Tuesday, November 02, 2010

storytime stories--yours!

So now that our French storytime is off and running, I've been doing a lot of thinking about what makes a good one. What works for you and your family? I would love to hear from you about the best storytimes you've attended (be they first or second or third, majority or minority language). Please tell us about what you like best!

And I know that some of you have led storytimes yourselves--what can you tell us about what you did and didn't do? What about leading storytimes as a non-native speaker of the target language?


  1. Here, I'll start: this morning, Griffin and I attended the Boulder French storytime, where the leader read from one random book after another. In the car on the way home, Griffin complained that there was no dancing.

  2. Shortly after my family moved to Belgium, one of the "parent relais" at our local school approached me and asked if I would be willing to lead an English story hour once a week during the winter for the small anglophone population.

    Of course I went the first time expecting only the Maternelle children to be there, and had prepared accordingly with some very simple books and songs. Instead, I walked into the gym to find over twenty children waiting for me, ranging in age from 2,5 - 12 years old!

    One of the little ones had clearly given up her nap to be there and, while most of the kids had at least one English-speaking parent at home, there were a couple of the older ones who seemed to have tagged along with their friends and had limited English comprehension.

    Needless to say, the first session was a disaster - the books were too babyish for the older crowd and the songs hard to follow for a couple of the older ones.

    I took a different tact the second and subsequent times that worked much better for a multi-aged crowd: I kept the books on the shorter side but tried to choose classics with an engaging story - Peter Rabbit, the Giving Tree, The Little Engine that Could, etc.

    A good story is good regardless of length - the older kids enjoy these as much as the younger ones. The trick was, as you said, not to choose stories that were too long and, as I found, to get them up and moving with a little song between each one.

    To accommodate those children whose English was more limited, I chose bilingual versions of songs and alternated between English and French. Anything that got them up and moving was good: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes; The Hokey Pokey, etc.

    By the end of the winter we had really found our groove and had something the kids looked forward to!

    Continued success with your French story hour -t is bound to go more and more smoothly each week and what a wonderful way to make new Francophone contacts in your area!

  3. Oooooh. Mamie's advice/comments/suggestions are *great*!

    I was responsible for planning a 1/2 day kindergarten class in an elementary school ESL program, but we (the paraprofessional and I) had kids from 1st-5th grade in the same room at the same time, so we had to combine activities a lot. It was definitely multi-age and multi-level. A real challenge. What she writes sounds a lot like the strategies I used, though.

    So pretty much I would just add to her words, "Ditto." :)

  4. This is timely for me; I'll be filling in as host of a French storytime session in a few weeks. For me, the winning elements of a good storytime include: a welcoming comptine, a theme, an animated and enthusiastic storyteller, activities to get everyone moving, and if it's happening at the library, a basket or bookcase filled with recommended books that can be checked out (it's often difficult to pick out good books when you're busy keeping an eye on your kids!)

  5. Yes, I agree with Gen. That's exactly how successful story times have been for us. It is always touch and go for us as I am the mother of two active boys. I particularly like welcoming songs that include everyone's names: you go round the circle and sing hello to them. But tricky with bigger numbers. At the moment at our French playgroup, my boys have opted out of storytime and play in the next room while it is on. This is a shame, but the stories chosen have a lot of text and the boys just tune out. I've tried bribery (choc frogs). Hopefully they'll just get used to it as we keep attending.