Ask A Storytime Ninja: Adapting Storytime for the K-2 crowd

Have you ever struggled with storytimes for older audiences? Then you’re in luck because we have some great ninja replies this week!




The Question: 

I currently work mostly with babies and toddlers, but with a new STEAM-y program starting in January, I will be adding K-2nd to the mix. The majority of the program will be stations, but I want to do a brief Storytime to start each program. What would you say are the biggest differences in adapting yourself, and your routine, to an older group?


The Answers:


Emily says: 

Having just made this addition in programming myself, I hope I can share some ideas! The biggest differences are going to be the children’s capabilities. Unlike toddlers and preschoolers, K-2nd graders are able to…


1. READ. Storytimes with a younger crowd meant selecting some other picture books for parents to take home and read with their kids. Now, you want to have a selection of topic-related books at a level where the kids can check them out and read them on their own (early readers, small chapter books, etc.).

2. Recognize the library as a tool, not just for recreation. Since these kids are now going to school, you’ll want to shift your focus a bit when showcasing your library. Tell the kids what sorts of homework helps are available or other such aids.

3. Be without their parents. Because these kids go to school, they’re used to spending a lot of their day without parents/caregivers. They’ll be more independent at your program, so make sure all of your focus is on the kids and how to help them.



These are just small adaptations, really. In the end, just like with early literacy programs, your first goal will be always to promote the books and materials available at the library and to build children’s love of reading.


Anita says: 

This will be your chance to expand favorite stories in new ways and add to your repertoire! The change will not be so great – a little longer of a story, and adding a discovery connection for your station will be the challenge. The songs and fingerplays will not be as important for this group, but they do like complicated clapping like Mary Mack or Long Legged Spider. If you have used picture walking for stories that are too long for younger audiences, you can now use these in the fuller form. These titles may include Lon Popo by Young, Mufaro’s Beautiful Daughters by Steptoe or Strega Nona by DePaolo. Then, compare Folk and Fairy tales or Fiction vs. non-fiction and set stations to create types of puppets (finger, stick, string) or shoebox theaters to practice sequence.

You may take a title like Gertrude McFuzz in Yertle the Turtle by Suess, add a non-fiction companion about feathers like Feathers and Flight by Coupe or Bird by Knopf and get a connection to your discovery stations about different types of feathers, flying or textures. Maybe add glue for a collage or paint to make prints and discover patterns.

You might stack a pop-up with a picture book, like Bam Bam by Merriam and Big Dig by Crews or America by Sabuda about construction for matching themes and expand concepts with stations for building with marshmallows and spaghetti or chenille stems and beads or straws and pasta or simply blocks and discover simple physics.

The beginning to read section has many favorites that could link to discovery station ideas……you already have a good base from early story hours – this is a chance to use some of those beautiful stories that were a little too long for preschool and make an interactive connections.



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