot in pictures around the LRC
  • Pick book titles suitable for football teams, star players or celebs
  • Book title charades
  • Have a photo competition of people in school / at home reading
  • Story trail - create a story trail around the school
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire? book quiz
  • Create a reading / library quiz with different stages and stamp a library 'passport' at each stage
  • Do a brilliant artefact display and put books around it

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Budget Sheet

This planning sheet can be used to help you plan your budget for a book event.

Book Event Budget Planning Sheet

PDF file, 20 kB

Requires Adobe Reader


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Event Checklist

The checklist can be read online (below) or downloaded as a PDF file.

Book Event Checklist

PDF file, 33 kB

Requires Adobe Reader


Months Ahead
  • Programme event into your LRC Development Plan
  • Discuss ideas with your line manager / Head of SLS etc.
  • Discuss ideas with your planning group
  • Produce clear library and curriculum aims and agree target audience
  • Consult school diary and decide possible dates
  • Produce an outline budget sheet (see Budget Sheet page)
  • Contact speakers / guests - make provisional arrangements
  • Confirm all details in writing
  • Order relevant publications
  • Book the venue(s)
  • Enter definite details in the school diary
  • Obtain promotional material from publishers / SLS / bookshops etc.
  • Seek sponsorship
  • Invite sponsors to the event(s) as appropriate
  • Finalise budget sheet - headings etc.
  • Share tasks with your planning group
  • Plan refreshments
  • Plan advertising materials
Approximately One Month Ahead
  • Plan LRC displays
  • Promote and issue books etc. to support the event
  • Confirm arrangements with speakers
  • Make sure that teaching colleagues know about the visit and are preparing their students
  • Check venue, seating plans and equipment with the caretaker etc.
  • Check refreshment planning / details
  • Organise and distribute publicity
  • Organise press coverage / writing a press release
The Week Before
  • Put up displays
  • Final meeting with planning group to confirm details
  • Confirm publicity coverage - press, write up for school newsletter etc.
  • Organise the school photographer
  • Brief the hospitality group
  • Make sure the audience knows what and who to expect
  • Plan introduction(s) to the speaker(s)
On the Day Itself - Before the Event
  • Prepare venue and equipment/seating
  • Confirm timings for the audience and accompanying staff
  • Check the hospitality group are ready
  • Be prepared for a late arrival
  • Check all people with things to do
  • Have the kettle on and a glass of water (nothing stronger!) ready for the speaker
During the Visit
  • Give the speaker time and space to set up
  • Offer the speaker refreshments and facilities
  • Smile and keep calm
  • Enjoy yourself!
  • Do your usual brilliant PR job of showing the LRC and school to their best advantage (and yours!)
  • Make sure photos are taken
  • Make sure somebody thanks the speaker
Follow Up
  • Provide positive feedback to the speaker
  • Send a letter of thanks from you and perhaps some of the audience
  • Send a letter of thanks to the sponsors giving feedback on the event
  • Work in partnership with the teachers on follow up work
  • Thank those who gave thought, time and effort to the event
  • Evaluate
  • Organise a write up for the LRC / school newsletter / website etc.
  • Put your feet up and then start thinking about the next one!

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Caring for your Visitor

  • Make contact and book as early as possible
  • Listen as well as ask!
  • Explain the Book Event's context
  • Discuss possible choice of dates and timings - what is a "day's work"?
  • Explain possible audience numbers and range of ability
  • Ask for the speaker's opinion of the expected work
  • Discuss the venue
  • Ask about equipment needs
  • Ask for charges - does he / she include travel and accommodation?
  • Make sure the speaker knows your title, address, phone and email
  • Confirm everything in writing
  • Make sure the speaker only has to deal with one person in school, not several
  • Will the speaker expect payment on the day?
  • Confirm details about the audience and accompanying adults about two weeks before - It's really useful for the speaker to know some names and titles before arrival
  • Provide a clear map
  • Make sure the car parking / transport arrangements are clear
  • Give possible train times if relevant
  • Make sure somebody is ready to meet your speaker on arrival / organise badges etc.
  • Offer refreshments and point out the loo!
  • Make sure that the venue and equipment are organised
  • Give time and space to 'set up'
  • Make sure the audience is calm and focused at the start - don't be embarrassed to shout now if you need to - better now than later!
  • Make sure the speaker is properly introduced
  • Make sure the audience has some idea of the context of the speaker!
  • Protect the speaker from difficult situations - make sure staffing is adequate! Deal with nuisances effectively
  • Make sure somebody somewhere says thank you!
  • Organise help as your speaker clears away
  • Add your own personal thanks or / and send a short note of thanks after the event
  • Provide evaluation if requested
  • Pay the bill promptly

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ICT Links

A few book-based websites that will give you and your students / pupils some ideas for reading and book events

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