School age storytime is one of my (million different) favorite parts of the job. I am a firm believer that stories should be read for people of all ages and particularly school aged children. They don’t get read to as much and can really be a fun audience that takes stories in a new perspective.
Here are some of my tips for surviving school age storytime and having fun with it.
- Give kids a choice of what book to read. This makes them feel empowered and a true part of the storytime. I will have them vote through a show of hands or applause during school age storytime.
- Use books that are interactive and have the kids trying to guess something or
solve a riddle. Some of my favorites are Spot the Plot by Patrick Lewis, A Huge Hog is a Big Pig by Francis X. McCall and Patricia A. Keeler and What’s Going On In There? by Geoffrey Grahn.
- In the middle of stories, try telling jokes or doing something like a magic trick. This can engage the children and is more mature than the typical rhymes and flannel boards.
- Read nonfiction books. There are some great nonfiction titles that are too dense for the preschool crowd but can be really well received by older children. I love showing school age kids the animal photos in Actual Size by Steve Jenkins or making up funny animal names after reading An Ambush of Tigers by Betsy Rosenthal.
- Don’t let technology scare you away. Incorporating technology can help the kids be more receptive to you and see that there’s more to computers than Roblox. Try looking up a fun fact on a database, watching a funny video, or listening to a Tumblebook. I love showing Internet features like Google Earth during school age storytime.
- Read some fractured fairy tales. Kids will appreciate hearing stories they are familiar with but having an exciting twist. The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Schwartz and Snow White and the 77 Dwarfs by Davide Cali are two books I always keep on my shelf.
- Shake up your usual songs with some group chants. Doing Boom Chicka Boom in a bunch of different voices or belting I’m Going on a Bear Hunt are some of my favorite things to sing. And school age kids are much more receptive than my family on road trips.
- Try to make them laugh. School level kids are also actually able to understand the jokes in books! Oh the possibilities. I’ve had second graders rolling on the floor laughing at B.J. Novak’s The Book with No Pictures and kids demanding an encore for Walter the Farting Dog.
- Don’t expect immediate success. School age kids can be an awesome crowd, but also a tough one. If you’re having fun, hopefully they will be too and if not, move on to the next thing.