Like so many libraries back in March, we pivoted to provide virtual programming, including live and pre-recorded storytimes. As the months wore on, though, we wanted to offer something something new AND empower our families to read, sing, play, talk, and write together without waiting for the next video or Zoom session. Thus, Storytime-to-Go was born!
One of my colleagues came across the amazing work being done at Orland Park (IL) Public Library. Their Family Storytime Kits inspired us! (In true library fashion, OPPL Youth Services Manager Brandi Smits says that they got the idea from Plainfield (IL) Public Library! Smits credits her part-time library staff with creating their kits.) We were immediately drawn to the concept of helping families access ideas and materials so they could create their own storytimes at home. We had our inspiration…now the question was how would we put our own stamp on it?
We knew we wanted to focus on the 5 Early Literacy Practices from ALSC and PLA’s Every Child Ready to Read 2. We also wanted to connect what we were doing to other initiatives in our library. We thought “Storytime-to-Go” both conveyed the concept and was similar to our service for homebound patrons called Books-to-Go.
Once we had the name and the framework (Read, Sing, Play, Talk, and Write), we set to work developing a template using Canva. Working together, my colleagues and I decided on the layout and graphics. We each chose a theme and started filling in the blanks.
- What books did we want to highlight? A mix of print and e-books seemed best, as that would meet the needs of patrons who were visiting the library as well as those who felt more comfortable staying home.
- What songs would we include? YouTube videos of performers singing their own pieces were an obvious fit, but we also included links to CDs in our collection that contained songs on our theme.
- Choosing play activities and conversation topics that fit in our theme was next. We made sure to include activities that didn’t require anything special to make it even easier to play together.
- Finally, we focused on writing activities. We used this section to remind parents this early literacy practice doesn’t always include actual writing. Doing fingerplays, using scarves, and coloring all help a child get ready to write.
We’re starting small, with three Storytime-to-Go kits for now: Oceans, Pets, and Colors. This is partly due to being short-staffed at the moment and partly so that we can see how patrons respond to this new offering. We’re excited to expand, however, and are already thinking about the next themes we’ll introduce.
This blog post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies: I. Commitment to Client Group and III. Programming Skills.