Early Literacy

Showing the Value of Storytime with Storytime Standards

Do you think of yourself as an early literacy expert? During #PLA2024, Cassie Welch and Kristin Hare of the Charleston County Public Library (SC) presented on how their library system added storytime standards to all of their storytimes.

The Charleston County Public Library added standards to increase caregiver awareness of the value of storytime. As children’s librarians, we know how storytime supports early literacy. But sometimes, caregivers don’t realize this. They might think of storytime as a place where kids sit quietly while listening to a book. Or they might know what we do in storytime, but not realize why we do fingerplays and make animal sounds.

Each Charleston County Public Library storytime has the same components. They all use the Five Practices of Every Child Ready to Read. They all contain a signature element made up of an early literacy song and elevator speech. And they all have the same core elements: early literacy tips, gross motor songs, fine motor songs, opening/closing songs, books, lifting songs, and bouncing rhymes.

The best part of these standards is they are extremely flexible. Cassie and Kristin discussed how they know every librarian has their own storytime style. With this in mind, each librarian gets to decide how they will use these elements. For example, all storytimes must have an opening and closing song, but each individual librarian can choose what songs they want to use.

I love how the Charleston County Public Library includes elevator speech for caregivers about early literacy! As Cassie and Kristin pointed out, librarians take great care in planning storytimes. We spend so much time choosing activities, songs, and books. Yet, caregivers and stakeholders don’t realize how much work we do to create storytimes.  Having standards that library staff can point to show the value of what we do. What does your library do to show the value of storytime?


Ann Baillie (she/her/hers) is the Youth Services Assistant Manager at the Alsip-Merrionette Park Public Library in Alsip, Illinois. She is the past-manager of the Illinois Library Association’s Youth Services Forum. Her main interests are the connection between Readers’ Advisory and technology, and how libraries can use technology to better reach patrons. She is especially excited to check out the How-To Stage at this year’s conference. She plans to drink as much coffee as possible during this year’s conference.


Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

This post addresses ALSC Core Competency: III. Programming Skills

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