“Attempt as many different things as possible, even if it’s scary. Enjoy yourself and let loose!” (Storytime Intern)
Do you wish you could offer more outreach? Oak Park Public Library trains student interns to perform dynamic, interactive storytimes on the road. They present enriching programs to children in daycares, model storytelling techniques, and introduce new books to caregivers. We hire two interns for 10 weeks each season, and they spend two intensive weeks training under the guidance of a staff outreach coordinator. The interns observe our storytellers, and we provide them with constructive feedback. Our curriculum is based upon 4 building blocks: Core Storytime Skills, Book Selection, Stretchers, and Group Management.
We hire the most enthusiastic people we can from area colleges and give them the confidence to have fun and put it all out there. As experienced storytellers, we sometimes forget what it’s like to be new and we think some things are intuitive, when they’re not. We start with how to hold and pan a book for a group and move on from there. We emphasize the importance of smiling, eye contact, volume, and pacing. We teach them to observe their audience’s reactions and adapt with a flexible and positive attitude.
Good books are the most important foundation of any storytime. We train the interns about the differences between a toddler book and one for older preschoolers. We encourage them to emotionally respond to a book in order to make it successful. Intern partners read aloud to each other and offer support and feedback. They feel silly at first, and we tell them that’s the point. The sillier, the louder, and the more over the top the better!
- Make every book a multidimensional experience—what enrichment can you add? A puppet, a song, or dramatic play?
- Use fun stretchers for smoothing transitions, enhancing a theme, or group management.
- Voice: use projection, volume, modulation and sound effects.
- Pacing: don’t go too fast or too slowly; build up to the climax of the story.
- Look for exciting story lines and surefire fun hits. Use props!
- Kids’ behavior: lower your voice so they have to lower theirs, tell them what to expect in advance, plan transitions carefully.
You already know the things that you can train others to do—how to be flexible, how to be enthusiastic, how to promote your library, and how to get kids excited about reading. We tell our interns, “You’re nervous right now, but by the end of this internship, you’ll be able to do a storytime on the subway platform!” Having confidence from the very beginning is important—both for you as trainers and for the interns to feel like they will be successful. Lesson #1 is to dive right in and try something new, and your support and coaching will inspire your interns to achieve. Give Internology a try!
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