Monday, August 27, 2012

What to do on a programming off-week: Take-Home Story Time Kits

Today marks the beginning of two story time program off-weeks in my branch. It's not unusual for us to have an off-week about once a month--that week off provides time for staff to regroup, recharge, and plan for the next three-week story time series. We're taking two full weeks off this time, though, for a number of reasons: summer reading was hectic and requires time to recover; we've got some early literacy trainings this week; and Labor Day closures affect the library's schedules. All good reasons to take a little break, I think.

But just because library staff are living by a different schedule for these off-weeks doesn't mean that our customers are. How do you meet customer demand for librarian-mediated story times when you're giving your staff a much-needed rest? Enter the take-home story time kit, available for regular check-out during programming off-weeks.

Every take-home story time kit I assemble includes two or three books loosely on a theme--think farm animals, things that go, princess stories, etc., whatever your kiddos are into. To top off the stories, I include a children's CD that includes music similar to what we might include in our traditional story times. These stacks of materials get bundled together and tied with a pretty bow. To finish off the whole appealing package, I add a bright label that gives the kit's theme and simple instructions: "Take twenty minutes to read these books and listen to or sing songs on this CD with your child. Talk about the books' pictures and what happens in the stories. Draw a picture about the theme when you're done!" Ta-da! Brief, simple instructions for an at-home story time.

I love several things about these take-home story time kits. First, they meet some of the demands of our customers for programming during those weeks when we're taking breaks from traditional story time programs--there's never complete radio silence between customers and story time providers. Second, they emphasize the importance of having story times at home, be they formal or informal. Third, they entreat caregivers to engage in ECRR-recommended practices with their children without ever sounding pedagogical. Fourth, they are pretty quick to assemble. And lastly, they are so pretty! Don't you think they're pretty?

Caregivers who frequent my branch enjoy knowing that they can rely on the library to equip them to provide literacy-positive activities for their young ones even when our program room doors are shut. And that's part of the whole goal, right? To empower readers and those who raise readers. My staff may be resting over the next two weeks, but the library kiddos are still very much engaged with stories.

16 comments:

  1. Amy, that is a perfect idea - thanks for sharing! I've seen book bundles but these have a great purpose and really show your patrons that despite those programming breaks, the staff is thinking of them and making sure they have great books and content available to them!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you like the idea, Marge! They circed pretty slowly at first, but now that customers know what and where they are they have really picked up.

      Delete
  2. This is the coolest! And they're pretty!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Amy, how does Circ staff check them out? Are they packaged in a way that the barcodes are accessible? Or does Circ staff untie them and then check them out? I love this idea and the way you're packaging them is so cute!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Abby, our Circ staff untie the kits and check out items individually. Since the items in the kit aren't tied to each other in our ILS, a customer can renew just one item if he/she desires. Circ staff put the ribbons from the circed kits in a basket on my desk; that way I can keep stats on how many kits have gone out, and I know how many more to make.

      Delete
  4. Oh, wow! This is a fabulous idea! I always have families show up on the off-week, sometimes b/c they forgot and sometimes just to play and keep with their routine. We take a break from the week of Thanksgiving to the first week of January. I'll definitely be trying this idea out!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love your idea. Hopefully we can pull this together soon in my little branch.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great Idea. How do you put the bundle back together once it has been checked out and returned (most likely all taken apart). How does your circulation desk handle that?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our bundles are not permanently tied together, if that makes sense. Items are checked out to the children's department library card (so they don't show up on retrieval lists); they are bundled by staff and can be checked out as normal; and when they are returned, they get shelved back in their usual spaces in the stacks. Staff are always creating new bundles direct from the stacks. Basically while the bundles are effectively checked out together, they are returned individually.

      Delete
  7. Amy,
    Would you be willing to take picture of your theme cards? I'd be interested to see the wording you use.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kayla, I'm out of my library for the rest of the week, but I'll take a close-up photo when I get back.

      Delete
  8. I love this idea so much! I've started to put some together for next week when we're done with summer storytimes. I wanted to share a poem I wrote to put on the tags:
    Visiting the library is fun
    Even when storytime is done
    Take home this kit
    It will be a big hit
    Storytime at home has begun!

    Twenty minutes is all that you need
    Sit somewhere together and read
    Listen to a song
    Clap and sing along
    Have fun and you will succeed!

    Fingerplays are learning tools too
    Motor skills are greatly improved
    No matter the weather
    We can perform it together
    Look what my hands can do!

    Thanks for the inspiration!!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks Amy for sharing your great idea! I started putting out themed book bundles on our staff picks shelf (rather than waiting for the next storytime break) a few weeks ago and for the most part they get scooped up pretty quickly (I now rubber band 'em rather than knot yarn into bows--sometimes the parents like to put back the CDs or a book if they're close to their max checkouts limit). It boosts circulation, and is a great time-saver for busy parents too!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I am really excited about this. Right now we don't have "off" weeks, but I would love (for my sanity) to start incorporating a few throughout the year. I'm really thinking this may be the way to get my boss on board! :)

    ReplyDelete