This may sound bananas to all you seasoned children’s librarians, but I haven’t been doing themed storytimes for toddlers. I know! It’s crazy. My flawed reasoning has been that we have a revolving team of children’s librarians here, so I only get to do Toddler Time once a month or so. I was afraid that doing a theme was only for librarians with a consistent storytime schedule and a regular group of program participants. My typical tactic was just to bring my best, A-game material to storytime without a specific theme in mind.
I know. That sounds nonsensical.
I’ve seen the light now, and have started banging out themed storytimes.
I thought I’d share my Letter B storytime, which was highly successful. I haven’t gotten so many compliments from caregivers in ages. One participant, a self-admitted seasoned storytime goer, said that this was the best storytime they had been to in a long time and that they felt that the topic I covered would actually stick with their child.
I set the theme by sticking this up to the wall and adding it to my handouts:
I am going to make a glittery frame for future storytime signs like this, but this time I just taped it up as is.
I started with my typical storytime starters: A hello song (I like this one), our ABCs (I used the ABC Stop Song, too, which I talk about here), and This is Big, Big, Big (which, by coincidence, is a song that has the letter B in it!).
I then launched into Bread and Butter, which is really sung best by those rad Jbrary ladies.
I mentioned that bread and butter are words that begin with B, and that now we were going to read a book about blueberries, which also begins with B. We read One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano, which is a solid counting book.
I reiterated that the word “blueberries” begins with the letter B and that’s the letter we were going to talk about today. I pulled out a big, laminated letter B, which I affixed to this box, which has velcro tabs on it so that I can switch out the letter for every new storytime:
Then, I brought out Pogo. This was Pogo’s debut! First, she made her rounds kissing all the kiddos. I was afraid that maybe some of the children would be scared of her, but she was really well-received. After Pogo made her entrance, I explained that Pogo LOVES to eat things that start with the letter B. From the above box, I pulled out a toy broccoli, plastic bananas, a tiny boat, and a book. As I did so, Pogo loudly devoured each item. It was a real crowd-pleaser.
We then went into our next book, the deceptively simple-looking My Bus by Byron Barton, which is just one of my all-time favorite toddler picks. This book has everything! It’s got transportation! It’s got counting! It’s got animals! And, of course, it’s got the letter B.
I then went into three B-letter songs: Here is the Beehive, Two Little Butterflies (I did this song using two butterfly finger puppets), and Icky Sticky Bubblegum (I particularly enjoy Lisa Murphy’s videos. I wish she had more!).
Our last story was Big Bug by Henry Cole.
At the end of every storytime, I give every kid a hand stamp. Giving out stamps usually consists of the kids just running at me really fast, crushing me against the table, pushing each other, and crying. This time, I was lucky enough to have my coworker Emma help me out (my supervisors started assigning a “helper” to each storytime and I really appreciate it). She put down a duct tape line for the children to try to line up on. I reminded the caregivers that when children start attending Pre-K, lining up will be a skill they have to acquire. It was OK if they didn’t get it perfect today, but it was something they should consider practicing. The tears were non-existent this day. Every child got a gold letter B stamp so that they could be reminded of the letter B all day long.
As the children somewhat patiently waited for their stamps, I played this song:
This may seem all very Toddler Time 101 to you all, but I really felt like I hit my stride here.
~Love and Libraries, Ingrid