Sunday, October 29, 2017

How to Host Pajama Reading Night

Hey there, teacher friends! I was on the Reading Committee at my previous school, and last school year we wrapped up Read Across America Month with a fun, low-key Pajama Reading Night for our K-3rd grade students. Approximately 75 kids and 55 parents turned out for the event- a big success for our inaugural year! Everyone showed up in PJs excited for a fun night of storytelling. I put together a few tips in case you’d like to throw a similar event at your own school.

Pajama Reading Night Interest Form

1. Divide Guests into Stations

Dispersing the group into stations kept the event calm and organized. It also made our event flow because families started trickling in five minutes early, and arrived up to 20 minutes after our starting time. As families arrived, they drew cards from our Sorting Hat (yes, we had a real Harry Potter Sorting Hat thanks to one of our 4th grade teachers!). The cards told families where to go for their first rotations. By doing it this way, we didn’t have a big group of people hovering around, waiting for us to get the party started! Each station lasted 15 minutes, and we announced when it was time to rotate over the PA system. Click here for posters for each station. We had five:

  1. Storytime with the Principal: Students gathered into the front office to listen to our principal read stories. I liked this station because it put a positive spin on being sent to the principal’s office :)
    Under "Next Stop," fill in the next activity's location- library, gym, office, etc.

  2. Cozy Up with a Good Book: We used the music room for this station because it was spacious with bleacher-style seating and lots of floor space. Before entering the room, each family selected books and flashlights from shelves we set up in the hall. Once everyone got settled, we shut off the lights and got down to reading! This station was a huge hit.
    Cozy Up With a Good Book Station

  3. Stories with a Special Guest: We invited our former PE teacher to read stories in his old stomping grounds, the gym. This station could be led by any special member of your community.
    Story with a Special Guest Station

  4. Cookies and Milk: Pretty self- explanatory, right? ;) Our kind PTO parents donated cookies and milk. Also, I had recently cleaned out my classroom and had tons of extra books to donate that had been left behind by previous teachers. A member of our committee had the great idea to offer them to our guests. We set out the boxes and invited students to browse while they enjoyed their snacks. If you’d like to do something similar, I suggest putting out a request for teachers or families to donate gently used books in the weeks before your event.
    Have teachers and families donate gently used books for students to take home at your event!
    Cookies and Milk Station

  5. Get Crafty: Students made simple commemorative bookmarks at this station. The bookmarks had the event’s name and date on them. Parents helped their children punch holes and tie strings to complete the bookmarks.
    Get Crafty Station
    File includes 4 different bookmarks (2 boys, 2 girls)

2. Establish Expectations

Our committee hosted Family Literacy Night last year. Guests gathered in the cafeteria and the PTO hosted a potluck beforehand. While it was a nice event, things got a little… chaotic. Students were running around unsupervised and the teacher in me wanted to move all their clips to red :) We learned our lesson after that. Thanks to the fancy- schmancy poster printer, we were able to print a helpful poster explaining the event and our expectations. Additionally, each station had directions and expectations posted outside. This turned out to be enormously helpful in keeping the whole event organized. Everyone knew where to go and what to do!

Pajama Reading Night Welcome Poster

3. Consider Friday Night

Believe me, sacrificing my Friday night was just about the last thing I wanted to do. We threw the event after dinnertime, from 6-7:30. I was TIRED. However, I think our turnout was so great because parents didn’t have to worry about keeping kids out so late on a school night. We’re also in a small, overseas community where families are often looking for things to do with their kids, so I think that helped. Many parents commented on the way out the door that bedtime would be easy, because everyone was already in PJs!

4. Publicize with Storybook Character Day

Pajama Reading Night was the last event in Read Across America Month for our school. To build interest, we had Storybook Character Day during the school day. Students were encouraged to dress as their favorite storybook characters. In years past we’ve also thrown a Storybook Character Parade, but we decided to keep it low-key this year.

5. Gently Share Tips for the Home
Parents loved this informational sheet! 
We placed this freebie from Growing Firsties on the sign-in table, and many parents took copies on the way in the door. It felt less intimidating and more effective than last year’s full presentation on literacy at home, and hopefully parents left our event with a few tips under their belts! One parent even said as she left, “This was really nice. I expected this to be painful, but it was great!”

I use these strategies in my guided reading lessons, too!

Everything you need for this event is available here, from Little Owl's Teacher Treats!

Please note that the pages in this product are NOT editable because I must abide by Terms of Use for all images and fonts. However, I am happy to take customization requests for minor changes with one week's notice. If you have any questions about our event or customizations, I'm more than happy to talk to you! Just email me at and I'll get back to you ASAP. Until then, happy teaching!


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