Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy

Tours in the Library


Since opening the new library in July we have been giving a LOT of tours, not surprisingly. Every group in the area wants to visit the library for a storytime and playtime in the Early Learning Center. I really like tours because I think you get a chance to really welcome people to the library ad make them feel comfortable right off the bat. You get to lay down the ground rules before they go play and explore and they get to see your face and think of you as a friendly, helpful person, not as the one who just yelled at you for jumping on the ice cave. I imagine every library handles tours a little differently, but I thought I’d share specifically how I handle tour groups I’m assigned to.

First, I welcome them and take them straight to the spot where the storytime will be taking place. In today’s case (a very large group of 5 and 6 year olds) it was on our hopscotch rug in our picture book section since the program room was being used for preschool storytime.  After the kids are seated I introduce myself as Miss Kendra and ask them to put their hands on their heads (I put mine on my shoulder). Then I ask them to touch their nose (I put my hand on my head) and so on until they are finally laughing and telling me I’m wrong. I also find this silent kind of game effective in getting their attention.

Then we do “Now its Time for Storytime” (Camptown Races tune-see Rhymes page for words) while clapping our laps. Then on our heads. Then on our tummies really, really fast.

Now that they have been sufficiently silly-fied we go for a book. Today I read Stuck by Oliver Jeffers and used the magnetic “un-flannel” set from a previous post. Since the program room with the magnetic wall was being used I improvised and used the end of a metal book cart as my “wall”. It worked really well, especially since the magnets stick better to metal than the magnetic wall.

Well, now they are too quiet. So up again for an increasingly speedy Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (all ages love this one and it’s easy in a crowded space). Super Sonic Speed is my favorite!

Now I pull out my secret weapon. The book no 5 or 6 year old can resist. The book that had one parent telling me how gifted a storyteller I was (Thanks, but it’s just the magical book). There Is A Bird On Your Head! by Mo Willems (but you already knew that). Elephant and Piggy have never failed me. NEVER. While reading this time a boy piped up with “Are you allowed to scream in the library?” Well, yes, when you are reading a book which requires it. You should definitely have one of these books in your arsenal for school visits, tours, kindergarten storytimes, and for days when you just need cheering up.

And now for the best closing song ever! Tooty Ta by Dr. Jean. Any Henderson Library folk will have a special fondness for this song as many colleagues have performed it, some of which not in children’s services, sometimes on top of circulation desks. Maybe that happened. Maybe not. Anyway, it’s excellent and the words are on the rhyme page. You don’t need Dr. Jean’s music-you can just chant it. But the music is cheesily wonderful so you might want to have a listen anyway. In my opinion, any song that ends with children sticking their tongues out with their butts in the air and knees stuck together is a winner. If you do try this, be prepared to sing “a tooty ta, a tooty ta, a tooty ta ta” all day long in your head. And you’re definitely going to need that “performer” trait Mel talks about in a recent Storytime Essentials blog post. Your butt is going to be in the air and all those parents are going to be laughing. At you. But in a good way so don’t worry, just have fun!

After Tooty Ta we have to get down to business. I want to run down the rules of the Early Learning Center (no jumping or climbing on things, no running, library voices-that one is really just to keep the screeching to a minimum) and make sure the parents know where the picture books and the help desk are. Of course, today, I totally forgot about the rules today because they all needed to sign their library cards today (we had them made up in advance for those who didn’t already have a card) and figuring out how to do that with 64 people in a crammed space distracted me! That just meant I had to walk around later and tell them individually what the expectations were. And really, that was ok, just a lot more work.

What do you do for “tours”? Do you have a special spiel or method?


Author: Kendra

Children's Librarian in the Northwest. Lover of toddlers, twitter, and TV (T's, too, apparently!).

4 thoughts on “Tours in the Library


  2. My daughter came home last year (from preschool) singing Tooty Ta. It really hit a sentimental note with me because my own husband did a version of that song when I first met him while we were both directing summer day camps. He was extremely goofy and held back nothing, and that is one of the reasons I fell in love with him. I had forgotten all about “Aroosta Sha” as his version went. Re-visiting the song through our daughter was a great moment.

    • Thanks for sharing that! What an awesome memory. If you don’t mind, I’m going to use the “aroosta sha” in a parent message about making up your own words to songs-you don’t have to do it the same way everyone else does. You’ll also have to share some of your camp song gems with me sometimes. 🙂

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