Secrets of a Library Storytime…

Shhh…what you are about to read is top secret. Very top secret. I’m about to de-mystify storytime at the library. But you can’t tell anyone.

Librarians are people. There I said it. Storytellers are just ordinary people reading children’s books and singing songs in what might seem like extraordinary ways. Have you ever wondered how your librarian tells those stories and sings those songs so flawlessly? It takes practice. Lots of practice. Trial and error. Flexibility. Research. Flexibility. Trial and error. And did I mention practice?

So when you attend storytime with your child, keep in mind, these literacy tips, songs, stories, rhymes, and activities are for your benefit. For baby storytime, it’s entertainment for the child and modeling literacy skills for the parents. For the toddler and preschoolers, it’s entertainment and learning for the child, in addition to modeling the literacy skills for parents.

If you are looking for some storytelling ideas to try at home, visit some of my favorite storytime websites from some very talented librarians. Keep in mind these are written for librarians, but I think some of the activities, songs, and books could be translated very easily in a classroom or home setting:

Before I wrap up this post, let’s talk briefly about why libraries provide storytime to children and their families and why you should be attending:

Remember when we discussed the early literacy skills: Loving Books, Using Books, Sounds, Storytelling, Vocabulary, ABCs

  • It will help instill a love of books
  • Your children will learn how to use a book
  • Children will practice rhyming
  • You’ll learn new ways to tell stories and sing songs with your children
  • Children will learn new vocabulary
  • It will increase letter and number knowledge
  • Good reason to visit the library
  • Meet and interact with other children and families
  • Free entertainment!

And…if you’ve never been to storytime, please click here —-> Story Time at the SCDL.


Sing, Talk, Play, and Read…in less than an hour

Singing, talking, playing, and reading. It can be done in less than one hour. I promise. And I’m going to tell you how.

Step 1: Visit your Stark County District Library location and attend storytime. That’s all.


Foster and his sister play in the water table and discover what happens when you put candy canes in water.

Here’s the proof: Today at storytime, we read three books, sang four songs, played in the water table with water, candy canes, and toys, talked about the reaction between the water and candy canes, and then created a beautiful candy cane painting. And we were done by 11:15 (just 45 minutes after we started).

And just in case you can’t make it to the library, here’s how you can do all of this at home.

We started with the storytelling portion of storytime. You just need a couple books and some songs. As you read, feel free to stop and ask questions about the characters, storyline, or pictures. Here’s what we used:

  • Welcome Song: “Wiggle Them, Wiggle Them”
  • Action Rhyme: “This is Big, Big, Big” 2x
  • Story: Llama Llama Jingle Bells by Anna Dewdney (let your child choose the story…we chose this because Foster loves the Llama Llama series)
  • Song: “Up on the Housetop” with hand motions 2x
  • Story: Shh (this is my absolute favorite Santa story) by Julie Sykes
  • Song: “Jingle Bells” (you can add bells to make even more fun!)
  • Story: Peek-a-Boo Snowman by Charles Reasoner

Our friend plays with a shrinking candy cane.


Peek-a-boo! Use toys in unexpected ways.

Then we moved to the play portion of the program. I filled a water table (you can use a sink or the bathtub) with about three inches of water (if that). We talked about the water. What does it feel like? Is it hot? Is it cold? Is it warm?

Then I pulled out the candy canes! What happens if we put a candy cane in water? We made a few guesses and then tried it. Immediately, the water started to bubble around the candy and the color started disappearing. While the candy dissolved, I gave the children some toys to play with. Don’t be afraid to use words like sink, float, disappear, light, heavy, etc. You’ll be surprised what your children already know.

By the time we were finished, the candy had completely disappeared, the water turned a light shade of red, and the room smelled like peppermints.IMG_4427

The last thing we did during storytime was our candy cane painting masterpiece! You need a little red paint (add a little peppermint extract for a sensory bonus!), a marble and a candy cane paper cut out. Place the candy candy cutout in a flat container, squirt a little paint in the corner, and roll the marble back and forth in the container over the paper. Talk about what is happening and why the marble rolls the way it does.

So, while I can’t guarantee storytime will always involve a water table and candy canes, I encourage you to visit your library for storytime and other fun programs because I can guarantee you’ll sing, talk, read, play (and possibly write)! And I encourage you to try these activities at home!