Thursday, March 3, 2011

Introduction to Preschool Storytime

Preschool Storytime (roughly ages 2-5) are a children's librarians bread-and-butter. When you think "storytime" this is the one that people usually think of.

We do 3 preschool storytimes on Thursday mornings. They last for 30 minutes and are on a drop-in basis. Everyone in the department rotates through on Thursday, so I do one about twice a month, although in the past I did it every week! (That was before I did babies every week.)

My basic outline is as follows:

Where is Thumbkin

Read a Story

Hickory Dickory Dock
Maybe another action rhyme or song

Read a Story

Shake My Sillies Out

Maybe another action rhyme

Read a Story

1-2 Action rhymes or songs

Read a Story

She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain

My books are usually all on a theme some of which are more obvious than others (past themes have included ducks, rainbows, rain, alphabet, colors, alligators and crocodiles, Asian food, authors that have last names starting with W, Miss Jennie's favorites, monsters and dinosaurs, bathtime...) I try to have at least 5 copies/storytime of every book that I'm reading. (So, if I'm doing 2 in a row, 10 copies of each title) Because I work in a large system, it's not hard to get extra copies from other branches. This is so kids can check out their favorite books and read them again at home. I also have many books on display that I'm not reading but fit with my theme or are by the same author or in the same series. (So, if I'm reading a Scaredy Squirrel book, I'll have the other Scaredy Squirrel books on display for the kids to take.) I don't have extra copies of these-- just whatever's on the shelf that morning gets pulled and displayed.

Not all of my action rhymes or songs go with my theme. Usually a few do, but some are just favorites.

While I do plan on which rhymes/songs I'm going to do, I tend to change them in the middle of my program. I might do something more active if the kids need to burn off some energy, or I might add or cut rhymes if I'm running short or long on time.

Starting and ending with the same songs helps kids know the routine and my regulars know what's coming. I think they also like the comfort of learning a rhyme/song over time, or knowing that they'll know the words to at least 1 thing that I do! I do "Hickory Dickory Dock" because I do that at every Baby storytime. When I used to do Babies and Toddlers, I did it for both, and then as I had kids move up to Preschool, they were really overwhelmed and a bit lost because it's a very different format and feeling. So, I started doing it at Preschool so they had something familiar. BUT! All the kids loved it so much that I do it all the time now.

Questions? Comments? Let me know!


  1. I've been contemplating offering a public storytime so this post is definitely helpful. Thank you!

  2. I like the idea of getting multiple copies of the books your doing - you're lucky that you have a big enough system to do that. My choices would be very limited indeed!

  3. At what age do you teach the kids how to use the library? We have "helping hands" cut out so kids can take a book from the shelf and then know where to return the book. But I wonder if this should wait for K or 1st grade?

  4. Hi Mary-- I don't teach kids how to use the library until elementary school, and usually then it's when they come in for a class visit/tour. A lot of basic library usage is developmentally too complicated until upper elementary school, so even in K or 1st grade, I just stress asking the librarian for help, all the things the library has, and to put your books on the reshelve cart and we'll take care of them for you.

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