Blogger Lisa Taylor

You’re late!

If you’re like me, you’ve spent many hours planning storytime sessions.  You’ve carefully selected appropriate books, songs, and fingerplays.  You’ve created felt board stories and prepared for crafts.  On the day of your program, you set up your allotted space – arranging chairs, and double-checking your books and props.  Happy children begin gathering in the children’s area about 10 minutes before the start of your program – but not too many children.  Where are the rest?  They’re late!

So, here is my question for you today: How do you handle the inevitable issue of “lateness?”  As for me, if storytime is scheduled for 10:30, it begins at 10:30.  I hate to see the children who have arrived early or on time, grow fidgety (or worse – teary!) waiting for the late arrivals.  It’s not the perfect answer, but it works.


Happy Groundhog Day!

(Are you doing a groundhog-themed storytime today?)


  1. Jennifer Wharton

    I start promptly also. As I tell our patrons, if you come to the library at 10am, Tuesday through Friday, there will be storytime. However, we start all our storytimes with dancing/movement/bells. If I know something else is going on and my parents are probably trudging three blocks because there’s no storytime, I will stretch it out to five minutes to give them time to get there.

  2. Sarah Stippich

    This is a great question! I always have a dilemma about lateness to story times… You try to be accommodating to parents/teachers juggling kids around, but 10:00 is 10:00! And we are very busy people!

    I try to start on time when I can, but generally I will wait 5 minutes. I had a class that showed up chronically 10, 15, 20 minutes late to scheduled story times, and I ended up just scheduling them for a 1/2 hour later. Somehow, it worked and they come on time now.

    For drop-in story times, if there is even one child there, I start on time. Even though late arrivals are disruptive, I try to “reward” promptness.

  3. Natalie

    Agreed. I start on time. Where I previously worked, I did a “storytime train” to gather all the stray folks in the children’s section. I also have been known to close the door and post a sign that says “Please join us next week!” Harsh, maybe, but it seemed to do the trick for those chronic latecomers.

  4. Kerry

    Our storytimes have been at the same time for years, are registered, and we still get stragglers. I do wait a few minutes – afterall, no two clocks in our building match – and meanwhile, I ask my prompt audience members what they had for breakfast or lunch. It’s a great memory exercise, or exercise in creativity judging from the looks the parents give me! and it keeps everyone occupied for a few minutes until we are ready to start.

  5. Lisa

    Kerry – funny, our clocks are unsynchronized as well! I’m sure your breakfast question elicits some great responses. I’m going to have to try that one.

  6. Abby

    If I have a decent amount of kids there, I’ll start on time, but if I only have a few or (for a registered storytime) I notice that there are still lots of kids that haven’t shown up, I’ll wait up to five minutes before calling everyone back and getting started. I might make a little announcement to the waiting parents that we’re just going to wait a couple more minutes to see if anyone else comes and they are all very understanding. We don’t open the doors to our program room until we’re ready to start, so the kids are fine to play for another minute in the department before going back. Yes, it’s fine to reward promptness, but I know how very hard it can be to get all your stuff together and get out of the house with little ones. If parents are making the effort to come to the library with little ones and all their accouterments in tow, I make an effort to ensure that everyone has a good time, even if they’re not there right on the dot.

  7. Jennifer Wharton

    No parking! not no storytime. Only just realized that typo…I should add that we are very, very casual at my library. Come in late, make it just in time for the craft, we don’t care! I often make a quick dive out into the library after the storytime proper and while people are starting the art/craft activity to gather in latecomers – and have found many people who had never attended a storytime, didn’t know they were free, or had kids who were too shy to come in and sit down with the other kids, but were happy to do a project. Our storytimes tend towards the noisy and exuberant anyways, so a few latecomers aren’t disturbing anybody. That being said, most of our kids and parents make a concerted effort to be on time – they love storytime and don’t want to miss anything. But if you’ve got three kids under the age of 4…stuff happens!

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