In part one of a two-part series, Saroj Ghoting, early childhood literacy consultant, looks at ways to adjust storytimes for virtual engagement.

“One of the most cherished library programs for young children and their families is storytime. Going virtual during this time of physical distancing brought on by the pandemic offers us opportunities to view our connection with young children and their families in a new light. ”

Rising to the occasion

It’s now one-on-one time

Supercharging still applies here

Supercharged Storytimes is an approach that applies intentional strategies to boost early literacy in young children attending your storytimes. These strategies of interactivity and intentionality can work in the virtual environment, as well as in person. As you think of this as a one-on-one reading, you can focus on connecting with an individual child and worry less about getting the attention of a whole group. Spend some time thinking about what early literacy skills you’d like to emphasize in your virtual storytime.

“Some tips for supercharging your virtual storytimes:

  • Point to pictures or words on the page from time to time to build awareness that print has meaning (print awareness).
  • Repeat rhymes as often as you would for in-person storytimes so that children become comfortable joining in. Saying rhymes and pointing out rhyming words helps children hear the smaller sounds in words which helps children later sound out words when they learn to read (phonological awareness).
  • Ask the child to predict what might happen next before you turn the page. Remember to leave several seconds for young children to think and respond. It is easy to be too quick about it, especially when there are no children physically in front of you. Predicting helps build comprehension (background knowledge).
  • Use a factual book. Parents are looking for ways to help their children learn, and this format is a great opportunity to help them become familiar with non-fiction books while seeing their children’s curiosity piqued. You need not read the whole book. Sharing factual books and information builds children’s vocabulary and background knowledge which leads to better comprehension (vocabulary, background knowledge).

Some cautions:

  • When doing a storytime activity with objects, think about what children are likely to have at home. For example, if you are doing a scarf song, you might demonstrate it with a washcloth or towel instead.
  • Avoid activities that ask a child to touch their face since families are working to train children to not touch their faces.”

“Part two in this series will explore ways you can connect with parents and caregivers to help them engage with their children around reading.”

Library Storytimes during COVID-19 – Connecting with Families