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 Four 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 Four: Personalize It
This is going to be a short and quick entry, because this is super simple to implement — personalize your storytimes. The more familiar you become to your storytime families and vice versa, the more important storytime becomes to them and the more parents will value your advice and tips.
Here’s a list of ways that I’ve found successful:
- Learn the names of your storytime kids. Use nametags if you have to, or registration sheets.
- Learn the names of your storytime parents! They are coming and participating too!
- If you’re using themes, add in themes you know they’ll love and relate to! When I had only three or four year-olds boys for a few weeks running, I decided to do a dinosaurs theme since I knew they’d be over the moon. Last August, I did a “School” theme at the end of summer to help the kids going to grade school adjust.
- If you can, send home extra take-home sheets or coloring pages for siblings that used to come to storytime. Since my library does coloring sheets all the time and we have the budget for it, there’s no problem to send Lupita home with a sheet for Danny now that he’s in school.
- Provide read-a-likes! I have a ridiculously scary memory, so I remember from week-to-week that Bella really loved “Hilda Must Be Dancing,” so I pulled out “Brontorina” for storytime a few weeks later. Guess what? Bella loved that one, too.
- Share details of your life. When I sprained my foot last month, I explained that I couldn’t stomp my foot during the welcome song. This week I had Damian say to me, “Remember when your foot was hurt? It’s better now!” Another Mom asked me about library science since she knew what school I had attended.
I’m sure there are many more things that you’ve done to personalize your storytimes! Let me know if you’ve got any other suggestions in the comments. I’d really love for this to be a great discussion, but that only works if you’re willing to share.