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Adventures in early literacy


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Storytime: Relationship Building

Yesterday was the first day of a new session after a three week break. Those babies grew so much in three weeks!

Welcoming people back got me thinking about the relationships we make with our young patrons and their caregivers.  I’ve seen so many “methods” of bonding that work really well, but here’s what has worked for me. Visually, I’d say my approach is to expect a big smile rather than a big hug after a break (from adults, not kids-what would life be without knee hugs?).

1) Learning the child’s name is the most important thing, but it doesn’t hurt to learn the names of caregivers who are regulars, especially those with babies. They appreciate the thought and greeting them by name makes them feel like a regular which means they’ll likely keep being a regular. Babies don’t care much about you knowing their name, but knowing it and their mom’s name can make a huge impression on Mom.

2) Don’t get too personal. Forming relationships doesn’t mean being friends. You might make some friends along the way, but you shouldn’t be thinking about friendship when talking with caregivers. Stick to conversation about the library, literacy, their babies, and the weather. Occasionally a topic turns political, etc. and that’s when I quietly exit the conversation and leave parents to talk amongst themselves. They don’t need me for that conversation any more and I need to remain neutral to keep and gain trust with all patrons.

3) Be friendly but genuine. We are all used to putting on a smile to help even the most difficult of patrons. That kind of smile isn’t going to cut it with storytime adults. They can tell if you aren’t being genuine and that’s going to put space between you. How can they believe the things you are telling them if they don’t even believe you are happy to see them? P.S. If you aren’t happy to see people at storytime, you might rethink doing storytimes…

4) Passion and enthusiasm. If you’re reading this, you’ve likely got this already. But are you expressing your passion enthusiastically to your patrons? I’m not talk cheerleading here, just be excited to talk about what you do! You have great, important things to say and caregivers would much rather hear those things coming from a happy, lively librarian (that they trust, see #2) than one who is giving a lecture and doesn’t seem to enjoy doing it at that. This goes the other way, too. open your mind and heart to what caregivers are sharing with you, too. They often have great tips and kernels of advice you can “steal” and incorporate into another storytime’s parent tip. Mom’s have shared free spots for parents to hang out with their kids (great after storytime announcement!), Grandmas have taught me new songs, and Dads have demonstrated the proper way to make elephant sounds. These may seem little, but when they see you share them in a subsequent storytime, you’ve made a forever storytime lover and you’ve learned something new-hooray!

5) Be honest. Honesty is the key to any good relationship, but especially in the library. If you can’t give a patron an answer to their question for privacy reasons, etc. simply tell them that. “I’m sorry, but I can’t give you that staff person’s schedule. You are welcome to stop in on the 4th floor when you are here and ask for her, however.” OR “Oh, thanks for your interest, but I really prefer not to discuss politics at work. But I’d love to hear more about Katie’s music class!” They will appreciate your candor and you will not have alienated other patrons within hearing distance. Honesty also applies to setting expectations. Make sure your groups know what you expect from them right from the get go (trust me on this!). If you expect them to sing with you, ask them to sing with you! If you want them to sit and be quiet (oh, I hope not!), ask them to. It’s that simple. You are the expert. They will follow your lead.

6) Ask them to sing along. Really, I’m sure you all do this, but I find the best way to bond with people in storytime is by singing as a group. Not only does this bond you to your patrons but it bonds patrons to each other. They giggle over being tone deaf or singing the wrong words (no such thing, I say, as long as you’re singing), and encourage each other. Singing also breaks the ice for future conversations-hopefully AFTER storytime. Mostly, music makes us happy! Happy adults=happy kids.

7) It’s about the adults AND the kids. This sums everything up, really.  We are modeling how to interact with children for the adults in the room, some of whom may never have had experience with kids before they had their own. This is a huge part of storytime, especially for parents of babies. Parents are learning rhymes (for the first time!) we hope they will repeat at home, getting tips from other parents in the room, making friends, and watching their babies grow. We facilitate all this by providing our expertise and a safe, welcoming environment for them so they will want to return again and again. And if they can’t, they’ll at the very least have a positive image of the library and hopefully plenty of rhymes to carry with them for the rest of their lives.

I’m sure there’s so much more that I’m forgetting!

What kinds of relationships do you build with your patrons and how do you maintain them?

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eStorytime

All this talk on alsc-l, ALSC blog, and LOTS of other blogs about using digital content and devices in storytime have gotten me thinking about ways to incorporate digital media, or at least tips relating to it, into storytime. The trouble I keep running in to is I do storytime for babies and toddlers. All the messages and information I can think of to spew at parents is all “No, no, no!” and that is NOT the negative kind of energy I want to have in storytime. I DO want them to know the cautions and research in regards to young children and screens, but I DON’T want them to feel as though I’m lecturing them.

