This section is meant to provide some ideas of how you can use plan and implement storytimes for young children in your library.
Simple Steps for a Great Storytime
Commit to storytime. Think of storytime as a cornerstone of your library's service to the community. Survey the community: what types of storytimes do they want or need (babies, preschool, mixed age?) What times and days work best?
Have a plan. Plan for your audience, the time allotted, and your own enthusiastic interests. Allot the appropriate amount of time for each age group your storytime is intended for. Shorter times, perhaps 20 minutes, short books,(usuallyjust one or two), and lots of songs and fingerplays are suitable for toddlers and babies. For older preschoolers, plan on longer books, more books (perhaps three or four), and more complicated song movements. For mixed age audiences, plan on one item that will work for each age group; not every book and song you select will be for everyone in the audience.
Repetition works and is necessary! Use the same hello and goodbye songs each week, and use many of the same transitions each week. Children learn through repetition, and as you repeat songs and fingerplays each week, children will learn what to expect from storytime. Sing some songs twice during storytime to reinforce learning. Revisit books that were popular with the audience in weeks past. Repetition helps you too. Once you have a storytime routine established, you will be more comfortable each week.
Keep it simple. You don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to make storytime meaningful and fun. If you're not comfortable using props like puppets or flannel boards, or using instruments such as shaker eggs and rhythm sticks with the audience, that's ok. What matters is that you like the books you picked out, you've rehearsed your program, and you feel comfortable with the songs you will sing. If you like, you can use recorded music from a CD or an iPod, but do pick songs that are interactive and that you and the audience can sing or dance together.
Embrace flexibility. Not every storytime will be perfect; go with your instincts and trust your creativity. Your storytime plan is not set in stone, so be prepared to make changes as needed. Be flexible; if a book is not working, have a backup book, or be ready to go into songs or fingerplays if the audience is restless that day. Perhaps your audience of preschoolers wants more stories and fewer songs, so have more than just a couple of books on hand to read.
Engage your audience. Seek out books, songs and fingerplays that encourage interaction and participation. Not every book is suitable for a storytime: check out Katie Fitzgerald's blog post Choosing Books for Storytime. For ideas for songs and fingerplays, don't miss Jbrary's YouTube channel. Look for books with clear pictures that are easy for groups to see, and books with rhymes, alliteration, and repetition.
Based on the groundbreaking research of VIEWS2--the first systematic study of storytimes done to date--this book recommends simple interactive ways to emphasize early literacy techniques and encourage children to use and practice their pre-reading skills while preserving the delight inherent in storytime. And unlike many other storytime resources, the authors use the findings of VIEWS2 to offer guidance in performing assessment, as well as giving tips for planning and conducting storytimes. Put simply this book assists storytime presenters, children's librarians, and others involved with early literacy by presenting ready-to-use planning tools based on early learning benchmarks with a clear focus on developmental stages; demonstrating how to foster early literacy development by inserting the VIEWS2 early literacy domains into the five practices from the second edition of Every Child Ready to Read® @ your Library®; interweaving testimonials from storytime practitioners throughout the text to provide real-world insight; showing how storytime presenters can connect with parents and caregivers to promote family engagement; providing guidelines, worksheets, and recommendations for storytime assessment, with particular attention to self-reflection and peer-to-peer community learning; highlighting professional development resources that encourage sharing and problem-solving within the larger community of children's and youth librarians; and providing administrators with research-based evidence that supports current and future advocacy for early literacy in public library programming for children. Using this book's systematic approach, readers will be able to plan their storytimes with a clear idea of what to look for in the children they serve, and then continually improve how they meet the needs of their communities.
StoryTime Effective Practice (STEP), developed by the authors, is an approach that articulates the link between child development theory and storytimes. This important resource shows how presenters can use STEP to craft a storytime that is effective for mixed-age groups and adheres to best practices for emotional, social, physical, and cognitive support. In this book, Ghoting and Klatt, both early literacy experts, Offer more than 30 complete ready-to-use storytimes appropriate for newborns to children age 5, along with extension activities Show how STEP relates to emotional, social, cognitive, and physical development Explain how storytime materials and activities directly connect to language and literacy development Include preparation, planning, and performance tips, plus guidance for interacting with parents and caregivers Provide lists of recommended additional resources, including organizations, websites, and sources for storytime time activity ideas This book is a must-have guide for storytime presenters, preschool teachers, child care providers, and parents of young children.