Tween Programming–Are You Smarter than a Librarian? Trivia Night

So this is a summer program we’ve been hosting for 5 years now.  I’ve always saved this one for the week of 4th of July–the idea being I don’t put too much work into this one, so if there’s low attendance it’s okay.  But it’s also interesting enough that we’ve always gotten a pretty good sized crowd anyway.  We even have parents that want to stick around and watch this one.

Are You Smarter Than A Librarian GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

It’s also a really cheap and simple program to host.  All you need are some willing librarians to help you out.  Your job as the host will be to ask questions and keep score!!

Smarter Than--Podium Sign.jpg

So here’s the setup–first I set up 3 or 4 tables with chairs, depending on how many kids I get.  Each table works as a team.  One table will just be for the librarians, we’ve always had two librarians at this table; having just one librarian there would get boring for them, so I think two is the way to go.  The other tables will be for your kids.


I usually divide the hour into a few different rounds to keep it interesting, so this is how I’ve done it in the past:

“What Do These Items Have in Common?” Picture Round  (10 Minutes)

The first round is bunch of picture puzzle to try and get the different teams to start working together:

Picture Riddle 2

Picture Riddle 1

The answers are “They all have FEET” and “They all have TRUNKS.”  Wah wah wahhh.

You can download my examples here and here for free.

Basic Trivia and “Which Came First” Special Trivia Round (10 Minutes)

After that I do a round of basic trivia questions for about 5 minutes.  We don’t have buzzers like on a real game show, so I just ask each table a separate question and go from there.  I also try to make it fair for both the kids AND the librarians, so I ask the kids questions I think they should know, and I ask the librarians things they DEFINITELY don’t (librarians don’t know a lot about boy bands it turns out.)

Sometimes just doing basic trivia can get boring, so we have a few special trivia rounds to keep it interesting, like “Which Came First?”  In this category, the team must answer which came first out of two options.  Here’s a few examples:

Which came first: The zipper or velcro??  The answer is the zipper (invented in 1893, velcro was invented 1956.)

Which came first: Backstreet Boys or N’Sync??  The answer is Backstreet Boys (album released 1996, N’Snyc was released in 1998.)

A great place to find questions for this is in a book like “Smithsonian Visual Timeline of Inventions.”  It spells out when nearly every invention was created and in what year.

We do this for about 10 minutes total and then go on to another picture round.

2nd Picture Round Based on Year’s SRP Theme (10 Minutes)

Picture rounds are always the best part of trivia, so I try to include as many as possible.  I usually base it off of whatever the theme for summer reading is that year.  It’s a great way to tie in the theme, and it’s just easier to come up with questions that way.

Here’s an example of one I did.  Superheroes was the theme a few years ago, so it kids had a great time trying to figure out some of the more obscure ones.

Hero Logos

You can download a copy of that here for free.

This year was a “Universe of Stories,” so I obviously had a lot of space questions.

Smarter Than--Space Food.jpg

We had a special round guessing what astronauts could eat in space. You can download that here for free.

I’m adding more new stuff here so check back later.

After we go over answers, we go back to regular trivia.

Basic Trivia and “Guess How Much” Special Trivia Round (10 Minutes)

So more basic trivia questions just like we did before, followed by another special round of trivia called “Guess How Much?”  In this round, you ask a question like “How tall is the Eiffel Tower?”  Then each table gets to submit one answer; the one closet to the actual answer gets the point.  I try to spice it up with a few weirder questions like:

How many pages in all 7 Harry Potter books?  (4,224 pages)

How many times is the phrase “Shake it Off” said in the Taylor Swift song of the same name? (36 times)

About how many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie roll center of a Tootsie pop, according to a recent study? (1000 licks)

So this is goes on for a total of 10 minutes, then we get to the finale!!

Last Picture Round for ALL the Points!! (10 minutes)

This is what I did my first year.  Basically just looking for something that would be hard for both kids AND librarians to get.


Here they have to write down both the book title and the author based on the movie.  FUN!!  The last event is always worth the most points.  The kids actually did pretty well on this one.  After that, tally up your points and announce who wins.

Answers are:
Where the Wild Things Are–Sendak, Fault in our Stars–Green, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs–Barrett, How to Train Your Dragon–Cowell, Diary of a Wimpy Kid–Kinney, Percy Jackson–Riordan, Tale of Despereaux–DiCamillo, Mr. Fantastic Fox–Dahl, Wizard of Oz–Baum, Ender’s Game–Card, Charolette’s Web–White

So here’s a recap of the event and time estimates:

(10 minutes)  Introduction and”What Do These Items Have in Common?” Picture Round
(5 minutes)  Answers and Basic Trivia
(5 minutes)  “Which Came First?” Special Trivia Round
(10 minutes) Picture Round based off of SRP theme
(5 minutes) Answers and Basic Trivia
(5 minutes) “Guess How Much?” Special Trivia Round
(10 minutes) LARGE Picture Round

At my old library, the librarians have won the past FIVE years in a row, but it’s always been pretty close.  Phil, our adult services librarian, wanted a championship belt, so Miss Gloria made this for the event:


At my new library, the teens finally beat the librarians!

As prizes, we give out candy bars to all the kids that participate.

THAT’S IT!!  Really simple–the hardest part is finding questions to ask the kids.  A used book store will most likely have cheap trivia books you can use for all the “basic trivia rounds.”  I was fortunate to have this one donated to me–I just modified the title and the picture 🙂

Trivia Book.JPG

That’s it!!  Let me know how your event went!!


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10 thoughts on “Tween Programming–Are You Smarter than a Librarian? Trivia Night

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  1. love this!!! Would also love to steal it, if you dont mind. Can you provide me with the answers to the picture trivia portion? I know some, but I am rusty on my superheros! Thank you.


    1. That’s an interesting idea. I run it traditional trivia style, where you can’t look anything up. If you wanted, you could have kids try to look up the answer by finding a book about the subject in the library. That would take up a lot of time though, but might be a cool way to learn some library skills.


  2. I love this idea so much. I would love to use it this summer in our library. If you could provide any question & answer sheets to me I would greatly appreciate it. I have started thinking of some fun ones but would love to have more for the kids.


    1. Thanks!! Though the original idea is mine, I no longer run this program, and another librarian has taken over writing questions. Kids like the picture rounds so do a few of those; you can model it off the example I gave. Try to find a few trivia books for kids and get questions from there–that’s what I did at least 🙂


  3. Hello! Did you limit the number of attendees to this program? I would love to have a large turn out but how many is too many in your opinion? I’m so excited to give this a try! TYIA 🙂


    1. Good question! So trivia programs, in my experience, don’t bring in as many kiddos. So you probably won’t be swamped because of this. I’ve usually gotten 15-25 kids which was small for me. If you do get swamped, bigger kid teams are an option. More minds will be more likely to beat the librarian anyway.


      1. Thank you so much! And in terms of scoring, did the kids all work together toward one score? Were they divided into smaller teams, and if they were, how did you get that score? I was thinking if my group is small they’d all work together toward one score but if it turns out that I have to break them into groups, should I just average their scores together?


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