There are probably as many different baby storytimes as there are librarians who provide them, but here’s a little bit about my baby storytime: what I do and what works for me. On Wednesday, I will also be publishing a post on what I wish I’d known about baby storytime when I started my job.
Baby storytime at our library is about 20-25 minutes long. Our age range for it is birth to 18 months, although we are loose with that. Some babies like to stay a little bit longer before they are ready to move up to our much more active and busy toddler time (more on that next week), and some are ready to move up a bit earlier. I tell parents to go where their baby seems to be having the most fun and is the most comfortable.
Baby storytime is full of lots of repetitive elements that we do every week. Here’s the plan from the last baby storytime I planned: baby_storytime_11_12_14. Although I like to mix up the rhymes for myself to keep it fresh, I also try to make sure that we do a lot of things over and over so the babies and parents know what to expect, can sing along, and get lots of that repetition that we know is so important for baby brains. (Along with that, we do all of the rhymes and songs twice.) There are a lot of rhymes on this sheet–we never get to all of them. I just like to over-plan, and then I can pick and choose the elements I feel like using on the day of storytime. As you can see, I don’t use a theme in my baby storytime.
Every week we include some kind of tactile element for the babies. I love using scarves, stuffies, and shaker eggs in baby storytime. Our storytimes have become quite big lately, which is fun, but also means that passing around everything takes a long time. We used to do Old MacDonald every week where every child got a stuffed animal to go along with the song, but now we don’t have enough stuffed animals, so I only do it on days where attendance is low. But shaker eggs are a must. We do them every week, and whenever I get the basket of eggs out, everyone gets so excited. I love to use scarves, too, although we don’t necessarily use them every week.
We do two books a week. We always, always, read So Big, which I’ve talked about here. Then we use one other book. I like to use books I can sing, books with very few words on the page, and books that have a rhyming, singsong rhythm. Sometimes, we don’t get to the second book. If the energy is too high, I will just do more songs and bounces, rather than trying to force a book. We always start and end with the same song, I Am Special, that the babies love. It’s great to watch them learn the hand motions that go along with the song–they get so excited about knowing it!
So that’s my baby storytime! Here are some invaluable resources that I used a ton when I started baby storytimes (and still check regularly):
Abby the Librarian posts a lot about baby storytimes and regularly posts books to try. When I’m feeling the need for new books to use in my baby storytimes, I love to check out her blog.
Mel’s Desk is full of amazing storytime ideas, rhymes (I use her “This is Big” rhyme every single week and it’s such a hit), flannel boards, and themes for baby storytime.
Jbrary has a great baby storytime resource page with lots of links to great ideas and content.
Although I only recently discovered it, What’ll I Do With the Baby-O by Jane Cobb is a super amazing resource for baby storytimes.
This survey from the Show Me Librarian has a lot of great books to use in baby storytime.
Also, here’s a link to some materials I used when I co-presented on the basics of baby storytime at the CLEL (Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy) conference this year. There’s lots of other great training materials from all of the CLEL conferences here.
If you have any tips or tricks from baby storytime to share, please do so in the comments!