Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Snacks in Storytime

Here’s our newest Lightning Round question! These questions are posed to all of our ninjas instead of just our featured monthly ones and are meant to be quick and efficient responses to some interesting inquiries. Here’s our question for this week which we’ve had a lot of responses for so this one’s a tid bit longer than most:

 

lighnting_round

 

The Question:

 

“What is your opinion on snacks as a regular part of storytime? I’ve seen mixed reviews/policy on this.”

 

The Answers: Nope! (And we had a lot of nos but we’ve limited it to four responses.)

 

From Sue J.:

 

As soon as a snack is opened, or opening, I have lost the crowd. All heads turn to the offending noisy wrapper. I say no to snacks….along the lines of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”….I think it opens far too many cans of worms with allergies, sharing, messes etc.

 

From Lisa M.:

 

No snacks! We don’t even let kids/parents bring their own snacks in for story time. Story time (and all library programs) should be for EVERYONE. There are a lot of allergies and different food lifestyles out there and we just can’t accommodate them. By allowing in or providing food, you are excluding these people. We do have a designated eating area in our library and if people need a snack, they are welcome to visit this area before or after our programs.

 

From Eve P.:

 

Regarding snacks as a regular part of storytime, I say no! There are so many children with food allergies – eggs, wheat, rice, gluten, nuts, milk – that it is very difficult to address everyone’s allergies safely. Also, mixing food with books sets a bad example. I don’t want my patrons to think it is OK to handle a book while eating. Books are food for the mind – that’s food enough for me!

 

From Katya S.:

 

In my large library system, we don’t allow food outside of designated areas, so food at storytime isn’t an option. We have so many different potential allergies and dietary needs that feeding kids is messy and impractical for us. I occasionally have food in programs but really only for children over 9. I also lavish the teens with candy.

 

The Answers: Sometimes! (And we had a few in-betweens but we’ve limited it to four responses.)

 

From Nancy M.:

 

Personally, I prefer a craft to snacks. I always worry about leaving a child without because of allergies or family food policies. The only time I have given snacks is when I did our “bedtime” storytime as their bedtime snack and then it was just a very small treat–a few pretzel sticks or a pack of fruit gummies. However, I work in a middle class suburb. If I worked in a library serving a less affluent community, I’d consider providing healthy snacks with grant monies or community donations.

 

From Tess P. (@tess1144, www.inclusiveearlyliteracy.wordpress.com):

 

First, let me say, I love food. But snacks as a regular part of storytime, no, I am not into that mess thanks! But…for special occasion programs, like for instance the Caldecott Picture Book Party or Shamrock Shenanigans or Winter Whimsy or Spring has Sprung Storytimes, I do like to include a cookie decorating station as one of the activities that take place after the stories and songs. We always have at least one craft or art activity going on concurrently so even kids who can’t do the cookie activity will have something fun to do at another station.

 

From Ann S.:

 

I don’t serve snacks on a regular basis during story time because we have a policy that only allows prepackaged foods to be served. We also have several children with food allergies that regularly attend our story times. If parents want to bring a snack for their child to eat that is fine as long as it doesn’t contain nuts, the child sits at one of our tables to eat it, the drink is in a lidded container and no food or drink is near our computers. We allow this because we don’t know if a child is diabetic and required to eat at regular intervals. I have also found that a hungry toddler is a cranky toddler so am more than willing to allow parents to give their little ones something to eat.

 

From Natalie K. (www.talesfromthenerdy.wordpress.com):

 

We don’t have snacks in our regular storytime programs. A traditional storytime for us includes books, flannel stories, songs, a movie, and a craft for them to take home. We have created a Lunch Buddies program for children ages 3-5. The children bring their lunch and we provide them with snacks and drinks. We run a program before they eat and then enjoy quiet time together as they have lunch.

 

The Answers: Yes!

 

From Karen H.:

 

We allow snacks during storytime but the parents provide it for their own kids. I do baby storytime so its not too much trouble. :)

 

From Angela R. (@annavalley):

 

We’ve had great success with our “Milk & Cookies” storytime. We offer a peanut-free cookie, milk, and juice (for the lactose intolerant children). This is after storytime has done, and it gives parents & kids a time to chat & play. We also put toys out at this time. When we stopped offering the milk & cookies, people stopped coming, so we re-instated it. Food is a big thing around here, and so we continue. What works best for your community is the way to go.

 

Thanks for all the great responses everyone! Do you have any of your own? We’d love to hear about them in the comments and I’ll post some of the other awesome answers we got that we couldn’t feature on the post!

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7 thoughts on “Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Snacks in Storytime

  1. Profile photo of Soraya Silverman-MontanoSoraya Silverman-Montano Post author

    From Kelly M. (@MsKellyTweets, http://mskellyatthelibrary.blogspot.com/)

    As much as I love including snacks as part of my school age programming, I really don’t see a need to make it a regular part of story times. Another reason for not including snacks is allergies. Little ones (or even their parents) may not know about any allergies just yet, so it becomes a little bit more risky. Depending on the size of your storytimes serving snacks regularly may not be cheap either. All in all I think there are better ways to spend time and resources.

  2. Profile photo of Soraya Silverman-MontanoSoraya Silverman-Montano Post author

    From Melissa D. (@MelissaZD, http://melissa.depperfamily.net/blog)
    Forgoing snacks is easier because it’s one less thing to plan for, cheaper, safer because many children must deal with severe allergies or special diet restrictions that are not always obvious or commonplace, and more respectful because you are making it possible for all kids to participate no matter what their diet, cultural, or family needs. This is a separate issue than allowing caregivers to give snacks to their own children during storytime (which can depend on your individual needs and overarching library rules), and it’s a separate issue from sharing food in teen programs (where the kids are often old enough to know more about what they can and can’t eat and navigate options better than toddlers and preschoolers).

  3. Profile photo of Soraya Silverman-MontanoSoraya Silverman-Montano Post author

    From Colleen M. (@library_colleen, http://www.misscolleenscorner.wordpress.com )
    I have never offered a snack as a regular part of storytime. I feel likeit’s just not something that our library can afford to budget for and if it’s anything like when I started offering crafts, I can’t NOT do it without risking much disappointment.
    I love the idea of it, but with a regular attendance of 40+ children for my preschool storytime, twice a week, I just don’t personally feel comfortable with the responsibility and cost.

  4. Profile photo of Soraya Silverman-MontanoSoraya Silverman-Montano Post author

    From Gina D.
    I think food is a tricky subject. I’ve had many food specific programs where some in attendance could not eat the snack due to dietary restrictions or food allergies. Healthier snack items can also become spoiled quicker than some other options. In my opinion, snacks can be a fun way to promote certain programs but it is too tricky to include it with every program, especially regular storytimes. Save the snacks for special occasions and special storytime programs.

  5. Profile photo of BrytaniBrytani

    I’m with Mel on this. Snacks are not a part of MY offerings in storytime, but I don’t have any problem with a parent giving his child a snack during craft or playtime. I can see how it could be disruptive during storytime, but so far, I don’t think anyone has been doing this in my sessions. After Baby Bounce, during our playtime/social hour, moms always share communal snacks with the kids. It’s become a kind of fellowship.

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