Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Help Me Help You: Storytime

Thanks for joining me for the second part of Help Me Help You: What Librarians Wish Patrons Knew About the Library.
Part 2 is all about storytime!

It's okay to leave storytime if your child is Just Not Into It.
In fact, in most cases we prefer that. I try and make an announcement at the beginning of every storytime that if your child is distracted or becomes a distraction to others, please take them out for a little break. We do expect a certain degree of chaos, but if your child is running circles around the story room, they're not getting anything out of the program and they're just distracting everyone else in the room. We won't be offended if you leave and it's okay to get up from your spot and fetch your child. Come back in later or try tomorrow. Every child (every person!) has good days and bad days. Some days they're Just Not Into It. And that's okay.

It's also okay to leave if you are the only one there (it's also okay to stay if you want to). I wrote a post last year about what to do when there's one child at storytime. We're happy to go ahead and do a storytime for one child, but if you don't feel comfortable with it or if your child isn't that into it, we won't be offended if you don't want to stay. We know that you made the effort to come to the library for storytime, but we also don't want to do anything that makes your child uncomfortable and being the only kid in a room with two or three adults might be intimidating for some children. Feel free to stay, but also feel free to leave.

The library is not your babysitter. As a children's librarian, I like working with and interacting with kids. We try to make the library a safe and comfortable place, but it is still a public place. Would you leave your child unattended at the mall? Then don't leave them unattended at the library. To expand on this, I would say that the library is certainly a place for individual reading or for your child to play a computer game by himself, but there is also much for caregiver and child to do together at the library. If you're checking your email while your kid is playing by themselves at the train table, you might be missing some of the best things the library has to offer! Read a book together, play a game together, attend a program together. Which leads me to my next point:

Storytime is not time for you to have a conversation with your adult friend. While we strive to make the library a place for people to gather and socialize, storytime is not the time for this. It's time to spend with your child listening to books, singing songs, and develop those early literacy skills. By all means, after storytime is over, get together with your friends and catch up. We try to make our storytimes entertaining and educational. Your child will get much more from storytime if you're there participating with her and talking to her about the stories later.

Librarians, what would you add? What do you want patrons to know about storytimes?

Check out Part 1: Research and Reference and look for Part 3: Library Logistics coming tomorrow!

ETA (June 11): And do check out Part 4: Teacher Edition and Part 5: Wrapping it Up!