Storytime for Mixed-Age Audience, Pt. 2

A few people here and on Facebook asked how my storytime went earlier this week, so here’s an update!

It went OK.

How’s that for definitive? Actually, it went fine. I had a decent crowd–about 40-45 people total, including moms and big brothers and sisters. It was quite an age range, though I had a row of about 10-12 kids of the 4-8 years old range seated right up front, so that was nice.

And my ending went well. I came back to my opening point, about books being great friends to have, and then I encouraged them to make good book friends this summer. I applauded them and then said, “Thanks, guys!” And then I went over to gather my stuff and hand out Oreos (make a full moon when you take off one cookie!) and READ! bookmark. So I felt like the ending didn’t peter out like I sometimes do. I’ll continue to work on my endings in the coming year of presentations.

Here are some things I could have done better:

  • Try to control the space more and get all the kids sitting together, close to me. When they’re spread out, it’s REALLY hard to get momentum and enthusiasm going!
  • When I have very young kids (K and younger) volunteer for extra stuff, give them extremely specific directions. (“Hold this ribbon and sit right here on the bench until I ask for the green ribbon, OK?” Then after he/she stands and holds ribbon for wingspan for me: “Thank you so much! I’ll take the ribbon back now and you can sit back down. You did such a great job holding that up for me!”)
  • End sooner. I always try to give great value and plenty of content. But I have to relearn constantly that it’s better to end after 30 minutes (for pre-K and K, for instance) while everyone’s still fully engaged than to keep going to 45 minutes, at which point the fidgets have set in a bit.
  • Find a specific role for the older kids. My focus was mostly on the young kids, and I did throw in a few riddle-ku and such for the older kids. But the older kids were all spread out, and they kind of wandered in throughout the storytime (which was in a park pavillion), but I wish I had had something specific that they could have helped with. One time when I had to do a school visit session for half 1st-graders and half 4th-graders in one session, I created specific roles for both groups, and that worked really well. Hard to do without tech so that the older kids could read something on-screen, but I’m sure there’s something I could ask them to do…Will be thinking more about that!

I sent an evaluation to the librarian today, and I specifically asked her for tips on presenting to and engaging multi-age audiences. I’ll be interested to hear her advice!

Thanks, you guys, for the encouragement and support!



About Laura Purdie Salas

children's writer, poet, reader, visiting author, speaker/teacher, mentor, copyeditor, freelance writer
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