Let’s talk about naming storytime, shall we?
This post started in my head after a parent thanked me for my new preschool storytime (that I’ve named Discovery!) and let me know that her son has developed an aversion to the word storytime. She went on to explain that he loves books and stories and the library, but that “storytime” tripped him up. And I began to think about how we name our programs.
My previous library struggled with translating “storytime” into Spanish. Ultimately the official translation that was approved was “hora de cuentos” which literally translates back to English as “storyhour”. Patrons were constantly asking what kinds of activities happened in our programs. We kept getting the question: “Do you really read to them for an hour straight?” Eventually our Spanish-speaking patrons learned to see past the name of our program. But I often wonder if re-branding or re-naming would have created less confusion.
Before I started at my new library, staff had worked to re-brand all storytime classes under a name: Little University. The idea was to make patrons more aware of the early literacy components and goals in a storytime. Our patrons take Little U classes very seriously — we have a registration start date and classes have a teacher-student ratio, just like a real university. Our brand emphasizes the learning aspects of storytime in a way that’s marketable to patrons.
I know of libraries who make make their storytime names clear and easily understood for patrons: “Wonderful Ones” and “Terrific Twos”; “Walkers, Wigglers, and Crawlers” and “Lapsit”; “Family Storytime” and “On Our Own Storytime” — these storytime names use ages or development milestones or the target audience in their names.
So, what’s in a name? I think the point that I’m trying to make is that the name of your storytime program needs to make sense to your patrons. And that it isn’t necessary to have a clever name, but is necessary to have a clear name. Don’t leave patrons guessing if your program is right for them. Educate them. Reach out to them and make sure that your message is being heard.
No matter the name, a program is successful if it’s reaching your patrons and teaching them to love the library and to love learning those valuable early literacy skills.
What do you call your storytimes and why? Have any interesting name stories to share? And, of course, now is the time to have the library debate of “storytime” vs. “story time” in the comments.
– Katie Salo
Early Literacy Librarian
Indian Prairie Library