Our in-person session of Little Ones Storytime in the Secret Garden came to an end in November, and many caregivers expressed dismay at no longer being able to attend an in-person event. Believe us—we LOVE our in-person storytimes, maybe even more than our attendees! However, it is not clear when we will be able to host in-person events in our libraries, and the impending winter weather makes outdoor events difficult to plan for. So that got us thinking about all that we do in our storytimes that make it a worthwhile experience, and how we can share that with you!
The following tips will work when we do get to do in-person storytimes, but are particularly important for both caregivers and the children to enjoy our virtual storytimes.
Pick the right storytime.
- Time and day. Right now, our virtual storytimes are on Facebook Live, opens a new window Tuesdays through Fridays at 11:00 am. They remain available until 10:00 am the following morning, so you have flexibility to view it at another time.
- Target audience. Little Ones Storytime is targeted to children who have not yet turned two. It is mostly songs, rhymes, and lapsits with one book. Family Storytime is targeted to all ages with typically 3–4 picture books and songs in between.
- Any accommodations. Sensory Storytimes runs on Wednesdays at 10 am every other month and is designed as an all-ages storytime for children with autism or sensory processing challenges.
- Language. All of our storytimes are currently in English only. However, please check out our blog post on Virtual Storytimes in Other Languages.
Caregivers need to participate – kids will remain engaged when they see their adult is engaged. Children learn by watching their caregivers – mimicking their behavior and determining what is important as well. They also love doing things with their caregiver actively involved with them. So, sing, clap, stomp, hug, kiss, count, yell, and guess what will happen next!
When attending virtual storytimes – add comments to the Facebook Live post so the librarian knows you are there. Adding a comment with the first name of the child watching with you lets the librarian say hello to them by name! It’s not as great as making real eye-contact during an in-person storytime, but it helps.
Reserve this time.
Set the time aside from your other tasks – you can’t multitask socializing or interacting with others on your electronic devices, and expect your child to be fully engaged. When you can come to in-person storytimes, be sure to linger afterward to socialize with other caregivers, as well as let the kids mingle.
Kids need to move and the many songs we do in storytime encourage that. If they need to move about while listening to a story, that’s ok too. On the other hand, if they are moving constantly, perhaps the storytime isn’t the right one for them – see first tip "Pick the right storytime."
Don’t force it!
Some days are just not going to work. You can always try again later. One great thing about virtual storytimes is the Library leaves them up on our Facebook, opens a new window page for 23 hours – so come back later to see the one you missed today or just try again next week.
Revisit the material from the storytime.
Place the books read during storytime on hold so you can check them out and read them at home with your child. Storytimes are a great way to learn about books you may not have tried before. For virtual storytimes, we always put the book information in the comments, including a link to it in our collection. When you do reread the book, think about how the librarian read it – perhaps pointing out ‘hidden’ things in the pictures or asking questions about what might happen next before you turn the page. This will help build curiosity about what is happening in the story.
We always put the lyrics in the comments and frequently include a link to a video of the song. Also, check out our YouTube channel for more songs. Repetition – of both stories and songs – works really well for little kids to learn.
Use ideas from storytime in your daily life.
Sing the songs as you go about your day. Look for things related to the storytime’s theme and point them out to you children – or get them to find them and point them out to you!
Make storytime a habit.
Schedule it into your week whether in-person or virtually.
We can’t wait to see you when we get to do in-person storytimes again. In the meantime, we hope you can enjoy our virtual storytimes and please do say hello to your librarian(s) when you visit your local branch.
-Kathy Swartz, Youth Services Librarian, Children's Library | Follow @teal_librarian on Bibliocommons