Early Literacy

The View from the Carpet

Picture this: Parents and caregivers scattered across the storytime room floor, with wriggly, adorable babies on their laps. There’s a “hello” song playing in the background and some books to peruse. Here I sit with my own baby, eagerly awaiting the start of storytime at my library.

And let me tell you, the view is pretty different from the carpet.

You see, I used to be that librarian, there, the one greeting babies with a fluffy puppet and big smile. But after getting a few years of paid labor under my belt, I traded my storytime hours for the good life: yep, I’m now a stay-at-home-mom.

Actually, let me amend that: I’m a stay-at-home-mom-who-is-still-a-children’s-librarian. While not employed, I do what I can to stay on top of the latest library news, book releases, and storytime trends. I do want to return to the field someday, and plan on staying in touch with all things library as much as I can.

And who’s my research assistant? My adorable 8-month-old daughter. She’s the perfect aide. I present her with new and acclaimed board books to gauge her reaction. I tote her around to different libraries’ children’s areas to see what engages her. I take her to baby storytime and see what really catches her attention. It’s a whole new perspective.

So here’s a few things I’ve learned about storytime, now that I’m the patron:

  1. Time set aside for one-on-one, parent-and-child reading time is awesome.
  2. When the librarian reads aloud to the group, the best books include interaction with baby (tickles, counting, identifying body parts, etc.). It can be tough to just sit and watch otherwise.
  3. Conversely, not every song needs to have corresponding actions. Sometimes, it’s nice for to just sit and sing together, instead of corralling a wiggly baby. Also…
  4. Lap bounces that involve raising the baby overhead are overrated. (Just kidding, she loves it. I, on the other hand, need to work out more.)
  5. Librarians that talk quietly, instead of competing with some of the louder children, often seem more successful. My daughter hones in on the calm voice in the room.
  6. Clap at the end of every book and song. Babies love applause.
  7. Literacy and learning tips are super useful, making the time feel well spent. Also, encouraging different activities to do at home is appreciated.
  8. Bubbles are always a fan favorite.
  9. Even if the babies are crazy and the storytime may not be going as planned, I guarantee there is someone in the audience who is very grateful for the work librarians do.

While some of these observations were expected, some came as a surprise. It’s definitely a fun and beneficial learning opportunity, and I recommend it. Every once in a while, borrow a child (niece, nephew, neighbor kid, your own) and attend someone else’s storytime. Check out the view from the carpet. It’s an eye opener.


Photo courtesy of guest blogger
Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Today’s guest blogger is Emily Andrus. Emily was most recently a children’s librarian in Queen Creek, Maricopa County, AZ, but now tries to survive the heat by taking her daughter swimming every other day. She keeps in touch with the library crowd through her blog, Literary Hoots, and on Twitter @literaryhoots.

Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

If you’d like to write a guest post for the ALSC Blog, please contact Mary Voors, ALSC Blog manager, at alscblog@gmail.com.


One comment

  1. Lisa Chin

    Great hints that I will need to take to heart with the new grandbaby! Thanks for the reminders!

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