As harvest time draws near it's time for scarecrows of the world to celebrate a job well done!
Many libraries are opting to decorate for harvest celebrations rather than Halloween. (I won't digress into the implications of druid harvest festivals.) Here are some great programing ideas for your library.
Make the centerpiece of your harvest hoedown scarecrows. Scarecrows are as old as farming itself. Their job was essential because families faced starvation if their crops were eaten by wildlife. The ancient Greeks carved wooden statues and the Zunis of southwest America held scarecrow making contests for children. Pennsylvania Dutch farmers placed a male scarecrow at one end of their field and a female one at the other end. These scarecrows kept each other company during their long watch over the fields.
Making a scarecrow became a natural part of a farmer's planting ritual. Old clothing stuffed with straw and hung on sticks was the most common method.
Today's scarecrows are part of our folkart culture. My local botanical garden hosts an annual Scarecrow Trail. The designs can be realistic or scary, whimsical or mythic.
Ask patrons to name literature that features a scarecrow and you will probably hear The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum. There are other books that feature scarecrows. Here is a sampling of titles.
Witch Hazel, by Alice Schertle.
Johnny is to young with the annual planting, so his older brothers give him some pumpkin seeds of his own. To protect them, he makes a scarecrow out of witch hazel branches and a gingham dress. Only one pumpkin grows, protected from birds beneath the scarecrow's skirt.
Scarecrow, by Cynthia Rylant.
The life of a scarecrow through a year, beginning with spring planting. The life of the scarecrow is filled with friendship and fine company. A good book to teach children about the seasons.
Jeb Scarecrow's Pumpkin Patch, by Jana Dillon.
A scarecrow devises a secret plan to keep the local crows from having a party in his pumpkin patch.
The Scarecrow's Hat, by Ken Brown.
A charming book of bantering and bargaining. Chicken want scarecrow's hat and scarecrow wants a walking stick. Children will delight in finding out how each character gets what he wants.
The Scarebird, by Sid Fleischman.
A lonely farmer lives with a scarecrow that becomes a unique friend.
Are you looking for Halloween hints to help in your programing? You can check out this great list of links.