Not all storytime audiences are alike, even when comprised of the same children week after week. The same kids that behaved so attentively and enthusiastically a week before may not be inclined to do so the next week, which is fine – just as adults do not always respond to the same tasks with equal fervor, kids are not likely to behave just-so every time they sit down for a story. Maybe they have extra energy and don’t want to sit still, or maybe they’re just not into the stories being read this week. Maybe they want the songs and stretches, but not the sit down. In some storytime environments, restless kids have to be re-engaged or removed, but that doesn’t quite work with PTLL storytimes.
Compared to more formal storytime programs, the PTLL Monday storytime is a more free-form, open-ended process. We have a little routine – stretches, a song – then sometimes a game, a fingerplay, or another song. Sometimes we’ll bang on percussion instruments just to get out the noisy impulse. And most importantly, the kids don’t have to sit still when it comes time for the story. They can stand up, move around, come closer to the book, even walk away. If they want to come back for the craft, they can. No kid is forced to listen, no kid is forced to stay in the storytime area.
This might seem like it would lead to a chaotic storytime environment and, every once in a while (like today), it does. But for the most part, this free-form variation works well for the kids of the Toy Library. And the kind of storytime that suits an environment like this is not going to perfectly mirror the storytimes at other facilities. For one, at a library storytime, the storyteller can depend on parental presence to help keep the kids under control during the duration of the program. This is not the case at PTLL, when many of the parents are also working VOD shifts and cannot sit with their kids during the story.
Another big difference – unlike in a library or school, storytimes at PTLL are held amidst an eye-popping amount of play equipment. If a kid decides that he or she would rather bounce on a trampoline or ride a bike around the space than listen to a story, there’s not much of an argument one can make to persuade him or her otherwise. And without the parental presence, that persuasion would have to come at the expense of the storytime reading.
This is all a kind of explanation as to why, if you bring your kids to the PTLL storytime, it may look and feel a little different than other storytimes you and your kids are used to. As long as our kids enjoy it, that seems to be OK.
For this week’s storytime, we read what is bound to be a new classic amongst picture books:
I Want My Hat Back
by Jon Klassen
Bear has lost his favorite pointy red hat, but none of his fellow woodland creatures seem to have seen it. Is the hat lost… or stolen? Will Bear ever be reunited with his beloved hat?
If you and your kids have fallen in love with the warm, earthy style of Jon Klassen, be sure to check out these other titles that feature his illustrations:
Storytime is every Monday at 10 am and is intended for all ages.