“We can’t slow the seasons or fit more minutes into an hour. But we can make storytime spectacular for the little readers in our laps.” –Chickadee Lit
Sitting still and listening do not come naturally to children. And keeping a group of small children engaged while you read to them can be a challenge for even the most experienced. But storytimes are magical experiences that help children develop a lifetime love of books and reading and provide early language and literacy skills.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Library hosts multiple storytimes each week, including a storytime in two languages and a sensory storytime. Check out the Library’s calendar to find a story time near you.
If you would like to host a storytime for your children, daycare or preschool group, we have organized some helpful information to guide your way.
A Typical Storytime Program
During your storytime greeting, consider going over storytime guidelines or having them displayed. It is important that guidelines are positively worded.
Sample guidelines might include:
- If needed, ask the children to move up closer to you before the first book so they can see.
- Preschool, family or toddler storytimes should be 30 minutes in length; storytimes for children 18-23 months should be around 25 minutes; baby storytimes should be about 20-25 minutes.
- Share the theme of your storytime before the first book (the theme could be as loose as “good books” or “my favorite books”).
- Plan on sharing 3-4 books in a 30-minute storytime.
- The first book should be your longest book with large pictures, limited text (generally no more than 3 sentences per page for preschool storytime).
- Use even shorter books in toddler storytimes and large picture books with few words or board books in baby storytimes.
- When reading the title, also share the name of the author and illustrator. Move your finger under the title as you are reading as well as under the author and illustrator.
- Hold the book facing audience and make sure to move the book slowly around when reading so the entire audience can see the pictures (especially those on your left and right).
- Have the audience clap for the book once you are finished reading. Say something like, “let’s all clap for that great book.”
- Have a clear and consistent pace throughout the storytime. Avoid awkward silences between turning on your music or between books. Don’t turn your back to the audience.
- Mother Goose Rhymes should be used generously in baby storytimes and written on chart paper or a board for parents/caregivers to follow along.
- If the storytime participants are especially restless during a book, consider stopping and doing a rhyme to help them get ready for the story. It is okay not to finish the current book you are reading.
Storytime Books + Music
Books are a big part of a great storytime. Select diverse titles that reflect your community. Look for characters who look like the children in your audience. While fiction books are fun, don't forget to include nonfiction or books with photographs. Think about alternate formats including: Big Books, pop-ups, flap books or wordless.
Select songs that go along with the theme of your storytime. Song breaks allow children to participate even more and even get some energy and wiggles out.
The Library has created numerous lists of books and songs to make your storytimes great!