So far my ideas for incorporating digital media:

-simply using the projector to broadcast words to the songs on the wall (I already do this with lyrics on paper hanging on the wall)

-project the cover of the book we’re reading while I read it

-project real-life images of things related to the book I read while reading (e.g. a dump truck while reading Tip, Tip, Dig, Dig by Emma Garcia)

-ditto with songs (e.g. a bus while singing wheels on the bus)

That’s not much folks!

Do any of you incorporate digital media in toddler storytime? Baby storytime? If so, what do you do?

Do you see a benefit for doing these things with toddlers and babies? Besides providing information about using media with kids?

I’m really hoping to generate some practical conversation on the topic. I’ve heard so much on the philosophical end and now I’m left with a happy brain and the question, “But HOW?”

There’s a lot out there about using tech in storytimes with older kids (mostly K and up) but I can’t seem to find much for the wee ones. I want to know what you are all doing and what works and doesn’t, or whether you think I’m just plain crazy for even thinking about doing something with toddlers.

So, PLEASE share!


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Baby Storytime: Bath Time!

Kind of a strange storytime today with just two babies to start and a third arriving late. But then our attendance for a lot of this weeks programs has been slightly down.

We started with If You’re Happy and You Know It as usual then read Bath Time by David Bedford right at the start. Mostly I did this because one of the two babies there at the time was still taking his bottle and thought it would be better to save the bouncing rhymes, etc. for when mom’s hands were free and baby could move around. That worked fairly well, but that was one big bottle. So the active part of the storytime was pretty much just the one baby. Oh well. I shared Baby Faces by Margaret Miller a little later. With the small group I was able to take the book to each baby and show them the pictures close up, which they loved, of course.

 

Here are the rhymes for today:

 

Noble Duke of York (from Baby-O by MaryLee Sunseri)

Rock the baby, rock the baby, 1, 2, 3

Watch the baby, watch the baby smile at me

Bounce the baby, bounce the baby on your lap

Don’t forget to teach the baby how to clap: clap, clap, clap, clap

 

Scarves:

Mix a pancake, stir a pancake, pop it in the pan

Fry the pancake, toss the pancake, catch it if you can

Where is Baby? (see last week’s baby post for words)

 

Shakers:

We’re going to Kentucky, we’re going to the fair

To see the senorita with flowers in her hair

Shake it baby, shake it, shake it if you can

Shake it like a milkshake and put it in a can

Shake it to the bottom, shake it to the top

Shake it round and round and round and round

Until I tell you STOP!

Shake Your Sillies Out-Raffi

 

We ended with bubbles and tunes. Even though it was small (and all boys!!) they still seemed to have a good time.


Leave a comment

Baby Storytime: Bath Time!

Kind of a strange storytime today with just two babies to start and a third arriving late. But then our attendance for a lot of this weeks programs has been slightly down.

We started with If You’re Happy and You Know It as usual then read Bath Time by David Bedford right at the start. Mostly I did this because one of the two babies there at the time was still taking his bottle and thought it would be better to save the bouncing rhymes, etc. for when mom’s hands were free and baby could move around. That worked fairly well, but that was one big bottle. So the active part of the storytime was pretty much just the one baby. Oh well. I shared Baby Faces by Margaret Miller a little later. With the small group I was able to take the book to each baby and show them the pictures close up, which they loved, of course.

 

Here are the rhymes for today:

 

Noble Duke of York (from Baby-O by MaryLee Sunseri)

Rock the baby, rock the baby, 1, 2, 3

Watch the baby, watch the baby smile at me

Bounce the baby, bounce the baby on your lap

Don’t forget to teach the baby how to clap: clap, clap, clap, clap

 

Scarves:

Mix a pancake, stir a pancake, pop it in the pan

Fry the pancake, toss the pancake, catch it if you can

Where is Baby? (see last week’s baby post for words)

 

Shakers:

We’re going to Kentucky, we’re going to the fair

To see the senorita with flowers in her hair

Shake it baby, shake it, shake it if you can

Shake it like a milkshake and put it in a can

Shake it to the bottom, shake it to the top

Shake it round and round and round and round

Until I tell you STOP!

Shake Your Sillies Out-Raffi

 

We ended with bubbles and tunes. Even though it was small (and all boys!!) they still seemed to have a good time.