Using Storytelling with Small Groups

I did a storytelling workshop this week on the "One World, Many Stories" SLP theme with librarians from five systems in the southern part of the state.  I wanted to give everyone tips on finding sources for stories, tips on telling and some "can't miss" stories from a few different countries to put in their story bags.

One of the participants blogged later that that while there was good information on handling a beaucoup big crowd, it wasn't very "real-world" helpful for librarians who work with small numbers of kids in storytime - ten or less; or more typically three to five kids, who can be very passive without a crowd to rev them up.  So right!  I skipped that part completely!  So, as a  mea culpa, here are a few tips I use that help when bringing storytelling into storytimes with teeny crowds!

I make it a point in my storytimes to tell a story each and every week.  I believe strongly that kids need more than books and props to excite their imagination.  Stories help them picture the tale on their own.  Magic happens with the use of storytelling no matter how large or how small the crowd. In my years of storytimes, I have kept this practice up whether I have two kids or thirty two and it has always worked.

Although I have some large-cover-your-whole-arm puppets, I don't use these in the intimate atmosphere of storytimes.  I usually tell my stories without puppets or props, letting the magic of the words and the plot carry the tale. That being said, I am also one to make a splash before the story is started to get the kids excited about a form of listening that many of them don't have alot of experience with!

My favorite intro is to put a small prop or puppet that relates to the story inside a bag that I bring out when it is time to tell the story. I reach inside the bag, feel around, do some "oohing" and "aahing" and "Hmmm, what could this be?" before I bring out the prop. This little teasing part gets the kids focused on the what is inside the bag and gets them excited. When the prop comes out, I say, "That reminds me of our story today" and off we go.

Other times I will bring along a finger puppet or two or three to small storytimes and let the kids play with them before or after the story to reinforce the story...or to let the kids engage in story play and re-imagining or telling the story themselves.  When kids are too shy or the group too small to even have them engage in that much play I do a few little retellings of scenes with the puppets and hope that the next week brings more participation.

Small group storytelling can be some of the most rewarding because the stories shared can be quieter and more focused.  Any other tips out there on sharing storytelling with small groups?

Image: 'Day 138' http://www.flickr.com/photos/38451115@N04/4218226857


Two Great Blogs That I Hope You Follow

Travis Jonkers has been creating great content at 100 Scope Notes for awhile now. He does great links, creates great fun and I always discover something new in his short succinct posts.

A new blog that is a must stop now for me (thanks Travis!) is Read.Connect.Watch. created by John Schumacher (otherwise known in the blogosphere and on Twitter as Mr. Schu). The blog posts book trailers as well as related media for children's literature titles.  There is a rich depth to this blog which will help create endless content for school and public librarians.

Image: 'Two friends!!'  http://www.flickr.com/photos/13937854@N00


Looking Out at the Great Job Market

Abby the Librarian has a wonderfully helpful post for people thinking about going to library school or in the midst of their graduate work.  In it she talks in a very practical way about what a person should consider and how to increase one's marketability.

I want to second her suggestions.  As a mentor for three new librarians on ALAConnect, it is the advice I give again and again.  Finding meaningful volunteer/internship work that relates to the field you want to enter is worth gold. 

It is an opportunity to get practical experience as well as suggest projects that can enhance a library's resources ("Would you like me to develop a booklist on read-alikes for Diary of a Wimpy Kid?"; "I could develop a little book of coupons to give out to families between storytime sessions that encourage them to return to the library in the interim ['Get a hug from the librarian'; '$.50 off your fines';  'Come in for a sticker and a personal book suggestion form your librarian']; "Would you like a resource list of books and websites for that program you are doing on organic gardening?"; "Would you like me to update/redesign that flyer?"). Library staffers just might take you up on it and you get golden experience that translates into a money job search.

