Beyond Brown Bear, Brown Bear: Updating Storytime with Fresh Reads

As a storytime provider, it’s easy to get into a certain routine. You could throw together a storytime in almost no time at all. You have flannels you made last year, lyrics handouts to your favorite songs, and a mental list of your go-to books.

While that’s great, I have found that the more I find myself reaching for the same books, the more burnt out I feel. Finding new titles to introduce keeps me engaged and learning, so let’s talk about some ways to do that!

The most obvious thing that I have to keep reminding myself of over and over is to plan ahead. Just because I CAN throw together a storytime in ten minutes, doesn’t mean that I SHOULD! But the week gets away from me, and inevitably before I know it, it’s the day before storytime and too late to order something from another branch. To counter that, I am starting a new habit: Every week right after I finish doing a storytime, I put a new book on hold (or check it out, if it’s on our shelves) so I’ll have it in plenty of time to consider it for the coming weeks.

And here are some places I look for fresh ideas:

CLEL Bell Picture Book Awards You didn’t think I wouldn’t lead with those, did you? The award winners list is a great go-to because all the books listed are connected with a specific ECRR practice--and click on the activity sheet for early literacy tips and ideas for crafts and activities (if your storytime includes those).

JBrary roundups Every year, the brilliant ladies at JBrary pull together lists of their favorite picture books of the year, noting what age ranges they work well with (from babies through early elementary). I gravitate toward their toddler choices, because that’s who tends to show up for my “all ages” storytimes, but whatever age you work with, you’ll find ideas there. Also a great source any time you need a new rhyme or song.

Best-of-year roundups These are tricky because every December and January, best-of lists come out so thick and fast it’s hard to absorb all the information--especially if, like I do, you work with customers from cradle to grave. But try creating a reading list of ones that might work for you. Or go back and do a web search later on in the year, whenever you need a book idea. I am especially partial to Denver Public Library’s Best and Brightest list, since I have worked on it (although not for picture books). Click here to see the 2017 picture book list.

Conferences It’s great if you can go to conferences or CLiC spring workshops in person. Early literacy sessions often include ideas for storytime reads. Can’t go? Some conferences, CLEL included, make our conference presentations freely available online. 2018 should be up soon. In the meantime, check out last year’s presentation on new storytime reads for 2017 by Dawn Bergman and Laura Olsen from Douglas County. Click here to see the full list of 2017 presentations.

What are your favorite resources for finding new titles? Have a hot-off-the-press recommendation? Let’s talk about it on our Facebook page!

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