How to get the most out of storytime

You get your child(ren) fed, bathed, dressed, buckled into their carseat(s) ready to go and you rush to the library to make it in time for storytime.  Now you’re here and getting settled in the Program Room, what’s next?  Stories, puppets, songs, fingerplays and a chance to help your child learn and grow, that is what’s next.  Sit with your child, sing along with the songs, assist their little hands in making the fingerplay movements or if they already know how, do it along with them.  Yes some of the songs and fingerplays are pretty silly and you might feel a bit embarrassed wiggling your bottom, flapping your wings, or making loud animal sounds in a roomful of people.  But remember, they’re (hopefully) doing the same thing. 

Storytime behavior and activities help your child get ready to learn to read.  Experts tell us that there are six early literacy skills.  Vocabulary: When we (and you) read to them they are learning vocabulary.  They hear short words and long words and some words over and over again.  By the time most children start school they know between 3,000 and 5,000 words!  Print Motivation:  This is your child’s interest and enjoyment of books.  He or she likes to be read to, pretends to read and write, and asks to be read to.  Keep books handy, let your child see how much you enjoy reading.  Print Awareness:  As they’re read to they learn that the words flow from top-to-bottom and left-to-right.  They’re learning that the print on the page is what the librarian (or other adult) is reading.   Narrative Skills:  We’ve often seen small children mimicing what they’ve seen in storytime by holding up a book and “reading” it to someone.  This is a narrative skill.   They understand and can tell stories.   Letter Knowledge:  This is the ability to recognize that letters have names.  When reading an ABC book we point to each letter as we say it.  And Phonological Awareness:  This last skill includes the ability to hear and create rhymes.  Our E picture book section is filled with rhyming stories.

As with many things in life there is a learning curve with storytime.  You may find that your little one will listen to one song or story and then be ready to go check out the rest of the library.  (It’s a pretty big place to them!)  That’s perfectly fine.  Just quietly depart and try again next week.  Very soon they’ll be old hands at storytime, coming in, finding a good spot and sitting down “criss cross apple sauce” ready to listen.  

Please, come to storytime and learn and enjoy!



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The Children’s and Teen Services blog entries are written by the seven Children's and Teen librarians. We are your go-to people for help with book selections for toddlers through teens, storytimes, parenting, and family fun.

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