Topic: Milo and Marshmallows: Evenings out in Tauranga (2012) by Debbie McCauley

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‘Milo and Marshmallows’ evenings in which librarians from Tauranga City Library entertain children at their school after hours have been a big hit with Tauranga's rural schools. This article was published in 'Library Life - Te Rau Ora', the online magazine of LIANZA (Library and Information Assocation of New Zealand Aotearoa) on 19 June 2012.

'Milo and Marshmallows' at Pyes Pa School‘Milo and Marshmallows’ evenings had their beginnings with Kaimai School in Tauranga. The PTA wanted to organize a fun night for families that DIDN’T involve fundraising, and contacted the Children’s and Teen’s Librarians at Tauranga City Libraries to see if we’d participate. Since then the idea has caught on, and we’ve attended about six milo and Marshmallow evenings at three rural schools in Tauranga.

The schools provide the venue and publicity along with the milo and marshmallows and we provide the entertainment – storytelling and story-reading. The children arrive dressed in their pyjama’s which adds to the general excitement. The school hall is divided into four inviting sections with dedicated reading spaces that included a reader’s chair and lots of comfortable and inviting cushions scattered on the floor for the children. The children are usually split by age into four groups. The groups will move around to the various librarians after a set time. At the end of the evening the greatly anticipated milo and marshmallows are served to the children whilst the librarians beat a hasty retreat home for their dinners.'Milo and Marshmallows' at Pyes Pa School

Pyes Pa School chose a Thursday evening in May, from 6 to 7.30pm for their ‘Milo and Marshmallow’s’ evening.  Not too cold and not too late. What was a quiet and orderly scene soon filled up with excited children in their pyjamas and only slightly less excited parents. Soft toys and cuddly blankets were clutched by some; the older ones were too cool for that but still had snuggly dressing gowns and slippers on. The hall soon reverberated with excited voices.

The teacher introduced us to the children and asked the parents to please respect the readers and keep noise to a minimum. We each made our way to our four corners and the children settled down happily, excited to be out after dark as well as in their pyjamas. I had the littlest children first and opened with ‘Would you rather’ by John Burningham which went down really well. The children enjoyed participating in the story and making the choice as to what they would rather!

'Milo and Marshmallows' at Pyes Pa School

Soon afterwards the next group moved around to me and I read them ‘The Little Tractor’ by Joy Cowley. I also did ‘Would you rather’ again which seemed to really suit all the groups, though maybe wasn’t as much fun as the ‘Poo Bum’ book Amanda was reading! The older children liked the Star Wars pop-up book as well which was great as by this time I was losing my voice. At the end of the night the children lined up for their milo and marshmallows and their big night out was done.

Even though this was my first ‘Milo and Marshmallows’ session I thought it went fantastically well. The children were engaged and happy. I feel that with the numbers we really needed all four readers, three would have coped but it would have been a struggle to ‘hold’ the children. Choosing the right books can also be of huge importance. It’s handy to have extras on hand so if one doesn’t feel like it is capturing the children’s attention it can be changed. It’s a great activity to promote reading to the children and also gives us as librarians a chance to get ‘out there’ amongst our readers and soon-to-be readers.'Milo and Marshmallows' at Pyes Pa School

Lots of libraries do pyjama parties – we’ve done this in the past – but 'Milo and Marshmallows' works well because it’s a partnership between the school and library.  The school’s have the space for lots of children, and the PTA do all the catering, whilst we do what we do best – promote stories.  We reach children who may not use the library, so it’s an opportunity to promote our collection and fun activities we do.  

Our lists of books were:

Amanda McFadden: Poo Bum by Stephanie Blake; Mr Gumpy’s Motor car by John Burningham; The Wrong book by Nick Bland; I really want to eat a child by Sylviane Donnio; Hooray for Amanda and her alligator! – Mo Willems and Squids will be squids: fresh morals, beastly fables - Jon Scieszka (for the older group)

Debbie McCauley: The Little Tractor by Joy Cowley; Would you rather by John Burningham; Star Wars pop-up;

Marie Gradon: Stomp! a dinosaur follow-the-leader story by Ruth Paul; The Cat’s Pyjamas by Catherine Foreman; The Dudgeon is Coming’ by Lynley Dodd and ‘he Squeaky Door’ by Margaret Read Macdonald.

Penny Guy: It's a Book by Lane Smith; Crocodile Tears by Keith Faulkner; Scary Mary by Paula Bowles. Also 3 told stories - Stone Soup; The Little Red Hen and My Brother, the Inventor.


by Debbie McCauley RLIANZA

Librarian: Tauranga City Libraries

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Milo and Marshmallows: Evenings out in Tauranga (2012) by Debbie McCauley

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Milo and Marshmallows: Evenings out in Tauranga (2012) by Debbie McCauley by Debbie McCauley (Tauranga City Libraries) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License