Last week, I kicked off my first round of storytimes at my new library. I was a little nervous (but mostly excited!) to make my storytime “debut” because I know how much the storytimers loved the previous Youth Services Librarian. I wanted to live up to their expectations, while still being me and staying true to my storytime style. However, I didn’t want to change things up too much from what they were used to, so I made the decision to keep the format pretty much identical to what they were used to.
For me, this meant trying out something new–Letter of the Week. Each week’s storytime features a different Letter of the Week. I write it on the white board, we identify it, and then we all make the sound together. Then I bring out a few objects that begin with that letter and the kids tell me what each of the objects is, we say the word together, and reiterate that it starts with the Letter of the Week.
Another thing that was a tad different than what I’m used to is that, while the books all fit with the week’s theme, the songs and rhymes do not necessarily. Instead of making sure all the songs and rhymes fit with the theme, the previous librarian preferred to go with songs and rhymes that would be familiar to the children and grown-ups, so they would be more likely to remember them and sing along. As a person who gets really excited about themes and tying every aspect of storytime in to the theme, this was a little hard for me to grasp at first. However, I completely understand the reasoning behind it and it sure made for less stressful planning! I know there will be themes in the future that I just can’t resist doing new songs and rhymes for, and that’s okay, but I think my focus in the future will be making sure the songs and rhymes are either already familiar to my storytimers or at least easy to catch on to after the first verse.
My new library is pretty small compared with the library I have been working at this summer. We offer fewer regular storytimes (just two a week) and open it up to a wider age group (2 and up). It seems to draw an older crowd–at least during the summertime when school is not in session, but that may change next week when older kids are back in school. Either way, I noticed in observing the previous librarian’s storytimes that this group is used to longer books. This summer, I did mostly toddler-age storytimes, and sometimes found myself struggling to find books that would be short and simple enough to keep their attention. So I am looking forward to being able to branch out into some longer books with more plot and character development. 🙂
I thought Friendship would be a fitting first theme, because it provided me the opportunity to tell the children how much I’ve been looking forward to meeting them and having storytime with them. I said that once we get to know each other a little better, I hope we can become good storytime friends. In addition to allowing me this extension of friendship, each of the books left us feeling warm and fuzzy, so that was just icing on the cake.
Letter of the Week: N
- Necklace – I made a necklace out of colorful pasta, so it served as a “double whammy” as far as the letter ‘N’ goes (and it also made for a perfect craft).
- Noodles – on my necklace, of course!
- Nose – I pointed out that we all have something with the letter ‘N’ on our faces. They caught on really quick, and one little girl offered up the thought that we also have another body part with ‘N’ – knees… (So close!).
- Nest – An abandoned robin’s nest from my front porch served as an awesome real-life example. I brought it in a giant Ziplock so the kids could get up close and personal without having to concern any germaphobes in the room. Added bonus? There was an egg inside! I made sure to let the kids know that there was not a baby bird inside this egg, and that the nest had been empty for a long time, so that was why it was okay for me to take it. They were absolutely enchanted.
Book 1: Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley by Aaron Blabey
This was a sweet book that left everyone saying “Awww” at the end. I love that the characters’ traits break gender stereotypes–Pearl Barley is the brave, outgoing one, while Charlie Parsley is soft-spoken and gentle. The two friends complement each other wonderfully and demonstrate that great friends don’t have to be exactly alike.
Song: “Can’t Wait to Celebrate” – Jim Gill, from the CD Jim Gill’s Irrational Anthem and More Salutes to Nonsense
We got up on our feet and danced along to this song, following the actions (clap, stomp, wave, etc.). I introduced it by saying it was a song about celebrating with friends.
Book 2: Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
You gotta love a book that allows the reader to do a robot voice and introduces listeners to words like “affirmative.”
Rhyme: “Two Little Blackbirds”
Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill
One named Jack, the other named Jill
Fly away Jack, fly away Jill
Come back Jack, come back Jill
Two little blackbirds sitting on a stick
One named slow, the other named quick
Fly away slow, fly away quick
Come back slow, come back quick
Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud
One named soft, the other named loud
Fly away soft, fly away loud
Come back soft, come back loud
This is one of my favorite go-to rhymes. It’s simple enough for everyone to catch on to the words and gestures, and yet the kids always seem to get a big kick out of “Come back quick!” and “COME BACK LOUD!”
Book 3: Leonardo the Terrible Monster! By Mo Willems
Anything Mo Willems seems to be a big hit, but this one lends itself especially well to storytime. Large pages with expertly placed illustrations make for a dynamic experience. It was a fun addition to the Friendship theme, as it just kind of sneakily ties in at the end that it is nice to be a good friend.
Craft: Noodle necklaces
I dyed my noodles ahead of time with food coloring and rubbing alcohol to make them extra colorful (be warned–it’s stinky!). Click here for the blog post I followed for directions on dyeing pasta.
Words to the wise: the macaroni noodles were too difficult to string on yarn. I would recommend sticking to something with a larger opening, like penne. Also, if the yarn starts to fray on the end, try wrapping a small piece of scotch tape around it so it acts kind of like the plastic end on a shoe lace. Much easier for little fingers.
I am very pleased with how my first week of storytime went! I had a huge group for the first session–40+ people crammed into our modestly-sized programming room–so many that we ended up having to set up another table and I scrambled to quickly prepare a few more crafts. My second session was a little more manageable, with about half as many people. In both sessions, I got great feedback from parents and children alike, so I would say it was a success!