Perry Yates – The Lovett School – Storybook Contest
In October 2021, Accessit Library ran a Halloween contest called ‘The Axe-cessit Halloween Showcase’. Perry Yates, Lower School Librarian at The Lovett School, sent through wonderful photos of entries they had for their first ‘Storybook Pumpkin Contest’ and they blew us away! So much so, that we spoke with them further to find out what went down at The Lovett School and how they managed to get 210+ entries!
Read more below and look at all the fantastic creations The Lovett School’s kids came up with.
- Librarians Kaitlin Taylor and Perry Yates were inspired by similar contests they saw online
- This was the first year The Lovett School hosted the Pumpkin Storybook Contest
- ‘The Storybook Pumpkin’ contest ran from October 13th through to October 22nd
- Lower School students (Kindergarten – 5th grade) were asked to decorate a pumpkin as a storybook character. Their pumpkins could not be carved, but students could use paint and any embellishments they needed. Students also had to be able to carry the pumpkins into school from carpool or the bus, so pumpkins could be no larger than a soccer ball
- The contest was optional, but The Lovett School had over 210 entries! All pumpkins were displayed in the library and winners were picked for each grade level as well as a grand prize winner. These were tote bags full of Halloween books, treats, small games, and candy
- 12 of The Lovett School’s faculty and administrators judged the pumpkins anonymously
- Winners were announced on October 28th via a video message played in every Lower School homeroom.
Before we get in to the contest itself, what was the inspiration behind facilitating the Storybook Pumpkin Contest?
Because of COVID the library was essentially closed for a year and a half. It was hard to keep the library present for the kids. We would take rolling book carts to the home rooms each day and let the kids check out from each cart. Then about half way through 2021, the library opened.
Our library is in the center of the Lower school. When you walk in, it is right there. In it we have a huge story room with stadium seating and there’s always something hosted there like meetings and classes coming in for workshops.
It feels like grand-central station!
We are now open in the mornings five days a week and we probably have about 100 students in there every morning just hanging out, doing craft, doing homework, checking out books and being on the computers.
The school is very, very supportive of the library, they recognize its benefits and they truly made it the heartbeat of the Lower School – which is a wonderful thing.
So, throughout 2021 we have been trying to get kids back in and remind them what a fun and special place it is.
How did you approach this contest and build up so much excitement?
Halloween is huge at our school. We have a carnival and it’s a major, fun-filled day which the parents help put on. We had seen Storybook Pumpkin contests on social media and we didn’t see a reason not to be able to do it. So, we asked our admin if they would support it and they were very totally supportive.
I am a very enthusiastic librarian and I do everything I can to get the kids excited about what we are doing in the library.
So, I spent a couple of weeks really building the excitement around it. Because we have so much parent support, I knew they would help their kids make them at home and bring them in to school.
To build excitement for the contest we made our own examples to put up front and center in the library and we also sent other examples home to give them an idea of what they could do.
So, tell me more about the logistics and how the contest actually worked.
The contest was around a long weekend which meant the kids had time to work on their pumpkins. I am sure parents had to assist the younger students, but we strongly encouraged students to make the pumpkins on their own.
Then, once our students were coming back in with their pumpkins it made other students want to make one too!
The students could select whichever book character they wanted to recreate. From Spider-Man to Minions – the students really honoured that. We felt it was important to let them decide.
I told the kids “If you know what you want to do and you’re stumped as to whether there is a book or not, I promise you I can find a book.”
If we had the books then we would display them next to the pumpkin, and some kids brought in books from home.
We had almost 215 pumpkins.
I was so pleasantly surprised. We set them up by grade level and they looked so fun.
And the students were SO excited! The library was packed everyday with students and teachers viewing the creations.
The pumpkins were on display for about a week and a half (8 school days). We timed the pick-up with parent conferences so parents could help their students carry the pumpkins home.
What were the prizes like and how were the winners chosen? It must’ve been hard to pick!
We had grade level prizes and then one grand-prize winner. We had these darling tote bags full of Halloween books, candy and little Halloween toys and games, cross word puzzles. There were some new Halloween books that caught the kids’ attention.
We had an online ballot for 12 people to vote anonymously. We weren’t meant to have that many, but other teachers ended up wanting to vote. We (the librarian team) didn’t vote because we knew the kids and it wouldn’t be very fair for us to vote – because I could see the competition amongst them!
We announced the winners via a video montage that was sent out to each Lower School homeroom, and the kids loved it! The video would announce the winner followed by a picture of the winning pumpkin and you could hear screams of excitement from the classroom. It was a very fun way to reveal the winners!
The grand-prize winner was from the 5th grade and won a tote bag full of Halloween stuff, including some of the new Halloween books. We wanted books to be part of the prizes!
Now kids are asking us if we are going to be doing it next year and we definitely will!
Were you happy with the outcomes of the contest?
I was so pleased with how it turned out. It was a huge success thanks to the administration, our Library Director and parents being so supportive. It took everyone involved to make it happen.
And the kids loved it which makes me so happy!
The positive response was overwhelming and we loved the enthusiasm from the school’s families.
Our Library Director and Division Head were also very pleased. They were so supportive and thought we did a great job. They featured it in our schoolwide newsletter.
And what was neat was that we had so many teachers email saying they wanted to bring their classes in to see the pumpkins. It was great to have so many people coming into the library. We even had potential prospects coming and seeing the library as such a happy and thriving place which was such a cool thing and a very neat experience.
It was a really fun thing to do and it put a spotlight on the library which is what we want to do.
We can’t wait to host the contest next year! Lovett hosts a Halloween carnival for Lower School students so this contest was a great way to get the library involved in the festivities.
And of course, I have to ask, among so many fantastic entries – which one was your favourite?
My favorite pumpkin was the ‘No, David!’ character (from the book by David Shannon). Kaitlin’s favorite was the Grinch and his dog Max from How the Grinch Stole Christmas!