5 Ways to Recreate Storytime at Home
1. Choose interactive books
Kids love getting to touch things and explore. If you have a kid who likes to move, try books that ask them to interact with the pages. Christie Matheson’s Tap the Magic Tree, Hervé Tullet’s Touch Here, and Bill Cotter’s Don’t Push the Button create a sense of wonder as kids take action to create changes in the images. Kids familiar with digital apps will quickly see that books can provide the same sense of playfulness as their favorite games.
2. Play with puppets!
Few kids can resist the magic of a puppet. At the Urbandale Library, you can check out puppets on their own or packaged with a story (think The Hungry Caterpillar with a caterpillar puppet that transforms into a butterfly). When you introduce a puppet and say “Here’s a story about me,” kids come running. And don’t feel shy if you don’t like doing voices – the puppet alone is enough to entertain kids without being a comedian yourself.
3. Add Some Music
Songs are great for capturing kids’ interest or helping them burn off steam before sitting to read. Luckily, there are tons of great recorded children’s songs that have fun actions to try and are still pleasant for adults. Try picking songs that have actions clearly spelled out in the music. Artists like Laurie Berkner, Jim Gill, and Mr. Eric write fun music that’s easy to follow.
You can also lead a song or rhyme on your own. I often get asked how caregivers can replicate what they’ve heard in a storytime so I will let you in on the librarian’s secret weapon – JBrary. Created by two children’s librarians, this site is a treasure house of simple songs and includes videos so you can easily learn the actions.
Many area libraries participate in 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten, a national initiative that encourages you to read aloud with your child. At the Urbandale Library, your child receives a free book on registration and continues to earn books as they go. Kids get excited about tracking the books and reaching the next goal.
5. Give Them the Power
Follow your child’s lead! Do they love Paw Patrol or construction vehicles? Your library can help you find books on any interest your child may have. Keep a selection of different choices on hand – picture books, nonfiction books, poetry, comic books. It is quite alright to check out lots of books and return them unread – allowing your child to follow their interests is a great way to feed their enthusiasm.
Allow them to pick out books that are “too hard.” There are lots of ways to have a meaningful interaction with a book – it might be looking at a handful of pictures, or picking up a reference book on a favorite topic and seeing how you can look in the index to find a page number.
Allow them to pick out books that are “too easy,” and try not to judge what they find as “too young for you.” Older kids can get a lot out of reading board books – they appreciate the artwork and board books make great first reads for beginning readers.
Allow them to stop. If you’re not enjoying a story, or your child has lost interest in story time, simply try again later. The most important message you want to send is that reading is fun and exciting.
The most important thing is that you enjoy your storytime together!
Kate Thompson, MLIS, is the project assistant for 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten at the Urbandale Public Library. She is passionate about early literacy and creating programming that is accessible to all. She lives in Des Moines with her husband two book-loving boys.