It’s Not Just for Kids — 5 Things I Have Learned at Story Time


I love story time.  Story time was one of first activities I brought my girls to when I became a stay-at-home-mom.  I have only had the opportunity to attend the story time at the Weyers Hilliard Library in Howard. But, there are many different story times offered throughout the Brown County Library System.

My daughter, Elsie, looks forward to story time every week.  The librarian, Ms. Sue, incorporates songs, stories, act activities, and sometimes puppets or felt board activities.  She has my four year old’s undivided attention for the full 30 minutes.  Elsie loves it; even my four month old smiles at the songs.  But, they are not the only ones who have benefited from going to story time.  I feel like I have learned to read at story time.  You know I mean not actually read — but, I have learned how tell my daughters a story.  I have always done various voices or raised or lowered my volume for emphasis.  But story time has taught me there is so much more than just silly sounds…

The 5 things I have learned at story time:

Read the book before you read it to the kids

Obviously, the librarian has to read the book before deciding to read it to the kids.  I used to just pick books off of the shelf and read them for the first time along with my daughter.  But, I have found that by reading the book ahead of time that I can ask her predictions about the story or build suspense by pausing or inflecting my voice.

It’s okay to skip words or add words

One of the really awesome things I have noticed about Ms. Sue is that she is okay with adding words or phrasing text differently for the kids. I have found this is especially important when there is a concept that may be difficult to understand or I am losing my daughter’s attention and I need to draw her back in.

Act it out/point it out

Ms. Sue has a way about her storytelling that brings the story out into the audience.  I’ve found myself and my daughter looking at her instead of the book.  I have started acting out parts of books to my daughter just as Ms. Sue does.  It’s really just simple things such as mimicking actions (such as, “She placed the crown on her head.” and doing the movement on myself).  I’ve also found that pointing out the character who is talking helps my daughter connect the words to the character.

Plan activities around a book

Ms. Sue has an art activity planned at the end of each story time.  I have taken this idea and applied it to our home life.  Often times this goes along with the season or upcoming holidays.  For example, we recently read a book about apples and decided to go apple picking shortly after that.  We have also done at home “projects” that have related to the books that we checked out from the library that week.

Talk about the author and illustrator

My daughter has started to get into certain authors and runs to that section of the library to pick a new book (particularly Mo Willems’ pigeon books and Bonny Becker’s bear books).  We have discussed why these books are similar since they are written by the same author.  We will also read the author’s biography when it is available in the book.  I recently learned that some books have the art medium described on the copyright page (e.g. illustrations done in watercolor).  I can see her pay a little closer attention to the detail of the pictures after I tell her how they are created.

I am by no means a master storyteller.  However, I do think that I have been able to engage my four year old a bit more in our reading since we started going to story time. Where is your favorite story time in Green Bay or the Fox Valley?  I am looking forward to try out some different locations to learn more tips for reading.


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