Blogger Amy Steinbauer

A Field Guide to the Story Time Blahs

The story time blahs. Whether you are new to the career and not quite in the groove of story time, or have some story time years under your belt… we can all get them at some point. I think they are categorized by dreading doing story time, feeling monotonous about your work, getting bored of your usual songs and or stories, or feeling stuck.

I myself have been in the blahs for much of the last few months. There are lots of outward things for me– transitioning to a new branch, an emotionally rough Fall, career disappointments, and also the love of a new program that takes a lot of energy. I am sure that you have may have your own reasons for feeling disconnected from the thing that so many of us love about working with children.

So, how do we recover? In a perfect world- we could jet off on a story time sabbatical to rediscover our love of story time, books, and maybe the love of ourselves. (Oh wait that’s the plot to my Eat Pray Love Spinnoff— Play, Read, Nap). But in the real world, we mostly suffer through the blahs while continually doing story time. It can be emotionally draining. I can’t solve all your problems, but I can offer here how I try to survive.

Recovery Steps for the Blahs:

  • New Additions— is there something you could add to the story time like a prop you have never used? I love all Katie Salo’s posts about how to use props in story time. I have been using the parachute more and more in different programs and while it was intimidating, patrons love it and kids have so much fun.


  • Switch up some favorites— I love making up new songs for story time– lots of songs share the same melody/rhythm and why not add your spin to them. Recently, I created my own version of BINGO using METRO for our train in DC! I cut the letters out in felt and we sing the song and say bye to the letters– and it’s super fun and relateable to their lives. I have countless versions of 5 little ducks– about penguins, whales, etc. That way children and families are familiar with the music of the song and can sing along more easily. 


  • Do some research— I love reading about how other librarians do story time. Read some blogs, source out ideas on Twitter, or ask colleagues for refreshing ideas. I have always wanted to do a story time dice, but thought my toddlers would ruin it, so I made the story time song spinner below! Now, in my last song– where I typically pull a song out of thin air, we can use the spinner to make our choice. 
Story Time Song Spinner
Story Time Song Spinner
  • Acknowledge the blahs. I think sometimes I get too used to putting a good spin (no pun intended to above) on work. I mostly have a cool job. I sing and read to kids, I get to act silly and am encouraged to use my imagination, and help people get the things they need. However, the job is hard, patrons can get prickly, and sometimes things are just rough. I tend to feel better if I just acknowledge that this part is hard— but it won’t always be this way.


  • Reflection— Sometimes it’s good to think about why you like/love story time. What gets you the most excited? Is it sharing stories for young ones, singing songs, or maybe it’s building that community? Then take what you love, and find ways to maximize it in your program or find new ways to incorporate it. If you love the music element to story time, maybe add more dance, song, or movement to your program.


What do you do to combat the story time blahs? Please share in the comments below. 


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: Programming Skills


  1. Abby

    After 13 1/2 years of doing storytime, I definitely do get the “blahs” now and then, especially for my well-attended Mother Goose on the Loose storytime – I’ve found that very large storytime groups tend to be less personal and less interactive due to the sheer numbers who attend, and it can be exhausting keeping up that positive energy for a big crowd!

    For me, the best way to get over the blahs is to look into the eyes of the kids as I go around the room with the drum or the pig, and make that one-on-one connection with each kid. When I am able to connect with the little ones, and even get a smile out of them, it immediately boosts my energy and reminds me why I do what I do – it’s for the kids. So that’s the secret to ending the blahs for me: take it back to the most basic level of connecting with each child.

    1. Amy Steinbauer Post author

      Thanks Abby! Whew, almost 14 years! You are a hero!
      Yes– I didn’t add that in– but the kids do make it worth it— or hearing their parents/adults relay when they play story time at home…. the feels!

  2. Jill Nevins

    Thanks Amy for acknowledging what I often fail to name. As much as I love doing story times, I sometimes feel as though I am just reliving the same day with the same routines (a la Groundhog’s Day). To combat these “blahs” I try to add new books, new lit tips, and new songs. I have found helpful blogs (Storytime Kate &Jbrary are great) that help me to feel more enthusiastic about another story time. I love the idea of a story time spinner…I just might give that a whirl! 🙂

    1. Amy Steinbauer Post author

      Ha- good pun! My spinner is really reminding me of songs that I used to sing all the time but never do anymore… so I hope that will break the blahs for me. Let me know if you make one!

  3. Valerie Morris

    I have to admit I have been in a storytime slump. Your post inspired me to come up with new words for the BINGO song for my preschoolers! The theme is underwear using the books Creepy Pair of Underwear (Aaron Reynolds), Octopants (Suzy Senior), and Pants (Giles Andreae). Instead of BINGO we will be spelling PANTS! Here are the words:

    There was a cat who loved her pants
    And wore them to the library
    P-A-N-T-S, P-A-N-T-S, P-A-N-T-S
    She reads her books in pants!
    There was a dog who loved his pants
    And wore them to the library
    *-A-N-T-S, *-A-N-T-S, *-A-N-T-S
    He reads his books in pants!
    There was a cow who loved his pants
    And wore them to the library
    *-*-N-T-S, *-*-N-T-S, *-*-N-T-S
    He reads his books in pants!
    There was a duck who loved his pants
    And wore them to the library
    *-*-*-T-S, *-*-*-T-S, *-*-*-T-S
    He reads his books in pants!
    There was a pig who loved his pants
    And wore them to the library
    *-*-*-*-S, *-*-*-*-S, *-*-*-*-S
    He reads his books in pants!
    There was a hen who loved her pants
    And wore them to the library
    *-*-*-*-*, *-*-*-*-*, *-*-*-*-*
    She reads her books in pants!

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