Just last week, I reached a pinnacle of achievement in my storytime career — I reached my one-year anniversary. Meaning, I joined the Frisco Public Library story time loop in the Fall of 2010. And now here we are, one year later, and I’m still shaking my sillies out.
After performing three seasons of story time (Fall, Spring and Summer), I’ve decided that I now have a favorite season of storytime. They don’t seem like they could be much different, but seasons of storytime are comparable to semesters of school. The summer semester is rushed and restless. The spring is fresh but just a little antsy for some new things. And the fall? The fall semester is like a whole new era.
Just as kids move up through the grades, children graduate storytimes. This Fall, all the children in my Toddler, Preschool, and Bedtime programs are mostly new faces, just waiting to see what it is we do in this program that’s so different from their last program. In Toddlers, I’m getting a whole new batch of Babies and Books graduates. In Preschool, everyone looks different because somehow those little faces just change so much between the ages of three and four. With Bedtime, since it’s all ages, I’ve got some newcomers — and I’ve still got my die hard regulars. (Which really makes me feel good; to know that a child I’ve grown fond of hasn’t yet outgrown me.)
Sure, I get a little sad when I open the storytime doors and a child I was looking forward to seeing has now moved on. But I look on the bright side. You see, repetition is the key to early learning when it comes to young children. I’ve shook my sillies out, danced to the Goodbye Song, and acted out the Bedtime stretch for three seasons now. And those children loved every minute of it. But those children have all graduated.
So this season, I’ve taken advantage (as I suspect many of my storytiming partners have as well; when Fall programming arrives you can hear a collective sigh emanate from our workroom). With the help of our new librarian and my new storytime partner, Bonnie Barber, we’ve instituted some new opening dance songs, learned some new transitional rhymes, and even said goodbye to the Goodbye Song and hello to Clap Your Hands. Bonnie has also helped all of us institute American Sign Language into all of our Toddler storytimes — something we’re all excited to learn more about.
After three seasons, change to the routine is so very welcome. I’ve come to learn that there’s just something about August (at least my August.) Summer reading is over, things are cooling down, and everyone on staff has just a little time to rest and recuperate which always gets our collective creative brain moving. We all actively seek out new rhymes and think of new ways to incorporate early literacy learning into our story times; we brainstorm new ways to help parents and caregivers raise lifelong learners. And this year, we even got a treat as the ALA updated the six pre-reading skills we highlight in every story time. In August, the workroom is just bursting with ideas and September is that wonderful time where we implement everything new without yet seeing any potential flaws. It’s a great time.
And of course, some old standards still apply. Some storytimers couldn’t part with the Goodbye Song quite yet. Many of us have that one book we insist on reading every season, whether or not it goes with the theme.
And yes, we still shake our sillies out.