Storytime Basics: Philosophy

For my first Extended Play Storytime Posts, I am just going to talk about the basics of how we do storytime at my library district. Every library is different, but each library often has the same types of problems (registration, arranging space, prep time, etc), and it’s always good to look around and see other ways of resolving those issues. I hope you will share in the comments your thoughts and experience!

I’ve touched on Scheduling and Registration, and today I’ll talk a little about our storytime philosophy.

At my district, we have embraced literacy-based storytimes. This means we have made a commitment to making sure every storytime helps build one or more of the six pre-reading skills, as outlined in the Every Child Ready to Read initiative.

In addition to including books or activities in every storytime that help build pre-reading skills, our providers deliver an early literacy tip to the adults. This tip names one of the skills, describes why it is critical to later reading success, and gives the grown-ups an idea for an activity they can do at home with their kids to help build that skill. (You can see the type of tip I deliver, and how it fits into my storytimes, by looking through some of my baby storytime plans.)

We highlight one skill every month across the district. This way, families who don’t come every week will still hear about each skill in a fairly consistent manner, no matter which branch they go to for storytimes, or how often. We have a handout every month that talks about the skill and gives three different activities to support that skill, one idea each for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers.

While we require that every storytime provider deliver the early literacy message every week, we don’t dictate a certain agenda or lesson plan for storytime. Providers are free to choose their books, activities, and plan their storytimes in the manner that best suits their individual style.

We encourage adult participation in storytime because we are so committed to spreading the word about the importance of early literacy!

Does your library offer literacy-based storytimes? Do you have any required elements for your storytimes? What are your goals and objectives for storytimes at your library?

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5 Responses to Storytime Basics: Philosophy

  1. Abby says:

    Hmm. I think everyone at my library has been through the ECRR training, but we don’t necessarily highlight certain skills in our storytimes. For this fall storytime session, I made handouts for each week. They have a book list that goes with that week’s theme and two or three extension activities and parent tips for things they can do at home to promote early literacy. We definitely see the development of social skills as one of the benefits of our storytimes, so we include activities where the kids take turns, clap for each other, or follow instructions.

  2. Melissa says:

    Hi again Abby! Where we started from was the realization that EVERY storytime inherently highlights early literacy skills…we just wanted to make sure we started calling those skills out to the caregivers, who don’t necessarily know that they’re there. You can know reading to your kids is important, without knowing specific reasons why…and sometimes knowing the “why” gives us more motivation to do the “how.” Your handouts sound great and are doing the exact same thing. I love that libraries are stepping forward and making a place for ourselves in the early ed world, because storytimes DO develop critical social and kindergarten-readiness skills!

  3. Dee says:

    Hello Abby and Melissa,

    I’m a homeschooling mom of a gradeschooler, a preschooler, a toddler, and one on the way. We’re very busy! But I always take my kids to the most wonderful storytimes EVERY week with our fav librarian, Ms Krystal. She does an AWESOME job!!

    I love finding things to share with her to help make her job easier. And I really have enjoyed this blog so far.

    I noticed you both mentioned handouts for parents. Would you be kind enough to share copies of your handouts with me so that I could show them to Ms Krystal? I know she would enjoy seeing them because she always includes little tidbits for the parents each week.

    Thank you in adavnce for your time and your assistance!


  4. Melissa says:

    Hi Dee,

    I don’t have a master to send you, but I can show you some examples of handouts that some Colorado libraries use for storytimes. You can share this site with your storytime provider: Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy: Storytime Take Home Pages. The example from my library is called “Literacy for Little Ones,” from the Arapahoe Library District.

    Thanks for visiting! Melissa

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