Blogger Katie Salo

Handouts in Storytime

Two storytime handouts, one for Toddlers and one for Families.
Storytime Handouts [Picture courtesy of the author.]
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!

The inside and back view of a storytime handout, showing activities and literacy tips.
The back and inside of my Toddler Storytime Handouts [Picture courtesy of the author.]
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


  1. Abby Johnson

    We used to make handouts and put them out, but no one was taking them, so now we only do take-home packets for our beginning readers storytime. All of our storytimes end with open play, which is maybe why we haven’t thought about explicitly handing them to each child as they leave. I love that idea and the special connection you make with each child!

    1. Renee Perron

      Beginning Readers storytime? Can you tell a little bit about that program? I am starting a Family Book Club for Beginning Readers and would love to hear about your experiences with that storytime. Thanks.

  2. Erin Warnick

    I give the kids “homework” sheets. Most of the time the parents will come and take them for the kids and a lot of my kids look forward to having it. I don’t make them though, I get them from the internet. I can usually find something that fits with the theme that we are doing. Some sites have their site on the sheet when it prints, which helps the parents know where I found it in case they want more.

  3. Alicia Rambo

    We give out handouts at most of our story times, and encourage parents to participate in the songs and activities that are on the handouts when they get home. I started putting an early literacy tip into my handouts last fall. I’m fairly new at presenting toddler story times, so I’m still playing around with formats and types of handouts that work well and are most useful.

  4. Sue Brooks

    Everyone loves handouts!!! I pass them out during our circle time so parents can follow along with songs/rhymes/finger plays being used during the program. I also list an early literacy tip so folks can tune in to how some of the seemingly silly fun we have is constructive to learning and development. ( I sometimes post our handouts online, too!)
    Kids love the “homework” as do parents! They’ve all told me so over and over again with big grins!
    Occasionally kids will bring their completed work to share with me.
    And yes! I do display artwork and pics of us all having fun playing and learning together.
    I love handouts for another great reason…they help me with my planning and keep me focused and on track with the theme content I am presenting.

  5. Judy Antrim

    I look at handouts as an extension of Storytime. They are passed out at the beginning of ST. Fingerplays, songs, an early literacy tip and book recommendations are all included. It’s worked well for many years. Parents sometimes forget the words to a fingerplay when they get home. They appreciate the handout for that reason alone.
    Katie, I must thank you for sharing your storytime happenings. I love your honesty.

  6. Leslie Blount

    I luckily have access to about 8 years of handouts from the librarian I took over story time from. I love having a head start with formatting, then I personalize them for what I am doing that day. One side has poems, book suggestions and literacy ideas, and the back is an activity to do at home. The kids love them, and I agree that they give me time to interact with the child one on one.

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