My library system pauses our storytimes during the month of December, so I always feel like this break is a perfect time to regroup and reevaluate storytime offerings. This reevaluation can be on the branch level: do you have the right number of storytimes for the right age group? Are they scheduled at times that work for your community?
It can also be time to “freshen up” the storytimes, finding new music, fingerplays, and book titles to share.
Each year in December, a colleague and I, as trainers for Ohio Ready to Read, offer an Early Literacy 101 training to new children’s staff in our system and other nearby libraries. This training focuses on both iterations of Every Child Ready to Read (the five practices and the six early literacy skills) and the creation of early literacy asides in storytime to impart tips to the caregivers present.
Librarians only see little ones for the length of the program itself. Any tips we can gently teach caregivers extends our reach and the children’s enrichment. These do not have to be long or difficult. An example: “Notice that when I read, I sometimes run my finger underneath the words. This helps kids understand that the marks on the page are connected to what I’m reading. Being aware of what print is helps kids learn how to read.” Or “I read books about shapes because circles, triangles and rectangles combine to form letters. Recognizing shapes helps children eventually recognize letters.”
There is an art, if you will, to making an aside. In the training, we point to the Anatomy of a Storytime Literacy Message document, which was presented by librarian Melissa Depper, who used to blog at Mel’s Desk. It gives a clear format for asides that storytime staff can easily use. I hope you find this as helpful as I and our trainees do.
Do you have a favorite tip to share with adult caregivers? My personal favorite aside is to discuss crossing the midline. I love to talk about it when explaining the importance of the “wipers on the bus” motion. I love how this librarian gives a simple explanation.
This post addresses the core competencies of I. Commitment to Client Group, III. Programming Skills and VII. Professionalism and Professional Development.