Mel’s Offline Non-Webinar Professional Storytime Development

(bc wtf 2020?)

Hey team, I know we are all are struggling with the basics right now, but I hope this finds you safe and healthy.

Many of us are dealing with brand new work from home situations or are working in facilities closed to the public, but with continued expectations from our bosses to keep up with professional development. This can be tricky if there’s more of us using the computers with fewer offline tasks (like storytimes and shelving and patron support) to occupy our time, or if we’re home sharing equipment/wifi with others who need them too.

I’m going to offer a few ideas for totally offline work that might help you fill this gap. These are 100% real exercises and not busy work! Some of them I’ve recommended in webinars/presis, some of them I’ve done with my team, all of them I think will help you think about and deepen your storytime practice.

I’ll try to write up one idea a day and link them below. I have a few thoughts to get started. If you have questions about storytime, ask me in the comments and I’ll add it to my list of ideas!

Update 3/21: If you’re starting these exercises by yourself or with your staff, a note on time: Just because I’m trying to post something every day for awhile does NOT mean that these are 1-day (or 1-hour or 1-shift) exercises! These are designed to prompt & reward deep, sustained thinking and there’s no clock ticking. In fact, with closed libraries and suspended programs and services, now is a great moment to let yourself NOT rush through a checklist. We spent months working on our storytime mission statement. I’ve been thinking about my Top 40 list on and off for a year.

Storytime Mission Statement
Messaging Microscope
Top 40 List
Top 40 List: Assessment
Top 40 List Evaluation
Planning a Flow Storytime


I am writing these off the top of my head! I’m not going to be as thorough as I could be with more time to plan. Roll with it, but if there’s an especially unhelpful missing piece, let me know.


If your boss/HR needs official looking language to have this count, maybe this will help, I used as much jargon as I could, lol:

Storytime Development Workshop

A self-paced series of exercises designed to guide self-reflection on strategies to define storytime goals and consider best practices in literacy-based storytime delivery and content selection.

Melissa Depper is Storytime Supervisor for Arapahoe Libraries, where she works primarily with early childhood programs and services, and where she has led storytime training and mentoring for over 10 years. Melissa is a founding member of Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy, served on the ALSC/PLA Every Child Ready to Read Oversight Committee, and presents nationally on storytime issues and competencies.

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