This post originally appeared on the LAIP in April 2016.


Shadow Puppet Play in the Library

by Rebecca Dunn 

The Black RabbitWith spring comes more daylight hours, which means we get to see our shadows more often over the next several weeks! There are many entertaining children’s books that explore light and shadows (see list below), but one standout storytime winner is The Black Rabbit by Philippa Leathers.

Rabbit finds himself in the company of a mysterious black rabbit that seems to follow him wherever he goes. He tries to run, swim, and hide from the large figure (it’s actually Rabbit’s own shadow), but the black rabbit is always at his heels. Little does Rabbit know that the black rabbit is more friend than foe. Both funny and a feel-good tale, The Black Rabbit is a storytime crowd-pleaser that serves as a terrific platform to discuss shadows with kids. After reading, take the book one step further and demonstrate with a flashlight how a shadow is made.

After reading about shadows, it’s project time! Making shadow puppets is a creative and interactive way to explore the art and science behind shadows. You can facilitate this project in two ways depending on resources available and age of kids you’re working with.


  • Black construction paper or cardstock
  • Chopsticks, kebab skewers, or popsicle sticks
  • White crayons
  • Scissors
  • Tape

Option A: Leave all the above supplies on the table and allow kids to make their own puppets using what’s available. Invite them to draw images with white crayons, cut out their puppet shape, tape to a chopstick or skewer, and repeat until they have a cast of characters.

Option B: If you happen to have a younger crowd and access to an AccuCut machine, you can pre-cut shapes out of dark paper as a modification of this activity. Kids can color the cutouts or accessorize with whatever materials you have on hand, tape to a chopstick, and play!

accucut shadow puppets 1


Have flashlights readily available to bring puppets to life, or set up a stage by hanging a white bed sheet illuminated by a backlight. Setting up a stage for children to act out their own stories isn’t only a great way to stretch their imaginations and narrative skills, it also provides a model to caregivers on how they can create this type of stimulating play in their own home.

Shadow Puppet Play using a bed sheet stage

For tips on using and making shadow puppets in storytime, check out this post on So Tomorrow and for more shadow projects and programming ideas, be sure to visit this awesome post on Library Makers. Both blogs are fantastic storytime and project resources!

Additional Picture Books About Shadows:


Want More?

If you’ve been inspired by Rebecca’s projects or have used her storytime plans at your library, we’d love to hear about it!  Share your experience in the comments or on social media!


IMG_2347Rebecca Zarazan Dunn is a children’s librarian and a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker.  When she’s not having fun at the library or wrangling her own kiddos, she can be found at her blog home, Sturdy for Common Things.


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