Today, I’m participating in the amazing series, “Show Me the Awesome!” that was started by Kelly, Liz, & Sophie. For more AWESOME, please check over at their sites for the official link-up. Also, don’t forget to tag your related posts with #30awesome on Twitter, Tumblr, Vine and/or Instagram if you’re liking what you’re reading and want to talk about it!
This is Part Three of a five part series about how I grew my storytime attendance. In the past three years since I took over storytime, I’ve increased our program attendance by 61% compared to the last successful season. (For the statistics nerds out there, I’m comparing Summer 2009 from before I took over to Winter 2012/2013.) And I promise that these are simple measures that almost every library can do, regardless of budget.
Part Three: Change Is Good; Keep It Fresh
I know. I already said that you need stability and that preschoolers crave consistency. But once you get your routine established, shake it up every now and again.1. Bring out surprises in storytime. On days when the kids have been remarkably wonderful or days when I sense the group needs a pick-me-up, I will often pull out the glitter and add it to our storytime craft. Just last week, I had bubbles at the end of my program. Do you give away stickers at the end of storytime? Get puffy stickers or fuzzy stickers for a treat!
2. Try something new. For about four weeks, I put toys out after storytime ended for kids to play with in our storytime room. When the kids started to stay after storytime, I moved it upstairs to our Youth Services area. Now kids can play while parents select books or talk to me about problems/concerns/ideas. I’ve heard everything from temper tantrums to picky eaters to toilet training — and I can get you the resources you need to help you out. This extension of storytime worked wonders for developing family relationships, but it only worked because I dared to try something new!
3. Find out what makes you excited to do storytime. For me, that was flannelboards. I *love* using and making them. If I need to get excited about a theme, I usually turn to the flannelboard. I make sure to do a different flannelboard every week. (That’s not to say I’ll never re-use flannelboards though, I just try not to in a single storytime session.) Even if our song cube is the same, and I’m reading familiar books — kids see a new story or rhyme every week on the board.
4. Take breaks. I run four storytime “sessions” a year. (September-October. November Off. December-January. February Off. March-April. May Off. June-July. August Off.) Those months off give me time to recharge, to develop new initiatives — like Growing Readers, to create new storytime props & flannelboards, to focus my attention on weeding or creating Picture Book City. And like I said in Part One, be honest and transparent towards families about why you need a break. If you can’t take time off, see if someone else can cover for you for just two weeks. I truly believe you’ll feel re-energized when you come back to storytime.
There are lots of other ways to keep storytime fresh for both you and your patrons! If you’re struggling to find out how to liven things up, ask a co-worker to observe your storytime — I bet they’ll help you brainstorm. Ask for help on Twitter or listservs, librarians are out there and ready to listen/help. And if you have any questions for me, leave them in the comments or @katietweetsya.