Over the past few weeks, my storytime outreach has taken me on some wonderful new adventures. This week alone I’ve visited four different home daycare settings and done storytimes for some adorable babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Holly and I had a good laugh this Monday after I reported back to her that most of the kids at one of my storytimes seemed cranky and off. Well, Monday was Daylight Savings time. Also, I scheduled the storytime too close to lunch and nap. I’d never had this as an issue before because I usually do storytimes earlier or later in the day. As a parent, of course I completely understand why the babies and toddlers were off. Their whole schedule had been shifted thanks to DST. Of course! Note to self and to future storytime interns: don’t schedule storytimes 1) close to DST or 2) too close to lunch or nap. Poor babies! The great thing about this work is that there isn’t any judgement. I’m just a lady trying to read and sing and dance with little kids. If there are extenuating circumstances, such as some arbitrary clock change that wreaks havoc on most of us, let’s be honest, everything is still going to be ok. I’m very comfortable shifting quickly from one activity to the next and have been able to continue to add to my bag of tricks over the course of my internship.
Working with so many schools and businesses in the community continues to bring me to new experiences each week. Since my last blog post, I’ve performed three storytimes at MCC Academy, an Islamic school with pre-K through 8th grade, District 68’s Early Childhood Center which offers preschool to special education students and for English language learners ages three through five. I’ve also been webcast from one classroom at Madison School to another so that kids of all abilities could experience the storytime where they were. I’ve walked into a classroom ready to perform what I thought was an inclusive storytime only to realize that my repertoire to accommodate a child in a walker or stander is still limited. Holly and I have talked about “universally designing” storytime so that as many kids as possible can participate fully in all of the physical movements. This has led me to think so much more about how I plan what we will do in storytime as I want to be able to accommodate as many children as possible. After performing my storytime to two classes at Madison school one morning, I returned to read to the afternoon classes with a visual schedule (see image above for an example of one of the visuals) for those who may benefit from knowing when I’d be transitioning from one activity to the next. I noticed that the classrooms had such transitions and I knew that I could bring in my own. Honestly, it’s nice to have a visual schedule for myself! Then I don’t forget what comes next after I get a little too crazy dancing the “Winter Pokey” with 25 preschoolers.
Being mindful of our community, I also try to include books in my storytime that are representative of our very diverse community. I’m grateful to work with such experienced librarians as Holly Jin, who helped me to locate one such item after mentioning to her that I hadn’t come across one in a hurried visit to the board books the previous day.
I read the book to a very diverse group of twos and toddlers this morning. When I read about skin, hair and eye colors the kids enthusiastically chimed in when they could identify with what the author had written. Even at age 2! When I stood up to leave and a two year old commented that I was “very big,” (at 6’2” I know that ‘big’ means ‘extremely tall’ – I get it). I referred back to the book and recited “‘I have long legs’ – just like (a character) in the book!”