A few weeks ago, I had set up for a storytime that had over thirty children registered. I had carefully laid out our craft items, piled up books next to my chair, and eagerly awaited the tiny smiling faces scheduled to come through the library’s doors.
I only had one child and their mom show up that day, for whatever reason.
Instead of being worried about how I was going to do my normally high energy and lots of participation storytime, I took a moment to adjust my plan before we went into the storytime room. Here’s some ideas for if that happens to you:
- Let the kids pick which book comes first or next.
- Spend time talking one-on-one, let those interruptions and connections you would normally move away from shape your storytime.
- Put your patron’s name into the story to make it a specialized experience.
- Change your theme, if you want to, and let your family pick out the books.
- Ask more questions as you read.
- Focus on modeling some excellent early literacy tips for your parent and make sure to explain what you’re doing!
- Let the children each have a turn holding your puppet and singing your song.
- Make more “mistakes” and let your patrons correct you!
- Talk about the parts of the book and have the child hold the book and turn the pages.
- Sing their favorite song instead of the one you had planned.
I’m sure that there are loads more ideas out there — let me know your thoughts in the comments!
– Katie Salo
Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Library
Great ideas! One of the hardest things for new librarians to accept is that you can do everything right and still have a low (or no) turnout for a program. The phases of the moon, rain, good weather, something you don’t even know is going on….so many different things can happen. Go with the flow, do something special for those who did come, and put the program away for a repeat a couple of months down the road.
I tell the child or children that they are so lucky because they get their own personal storytime with Miss Tammy. I also often sit on the floor in front of them to make it more personal instead of the small chair I usually sit in. Many parents will say “Oh you don’t have to do the storytime just for us,” but my feeling is that they came so they deserve to have the experience whether it is 1 child or 30. I know that I have repeatedly heard that they greatly appreciated me taking the time to make it special for them. A great opportunity to bond with families.