Storytimes At Home: A How-To Guide


Have you ever wondered about storytimes and how your children’s librarian is so good at it? Here is our tried and true advice on how to put on a great storytime from home.

First, keep in mind the reasons for putting on a storytime. As literacy advocates, we use it as a way to expose kids to excellent literature, beautiful artwork, and get them on track to become lifelong learners and literacy enthusiasts. It also gives kids a chance to learn to follow directions, practice paying attention, and get them ready to learn to read! Alright, pick a comfy position - seated or standing is up to you - and let’s start storytime!

Pick a handful of your favorite books and songs. Intersperse the books with songs, rhymes, flannels, puppets, or other toys. At the library, every storyteller has at least one welcoming and one ending song or rhyme that they repeat at every storytime, and our weekly regular participants look forward to these rituals!

Read your longest book first and be sure to include a song or rhyme that gets the body moving somewhere in your storytime session! If you’re not a good singer - that's OK! Use recorded music or maybe even play an instrument! Be flexible - if it seems like the book or song isn’t jiving with your crowd, feel free to move on or improvise something your audience might enjoy more. Certain books work better in storytime than others. Choose books with bright and colorful images, short blocks of text, and repeatable predictable segments. Make sure everyone can see the pictures! Trucks, dinosaurs, farm animals or getting dressed are generally very popular themes.

It’s important to interact with your kids. A storytime is not a monologue so encourage participation! Have any adults or older children nearby sing along, react to the stories, and follow along with the fingerplays. Be sure to make the story interactive by doing things like asking open ended questions, having kids guess what might happen next, and making the appropriate sound effects.

When should you avoid storytimes? You know your children best so be attentive to their needs. Do storytimes when the child is fed, alert, healthy and is less likely to fuss. If it really seems like they’re done for the day, don’t make a big deal out of it - come back at a better time.

Cultivating storytime skills takes time so don’t worry if it didn’t go as planned the first few times. Slow down your pace and practice. Everyone does it differently, and over time you will develop your own style!

On behalf of all children’s librarians here at Santa Clara County Library District, I want to wholeheartedly thank you for supporting us. We miss you all so much and hope we can read and sing together soon at the library!

Below are some fantastic resources if you need book or song recommendations:

Check out your librarian's online storytimes for inspiration!