i am here to chew bubblegum and read you picturebooks…

…and I’m all out of bubblegum.

Tomato Story by jeffsmallwood, on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffsmallwood/4740428924/ Shared under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 license

The first in a short series of posts where I talk about what exactly I do in my new job as a Children’s and Youth Librarian.

I don’t know exactly when I will stop thinking of my job as “my new job” but I did unlock an achievement last week. My first sessions of both Babytime and Storytime are now complete.

Numbers-wise, Storytime (for 3-5 year-olds) grew as it went on, and Babytime (for 0-15 month-olds and their caregivers) shrunk, which probably matches up with my confidence with each of those audiences. The biggest difference between the two is that in Storytime you just engage with the kids. A parent or two might stay in the room just to alleviate any tension in their kid, but it’s basically me and children.

I deal well with kids that age. They ask questions and I take them seriously and answer as best I can. Since I’m not a teacher and only have half an hour a week with a group of them that’s nice and sustainable. I’ve also been very lucky that the storytime audiences I’ve had have been happy with a low songs:books ratio. I’m always happy when we get to the end of our half-hour and one of the kids says “but we didn’t read that one!” pointing at one of my displayed books.

Babytime is different. Because the babies are so small you can’t deal with them the way you would older kids. You’re talking more directly with the parent, and well, adults are a bit more demanding an audience. It feels weird doing early development teaching stuff because most of my courses in library school were not early literacy focused. I mean, I read up on these programs and how they’re supposed to work, but I definitely don’t feel like a natural in Babytime. Also, not having any firsthand baby experience makes me a bit twitchy about the whole “telling people how to parent” Getting through the first six weeks helped, and I won’t be as worried about Toddlertime when it starts up in February, but still. I feel like I should be spending good chunks of my workday memorizing zillions of nursery rhymes (and their actions – oh am I ever not kinesthetically intelligent).

Aside from those ongoing programs, I’ve been able to host a bunch of class visits to the library. It’s fun getting Grade 1-3 kids in there because they have things they want to know about and the library (organized by Dewey) is not set up to make it easy for them to find things, so I get to be a magician, producing books from thin air. I also get to read them more complex stories than the preschoolers can necessarily follow.

On Friday I did some outreach at the local National Child Day celebrations, which included reading some stories on the main stage. I only realized in the middle of my second set that my inadvertent theme was devouring people. Nobody seemed too traumatized though.

So yes, it’s kind of awesome how much of my working life is spent reading picturebooks to people. I do other stuff too, but I’ll write about that in another post next week.

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