Storytiming in the Wild: Mall Storytime

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.

Mall Storytime Mall Storytime

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.

Lily the Library Dog

So basic outline- and I drew heavily from Lindsey’s words of wisdom last week and kept things super simple when it came to choosing songs and books:

Bark George by Jules Feiffer Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas

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!

4 thoughts on “Storytiming in the Wild: Mall Storytime

  1. I do a storytime at the Country Fair each year– it used to be really poorly attended, because, hey, who goes the the fair for storytime? But now I insist on being slotted right before the Baby Pageant…. and I actually get a good crowd! I like your photos & post because it is a good reminder to me– I need to take the Library banner and make it more a Dog & Pony show than just stories by this random woman at the fair….

    1. That’s brilliant Angela- timing is everything 🙂 In terms of content I was struggling with just making it fun or trying to work in lots of library messages. Having Lily really made me feel like I could do both and was a natural connector for the kids. Win-win!

  2. We are taking our storytime into the wild this Thursday at our local Farmers Market…..I am going to be using these suggestions to hopefully keep the kids engaged as well as get the parents interested in using our lovely library!!

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