The Internet is for Storytime!

Forgive me, I’ve been singing Avenue Q all week. What do you do with a BA in English (well, Creative Writing and Comparative Mythology)? Write a blog about librarianship, obvs. 

My first link is not Storytime related exactly, but Kimberly (@KimberlyMarieF) wrote this fantastic and thought provoking post on Stacked (My All-Time Favorite Book Review Blog, Y’all) about sanitizing history for kids, specifically in picture books. I would love it if you guys read the post and then commented here about how this idea relates back to our work in EC. 

I somehow forgot to link to this last week, for which I will suffer eternal shame: Melissa (@MelissaZD, patron saint of Guerrilla Storytime) was curious about Mem Fox’s oft-restated stat that children should know 8 nursery rhymes by heart by age 4. Specifically, being a librarian, Mel wanted SOURCES. So she went looking. She chronicles her epic research adventure and, in the comments, people offer to help her with follow-up. the whole thing is amazing. Unsurprisingly. 

I hopped over to Kathryn’s blog to see what was what because she’s hosting Flannel Friday this week, and I was soooo excited to see that she is talking about the storytimes she’s planning for October! Since I’m in planning mode right now, I love seeing her Halloween and Fire Safety storytimes during planning stages and not just right after/too late for me. 

It seems like everywhere I look the past couple of weeks, I’m reading articles about libraries implementing play spaces, doing programs centered around teaching parents the importance of play, etc. I just read this horrifying piece from WaPo about the overwhelming absence of play in EC classrooms, and am thinking about how pub libs are once again picking up the pieces as education reforms leave educators and kids SOL. BUT ALSO about the opportunities we have to branch out in ways schools can’t into play-based learning. Thoughts? What are you doing that’s specifically play-based? 

I’d like to start reading some Early Childhood Education blogs by non-librarians. Anyone have recommendations? Please comment! Also comment if you have a great training video I should post. 

According to the NYPL, “On this day in 1921 A.A. Milne gave his son Christopher Robin a teddy bear for his first birthday.” As a child my world was very, very full of the Hundred Acre Woods, and I still have quite a few of Milne’s wonderful poems memorized. I cannot overstress how grateful I am to know and have befriended a bear called Winnie. 

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Posted on August 21, 2013, in Storytime Badassery. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Hi Cory! Thanks for the link. We will see if Amy (@choosejoytoday) turns up anything by nudging virtually around in Mem Fox’s donated papers…I don’t consider that case closed yet!

    Things my library does for play: We have special collections of non-circ toys that we get out to play with after every single storytime. We’ve reworked all schedules so that there’s time to stay and play and talk and build relationships after the planned storytime sequence is over. The conversations I’m able to have with my baby storytime grownups after storytime are just phenomenal, because we have time and because I’m right there playing with them and their kids in a relaxed atmosphere. We are also working towards Family Place designation for 2 of our branches, so we’ve purchased a lot of toys–just like you’d see in a ECE classroom–that we get out for special Family Place programs. Then we get them out again for less-formal drop-in “playdate” programs, where anyone can come by and play. We also have reorganized library spaces (yes, this sometimes means weeding the collection and taking out some shelving) so that we can have larger permanent play areas in many of our branches, and we’ve set out puppet and book sets and big books that are always there. We’ve purchased some Burgeon Group pieces (big ones and wall panels) and I love how all the changes make our children’s libraries look more like places to stay for awhile than run in and get your books and go. My friend Lynda at anythink says it’s making libraries spaces for people and not just spaces for books. Oh, and the bookmobile has a circulating toy collection!

    I’m also interested in building more play into storytime itself–looking where we can switch out some of the more passive sit-and-listen elements for more interactive guessing games or cooperative experiences.

    I will stop there! Looking forward to the other comments!

    • Mel, I’m also wrestling with options for building more play into storytime. The book we’re reading for Storytime Underground book club, A CHILD’S WORK, really seems to emphasize the need for kids to have large chunks of play time for open-ended fantasy play. I’m toying with the idea of getting a bunch of smallish dolls–baby safe and diverse, wearing a variety of outfits–and, after finishing storytime with a story, invite the kids to use the dolls to act out a story from the library. They would probably act it out to their caregivers if they don’t feel comfortable with the other kids, and the play would likely quickly stray from a story from the library to a completely imagined universe, but that’s a good thing. Good for vocabulary, narrative skills, working through concepts in their own lives, etc. I really want to give that a try and see how it works.

  2. Melissa & Amy, I love hearing about storytimes becoming more child-centered, interactive and fun (and less like school lessons). You have some great ideas! I’m looking forward to hearing more about how you implement them through your blogs 🙂

  3. Re: play options in the library–we’ve had play food and baskets, blocks, and things like that at my library for several years which see a lot of use, but this summer we added a small dress-up station and I’ve honestly been astounded at how much wonderful play has resulted. The costume pieces seem to break the ice between kids who might normally play on their own. We had a small budget and tried to strike a balance between fantasy items (like these wings: http://www.amazon.com/Rhode-Island-Novelty-WINEA-Costume/dp/B005IDQRVK/) and more typical career stuff (firefighter, etc).

    For some great inspiring in-library play ideas, I recommend checking out Ridgedale Library’s Flickr stream: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ridgedalelibrary/sets/ They’re one of the few libraries in my system that has a more “isolated” early literacy area with a children’s desk, so they can try a few more complicated things that wouldn’t fly in my own building, where older elementary kids might wreak some havoc or “weaponize” the toys. Check out, for ex., the “Together…” signs in this set that educate parents & caregivers as to the useful skills children learn through play: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ridgedalelibrary/sets/72157633047628042/

  4. Stephanie Smallwood

    I also agree that Teach Preschool is a great blog, as are:
    http://www.flightsofwhimsy-ece.com/
    http://childhood101.com/
    http://www.playbasedlearning.com.au/
    http://notjustcute.com/
    http://teaching2and3yearolds.blogspot.com/
    http://theimaginationtree.com/
    http://tinkerlab.com/

    Additionally, keeping up with what NAEYC is doing is very important, and they have great info on their website as well: http://www.naeyc.org.

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