I love storytime.
I do not love the stigma that storytime, and Children’s librarians in general, seem to carry.
It is hard having to justify my job, and my Master’s degree, to people who don’t really understand what I do, which is not only the public, but sometimes the library board, the director, and coworkers in other departments.
Wait, you’re a children’s librarian, right? Does that mean all you do is read books to kids all day?
That’s like saying, Oh, you’re a chef? Does that mean all you do is peel potatoes?
Or this conversation:
Person I’ve just met that finds out I’m a librarian: I’m looking for a new job. What you do sounds really fun. I think I should be a librarian. I love reading stories to kids. Are you guys hiring?
Me: Well, do you have a Master’s degree in the Library field?
PIJMTFOIAL: No. You need a Master’s to read stories? That seems like a waste of money. Do they teach you how to do voices?
…What? I’m sorry. Can you please explain to me why you’re attempting to belittle my degree right now? Also, how’s the view from your high horse?
I’m not discussing the professionalism of being a Librarian today. I’m talking about the importance of storytime. Why it’s important. Why it’s not just reading stories. Why you should sing and dance and be excited. At the library, in school, or at home. Why it’s important to be informed about WHY we are doing the things we do as librarians. Yes, I do read stories, and sing, and dance, and count, and play, and do yoga. We use flannel boards, and magnetic boards, and the projector. And we do it for a reason.
I came across this article the other day, and it really helped me to know that I’m not alone in my justification of storytime. I’m ‘fighting the good fight’ with children’s librarians everywhere. Sure, I can talk until I’m blue in the face about language acquisition through song, and coordination through dance and movement games, but this article does it so nicely.
Librarians might not be experts, but there are those of us who are DAMN GOOD at what we do.
I choose songs not only to reflect a theme, but also as instances of sound, rhythm, and language. Songs that make you smile, and giggle, and want to dance.
I choose counting songs, letter songs, cumulative songs to work on our sequencing, our phonics, and our memory.
We’re up and down, and all around during storytime. The more movement, the more focus, the more fun. We’re improving our mental and physical bodies. Balance, hand-eye co-ordination, body awareness, and sequencing again (depending on the song).
We’re modeling positive reading behavior, bringing about print awareness, demonstrating how much fun words can be. We aren’t passively handing a preliterate child a book and expecting them to be a genius and get it right off the bat. No one is good at anything without practice.
And even if you are good at something, you ALWAYS have room for improvement, and positive experiences reinforce that.