In our local library, they have all sorts of fun summer activities for families. The most recent one is The Teddy Bear Sleep Over. Even if I didn’t have a child, this would catch my attention, because it hooks right into my writerly curiosity.
This is the premise: kids bring their teddy bear to the library and leave them there over night for a sleepover. The librarians then pose the bears doing different activities, take pictures of them and post them online so that the kids can click over the next morning and see what their bear was up to during those dark, mysterious hours when the library is closed.
I’m friends with one of the librarians, and we giggled together over ideas for what the bears could do. I thought they should have some clearly posted signs saying things like, “Do not climb on the shelves,” and then have the bears breaking the rules. Then, of course, there could be a teddy bear Time Out Corner where they do their time. It’s all about the drama. And the flouting of the rules.
The teddy bears are a story about to be told. The children provide the characters, and then sit back and wait for the librarians to spin a tale. Stories are important because they ask our questions.
What happens when you break the rules? What happens in the darkness? Are people good? Are teddies good? Is the world safe?
We know the answers that the children want. And we know the truth. Somewhere between the two lies the story.