Ask a Storytime Ninja: The Show Stealer

This question really stumped our ninjas! Do you have a solution? Let us know what you do in the comments!




The Question:

What do you do with the show-stealing kid? When you’re in the middle of reading a book or leading a song or whatever and one of your storytime angels gets up and decides to interrupt/stand in front of you/make random comments about how much s/he likes or hates the book/etc.? What’s the best way to keep everyone else engaged while redirecting the interrupting angel?


The Answer


Ellen says: 

Aah, the show stealer! There’s one in every storytime, isn’t there? I usually try not to indulge. As long as they are not harming themselves or others, I try to ignore the behavior and usually they stop. Sometimes, if they are being extremely disruptive, I try to quickly and quietly say something along the lines of “Let’s share after our story, okay?” Mostly I have found that if I generally ignore the commentary from the peanut gallery, it stops after a minute or so because I’m bigger and louder and holding an interesting book/flannel/etc.


I have also found that if things are getting out of hand with the whole group, I start reading very very quietly, the kids often stop and focus on me. My theory is that they think they are missing something important (and they are, the story!) and it might be really great but they won’t know what happens if they’re talking over me. I have had this work with varying success, and sometimes I have to try it and then abandon it because it’s not working, but it’s worth a try.



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2 thoughts on “Ask a Storytime Ninja: The Show Stealer

  1. Profile photo of BrytaniBrytani

    I get this all the time. Everyone does it from time to time and it’s usually not a pattern with my crowd. Sometimes giving the child a knowing smile or making eye contact with his/her adult is enough. Other times I address them directly. “Wow, I love that you know all the names of these fish. You are so smart. Right now, though, I want us to practice our listening ears. Let’s see everyone put them on (tug on ears). This means our lips are quiet so everyone can hear and our bottoms are on the floor so everyone can see.” It’s no fun to stop a story to call someone out, but addressing the whole group as a reminder is a way to take out the sting. If they still don’t get it and an adult isn’t stepping in, I’d do my best to ignore the child and maybe even occasionally say, when he/she is being quiet, “I love it when you’re all quiet and listening. Look how nice Anna is being today. She’s sitting on the floor and watching me. I like it so much!”

    And maybe a transition song with strong clues about behavior could help, too. I like, “If You’re Ready for a Story” sung to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.” You can include all kinds of directions in that song.

  2. Profile photo of PollyPolly

    We had one kid who used to do this all the time! We found the best thing was redirection: “that’s so interesting, ‘Jamie’! Look, there’s a frog mat on the floor over there; I think the frog is lonely, you better go keep him company” (this can result in the whole class wanting to keep the frog company, but usually they’re just glad ‘Jamie’ is being distracted!). Worse case scenario, you have to abandon the book and sing–usually it doesn’t last through a song. The program I’m thinking of is an old-school preschool story time with no parents, so it is all on us and, usually with a combination of redirection, peer pressure (the other kids do not like it) and occasionally starting to sing randomly and loudly, it works out. You may also want to want to plan story time around loud, active books for a week or two when this has been a problem recently. If the whole crowd is roaring along with Dinosaur vs Bedtime (Bob Shea) or wiggling along with Can You Make a Scary Face (Jan Thomas), it’s harder for the star to get hold of anyone’s attention!

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