1:15 yesterday. I am just sitting down to eat my lunch after a busy morning helping the Director prepare for the evening Board of Trustees meeting. I have been working on the strategic plan, on compiling a spreadsheet and chasing down staff members for info, on writing a justification for a promotion. My mind is NOT on storytime….and at 1:15, up pops the reminder on my computer: Storytime for Big Kids starts in 15 minutes. Eek!!
Never before have I completely forgotten to get ready for storytime. Fortunately, doing storytimes for 30 years leaves me able to spring into action pretty quickly, so I pull together the books for today’s theme, dinosaurs. I grab some dinosaur cut-outs for tags. I grab my storytime pal Puddles, and I am ready to go.
Except I’m not. Because I ran into storytime at the last second and was all jangly and still startled, I set a tone of being frenetically cheery. Kids, of course, pick up on your mood quickly, so we were not off to a good start. And let me tell you, if you aren’t projecting calm and quiet, you are going to have a heck of a time getting the kids to sit quietly to listen.
And then there was that theme…dinosaurs. I have a lot of rambunctious little boys in this group, so I thought it would be a good match. I was wrong for a couple of reasons.
Dinosaurs are not calm, either. They are ferocious, and exciting, and a teensy bit scary, which I belatedly realized as I watched a little girl surreptitiously edge toward the door to try to see where her mother was.
And books about dinosaurs are short short short. You would think that with a short-attention span group, you would want to use short snappy stories, but in fact the opposite is true. It is only in a longer, engaging story that the most active kids have a chance to settle in and calm down and really begin to follow the story with interest. Quick stories mean a lot more transitioning between activities, and every time they have to settle themselves back down. It’s too hard!
Finally, the other big mistake with my theme is that they do LOVE dinosaurs! They want to come right up to Tyrannosaurus Was a Beast to point out different parts of the dinosaurs. Every page turn is another trip up to the front to check out Triceratops or Stegosaurus with all of the accompanying cries of “I can’t see!” from the seated children. But although they love dinosaurs, they have no clue that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago. It’s not especially funny to them to see dinosaurs wearing clothes, like in the cute and interactive Dini Dinosaur. As far as they know, the dinosaurs back then DID wear clothes and take baths in a bathtub. You can really spin your wheels trying to help them to understand that better.
So, all in all, not the most successful of storytimes. And yet, I still loved getting to leave the grown-up spreadsheets and strategic plans behind and go spend some time with the kids and the stories. It always keeps me in touch with why we bother with all of that work of running the library. The spreadsheets and strategic plans make the storytime possible, so I’ll try to keep that in mind as I work on them. And next week, I will try very hard to remember to get the stories AND myself prepared on time.