Storytime Plans, Kits, and Ideas

Storytime Planning: Themes
Many library storytime presenters grapple with finding books that fit a particular theme. This can lead to including a book that is not so good/enjoyable. but it fits the theme. This is my approach to themes--plan the theme around the books/stories, not visa versa. I usually plan several storytimes at once. I gather together lots of books, new titles I want to try as well as old favorites and always include factual books.

All of them must meet these criteria:

  1. I like the book

  2. I think the children will like the book

  3. Book is appropriate for the age level the storytime is targeted to and

  4. Book works well in a group setting.

Then I start laying them out in piles--making sure there is a mix of long/short, quiet/active, older/younger, and something I have a puppet or flannel board for, maybe a big book. THEN I look at each pile separately, and think, what could the theme be for this one? When I had Pierre, Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock and Three Billy Goats Gruff, my theme was Talk, Talk, Talk because all had good dialog in them.  When I had The Gunniwolf, Swimmy, and Jump Frog Jump, my theme was Catch Me If You Can. If you can't think of a theme, you can always use Librarians' Favorites. Try thinking of verbs, not just nouns. Many time we don't present some really good book because it doesn't easily fit a theme. This way, choosing the good books first, children and adult participants don't miss out. 

Helpful Sources 

Early Literacy Observation Aids

Based on Every Child Ready to Read second edition and noted in Storytimes for Everyone (ALA Editions)
Arapahoe Library District: Supervisory Storytime Observation
Arapahoe Library District: How to Complete a Supervisor Storytime Observation 
Early Literacy Enhanced Storytime Checklist

BASED on Every Child Ready to Read first edition and on Early Literacy Storytimes @ your library (ALA Editions) 
The following items have been used as

  • a "self-check" for the storytime presenter

  • a peer observation form to help improve storytimes

  • a part of performance evaluations

Early Talker (newborn to 2 years)
Talkers (2 and 3 years)
Prereaders (4 and 5 years)

The list under each Early Literacy Skill provides examples of possible activities that support the skill. Presenters are not required to do every activity for the skill. The presenter is also NOT limited to the activities listed.

Based on work of Elaine Czarnecki and Gilda Martinez, Johns Hopkins University, Center for Reading Excellence.

Helpful Training Aids

Flipcharts of Rhymes

Making flipcharts of rhymes and songs for your storytimes helps the adults join in all together as they follow along. It encourages a nice large group dynamic as well as helping us remember the words. We can choose to point to words in the title to highlight print awareness.

The following word documents are available to use as you wish. You can download them and take them to a store (like Fed-Ex Kinkos) where they can be enlarged into posters. Some people import them into Microsoft Publisher or other software program and print them off in sections and past them together.

Promoting Storytimes

Ways to describe storytimes to highlight early literacy:
Brooklyn (NY) Public Library First Five Years
Hannett County (NC) Public Library storytime flyer
San Antonio Public Library

Table Tents (photo) (Iowa Library Service Areas, Early Childhood Literacy) 
Print Awareness Template 1
Print Awareness Template 2
Phonological Awareness Template