My library is preparing to end our seven-week Fall Session and it’s time to evaluate all the components of our storytimes. I currently do two kinds of storytimes weekly. One is a drop-in family storytime where we get around 40-50 people in the room. The second is a registration toddler storytime (and I do three sessions of it) where we limit classes to 20 pairs of adults/toddlers.
Lately I’ve been thinking about handouts in storytime and what purpose they serve. Why are we making handouts? What are our patrons gaining with these small sheets of paper?
Here are some of my thoughts about the benefits of making handouts:
- Prepares the child for school. So many of our families have older siblings in school, handouts are a good way of making the youngest family members feel included and prepared for homework. I have one family who calls storytime “school” for their child and she loves getting her “assignment”.
- Gets more information home in a reviewable way. Storytime providers can include a literacy tip in the storytime, but if that’s the moment that a child decides to start banging on the floor, some adults might miss it. Literacy tips on the handout allow everyone to read it when they have a chance.
- Puts a suggested booklist in their hands and gives them the power to review the storytime provider’s choices. I can only work with/help one family at a time. But as I leave my class, they are twenty families who might want my assistance in finding materials. Including a booklist helps adults select materials on their own. It also is a great way to remember what books they wanted that might already be checked out.
- Extends the storytime activities into the home for family members who can’t be present. I have a fairly large nanny/caregiver population bringing children to storytime. By including some of the rhymes and songs we sing in the handout, family members at home can learn what their child did in storytime that day.
- Lets me have a one-on-one conversation with the children at the door. As the kids leave, I kneel down to their level and give them my handouts. This is where I can tell them something they did in storytime that I found helpful or have them tell me about their new shoes. The kids look forward to this moment and I feel like it helps cut down on the chatter in storytime. Also, this is the part where I occasionally get storytime hugs!
Of course, handouts are a great resource if you have the time to make them and if you know how. I am twice lucky because my job allows me off-desk to make handouts and that I’m pretty handy in Publisher.
But remember: handouts don’t have to be fancy! You can easily type up a booklist and print an activity sheet on the back.
Do you use handouts in storytime? Did you find them all over the library after you gave them out? (Confession: I find at least two or three of the nearly 100 I give out weekly.) Let me know in the comments!
– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Public Library