Yesterday we had a giant program at one of my libraries to celebrate the upcoming release of the Hunger Games movie.  It was at the library where I run my Guys Read book club but had not otherwise gotten much chance to bond with the teens.  I definitely got my first chance to bond with these teens en masse and they are so awesome!

The program was really successful and also tons of fun, so I want to write a little about how we ran it.  I definitely cannot take credit for the ideas except that it was my idea that we should have goat cheese as one of the foods because Katniss’s sister, Prim, has a goat in the books and makes and sells goat cheese.  I also wanted to find a simple recipe in the Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook and make it with the teens, but we didn’t end up doing that which was fine.  But here’s what we did do:

  • We had one of our librarians who is really into doing makeup doing cool/crazy makeup on the teens to look like the tributes and/or the extravagant people in the Capitol.
  • We had a craft table where we had supplies for people to make mockingjay magnets, buttons and necklaces.
  • We did a group-wide trivia thing–we had a powerpoint presentation with questions from the books and the teens all sat down with paper and answered the questions, keeping score as they went–they actually all sat down and paid attention and were really into it when we did this.  I think this was the initial part where I started to bond with the teens I didn’t know because I was asking the questions and it was really clear by the way I was asking them that I was as into the books as them, which they liked.
  • Finally, we did this really cool game involving a “Cornucopia Challenge”.

You can find the full instructions we used for the Cornucopia here.  When I first read the instructions and the teen librarian planning this tried to explain it to me, it seemed really complicated and weird and I didn’t really understand how it was going to work out, but it was actually quite simple and really fun!  We put a bunch of stuff in the center of the room (the stuff listed in red–we had a sling shot, a tarp, twine, “anti-venom”, a bow & arrow, matches, a knife, beef jerky, a book on edible plants, water bottles, etc.  All the weapons were fake, of course, and the matchbox was empty, which the teens were disappointed about.  They were really into the jerky.) and that was the Cornucopia.  All the teens were swarming around it trying to figure out what it was before it started, so I told them they couldn’t go near it because there was a forcefield around it.  They promptly reminded me that it was landmines protecting the Cornucopia, so I told them we had both.

We divided the teens participating into two teams and placed them equidistant from the Cornucopia on opposite ends of the room.  We then did this sort of relay race thing where one person ran into the center and grabbed something, then tagged the next person who ran and got something.  I am definitely in favour of games that make teens run and get out a little energy and this definitely did that, but I will say I kind of wish we had come up with a better way to make the game accessible since as it stood, we ended up letting the teen who was in a wheelchair designate one of his team members to run into the center for him and he advised the kid he chose about what his top choices of items were, so it ended up working out alright anyway.  We encouraged the teens to choose items based on how useful they might be in the actual Hunger Games.  One thing we should have discussed a little more was when it ends–does it end when each person has one thing, or do they get to keep going back and getting more things until the cornucopia is empty?  We did not discuss this before and different teams had different interpretations, so we had to have them all put whatever the second item they got back to be fair.  This was actually kind of fun because it meant there were items in the center that no one had taken and everyone was kind of wishing they did as we learned their usefulness.

So then we had them all sit on either side of the Cornucopia with their team.  This was when we read the story in the instructions above that details what happens in the arena each day.  As the story progresses, they can get points for having items listed that will help them with what is going on in the arena.  I read the story while the other librarian kept tally for the teams on an easel.  This was really fun and the teens loved it.

As the story went, they had some really creative ideas of how they could use the supplies they did have in place of ones they didn’t, which I thought was really awesome.  Unfortunately, the game did not have anything built in to reward this, so I kept saying, kind of jokingly, to the teens “Sorry, creativity will not be rewarded in this game,” but then when I heard them start repeating that, I ensured them that creativity would be rewarded in every situation outside of the game so they shouldn’t let me squash their creativity.  If I was doing this again, I think I would have come up with a system where the teens could make a case for how they would use something they did have to fulfill the function of something they didn’t (like if they didn’t have a knife and needed to cut meat but came up with a plausible system to use the wire to cut it or something).

I also might write my own story about what happens in the arena each day–not because this one was not good, but just because I think I’d only want to use that story once.  It worked out really unbalanced for us–one team got a billion points and the other hardly got any and they both had useful stuff.  But that was okay, everyone was having fun and were all good sports about it.

Anyway, it was a very successful program and I think I had as much fun as the teens.  We all talked about the Hunger Games a ton which was a blast.  I also recruited a ton of new teens for my Guys Read book club.  Only problem is that somehow we ran out of books for the book club a couple days ago (we normally give them each a paperback to keep) so I had to run grab whatever copies we still had checked in–I think I could have gotten a few more teens if I’d had more books, but that’s okay.

It was a very successful program, though, and a lot of fun.  We had been so worried that no one would come because as of earlier this week, there were only 2 people signed up, but we ended up with more than 20 teens and every one of them was having a great time!

To any other teen or youth librarians who have done Hunger Games programs (if you’re reading this)–what activities have you done?  How did they go?  If you haven’t done Hunger Games programs, do you have any ideas for cool ones?

  1. jess says:

    My library has a program for all-ages, including round-table discussions like gale vs. peeta and the politics of the hunger games. There is also going to be a “make your own mockingjay pin” activity, hg-snacks, and I heard a rumor that the event will end with a Reaping.

    For the teens, they are having a Hunger Games scavenger hunt. The teens have to find Mockingjay symbols paired with quotes from “The Hunger Games” in downtown Olympia businesses, and the winner wins tickets to the movie.

    Neither program has happened yet b/c they scheduled them to coordinate with the opening week of the movie. I’m sure they’re going to be great, though.

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