Ask a Storytime Ninja: The Dreaded Storytime Interview

Raise your hand if you had to give a storytime during an interview. I personally think it’s one of the worst things ever. The interviewer is asking an anxious and stressed person to pretend to read to a bunch of 3 year olds, who are really a bunch of adults who are deciding your fate. Not an easy situation to be in! Let’s see what our ninjas have to say this week.


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The Question:

I am looking to advance in my career as a storytime person. I have an interview coming up and I need to present a preschool storytime as part of the process. I have many titles going around in my head, but can you suggest some other titles. The stress is clouding my views. Thank you.


The Answers:


From Shelley:

What an awesome question there are so many choices. When I plan my storytimes, I pick a theme for each class. It helps me organize my thoughts into developing a plan. I search for books that will fit the theme from my past classes, new books to our collection, blog posts, and colleague suggestions. Books that invite participation and are funny will help you make a connection with your kids. Practice with the books you choose and make sure you like them. Here are some of my favorites titles, good luck and have fun!


Bark George by Jules Pfeiffer
Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Willems
Day Out with Dad by Stephen Cook
Wolf’s Coming by Joe Kulka
Peanut by Linas Alsenas
Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks
Off We Go A Bear and Mole Story by Will Hillenbrand
Big Smelly Bear by Britta Techentrup
Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin
Head to Toe by Eric Carle



From Valerie:

I agree with Shelley that creating a theme can be very helpful when planning a storytime. Going even further, I try to follow a formula for my storytimes so I know there are a variety of engaging activities built into each one. My formula is: welcome song, one book that I simply read to the kids, song based on the theme, one interactive element such as a finger play, one flannel board/puppet show/magnetic story to emphasize that storytelling is a multifaceted art, and an activity for participants such as a coloring page related to my theme. Creating your own formula and having a theme may help you focus your choices.


I would also suggest bringing some props with you to the interview, even if all you have is a sock for a puppet. This shows that you are prepared for and committed to the material and your preschool audience. It can also help take some of your jitters away as the focus of your audience, in this case your interviewer(s), will shift from you to the puppet/prop.


Here are some great books I would suggest:

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
Parts by Ted Arnold
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff
Don’t Squish the Sasquatch by Kent Redeker
I’m A Shark by Bob Shea
Gary and Ray by Sarah Adams


Whatever book(s) you choose, just make sure to have fun with them. As I say to my parents in storytime, if you’re engaged and having fun the kids (and in this case the interviewers) will be sure to have fun too. Good luck!


From Lisa:

Okay, take a deep breath. Now take another. And another.


Now close your eyes and think about what you LOVE to do at your story times. What book is the one you love to share? What song or game or fingerplay is THE surefire hit–the one the kids want to do over and over, or the one that you find always gets them singing along?


I don’t know how much time you have, but don’t build an earnest program filled with what you think you SHOULD be doing, or so that everything fits the theme regardless of your taste. I was a self conscious, BAD storyteller until I threw away the rule book and discovered my joy in what I did.


I recently interviewed several people for an assistant’s job. One of them was a young man who clearly wants to do YA work. But he interviewed and read “Frederick” by Leo Lionni with huge enthusiasm and great delivery–and while we didn’t hire him, I know he will be a great YA librarian soon! And the young woman who is now my assistant read “Click Clack Moo, Cows That Type” by Doreen Cronin. Both her book choice and her sense of fun in the delivery convinced everyone she was the one we wanted to hire–and I love having her here.

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