At ALA, I heard from a number of supervisors that their children’s librarians were having a hard time getting back into programming now that people could attend INSIDE the library. I was asked to create a workshop/webinar to address this issue and re-inspire the librarians to present storytimes.
My background research has included speaking with a number of children’s librarians to learn about the issues they are facing and what they are doing about it. Most recently, I spoke with Jenny Gallagher from Queen Anne’s County and Gloria Bartas at the Enoch Pratt Free Library.
Both librarians said that children are finding it harder to concentrate, and as a result they have made their programs more physically active and, if they seem to be “losing” the kids, they end the program before the typical 30 minutes.
Jenny talked about parachute play as something that children always enjoy, plus it expends lots of energy while keeping them focused on working together as a group. The parents are invited to join in for the last parts of the parachute play, and their arms get tired easily, so they are ready to stop even if it is after 20 minutes of programming.
Jenny also recommended hands-on crafts such as finger-painting and working with play-doh.
Gloria, one of the most imaginative children’s librarian I know, talked about using books that you can sing. She recommended a webinar she had taken from PCI Webinars, called “Classic Picture Books are Boring and What You Should Read in Storytime Instead (https://pciwebinars.com/event/classic-picture-books-are-boring-and-what-you-should-read-in-storytime-instead/).
Gloria spoke about singing “Baby Shark” for Shark Week. She made a big shark by doing something she had seen in another library: cutting an empty soda bottle in half and covering it with two pieces of blue constructions paper with teeth, adding eyes, and a blue fin.
Then she cut out fish from construction paper and wrote words on them such as “teeth”, “shark”, “bite”, and “fish”. The children were invited to feed their fish to shark by making a sentence including their word and then dropping their fish into the bottle. Gloria also read the book “Shark in the Park” by Nick Sharratt and included a very simple non-fiction books about the great white shark. The children loved this summer activity.
If you have more suggestions for reinvigorating the librarians who present storytimes, please let me know by writing to me at info @ mgol.org. And, thank you to Jenny and Gloria for sharing their strategies!