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Planning for Outdoor Storytimes

I miss in-person storytimes. I miss the cacophony of voices prior to settling into our opening song. I miss encouraging full body movements of the Fruit Salad Song without worrying about fitting everything into the camera frame of a computer. Most of all, I miss watching toddlers scurry about on the fringes of the storytime crowd, absorbing everything. The joy and chaos of an in-person storytime always brings a smile to my face. Now that it’s growing warmer and nicer weather (if not actual sunshine) more consistent, I see many librarians considering outdoor storytimes. I planned an outdoor storytime run as part of my summer programming last year; then Covid hit and shut everything down. Now I’m excited to bring this plan to fruition. What do you need for an outdoor storytime? Here are some things to consider.

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Pet Show & Tell!

I know I speak for many when I say that one pain point of the pandemic is missing interactions with kids. Prior to March, 2020, my Kids & Families core service team made monthly story time visits to preschools, Head Starts, and childcare classrooms. In previous summers, we brought our summer reading program to summer schools, school-aged enrichment programs, and camps. Needless to say, all of that was cancelled. Pivot was the operative word, as we moved to virtual story times, online book clubs, and virtual Crafternoons. From there, more creative ideas developed to engage with kids. Monthly virtual Pet Show & Tell launched during winter break, with staff-hosted 45-minute Zoom sessions: All About Dogs, Crazy for Cats, and Share Your Stuffies. Starting with a pet-themed story, kids then were invited to take turns sharing their pets, with guided questions such as:• What does your pet like to do?• What…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Singing Brings Connections

Before I was born, my mom was a kindergarten teacher. When I was young, I remember her waking me up most mornings by singing “Good morning to you… good morning to you. We’re all in our places with sunshiny faces. Good morning to you… good morning to you.”  When I started my career as a Children’s Librarian, I decided to begin each storytime with this same song. It gave me a sense of familiarity and comfort in those early days of nervous storytime presentations.  In the subsequent months I began to notice the audience swaying back and forth as I sang, and it was only then that I realized I swayed as I sang too. It was our shared ritual- the singing, the swaying, the pointing at our “sunshiny” cheeks. Something we all looked forward to each week. I remember parents telling me how their child would “play” storytime at…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Concern for Screentime and Very Young Children in Regards to Virtual Programming

Virtual programming has been the norm for most of the past year for most if not all public libraries. Librarians have expressed concern about how this might impact very young children (toddlers and younger) and their families.  We know that the American Academy of Pediatrics historically discouraged media exposure for children under two but have since eased up with the increased use of Facetime, Zoom and other media communication methods. Asked about this, Sarah R. Lytle, Ph.D., Director of Outreach and Education at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington replied: “As you know, the more interactive, the better for younger children. That can mean a caregiver interacting with children around the screen or the child interacting with another adult ‘through’ the screen (i.e., video chat). There is some new research that preschoolers comprehend stories read via video chat just as they do when…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Children Are Designed for Wonder

“The things he sees are not just remembered; they become a part of his soul.”  Dr. Maria Montessori from The Absorbent Mind, 1949  In Montessori methodology, books shared with young children center around family life, daily routines, or nature. Talking animals are discouraged.  Not because Montessori teachers hate imagination, but the teachers understand our youngest readers’ work focuses on the world they can touch, taste, see, hear, and feel. Abstract thought happens in adolescence or the second plane of development. In the first plane of development, teachers surround toddlers and preschoolers with books in an orderly and realistic world. As the youngsters progress through development, they grow into creative thinkers who turn the known world into an imaginative one.  As a parent and a trained librarian, I struggled with this when my oldest child began Montessori school. Isn’t any reading beneficial to the child? Does that mean I can’t read Guess How Much I Love You? As I watched my oldest child play, I saw them doing the work of…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Stories and Support: Serving Early Childhood Providers During COVID

Nearly every October our library is asked by our local Educare group to provide a book-focused training for early childhood care providers to go hand-in-hand with Jumpstart’s Read for the Record Day. As in years past, this week I pulled a large stack of new books that provide early literacy experiences and work well in a childcare environment. Unlike years past, I presented from my home to attendees in their homes, over Zoom. While we couldn’t pass the books around like we normally do, attendees commented on how important it was for them to get to see new titles, especially in this year of CARES Act applications, extra cleaning procedures and heightened uncertainty. 

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New Opportunities: Connecting Virtually with Parents and Caregivers

Among the many ways in which it has changed our lives, the COVID-19 pandemic has demanded that library staff responsible for creating and carrying out programming be almost endlessly innovative. I have the privilege of working with and hearing from children’s librarians and staff across Suffolk County, New York, as they’ve navigated our new reality. We’ve had many discussions in programming meetings about trying out new virtual programs only to have them flop, and how much harder the feelings that come with a flopped program can hit these days. However, our discussions, we try to keep present in our minds the fact that our current circumstances provide a silver lining of room to innovate: with patrons’ needs and behaviors upended and changing all the time, the justification for trying new things has never been stronger. One of the programming areas for which there is new potential is virtual programming for…

Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Bundle Up Books for Young Readers!

As we explore opportunities to serve our communities in this unprecedented time, a path my library has recently taken has been to create a quick access browsing collection.  At the Wilsonville Public Library, we opened the building at the end of June with limited services. We are lucky that the configuration of our newly redesigned library allows patron access to the central area of the library. Since we are unable to open the library stacks to the public for browsing, we added this “grab and go” collection on the display shelving that had in the past been used for new adult fiction and adult non-fiction. Library staff pull different catergories of library materials for different age groups and bundle 3-5 items together with stout rubber bands. We call this quick access collection Book Bundles To Go. Our visiting patrons constantly tell library staff that Book Bundles To Go is a…