Friday, June 2, 2017

Storytime Themes That Just Don't Work

Have you ever done a storytime theme that ended up just not working? What about those of you who are in Outreach like me, and do multiple storytimes on the same theme every week or month? [I do a two-week rotation of about 30 storytimes on the same theme with our Storytime-To-Go program.]

There are many themes that I think are a little dull or just don't have the greatest book selection available that can work okay for one or two storytimes, but if you do them for multiple storytimes, they can make you want to pull your hair out from the boredom and tedium! 

I have found that basic concepts are generally the worst! "Colors" is one exception, as there are a number of books you can use that are really good storytime books, as well as songs, rhymes, and activites. But some of the others, like "Shapes", Numbers", etc., are much harder to find good books that really focus on that theme that aren't all the same or have a good story. It takes a good bit more digging to find actual story books that you can use to pull out some of these concepts from. 

I prefer to work in these concepts a little bit here and there throughout my storytimes rather than having a whole storytime of just counting, for example. But, before I took my position, several kits had already been developed with these basic concept themes. I gave the "Numbers" one a try, and hated it after a couple of days of reading nothing but counting books! Another one was "Opposites", which had a number of books, which were perfectly fine books individually, but collectively they are all so similar, and only one had any kind of a story. The rest were all like "Big elephant.....small mouse, short dog....tall giraffe". I knew it would be torture to read those over and over for around 30 storytimes in 2 weeks, so I avoided it.

But this month, I had to do it because someone specifically requested it, and even though I ended up only having to do half as many storytimes due to the holiday and cancellations by two of our biggest daycares, it was *torture*! And it wasn't just me. One of my volunteers commented on how tedious and repetitive it was and the lack of any real stories. The kids were not as engaged as usual (and I promise I really did give it my best effort), and some of them also complained about the lack of stories.

I gave it my best shot, but I hope I never, ever have to use that theme for an outreach rotation again! I have suggested we disband that kit and instead work those books into other themes so we are incorporating the concept still, but in several small doses rather that one single [boring] storytime.

So, anyone have any other ideas for how to handle these concept themes to make it less tedious for multiple storytimes? Know any good books that might have something to do with counting, shapes, opposites, or other concepts that really do have a story and are engaging??


  1. Some of these are not that different, but they all have something that makes them bearable (at least to me), to repeat a lot!
    Counting: Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons, 10 Hungry Rabbits (Anita Lobel), Mouse Count (Walsh), Gray Rabbit's 123 (Alan Baker), 123 Peas (Keith Baker)
    Shapes: Mouse Shapes (Walsh), Color Farm (Ehlert), Scribble (Ruth Ohi), Brown Rabbit's Shape Book (Alan Baker).
    I don't think I've ever done Opposites, those do tend to be a bit dull in my experience.

    1. Thanks for the suggestions! I've used a few of those, but I'll have to try the others. I did find a really good one for shapes, "Circle, Square, Moose" by Kelly Bingham; it's very fun. Opposites has been the worst, though, I hope to never have to do that as a whole storytime rotation theme again!