Handouts in Storytime

So recently Jenny asked for some advice about creating a handout for storytime families, and we decided we both wanted to hear what everyone else had to say too!

Do you have handouts for your families? If you do create handouts for storytime, what goes on them? All the songs, rhymes, books, from your storytime plan? Other books on your theme that you didn’t read in storytime?

Sometimes libraries do a weekly handout that is different for each storytime, and sometimes libraries put together a nice “permanent” booklet of rhymes and songs that they can dip into and out of from week to week.

I also remember when ECRR1 was gaining in popularity there was a lot of renewed interest in using a handout to help convey literacy information. What is your library doing to convey literacy information in a printed format, either paper or digital?

I’ve certainly used handouts in storytime before–and no matter how lovingly arranged or thoughtfully written (or not!) I have seen a whole range of responses to them: sometimes parents use them just during storytime, sometimes they tuck them in diaper bags to take home, and sometimes they are left on the floor, crumpled and half-chewed. What has been your experience? How do you make it manageable for parents who are juggling kids and strollers and bookbags to deal with one more piece of paper?

Thanks for sharing your experience and advice!

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14 Responses to Handouts in Storytime

  1. Catherine says:

    I always have a handout with the rhymes and songs we shared that week, and the titles we read. I don’t enhance them with suggestions for other titles, etc. because it adds to my prep time, and I’m not sure our patrons would be interested.

    We are talking about ways to improve communication of early literacy tips and extension activities across all areas of our baby and toddler services, including routinely adding them to our handouts. I’m thinking an Early Literacy Tip of the Week that gets used in all of our programs. We haven’t worked out the details, but I know I want it to be easy for us to prepare and patrons to absorb. The conversation is on hold until the end of Summer Reading.

    I never pass around handouts at the beginning of programs, but instead invite participants to take them at the end so they can continue to share their favorites from the program. I found that parents and caregivers focused too much on following the handout and getting the words right instead enjoying the experience with their children.

    For new material, what I often do is write out the words on a large piece of paper and tape it to the wall, or we’ll go through the rhyme or song twice (or three times if it’s well-received ), with me demonstrating the first go-around, and then inviting everyone to join in.

    This is a very interesting topic. I can’t wait to read about what others do!


  2. Lauren says:

    When I started doing story time I created a song sheet with my most-used songs. People would take it only occasionally. Then I vastly expanded my repertoire and that sheet didn’t work very well any more. I’ve thought about making bookmark-sized literacy tip takeaways that include our web address, and then posting more tips and lyrics there, but that would mean improving our website, a project that has completely stalled. I look forward to hearing what other people do here.

  3. We have both used handouts and not. What I have found is that people, for the most part, don’t want them every week. Those end up left all over the library and we end up using them for scrap paper. What they do take home are a list of story time music used (especially if they are cds) or if you use the same songs for multiple weeks. They also like calendars of upcoming programs. The only time I found this is not the case is with our Tablet Tales (iPad story time), because they want to know the names of the apps used and ones we recommend. My 2 cents.

  4. Erin says:

    For my baby storytimes, I hand out laminated rhyme sheets to the parents so that they can sing along with me. The rhyme sheets have rhymes on both the front and back, and I have two different versions of these sheets that I use (I’ll use one version for a few weeks, then switch it out with the other version so that the parents and I don’t get bored of singing the same rhymes all the time). Each version has about 10 to 15 laminated sheets, with a few unlaminated sheets for days when we have a big crowd or if parents want to take a sheet home.

    This system has worked really well for me. The parents use the laminated sheets during the storytime and sing along with me. And the laminated sheets are able to withstand the babies playing…a few are getting wrinkly, but I have yet to throw one out even though I’ve been using them for years.

    Unfortunately, this system doesn’t work for my toddler and preschool groups because we sing different rhymes every week. I’ve tried handing out paper hand outs for those groups but, like you said, most of the sheets of paper end up half chewed and on the floor after storytime. So I stopped with that.

  5. Nicole says:

    Sigh. I started making handouts when I first began doing storytimes 8 years ago. No matter what I did, people just didn’t take them. I would try handing them out at the beginning, putting a color sheet on the back etc. I finally stopped last year because I felt like I was wasting my time/paper/color ink for nothing. But this is something I really want to make work! Maybe I just have to realize that not everyone will want one, but those (very) few that do, appreciate it. I wonder if it would go over better if I handed them out at the end when I give the child their sticker for the day? Maybe it’s more about getting it into the hands of the kids? Hmmm…

  6. Abby Johnson says:

    I created handouts for my baby storytime based on one of my neighboring librarian’s success with that. I include every rhyme that we do, including the ones that are repeated week-to-week. I pass them out as people come in so that they can follow along *if they want to*. I certainly understand that moms may not be able to read their sheet as they’re wrangling a toddler! I let parents know at the beginning that the sheets are theirs to keep so they can practice at home. I also include an early literacy tip each week and I include important info (like if a storytime break is coming up) at the top. I have some parents who have told me they take it home and do all the rhymes together, I have some who try to give it back to me at the end of storytime, and I definitely always have one or two left behind, crumpled, etc. but I think it works for us!

