Competencies for Librarians Serving Children in Public Libraries

How One Librarian Plans a Year’s Worth of Storytime

In Youth Services as we wind down from one season of programming, we are simultaneously gearing up for the next one. The pace is often so frantic, it’s hard to feel like you have enough time to thoughtfully plan and evaluate the staple of Youth Services—storytime. If you’re like me you’ve had periods of over-planning, rushed planning or changes in how your administration wants you to plan your programs. As we approach the mid-year mark, now is a great time to look at how you plan for storytime.

I set out to develop a system that saves me time and also has built-in flexibility to add new elements without overwhelming me.

Round up your rhymes, finger plays and felt.

I do three age-specific storytimes on a regular basis. When I started at my branch we were required to do certain rhymes, knee bounces, etc. with certain ages. Then we weren’t. At first  the authority to pick my favorites was wonderful. Then it became a burden. Too many choices! I countered with a hybrid model. I looked at all my standards and divided them between the three age groups. Moving forward, I only did certain felt, finger plays, etc. for a specific age group. I never had to think about that part again. I left 2-3 spots open for themed content to go with the chosen books.

Track Your Themes

In 2017 I tracked my program themes for the entire year. I’m sure many of you do this. My big ah-ha moment came when I realized that because I’d divided all my finger plays, rhymes and such by age group already, and I wouldn’t use the same books for each age group, I could use the same theme for all the programming I had that week. Suddenly instead of two or three different programs in a single week I had, let’s say Elephant storytime, all week, tailored to each age group. I cannot begin to tell you how much time this freed up.

Proceed with Planning

Going into 2018 and again for this year, I took my calendar and wrote the themes out for each week of the year. I accounted for known breaks and vacation time. Now, when my programming gets assigned, I just look at my calendar and see what theme it is. In my storytime binder I keep a hardcopy of each theme for each age group. I’ll write notes to myself about how things went or new books or rhymes to try. This affords me an opportunity to freshen things up before I do the program again without rebuilding it from scratch.

Occasionally I might have the same family come to two different programs in a single week. Because the books and standard rhymes and songs are different for each age group, no one seems bored.

When was the last time you changed up how you approached regular programming?

Head shot of guest blogger, Dawn Treude
Photo courtesy of guest blogger

Our guest blogger today is Dawn Treude. Dawn is a Library Assistant in Youth Services at the Scottsdale Public Library in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition to storytime, she also does S.T.E.A.M programs and facilitates the Teen Advisory Board.

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

This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: Programming Skills.

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