In a book called Pop Goes the Library: Using pop culture to connect with your whole community, Brookover & Burns (2008) define pop culture broadly as “whatever people in your community are talking, thinking, and reading about.” They authors state that pop culture includes television, movies, music, books, comic books, graphic novels, magazines, sports, gaming, and technology.
For this review I will cover children’s pop culture in the early primary school age range. Although I could make some guesses as to what is popular with adults or teens from what I saw featured when I went to OzComicon, a pop culture event, I will stick to what I know from working with children.
Brookover & Burns (2008) state that pop culture collections and programs must be unbiased and reflect community wants and needs, not your own. I’ll keep that in mind, as I don’t always appreciate what is popular at a given moment. The authors define identifying pop culture trends as ‘trendspotting.’
In this post, I plan to do some trendspotting of my own. I will share what I have noticed is popular with children at the moment using the themes of movies and gaming, and then I will either describe a library activity that either I have seen that has capitalized on it, or suggest something that the library could do.
In this category, Disney is always a sure bet and so are superheroes. However, choosing a movie to feature in the library that has recently been released is a good idea, as that is often what has the most hype. Popular children’s movies released this year in 2017 are The Emoji Movie, Despicable Me 3, Captain Underpants, and the Lego Ninjago movie.
Each of these movies would be an excellent basis for a pop culture library activity, and Captain Underpants in particular due to being based on a book series has great potential to get kids interested in reading. Public libraries around the world have put on this event and this event and this one which feature crafts, activities and even competitions to celebrate the movie.
While not based on a book series, The Lego Ninjago theme has some excellent DK readers that could be featured at a promotional library event like this one.
This movie has the potential to tie in a Lego building activity with children building an inspired ninja themed creation for a judging event.
Both the Emoji movie and Despicable Me 3 happen to feature simple characters (Emoji faces and Minions) that are easy to theme traditional craft activities to.
A game trend well featured is Minecraft. I know many libraries quite regularly run sessions on playing the actual game like this great club. Many libraries also stock the player guide books on the shelves. The game features ‘block’ type characters, perhaps giving children small cardboard boxes other materials and encouraging them to build their character would be an interesting maker space activity.
On a side note however, popularity with kids doesn’t always mean that something has the right to be featured. Right now, there is game on trend called ‘Five Nights at Freddy’s’ which has maintained its popularity for a quite some time. Though it seems very clever and children quite young are enjoying it, I don’t think it is something that I would feature in a library space. Though intended to have cute characters, the horror theme is a bit much.
Though unrelated to movies and games, it seems like making slime out of glue and borax is wildly popular this year to the extent that kids are spending their pocket money on craft glue! It looks like some libraries have caught onto this. Some years ago as a child I did this activity for the first time at a science session at my local library. I think it would be great if the library ran more science based sessions.
Pop culture trends are interesting as trends wax and wane and run their course. Feel free to suggest any other pop culture in the library trends that you know of in the comments.