Zombies, Zombies, Everywhere: Are You Ready for the Apocalypse?

YA books really inspire me. At any given time, I can be found reading several YA novels simultaneously. It makes me feel totally exhilarated to keep up with my teen reading; for some reason, I have never grown out of it. It all started with my fiendish obsession with Harlequin romance novels, which slowly moved into a deep love for paranormal romance and sci-fi love triangles. Many of the programs I create are inspired by the books I read. 

Later, I read "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" by Carrie Ryan and "Rot & Ruin" by Jonathan Maberry. I started to do a lot of book talks at middle schools and found out that the teens were totally captivated by zombies. I myself am scared witless of zombies and get pretty squirmy reading these stories, especially when they take place in dark and creepy places. But I love to see the teens' faces light up when I tell them about a girl that lives in a village that is surrounded by chain link fence and all around the fences are zombies just clawing to get in. Or there's the guy that has a brother who is a zombie killer (he's, like, a super ninja zombie killer!), and he and his brother make coats out of carpet to prevent the zombies from biting them. They also make this cologne that smells like the dead so they can mingle with the zombies and not be eaten for lunch.  

I'm also a huge "Walking Dead" fan. I have read several of the graphic novels and, after being coerced by both of my kids, I have watched every episode of the television series. Still, I have to walk out of the room if the zombie encounters become too intense. A few months ago I was talking with my t{w}een group the PBJsquad, and I asked them if they liked the "Walking Dead" and zombies. They all exclaimed yes!

This inspired me to create an amazing zombie program at the library. I took some of the ideas from the zombie books I mentioned and planned a great party. The teens loved it because there was a ton of fun and crazy food like brain cupcakes, white chocolate bone pretzels, green popcorn and bloody red rice crispy treats. I also provided fun gift bags with essentials needed for a zombie apocalypse. Some of the items were surgical masks to cover for infections, whistles to blow in case of zombie attack, Band-Aids in case of a zombie bite, gum in case of boredom, and, of course, a mini flashlight to see in dark places. (Oriental Trading has a lot of great zombie party supplies to make your zombie apocalypse program a smashing success.)

CDC make a zombie plan icon.

You can also get some great ideas from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) by downloading the Preparedness 101: Zombie Pandemic. This guide is full of important tips on being prepared for disasters and is a fun way to teach teens how handle all kinds of emergencies. The guide also includes a preparedness checklist so readers can get their family, workplace or school ready before disaster strikes. The CDC has come up with a really engaging way to get teens interested in emergency preparedness. 

If you are ready to take a walk on the dead side, try some of these crafts and activities at your next zombie program:

Barbie Zombies: I found this one on Pinterest! Crafter Amanda Formero came up with this very clever idea because she loves the "Walking Dead" so much. All you need are some old Barbie dolls and some ugly paint colors to create these fetching zombies.

Jello brain mold

Jello Brain Eating Contest: First off, you are going to need some brain Jello molds for this fun and possibly messy activity. Follow this Jello oozing brain recipe to create a perfect dish that will delight and disgust your teens. Once you learn how to make brain Jello, you can adapt it to suit your tastes. Use lime Jello to make a green brain or use watermelon Jello to get a more natural-looking brain. This is such a fun recipe to make, and you can definitely be creative. Before the program starts, cover the tables with plastic coverings and place the Jello brains on paper plates. Once you are ready to start the contest, make an announcement: "Everyone knows a zombie’s favorite food is human brains. Do you have what it takes to survive on this delicacy?" The rules are that teens participating in the contest must eat the Jello brains without using their hands. Anyone not participating in the contest can cheer on the brain-eaters and help keep time. The first teen to finish devouring their brain wins. As an added incentive to eat these horrible delicacies, offer YA zombie books as prizes.

Zombie buttons

One of my favorite things right now is a 2.25 button maker. I swear, I would make buttons all day long if I could. If you have access to one of these button punching machines, you can have a really fun craft program with your teens. You can create all kinds of funny zombie sayings and make them into buttons. One of my favorites is a picture of a tiny pink brain with socks on his feet; it says "ZOMBIES!!!!" Many teens will enjoy this program and will sit and make as many buttons as you will let them. It's fun to watch them get creative. Once a teen drew their own yin/yang zombie and made it into a button. It was the coolest thing ever.

Well, that's it for this month. Tune in next month to hear about more programming tips and ideas from Mrs. Librarian Lady.