Storytime for a Mixed-Age Audience

I’m heading out this morning to do a storytime in a park. The audience, according to the librarian who set this us, will likely range from toddlers to 12 year olds. This is the hardest kind of presentation for me! No control over how many kids and what ages they are.

I’m trying several new things with this one.

  • My presentation is totally tech-free (I usually show pictures and/or poems we’re reading together on a screen).
  • I’m featuring quite a few of my books that aren’t even in print anymore. That’s because I wanted to choose things that are really interactive–that I either already had props for or that lend themselves to acting out, etc.
  • I’m changing the words in a few of my poems/books to give the kids a refrain to call out. I’ve done this before, but not as much as I’m doing it today. Hoping I remember my “new words.”
  • I’m sharing a bit of an unpublished book. That’s because it’s a book of riddle-ku, and I want to see when the kids guess the answers. I’ve done this only once before. If the audience ends up being all toddlers, I won’t do this. But otherwise, I hope to share 3 or 4 riddle-ku.
  • I’m trying out a new message. I mean, my message is ALWAYS that books and reading and writing are amazing. But my specific thought I want to leave the kids with today is that books can make great friends. So I’ll share a tiny bit about my childhood at the beginning and come full-circle to that at the ending.
  • I’m trying a more definitive ending. No more wishy-washy trailing off. The ending is my weakest part of presenting. I just got a bunch of great possibilities for endings from my Facebook group for kids’ writers, and I’m going to work on some of them for school visits next year. Today, I’m going with just coming full-circle back to the beginning, and also doing that with a flourish–a tone of voice and body gestures that tell the audience, “That’s all, folks.”

We’ll see how it goes!

Also, I’d love any tips you have for mixed-age audiences. I have another one coming up in August that could be anything from toddlers to adults who write for kids. Yikes!


About Laura Purdie Salas

children's writer, poet, reader, visiting author, speaker/teacher, mentor, copyeditor, freelance writer
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3 Responses to Storytime for a Mixed-Age Audience

  1. carolegerber says:

    Activities that let children participate – beyond just asking questions – are really good – i.e., my book of poems for two voices is always a great hit with audiences that are old enough to read. For pre-readers, having a microphone for your presentation is an amazing draw – they love to come up and ask questions so they can hear their voices magnified.

  2. swugar2 says:

    Love to hear how it turned out.

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