While storytiming within my own four library walls can often feel chaotic, I’ll admit it is indeed my natural habitat. I can set up the room the way I want, the room can only hold so many people and I’M IN CONTROL. My library was recently approached by the mall we are connected with, aka “The People Upstairs” and asked to do a Mall Storytime. What joy, what glee and what an opportunity to get out of our library box and bring storytime to a wider audience! Here’s a little bit about my process as well as some other folks who have also braved the wilds.
Because I was outside of the library I chose to treat my program like a
library tour FIELD TRIP ADVENTURE ala Bryce Don’t Play and therefore an opportunity to market and explain just what we get up to in the library. Next up was channeling the Awesome and Wondrous Marge and writing down my key messages which were: the library belongs to everyone, everyone can (and should) have a library card, we have millions of things at the library to check out with that card and if you’re having fun today you should come to a library storytime! After my branch head made a joke about having a life-sized library card called Lizzy we stumbled upon a dog puppet Lily the Library Dog- who helped me sniff out library cards and choose books! Using a dog puppet Lily the Library Dog allowed me to deliver my messages (and doggie kisses) in a way that wasn’t stale and gave structure to the storytime.
- Introduction and Warm Up: Hello Friends, Roly Poly and Open Shut Them. Between songs I took the opportunity to introduce myself and Lily, sniff around for library cards and give every little storytimer a doggie kiss.
- Stand and Sing: I Wake Up My Hands, Zoom Zoom Zoom and Walking, Walking. With all that singing we woke Lily up and decided to let her choose our first book!
- We Read: Bark George by Jules Feiffer. We talked about how many books the library has and not just books but other things too! This prompted a counting song…
- Fingerplay and Wiggle Song: 1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Fingers and Put Your Hands Up High
- Next We Read: Let’s Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas
- Goodbye: We sang Goodbye Friends and then I said I’d be happy to give a quick library tour for anyone who would like to head down now and three families actually took me up on it!
How’d it go? It went well, much more like a storytime and less like the production I was building it up to be. Singing into the lofty chasm that is the mall was definitely challenging and I worry people were scared off by my energetic shout-singing, but overall we drew quite a crowd, informed several families that there was indeed a library in the mall and told them how to find us.
When I put the question out to Twitter whether anyone else has storytimed outside of library walls I got lots of lovely examples. Ronda Kirkbride stood in mall solidarity with me, Stephanie Rivera sang for her supper (I hope!) at Panera Bread and Kaitlyn Vardy our BC pal has shaken her stuff at malls, museums, parks and even city hall! Finally our dear friend Claudia Haines shared a project she was part of where she took storytime out to her community- including the community fire station. Listen to the interview backed by gorgeous photos here.
That about wraps up my very first mall storytime. I’d love to hear about the wild places you’ve storytimed and how it went, please feel free to leave your tales in the comments below!