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How to Run Storytime Without Boring Everyone to Death

16 May 2018

From The Literary Hub:

For eight years I worked Storytime at a public library. When I mention this to people I get very mixed reactions. Sometimes, they’re impressed. They’ll ask about the crafts and the kids; they tell me it sounds like a rewarding experience. Others get a look on their face like they bit into a raw onion. Oh, they’ll reply, grimacing. How was that?

I mean, I get it. It’s a tough gig. I have to say, it’s easier looking back at Storytime with a sweet sense of nostalgia than when I was doing the actual work, peeling dried Elmer’s glue off my only good work pants and singing Raffi at nine in the morning to a bevy of screaming toddlers. Working children’s services sometimes means dealing with a bunch of sugared-up kids who got into a box of Lucky Charms cereal (I recognize that look—I also eat Lucky Charms to get amped). But it also means thinking on your feet and getting way outside your comfort zone. By that I mean you’ll probably have to kneel on the floor, and if you’re wearing a skirt, everyone is gonna see your underwear and four different kids will point it out loud enough for everyone in the library to hear.

When it comes to children’s programming, you quickly learn what will fly and what’s going to completely bomb. Most things don’t go over so hot. The notion of sitting in a rocking chair while a bunch of dimple-cheeked kids rest quietly at your feet is a lovely dream, but the odds are they will have already heard the book you’re reading, and they’ll decide it would be a cooler time to get up and play a game of tag or throw crayons at each other. When I first began planning Storytime programs, I chose books with beautifully detailed pictures and sweet plots about baby animals. This backfired spectacularly.

You don’t know how long a page can drag on until you hear a kid in the front row yell “I’m BORED” at the top of their lungs when you’re one paragraph into a 25 page book. You start speed reading. You’ve never read so fast in your entire life. Is the book funny? Is the story compelling i.e. does it talk about garbage or something gross? Does it involve using the bathroom? You’d better pray it does.

. . . .

Parents bring their kids to Storytime for several reasons: they’re trying to get out of the house, they genuinely like the programming, and they want to spend time with other parents who’ve got the same deer-in-headlights look. It’s an opportunity for them to commiserate and make friends.

. . . .

Sometimes these mashups didn’t work, but a lot of times they did. When a mom cried after her kid made her a bouquet of egg carton roses for mother’s day during one of my programs, I teared up, too. It was cool to see something work, to see it affect others positively. (Don’t tell anyone I cried).

Link to the rest at The Literary Hub

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One Comments to “How to Run Storytime Without Boring Everyone to Death”

  1. I guess Im old school,but also leading kids to eagle scout, and yes, weeding out the parents who think scouts is a babysitting service for them … no, screaming kids yelling i’m bored would last two seconds. Parents [who are always present] would be called to either calm chld and remind of rules or both parent andchild go home. Never had a prob doing projects or reading to scouts. Parents are helpers not bystanders. Just my .02

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