So we took a break from Outreach storytimes in May to reorganize and make some changes, and this month the re-invented version of the Storytime-To-Go program debuted. Not only will we be going in the classroom instead of on the Storytime Bus, but the frequency of visits will be reduced from once every two weeks to once every four weeks so I can double the amount of facilities I visit. I am not in favor of this change personally, as I feel it reduces storytime to a novelty rather than a true early literacy intervention program, but I am making the best of it.
Since it was a new beginning and I have picked up so many new daycares, I decided to kick-off with a "Libraries & Reading" theme to introduce myself and the program to the kids, and of course promote the library and reading. I read 2-3 books and did 1-2 other activities with each group (except for one daycare where the noise level was so high it was just an exercise in futility), in addition to my lead-in and closing songs.
(Click on any image to see full-size)
- Maisy Goes to the Library by Lucy Cousins, good introduction to library
- Lola at the Library by Anna McQuinn & Rosalind Beadshaw, good for youngers
- The New LiBEARian by Alison Donald & Alex Willmore, cute twist
- Froggy Goes to the Library by Jonathan London & Frank Remkiewicz, my fav
- Wild About Books by Judy Sierra & Marc Brown, cute but long, better for olders
- The NOT So Quiet Library by Zachariah Ohora, kids really like
- I Took My Frog to the Library by Eric Kimmel & Blanch Sims, funny & short
- Chicken Story Time by Sandy Asher & Mark Fearing, another favorite!
- A Place to Read by Leigh Hodgkinson, looking for the right chair, ok
- Born to Read by Judy Sierra & Marc Brown, little longer, kids like recognizing classics
- Read It, Don't Eat It! by Ian Schoenherr, teaches how to treat library books
- Hooray for Books! by Brian Won, not as good as Hat, but most kids liked it ok
- Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates, cute, dog opens bookstore, provides RA
- Llama Llama Loves to Read by Anna Dewdney, longer, better for school-age
- Reading Makes You Feel Good by Todd Parr, bright illustrations & simple text
When I first started working with this program, I was encouraged to used thematic songs and rhymes, but over time I realized that just didn't work very well sometimes, particularly for new kids or the younger kids, because they just didn't know them. So first I made sure I only used songs/rhymes with lots of very obvious hand motions so the kids could at least participate that way if they couldn't sing along even after repeating.
With the younger kids in particular, I found it just ended up being me singing/reciting to them while they just sat there, or worse, got squirmy. So I started doing a lot more old classics that they knew, and more importantly, they wanted to do: ABC's, Itsy Bitsy Spider; Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star; The Wheels On The Bus, Old MacDonald, etc.
Since half of the kids I was seeing this time were new, many were younger, and I couldn't find any really good library/reading related activities, I stuck with traditional children's songs, and Laurie Berkner's "These Are My Glasses" since it is simple, repetitive, and has hand motions to go with it, so it is easy for the kids to do.
One class taught me a new song that I'm definitely going to have to incorporate:
Another change I made was instead of giving the teacher coloring sheets related to the theme, I felt a more valuable resource would be to give them a list of all the above books and some songs and rhymes related to the theme. That way they could sing along, and have additional books and activities to use later or share with parents if they chose. I also included in bold red lettering when the next storytime visit would be, as well as my contact info in case they had schedule changes or questions.
How It Went
It was a real mixed bag! Some classes loved it, were well-behaved, good listeners, engaged, and clearly enjoyed and appreciated it. Others were not engaged at all, bored, and wiggly. I think the books were not as interactive or engaging enough for some of my more challenging groups, and it seems like some of the new classes are not accustomed to structured activities requiring them to be still and quiet. It is also more challenging than I expected to get the teachers to sit and participate with the kids now that I'm in the classroom rather than on the storytime bus.
One place had completely open classrooms, with only low half-walls dividing them, and the noise level was just ridiculous! I couldn't even hear myself, much less expect the kids to hear and listen. I just read one book to each group and got out of there as my head was throbbing and my ears were ringing! I'll have to have a talk with the director to see if there is not an enclosed room anywhere that we can use for storytime.
I would say the books that worked the best were The NOT So Quiet Library, Froggy Goes to the Library, Chicken Story Time, and Maisy Goes To the Library. The kids who were older and could listen to the longer Born To Read got very excited about recognizing some of their favorite classics in the illustrations. I thought The New LiBEARian was really cute, but it seemed to go over the kids' heads. Almost everyone like Laurie Berkner's "These Are My Glasses".