Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Library program: Henna Tattoos!

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OK, I don't really spend too much time talking about my actual JOB as a teen services librarian. This blog is in no way related to my place of employment--it's all my own thoughts, done on my own time--and I think I'm still trying to find that right balance.

BUT! I had a FANTASTIC program earlier this month, and I definitely want to share it. The summer reading theme this year is Travel (for teens, specifically, it's You Are Here). So a bunch of us YA librarians are hosting henna tattoos programs. Some of the branches are having someone come in and actually do the henna. I wasn't sure how a program like this would go over with my kids, so I opted to simply purchase some henna cones and let the teens have at it. Actually, another librarian graciously got the cones for me, as she'd done this program before and knew exactly where to get them. Sometimes I love being a part of a team!

I requested a bunch of books and printed out tons of how-to's and examples. For the teens whose parents wouldn't let them get tattoos (I provided consent forms) and everyone, really, I printed out information on Mandalas, and got some printables off the internet that could be colored in.

Can I just tell you--TWENTY-THREE teens showed up for this event! My teen advisory board (TAB) has been steadily growing since I started last year--I had about five dedicated teens, and now I can count on at least a dozen, and closer to 15-17 for programs. But there were at least a dozen new teens at the event that I'd never seen in the library before!

There was a Mah-Jong program that afternoon, so instead of rearranging the room I simply left the four card tables up, with long tables at the front for all the supplies. The teens got themselves into little clusters, provided their consent forms, and listened carefully as I explained the history and laid out the ground rules (legs, feet, arms or hands only--no face, and nothing obscene). A volunteer handed out the how-to's, scrap paper, crayons, markers, and pencils for each table, and the groups set about trying to come up with the best designs ever.

My co-worker told me that it sounded loud from where she was in the library, but I didn't feel that it was loud at all--and I've had to speak to smaller groups of kids for being loud before! Instead, I likened it to controlled chaos. These kids were excited, and tested out several designs before I started handing out the cones. I'd purchased nine cones, which was more than enough (I actually have tons left over in my fridge). I could have purchased less, but I thought what I had was the perfect amount for sharing.

I had teens giving themselves tattoos, teens with their legs up on the table so their friends could do their henna, and people who'd never met before giving each other tattoos. I had one of the girls do one on my wrist, and a mom even came in at the end and asked if she could get one (and then had one of the teens do it!).

Here's mine (it's on the inside of my left wrist, where my next real tat is going to go):

It was such an awesome program, and I don't pat myself on the back too much, but my boss says I need to, so...there you go. :) When I do this program again, the only thing I'd do differently would be to have lemon juice and cotton balls available. Dabbing the henna tattoo with lemon juice really helps to darken the tat.

How's your summer going?

Enjoy your reading!


  1. Awesome, I love it! What a great idea and congrats on a such a successful program!!!

  2. Wonderful! I just did a Henna program at my library. Huge success!Our next program is our Anime Club, we are doing chopstick races.

  3. What a fabulous idea. I am storing all of your library programs in my onenote file to see if I can implement any at school <3 thank you so much for being a wonderful inspiration :D

  4. Sounds fun! I got some henna done on my arm back in June. :)


  5. Thanks for all your comments, it's so exciting to know that this type of post will be well-received! I'll be sure to add more!

  6. I love to do Henna tattoos.its amazing task.
    Henna Tattoos NJ


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