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Storytime Tips

Page history last edited by Virginia Tebo 14 years, 11 months ago


How to Prepare

1. Plan early - Think about what books and activities you would like to use, and in what order. If you choose to do a craft, do any cutting or other prep work and set tables in advance. Have a sample craft ready to show participants and parents.

2. Read the books ahead of time - Make sure you are comfortable reading the books you have chosen, that you can pronounce all the words, and that you can get the pace of the wording right. 

3. Choose an opening routine - Choose a song or other opening routine to help get everyone's attention before you begin reading the first book. Use it everytime you do storytime. You can also choose a closing routine. Here is a list of good openings and closings for your storytime program.

4. Know your space - Arrange your space with as few distractions as possible. Try to make sure that anyone coming in late enters from the back and can find a seat behind everyone else.



What To Do When You Read

1. Introductions are important - Introduce storytime by talking briefly about your theme when you welcome everyone and thank them for coming. If you get different or new participants each time, make sure you introduce yourself by saying your name and title. Introduce each book by clearly announcing the title, author, and illustrator. 

2. Know how to hold a book - Hold the book with the pictures facing toward the participants, being careful not to lean it too far backward or forward. Place your hand at the top or bottom of the spine, so that you cover as little of the pictures as possible. If you have a large group, turn the book slowly to each side, so everyone can see. Make sure you leave enough time to appreciate the illustrations, but don't interrupt the flow of the story too much.

3. Use an expressive voice - Change the volume and tone of your voice to reflect the things that are happening in the story, or use different voices for different characters.

4. Make eye contact - Be comfortable enough with the book to look at your audience as you read - it will keep them engaged.

5. Use transitions - Choose songs, rhymes, fingerplays, felt board stories or rhymes, puppets, or other quick activities to keep children involved. Practice these things beforehand so you are not reading from a sheet of paper. The theme pages are full of good ideas - use them! Tie the next book or rhyme into the previous activity with a short sentence contrasting or connecting the two.

6. Talk about the books with kids - Research has shown that children learn more from a story if they are given the opportunity to talk about it. Ask open ended questions during and after reading without interrupting the flow of the story. For example: Talk about what happened in the story, discuss unfamiliar words, and ask children to predict what might happen next, what their favorite part of the story was, or if they think it could really happen.

7.  Don't be condescending - Treat each comment or question with respect and respond appropriately. Always accept what a child says and try not to be discouraging. If a child's comment is long or innapropriate, politely interrupt with a smile and suggest that it sounds like a story for another time. If you get a strange or difficult answer to a question, a good response is "Hmmm, maybe", or "That's interesting", and then move on quickly.



What to Do in Difficult Situations

This is the hardest part of storytime, but practice and confidence help! Remember, kids are restless! Ignore what you can, but be aware of how the situation is affecting the group, and take action when necessary. Always be gentle and polite, but firm and confident. You are the leader!


The whole group is wiggly and won't sit still

Make sure your storytime allows for plenty of opportunities to move - use music, movement rhymes, or other activities in between books. Kids that can get their wiggles out are more likely to sit still for the stories. If necessary, have a general rhyme or song memorized and use it when needed to let the group stand up and move. When you do so, acknowledge to the entire group that they are getting a little wiggly and that you all need to get your wiggles out a bit before starting the next story.


A child is standing up in front of the book

Pause and speak to the child, making eye contact with the adult as well. Most of the time, the parent will get the hint or the child will respond to you. For example, "Madison, could you please sit down on your bottom so that the other children can see the pictures?"


A child is moving around / jumping / wrestling / crying / etc. while I am reading

Again, speak directly to the child, but also make eye contact with the adult. You could say, "Joe, could you please try to sit still like a rock for a minute while I finish this story? Then we'll move around a bit before the next book. Thank you." If necessary, pause the story and politely indicate to the child's adult that Joe might need to leave the room for a minute until he is calm enough to listen to the story.


The whole group is so noisy I have to shout to be heard.

Begin speaking softly or slowly, or if the story allows, pause for an extra moment. If the group doesn't quiet down, interrupt the story and insert a brief comment like "I'd like to continue reading, but we are getting very noisy. I'm afraid you won't be able to hear me. Let's put our listening ears while we finish our story".


There is one child who just won't be quiet!

Again, speak directly to the child, making eye contact with the adult as well. Say something like "Sam, could you please try to be a little quieter while I read so that the other children can hear the story as well? We really want to find out what happens next." If necessary, pause the story and politely indicate to the child's adult that Sam might need to leave the room for a minute until he is calm enough to listen to the story.


Adults are chatting with each other while I'm trying to read / on their cell phones / etc.

If you are comfortable doing so, speak directly and politely to the parents and ask them to please be quiet while you read. You can also try asking them to provide a good example for the kids by listening quietly. Another option is to ask the kids if they hear somone being noisy and then point out the offending adults, keeping the situation and comments humorous rather than accusing.



Early Literacy Storytimes

Storytime Applications for the Every Child Ready To Read program from the ALA.


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