What’s in it? Mostly it’s ideas for sharing children’s books with groups (storytimes and other programs) in ways besides the obvious, which is: read them. Not that there’s anything wrong with reading books. It’s still the single best way to get kids and parents excited about books. But in my 25+ years as a children’s librarian, I’ve run across many situations where that doesn’t always work that well: The pictures are too small, the group is too large or the story is too long, for example. And I’ve also found that mixing up a presentation with puppets, props, drama, and (more recently) technology can grab the attention of kids in a different way. And all of these ways still generate excitement about stories and books, which is what we’re all about. Plus it’s fun for me to mix it up a little. Bark George is truly a perfect picture book, but once in a while I like to put the book down, pick up my big dog puppet, put on a latex glove, and pull some animals out of his throat…
Where do these stories get told? With my current job as Youth Services Librarian with the Wilsonville Public Library (OR), I have several regular programs where I have occasions tell stories without the book. In my weekly Toddler Time for ages 1 and 2 I use puppets at least once, usually twice. We do a monthly program called “K-2 Book Adventures” where we typically present several books in a variety of ways. And we do weekly Family Storytimes that often draw 100+ people, which requires lots of creative approaches to telling. So those programs provide much of the “what we did this week” material, plus I’ll also mention a few tales that I’ve done in the past.
Who tells these stories? When I mention “we,” I’m referring to the five person team of storytellers at the Wilsonville Public Library. I only started here in 2010, but the children’s staff have been doing dynamic, creative storytimes to huge crowds for many years. Our current members are Sheila Shapiro, Terri Wortman, Brad Clark, and Shannon Belford. Much of our story development is collaborative, and we frequently use two or more tellers in a presentation. As you read this blog you’ll hear plenty about their creative contributions.
Why share them on a blog? When I was just starting out as a Children’s Librarian I was invited to observe another librarian, Peggy Tollefson do a storytime. She took out a great picture book: Peace at Last by Jill Murphy. She showed it to the kids, then put down the book, took her bear puppet and proceeded to tell the story orally, using the bear. I was just getting the hang of reading to kids in a group and I thought: wow, now that’s something different! Ever since I’ve been on the look out for new ways to share books and have regularly borrowed, adapted, or flat out copied ideas from others doing the same. Children’s librarians generally love to trade ideas and adapt them to our styles and situations. So I’ll share some here and hope a few of them take life somewhere else. Meanwhile I’m also hoping to get feedback from readers about your own experiences and ideas about telling without the book.
How can I find particular stories or story types? You can use the list of labels that always appears on the right. Entries are labeled according to the program/age level they work for: Toddler, Storytime, and K-2 are the main ones for now. There are also labels for the type of story: Puppets, Props, and Projectors for example. Also you can check the Index of Stories for an alphabetical list.