Monday, March 10, 2014

The Storytime Training You Did or Did Not Receive

Photo by John Boyd, accessed through BiblioArchives
A couple of weeks ago, on the Flannel Friday Facebook page, a librarian asked the following question:

Question for those of you who are children's librarians: Did your library school offer a course that in some way addressed story time? Mine did not, but I am wondering if that is common, or if I am in the minority.
She got a bunch of responses, which ran the gamut from folks who were able to take programming classes and practicums to those who were not offered any classes that addressed storytime. General consensus seems to be that even for those of us who were able to take programming classes in grad school, on-the-job learning has really helped us develop most of our storytime skills. 

So, if you're in library school or if you're a new librarian or if you're transitioning to children's services from somewhere else, what's a person to do?

  • If you're in library school, seek out any opportunities to take classes that will improve your skills. If no children's services classes are offered, or if storytime/programming material is limited, talk to an adviser about other options. Are there workshops being offered on another campus? Is there an online class you can take? Is there an online class through another university that would transfer to your program? CAN YOU DO AN INTERNSHIP OR PRACTICUM???
  • Seek any opportunities to observe and participate in storytime. Befriend your local librarians! I would be very surprised to find any children's librarian who is unwilling to let a library student or new librarian observe a storytime. Approach librarians in neighboring libraries and ask to observe their storytimes. Everyone has a different style and we can ALL benefit from seeing how someone else does things. Read Marge's post about Roadtrip Continuing Education!
  • Related: seek out opportunities to present storytimes to kids. Our Head Start preschool classes are always looking for volunteers to read with the children. You may also try other local preschools, your local school system, or afterschool programs. 
  • Seek out opportunities to attend conferences and unconferences. Organize a Guerrilla Storytime! (You do not have to have all the answers to organize a Guerrilla Storytime... in fact, it's a GREAT way to network and get tons of great ideas!)
  • Related: seek out opportunities to participate in workshops, webinars, online classes, etc. If you're not sure where those are happening in your area, ask a local librarian or contact your state library's youth services consultant! 
  • Find your Personal Learning Network and don't be afraid to ask for suggestions and brainstorm solutions. Your PLN may include friends from grad school, local colleagues, online friends, your colleagues in great groups like Storytime Underground and Flannel Friday, and more!  
The more experience you can get observing and presenting storytimes, the more confident and marketable you'll be! I couldn't sleep for, like, a week before presenting my first storytime for my internship. And it really took me at least a year of regularly presenting storytime before I began to feel pretty comfortable with it. It gets easier as you build your "internal bookshelves" and get a better sense of what kind of books and activities work well for storytime. And the more experience you have in dealing with any kind of behavior issues, the better prepared you are to deal with them when they pop up during your programs. 

Did your MLS program include classes or workshops on storytime or programming? If not, how did you train yourself? What other resources should library school students or new grads be aware of for storytime training?