Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Stuck on Storytime: Tips to Plan for Fall

Summer Reading is officially over at my library and fall programming planning is well underway. Even after a month-long programming break, part of me dreaded returning to weekly storytimes. After 10+ years of children’s librarianship, keeping storytime fresh with new themes, stories, songs, etc. is tiring. I felt stuck.

Fortunately, there is plenty of help in past ALSC blog posts. Read on for some articles I found helpful in becoming unstuck on storytime, plus a peek at my first storytime plan for September 2023.

Tips for Planning

Need help with planning and structuring storytime? Check out previous ALSC blog posts, like Kristen Caldwell’s “Structuring Storytimes” and “5 Questions For Better Storytime Planning” from the Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. Another helpful post is Katie Cerqua’s “Developing Storytime for the Whole Child,” which gives pointers on updating existing storytimes. A Book Cart Queens blog post has great tips for ditching storytime themes all together.

Stuck on book selection? Start with ALSC blogger Liza Purdy’s“The Art of Storytime: Book Selection” and Tess Prendergast’s “Diversifying Our Storytime Book Selections.” Katie Clausen’s “Great Music for Preschool Storytimes” has great ideas for your storytime’s musical elements.

Looking for tried and true Fall themes? ALSC blogger Kristen Caldwell’s “Fall Themed Storytime” links to some great book, song, activity (and more!) suggestions. For a highlight of picture books published in fall 2023 (and potential storytime inspiration), check out this article from Read Brightly. 

Story Time Sneak Peek

To welcome a new group of storytime families and celebrate Library Card Sign-Up Month, my first theme focuses on libraries, books, and reading. This is not a new theme, but definitely one that my storytime partner and I can present with joy.

Picture Books:

Storytime at my library is open to kids ages 0-6, so we plan for a variety of levels. We also encourage families to check out from a themed-display. Some of the displayed books are better suited to one-on-one reading, rather than group read-alouds. This list is arranged by publication date (newest to oldest) and certainly not exhaustive.

Book covers for This is a Story, Rocket Says Speak Up, Jack the Library Cat, and Once Upon a Book.
  • This is a Story by John Schu; illustrated by Lauren Castillo (Candlewick, 2023)
  • Rocket Says Speak Up! By Nathan Byron; illustrated by Dapo Adeola (Rand House, 2023)
  • Jack the Library Cat by Marietta Apollonio; Alver Whitman & Company, 2023)
  • Once Upon a Book by Grace Lin & Kate Messner (Little Brown Books, 2023)
  • Big Truck Day by Roseanne Parry; illustrated by Niki Stage (Grenwillow Books, 2022)
  • A Library by Nikki Giovanni; illustrated by Erin K. Robinson (Versify, 2022)
  • How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? By Jane Yolen; illustrated by Mark Teague (The Blue Sky Press, 2018)
  • Luna Loves Library Day by Joseph Coelho; illustrated by Fiona Lumbers (Kane Miller Books, 2018)
  • Chicken Story Time by Sandy Asher; illustrated by Mark Fearing (Dial Books, 2016)
  • Dinosaur vs. the Library by Bob Shea (Little Brown Books, 2011)
  • Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn; illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw (Charlesbridge, 2006)
  • Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr (Little Brown Books, 2005)

Songs & Stretchers

We choose songs, fingerplays, and movement activities that will engage our storytime friends, whether or not those movements fit the theme. Here are some themed options to consider:

Activities

Although we often offer crafts or process art following story time, this theme is a perfect opportunity to explore the library building with a tour. Here is our post-story plan:

  • Take a behind-the-scenes tour of the library! This includes stops at the children’s, circulation, and information desks, plus the normally off-limits tech services department, break room (kids are amazed that the library has a “secret” fridge), and a peek into the garage, a.k.a. where the Bookmobile lives. 
  • Visit the Bookmobile! Next we take a trip outside to see the Bookmobile and hop on board. Some families are already familiar with the Bookmobile, but many have never had a chance to look inside.
  • Explore the Little Library! We end in the children’s play area, where the dramatic play center has been transformed into a Little Library to extend the theme and engage our littlest library visitors all month.
A dramatic play area designed to look like a library.

How do you plan for a new storytime session? What themes, books, songs, etc. are you most excited to share this fall?

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