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As libraries reopen, some have in-person storytimes, while other libraries are still exclusively online. Others have created a hybrid using both. No matter which way storytime is presented, we are all looking for fresh and inventive ways to help children learn and have a positive time during storytimes. One simple and fun way to welcome children back is to include yoga. Incorporating yoga in storytime is very easy to plan, given some simple dos and don’ts. Here are a few resources to help guide you.
To start, you need to do what you are comfortable with. Start with the books, the themes, and the yoga positions you like and are comfortable with. As far as books are concerned, you do not need to use books that are strictly children’s books about yoga. There are many new books out there for children about yoga that include animals and positions that will make storytime very easy. However, you could just as easily read the picture book “Stick and Stone”, by Beth Ferry, and ask the children “where do you find stones?”. Guide them to the answer of mountain and then have the children practice the mountain pose. Where do sticks come from, a tree, have them practice the tree pose. Other books such as “Llamaste and Friends: Being Kind Through Yoga”, by Annabel Tempest, nicely introduce different animals and yoga poses that are child-friendly. Do not let a book that does not have yoga poses in it stop you from reading these books and incorporating your own poses that coincide with the story.
Some dos and don’ts when setting up your yoga storytime.
- Plan storytime for children who can engage in the poses, 3- to 6-year-old.
- Keep poses and games brief (approximately 30 to 45 seconds long)
- Limit the number of poses. No more than about 10 or so, depending on the length of storytime.
- Children learn from repetition: offer a select set of same poses each storytime.
- Allow quiet time with simple guided relaxation.
- Involve parents and caregivers.
- Make sure everyone has space to move.
- Do the moves with the children.
- Survey your parents/caregivers to see what they would like to see.
- Be prepared to throw your plans out the window. Always read your room and see where the children are at that day. Sometimes you just need to adjust and move to a different story or position.
- Safety is number one, no advanced poses like handstands or bridges.
Last, do include breathing and mindfulness exercises. Both exercises create a calm and relaxing atmosphere and align with yoga. Having the patrons begin and end with breathing exercises helps relax the children and teaches them how to breathe through each pose.
Here are a few things that you could need and a few items to research. When creating your storytime, think about how many families might attend and about the space available. Children do not necessarily need a yoga mat, regular flooring and/or towels will work. If you are having a full yoga experience you will need to make sure you have your storytime and yoga poses written out and you and your library have release forms if needed. First, you will need a large space, so all participants have room to move. Second, you need to estimate how many participants the room will hold and set up registration with your limit and a waitlist so all can safely participate. Next, you will need to check with your administration about whether or not you will need a release from harm form. In most yoga classes, these forms are mandatory, but since this is a storytime, this form might not be necessary. You will need to make sure all parents/caregivers know that they are to stay next to their child and not leave. Last, relax, you have this and it will be fun.
The Farmington Libraries, June 15, 2019, https://www.farmingtonlibraries.org/events/yoga-storytime-1
Yoga is a great way for children to stretch, learn how to be calm, and learn how to manage stress. However, if having a full yoga experience feels too stressful for you, instead of yoga do a stretching storytime where you can still incorporate yoga positions that are child-friendly with breathing exercises. This also cuts out the need for the release of harm forms and registration. Always remember, just like storytime, make it simple and make it comfortable for you.
Here are some resources that will help you when planning your yoga storytime. Enjoy.
- Article in American Libraries, Stories, Songs, and Stretches: Creating playful storytimes with yoga and movement, https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/01/02/stories-songs-stretches-storytime-yoga/
- Super Simple: A Place to Live and Learn, Getting Started with Storytime Yoga, https://supersimple.com/article/getting-started-with-storytime-yoga/
- Yogibrarian, https://yogibrarian.wordpress.com/yoga-storytimes/
- ACL, Yoga Storytime Ideas, https://www.bayviews.org/storytime/styoga/
- Pinterest, https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=Childrens%20yoga&rs=srs&b_id=BHSaF6uecVFQAAAAAAAAAADJxCilTy1ibGF6QtKb-FS1qKSyPq6J6cqHSjZWzrgy0YGx8SNI-5td&source_id=HXztNN8o
- Yoga Journal, Getting Started with Yoga, https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/balance/family/teach-children-well/
- Yoga International, The Secret to Teaching Yoga to Children, https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-secret-to-teaching-yoga-to-children
- Release from harm forms: https://www.sampleforms.com/yoga-waiver-form.html
- Free 7t Sample Yoga Wavier Forms in MS Word | PDF, SampleForms. https://www.sampleforms.com/yoga-waiver-form.html Accessed 15 Nov. 2021
- Getting Started with Storytime Yoga, Super Simple: A Place to Live and Learn, 2019, https://supersimple.com/article/getting-started-with-storytime-yoga/ Accessed 15 Nov. 2021
- Heagberg (Rebar), Kat, The Secret to Teaching Yoga to Children. Yoga International. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/the-secret-to-teaching-yoga-to-children Accessed 15 Nov. 2021
- Peck, Penny, Yoga Storytime Ideas. ACL, 17 Sep. 2021, https://www.bayviews.org/storytime/styoga/ Accessed 15 Nov. 2021
- Pinterest, Children’s Yoga. https://www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=Childrens%20yoga&rs=srs&b_id=BHSaF6uecVFQAAAAAAAAAADJxCilTy1ibGF6QtKb-FS1qKSyPq6J6cqHSjZWzrgy0YGx8SNI-5td&source_id=HXztNN8o Accessed 15 Nov. 2021
- Scherrer, Katie, Stories, Songs, and Stretches: Creating playful storytimes with yoga and movement. American Libraries, 2 Jan. 2018, https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/2018/01/02/stories-songs-stretches-storytime-yoga/ Accessed 15 Nov. 2021
- Sexton, Shannon, Getting Children Started with Yoga. Yoga Journal, 8 Dec. 2010, https://www.yogajournal.com/lifestyle/balance/family/teach-children-well/ Accessed 15 Nov. 2021
- Yogibrarian, https://yogibrarian.wordpress.com/yoga-storytimes/ Accessed 15 Nov. 2021
Today’s blog post was written by Kerrie Mierop, Calabasas Library, CA on behalf of the ALSC Managing Children’s Services Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.