  7. Vicki Kouchnerkavich says:

    Could something be incorporated with this same information on your library’s children’s page? I’m trying think green earth here and with technology growing and changing by leaps and bounds there has to be a way to share this info in a techy way. If it were available on a website (or whatever), it could be archived similar to a blog for reference. What parent would want to keep weekly pages around home, when they could perhaps look this same info up on their device-phone/tablet? Would we run into copyright infringement? What does anyone think?

  8. Rachel says:

    We make new handouts every week. At my library each person is responsible for his/her own storytime planning–one has babies, one toddlers, one pre-k, etc. We usually pick overall themes and then tailor them for our specific age/style. The handout will have info on what we did that day, a sneak peek for the next week, and a few more books on the topic. Hopefully this link will work: I’ve uploaded the front and back side of an example handout from last spring.

  9. Jenny W. says:

    Thank you, everyone, for sharing your thoughts and experiences pertaining to storytime handouts. I have not used handouts in storytime before, but I am hoping to start incorporating them into my baby storytime programs. Initially, I was imagining my handouts would include the rhymes, songs and literacy tip for the day. My hope is that they would take it home and use the rhymes with their little one throughout the day. However, I’m hesitant to give the parents yet another piece of paper to carry around or toss in the garbage. I have considered laminating 1/4 sheets of paper with a literacy tip/activity on one side and a rhyme on the other. Each week they would get one of these cards and add them to a ring, so by the end of a five week session, they would have each of the ECRR2 tips and 5 rhymes. Since it would be sturdier with lamination and smaller than an 8 X 10, it would be easier for caregivers to toss the cards into a diaper bag or purse. I am still uncertain about giving the patrons lyrics to use throughout the storytime. I want them to be familiar with the songs and rhymes so that they can feel confident singing them inside and outside of storytime. Yet, as Catherine described, I fear that parents will focus more on their handout then on the interaction with their child. You have all given me so much to think about and I’m so grateful for your input. It seems that trial and error may be one of the best ways to figure out what my community needs. I also love Rachel’s earth-friendly idea of putting the information online so that caregivers can easily access it on the website. You all have so many wonderful ideas! Thank so you much for posting about this, Mel!

  10. Cassie Banaszak says:

    My library and I started a blog devoted to our Storytimes. I do a recap of what we did each week for parents who are unable to go to Storytime. I also provide links to the books that we use each week through our library catalog. Since I started the blog, it has evolved and I now include reviews for picture books and chapter books.


  11. Kathy S says:

    I have an outline of everything I have planned out for the week’s storytime for my own use anyway (otherwise I forget, and sometimes I forget anyway), so I copy it onto nice paper for the parents to take. I always mention it at the beginning of storytime and encourage parents to do the rhymes again and again. If I have some left over at the end, I’ll go around to parents in the children’s area and see if they got a copy. I like the idea of using the outline for our blog, too. (Thanks, Cassie!)

  12. Kathleen Connelly-Brown says:

    I use a handout each and every baby storytime. I change the rhymes, fingerplays, and songs once per month (keeping the opening, closing, and one rhyme in the middle the same EVERY session). Since I change the game plan every month the handout is important to my caregivers so they can follow along. The first week the parents do consult the handout as we go through storytime, but they also interact with their baby at the same time – they aren’t distracted by it in other words. By the end of the month, very few caregivers need to refer to it. However, it is there for new families and for those that have forgotten the words. Plus, it serves as a space setter for me. We form a circle on the floor for my baby storytime – all the handouts are placed in the room in a circle before arrival and the caregivers know that is their ‘spot’ to sit keeping the circle formation. About half of my parents take their handout home so they can continue the rhymes and songs at home, about half leave them behind. Some have a chewed or soggy corner, but no biggie I just put them in the recycle bin afterward. Sometimes I will put an important reminder (like when a break is coming up) along the top or an early literacy tip – it all depends on how much space I have available. I just use publisher to make my handouts – nothing fancy – but it is easy for the parents to follow along with me. I will say that the toddler, preschool, Spanish, and family storytime presenters do NOT use a handout at all – they all use a powerpoint presentation with the words of songs/rhymes projected on the screen behind them. That works out great for their groups since the families are all in front of the presenter, but for baby time many of my moms would have to turn around to see it since we sit in a circle. Hope that makes sense? It is an alternative to an actual handout and of course depends on how your room is set up if you can do that.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I put handouts in the take home bags my kids get at Preschool Interactive. There’s a craft in the bag, so they take it. I don’t know that they look much at the handout, but a few parents have said they use it and that’s enough for me. I am looking forward to having a chalk wall in our Storyroom so we can write up the day’s rhymes and songs – hopefully that will happen this August. If you want to see my handouts, look below the fold at my storytime plans. http://inshortbusy.blogspot.com/search/label/Preschool%20Interactive

  14. Brienne Tripp says:

    We put the ECRR labels on our sheets: Reading: has the titles we read and extras for reading at home Singing: Choose 1 song from storytime, or if use cd music write the resource Playing: Usually put a finger play or game we might have played in storytime Talking: Different talking points about a book we read or the theme Writing goes on the back of the page and is usually a coloring page, dot to dot or pre-writing skills page. We also add a literacy tip of the month.

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