storytime review: chu’s day, stop snoring bernard & mattoo let’s play

This week I hosted two preschool visits to the library on consecutive days. They were the same adults but different kids (mostly – a couple were there both days). I liked that arrangement because I got to directly fix things that went less well the first time through.

So here are the books I used. Neil Gaiman’s new picturebook Chu’s Day was our opener (after our welcome to storytime rhyme). It worked well with both groups, who really got into the “Ah ahhh ahhhh… No.” conceit. The only problem is that the “bad things that happen” probably require a bit closer examination to really admire the art. And the ending seems to leave kids wanting more.

I tried using Never Take A Shark to the Dentist the first time, because the cover was really attractive to the kids. The book ended up being a little high-concept for 3-4 year olds, but it was super easy to skip pages when that became apparent.

Stop Snoring Bernard worked really well in both groups. I got the kids to help with the snoring noises and in each group someone had one of those Cosby moments when they told everyone about one of their family members who snored. They also got to name some zoo animals, which helped keep everyone involved.

We did Shapes That Roll in the first session, but it was our last book and I think it would have played a bit better with more time to really get into all the shapes and explore them a bit. As it was we just kind of went with the rhyming.

In today’s session I replaced a couple of the less well-received books with a couple about trying very hard to be quiet. Mattoo, Let’s Play is about a loud little girl with a pet cat who forms a bond once she learns that some animals are best attracted by being quiet. We also did Read to Tiger which is about a tiger being very distracting when you’re trying to read. Everyone had fun making the loud distracting noises.

We did a dinosaur song both sessions it all worked out pretty well. Even the kid who was mad he wasn’t there to see a puppet show was unsullen at the end (that could have been because he was finally able to leave).

I’m going to try doing a few more of these types of storytime post-mortems because of something I took away from Miss Julie’s blog post where she mentioned:

In a profession that’s supposedly dominated by women, I find it sad that the librarians who get the most attention are mostly men (and, admittedly, some women), men who very rarely write about honest, simple, day to day issues in librarianship.

She goes on to discuss how technologists get all the “rockstar” status in our profession and no one cares about the bloggers who write practical things about doing the feminized work of dealing with kids. Since I’m guilty of writing the odd impractical technology rabblerousing bit, I want to make sure I’m also blogging some of these more practical day-to-day things too. It’s part of that whole advocacy for the importance of libraries and librarians thing to show that the non-technological stuff is important too. So here we go.

i am here to chew bubblegum and read you picturebooks…

…and I’m all out of bubblegum.

Tomato Story by jeffsmallwood, on Flickr 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.