We are in the midst of searching for a new children's librarian to join our team and Abby's post reads like a roadmap that all our top candidates seem to have followed.  Taking the extra time to learn, work and play in the stacks and among librarians makes job searchers more valuable to future employers.  And you know you all can do it!!

Image: 'Free 3D Business Men Marching Concept' http://www.flickr.com/photos/22177648@N06/2136948367


Three Favorite ALA Midwinter Moments

1. Meeting blogger Eva from Eva's Book Addiction and her Los Angeles Public library coworkers at a reception held for SLJ reviewers.  It was better than putting a name to a face - it was meeting a woman whose mind, words and thoughts I have admired.  I love it when the blogosphere and the real world mash up to bring us together.

2. Finding this Facebook post from Nancy McC, a colleague attending ALA "Overheard a local asking a conference center security person,  'Is there some type of librarian festival going on here?' When I said "Why yes, there is a librarian festival," he replied "Librarians are cool...reading is fundamental!" Seriously. Probably 22, looked like Wilt Chamberlain, complete with girlfriend.  I am so wanting to rename our conferences "Librarian Festivals"!!

3. Having a set of recommendations on creating more opportunities to participate virtually accepted by the ALSC board. The subcommittee I was involved in worked long and thoughtfully and wrestled with this and it was great to help create a roadmap for our path to that goal.

Oooooohhh! Aaaahhhhh! Gasp! Snort! Wowser!

There is nothing quite like being at the press conference at ALA Midwinter to hear the announcement of the Youth Media Awards.  That 60 minutes is packed with tension, expectation, murmers (and screams) of surprise or acclamation, standing ovations and, in that dark, dark, cavernous room, a knit brow or two, gratefully hidden from one's peers.  Today's announcements of, by my count 23, awards in San Diego were no exception.

There were expected, unexpected and wholly delightful surprises from each committee.  One of the book bloggers I follow was frankly surprised at some of the buzzworthy books in the kidslitosphere getting no recognition.  I am never surprised at that result.  We are all readers and all passionate, but let's face it, few of us approach the rigor of reading and discussion that goes into these ALA award level committees.  These groups live these books and the passionate give and take that occurs throughout the year as they make their way to final discussions and voting is simply extraordinary.  They take special care and I always put my faith in their decisions because I know how profoundly seriously they take their work.

Now it is time to read, re-read, acquire and booktalk these best books and media of our children's and teen literary world. How lucky we are to have this spotlight on a passion that brings such great material into the hands of our kids! Congratulations to all the committees for a job well done!


ALA Midwinter - Distinctly Un-Winterish

I hate to be so supremely shallow but I REALLY love ALA midwinters that meet in warmer climes.  This year we are gathering in San Diego. Going from 6F to 60F in a mere 4 hours is a real treat for this Wisconsin woman. If you have to be in meetings, meetings, meetings, at least be in a place with pleasant warmth and incredible views.

I am on the ALSC board in my third and final year.  We will be wrestling with some interesting stuff as always.  It is a great group of people and I look forward to not only the camaraderie but the debate. I'll be reporting out recommendations from a subcommittee I chaired on moving our ALSC committee work to a more virtual model. It will be great to see where this all goes.  And there will be time to attend the ALSC All-Committee meetings where I will peek at the work of so many of our member leaders.

Of course the exhibits will take up a chunk of time, looking at new titles and picking up a few ARCS to bring back to share with the team.  There will be plenty of friendships renewed, hallway conversations, drinks clinked at after hours get-togethers and talk about how we are struggling to do good with fewer resources.

On the last day there will be the always amazing ALA Media Awards press conference where we get to ooooh, aaah and gasp at the announcements of the ALSC, YALSA and Coretta Scott King Awards.  My colleagues on award committees are working hard this conference to discuss and vote on the winners. What will they present us with on Monday?

So here's to midwinter and librarians gathering where they work hard...and enjoy the sunshine harder!

Image: '~ The Real Action ~'   http://www.flickr.com/photos/13898329@N00/12494645