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Storytime Best Practices

Page history last edited by Kristin Rama 12 years ago

Rethinking Themes in Preschool Storytime

Would preschool storytime service its clients best if a policy of repetition with variation rather than themes became the basis for planning programs?

Findings in brain research suggest that learning is comprised of connections made within the brain. One piece of information that has no repeat experiences is eventually pruned away, but repeated activities create new experiences that build upon each other, increasing the synapses and the actual weight of the brain. Novelty and challenge that are connected to a prior experience strengthen and enrich the connections.

Most library literature on programming for preschoolers focuses on themes. Librarians are encouraged to choose a topic for each session, building programs around it utilizing picture books, songs, finger plays, music, and crafts. Although a standard opening and closing ritual may repeat, the core of traditional preschool storytimes based on themes includes mostly new material. There is little continuity from week to week. Children are exposed to many books, but do not have the opportunity to experience them using a variety of senses.

What would happen if one book was repeated in variety of ways for six consecutive preschool storytime session? These sessions could be focused on themes or not, but each time the one chosen book would be used, taking into consideration:

• Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and the domains of school readiness (social and emotional well-being, health and physical well-being, positive approaches to learning, and general knowledge as well as language and literacy development) to create quality library programs for children,
• The desire to create optimum learning environments where emergent literacy activities build upon a child’s natural playful way of learning,
• Exploration of new ways to approach and present books, songs and stories that engage the senses in many varied contexts,
• Potential to provide some take-home resources to storytime participants to assist them in continuing growth and creativity outside of the library,

Here are some questions to get started:

• Does using repetition with variety in preschool storytimes help to increase school readiness skills of preschoolers?
• What is the value of using themes in preschool storytime? Is if mainly for the ease of the librarian in programming or is there a value for the children attending the program?
• Does repetition with variety make planning easier for children’s librarians? Does it take less planning time or more time?
• Is it more satisfying or less satisfying to the librarians presenting the programs?
• How do children react when a librarian presents the same book for six weeks in a row? Are they bored or do they enjoy interacting with the book in different ways each week?
• Are there certain activities that work better than others when integrating repetition with variety?
• Is there a particular type of book that lends itself better to repetition with variety than other?

At the ALA session, I expect to use some picture books to show how a book can be presented in different ways. Then we will break into groups and each group will have a chance to brainstorm together to create programs related to the their assigned books. When we regroup, we were share some of the ideas.

This session is based on book I have written with a colleague, Melanie Hetrick (Transforming Preschool Storytime http://www.neal-schuman.com/tps), as well as a Converstation which I facilitated at PLA in Philadelphia earlier this year.



Repeated Interactive Read-Alouds in Preschool and Kindergarten - Reading Rockets

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