I’ve written before about taking storytime breaks and so have some of my fabulous ALSC colleagues. We’ve just started our winter storytime break and will be off until the week after Midwinter in January. Each day I find myself explaining to another parent or caregiver that storytime is on a break.
But why take storytime breaks?
Storytime breaks serve a lot of great purposes. I have two favorites, the first being that storytime breaks give me time to brainstorm and create new things. I’ve written grants during storytime breaks, created new programs, developed new circulating materials, and re-organized collections.
This past week I had the pleasure of seeing several large scale projects completed and now available for our patrons to use.
1000 Books Display
[1000 Books Display, photo courtesy of the author.]
Our 1000 Books program was launched in September (during another storytime break!) and this month saw a new advancement for this passive program. We received partnership funding from the Darien Rotary Club to fund the first 300 kids to complete the passive program. Additionally, the Darien Women’s Club helped us purchase this beautiful display. Each month we’ll feature a suggested title for kids to read who are participating in the 1000 Books program. Along with the suggested book, I’ve also created a recommendation booklist. This month’s featured book is Row, Row, Row Your Boat
by Jane Cabrera and the booklist is all about song books. I am in love with the picture frames that showcase our book. Also: the graphics and signs from our Marketing Department.
[Book Bundles and LeapFrog Kits, photo courtesy of the author.]
I was finally able to put out our newest circulating kits: Book Bundles & Parenting Packs! These were funded by a Target early literacy grant. All of the work that went into these kits was done during storytime breaks, including purchasing all materials and developing the activity sheets/resource guides found inside each bundle or pack. Book Bundles are aimed at ages 2-6 and have books, puzzles, manipulatives, and more in twelve different topics like ABCs, 123s, Colors, and Shapes. I should also mention that all of the LeapFrog kits were developed during a storytime break in the summer of 2014.
[The re-organized Parent/Teacher collection, photo courtesy of the author.]
This one, I confess, I worked on during this past storytime session. But it was finally completed and ready to roll out when our storytime break began. Our Parent/Teacher collection is now organized by subject instead of Dewey decimal/fiction. This means that all of our picture books are integrated with their subjects. This also means that hopefully families going through tough times will be able to browse for their own materials rather than ask a librarian about a sensitive subject. (Although we’re always willing to help!) I spent much of my off storytime time shifting shelves. The red totes at the bottom are the Parenting Packs I mentioned before. These are geared towards caregivers to use with children and include topics like Potty Training, Staying in the Hospital, and New Baby in the House.
So, what’s next during this storytime break? Creating a Language Learners area, purchasing new Playaway Launchpads, working on a monthly early literacy calendar for 2016, partnering with a local preschool for our first preschool fair, and of course, preparing for the next storytime session.
I leave you with this quote, one that my boss sent to me after a particularly stressful summer reading had just ended:
Think about it: Humans are the only creatures in nature that resist the pattern of ebb and flow. We want the sun to shine all night, and when it doesn’t, we create cities that never sleep. Seeking a continuous energetic and emotional high, we use everything from exciting parties to illegal chemicals. But natural ebbs — the darkness between days, the emptiness between fill-ups, the fallow time between growing seasons — are the necessary complements of upbeats. They hold a message for us. If you listen at your life’s low points, you’ll hear it, too. It’s just one simple, blessed word: Rest.
— Martha Beck
Will you join me in taking storytime breaks? What can you do for your patrons to fill the time?
– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library