Professional Development Books: Program Planning

This post is Part 2 of my Professional Development Books series. Part 1 features my top choices for books about language and literacy. This week I’m sharing books that I’ve used and others have found helpful when it comes to planning library programs. Most of them focus on storytime and the early years.

Did I miss one of your favourites? Let me know in the comments! I’m especially on the look-out for books about serving school-age kids outside of a school environment.

Artsy Toddler Storytimes: A Year’s Worth of Ready-to-Go Programming (2013) by Carol Garnett Hopkins
If you provide craft or extension activities after storytime or if you need STEAM storytime ideas, this is the book for you. The author provides 52 thematic storytime programs with additional art experiences and templates attached to each one.

Baby Storytime Magic: Active Early Literacy Through Bounces, Rhymes, Tickles, and More (2014) by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker
An excellent introduction to the logistics of babytime for beginners. Includes ideas for how to engage caregivers as well as sample program outlines and information on early literacy. See also: Baby Storytime: A Beginner’s Guide.

Books in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Books Through Art, Games, Movement, Music, Playacting, and Props (2013) by Julie Dietzel-Glair
Written specifically for storytime providers, this annotated bibliography gives you 500 titles with suggested extension activities categorized by the type listed in the title above. Easy to browse. Includes lots of ideas to shake up storytime while you are reading a book. See the companion nonfiction book below.

Cooking Up a Storytime: Mix-and-Match Menus for Easy Programming (2014) by Susan Anderson-Newham
Using a cooking metaphor, the librarian author outlines the necessary ingredients for a successful storytime. Includes brief information about early literacy, language development, and Every Child Ready to Read. The chapters on incorporating math, science, and poetry are the most unique.

Diversity Programming for Digital Youth: Promoting Cultural Competence in the Children’s Library (2014) by Jamie Campbell Naidoo
This book defines cultural competence and provides a guide for planning culturally competent programs that avoid stereotypes. Also covers research on digital media and children with examples of how libraries implement digital storytimes and more. Some of the apps may be dated at this point, but it includes an annotated list of digital media that promotes cultural competence.

Folktales Aloud: Practical Advice for Playful Storytelling (2014) by Janice M. Del Negro
Provides a range of oral stories broken down by age group that can be used in storytelling programs. Includes tips for how to add dramatic elements and how to cater to different groups. Highly recommended if you want to up your oral storytelling game. Includes a list of folktales to check out.

Including Families of Children with Special Needs (2014) by Carrie Scott Banks
This book is not just about program prep but addresses making your entire library accessible and friendly to people of all ages and stages. American in context, it covers the history of inclusion, staff training resources, library design, and program content. Lots of discussion around policies and attitudes which can shape your space in a positive way.

Let’s Start the Music: Programming for Primary Grades (2014) by Amy Brown
Ready-to-go program templates for the musically motivated. Aimed at grades K – 3, I think most of these can be adapted for preschoolers too. Really useful when you’re searching for songs to play in programs and books that keep a beat.

More Storytime Magic (2016) by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker
If you are just beginning as a storytime presenter and don’t know where to start, any of the books by this duo are good to check out. They provide thematic storytime plans with book, song, and flannel story suggestions. Also see their original book, Storytime Magic, and their follow-up Multicultural Storytime Magic for more ideas.

Nonfiction in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Nonfiction Books through Movement (2016) by Julie Dietzel-Glair
This slim volume is an annotated bibliography of 200 nonfiction picture books with suggested movement activities that tie into the five early literacy practices identified in Every Child Ready to Read, second edition. Books are grouped into five larger themes to make browsing easier.

The Ramped-Up Read Aloud: What to Notice as You Turn the Page (2019) by Maria Walther
A new favourite! Though written by a teacher for teachers, this book gives 101 picture books aimed at school-age kids and how to read them in a way that connects to larger concepts such as understanding feelings, developing a growth mindset, and considering point of view. A great resource for school-age visits.

Reading Pictures Books With Children: How to Shake Yo Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See (2015) by Megan Dowd Lambert
I already wrote an entire blog post about why this book is so great and why every children’s librarian should read it and own it. It changed the way I view picture books and how I read them with kids of all ages. Can’t recommend enough!

Read! Move! Learn! Active Stories for Active Learning (2007) by Carol Totsky Hammett and Nicki Collins Geigeert
A short introduction to why movement is connected to literacy gives way to an annotated list of over 70 picture books with suggested motor skill activities. Each spread shares literacy tips, related games, and vocabulary and concept connections. Although the titles are older, a great starting point for anyone developing music and movement programs.

Roots and Wings: Affirming Culture and Preventing Bias in Early Childhood (2016) by Stacey York
Though aimed at teachers and early childhood educators, this book provides a great overview of the psychology of prejudice and racial awareness through childhood. Lots of good tidbits we can apply to our storytime programming especially when it comes to talking to kids about race.

STEP Into Storytime: Using StoryTime Effective Practice to Strengthen the Development of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds (2014) by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Kathy Fling Klatt
Child development meets storytime in this well researched guide to planning and developing storytimes. Learn how to be intentional in your choices, how to scaffold material to different ages, and how to plan mixed-age storytimes. Sample storytime outlines included.

Stories, Songs, and Stretches! Creating Playful Storytimes with Yoga and Movement (2017) by Katie Scherrer
This slim volume guides you through planning and preparing a yoga storytime for preschoolers. In addition to teaching some basic yoga moves, it includes 12 thematic storytime outlines you can print and use.

Storytimes for Everyone! Developing Young Children’s Language and Literacy (2013) by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Pamela Martin – Diaz
This book expertly explains the transition from the six skills presented in Every Child Ready to Read to the five practices presented in the second edition, and how storytime providers can incorporate those five practices. Learn how to incorporate an early literacy aside (explain, example, empower). Includes many sample storytimes for the 0 – 5 crowd that are a good jumping off point for planning your own. Also check out this duo’s 2006 book Early Literacy Storytimes @ Your Library for even more ideas.

Supercharged Storytimes: An Early literacy Planning and Assessment Guide (2016) by Kathleen Campana, J. Elizabeth Mills, and Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting
Research based! Coming from the VIEWS2 research out of the iSchool at the University of Washington, this book provides you with a planning tool to help you craft interactive and intentional storytimes that serve your community. I love the focus on reflection and assessment as a constant part of our practice. One of my storytime bibles.

Transforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs (2013) by Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Melanie A. Hetrick
This is the book to read if you want to incorporate repetition in storytime or learn how to tell a story in different ways. They take 8 books and give 6 weeks worth of activities related to the story. I recommend this one to preschool teachers a lot!

What are your favourite programming planning resources? Let me know in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Professional Development Books: Program Planning

  1. Naidoo & Scherrer’s Once upon a Cuento and Trevino’s Read me a rhyme in Spanish and English are fantastic resources for bilingual Spanish/English storytimes. Rob Reid’s Cool story programs for the school-aged crowd is wonderful, the best resource I’ve seen for elementary. One of my favorite storytime planning books of all time is Kimberly Faurot’s Storytime around the year–it includes great comprehensive plans and advice, survey forms, and beautiful patterns for props and flannels.

    1. Thank you for these additions! I listed Once Upon a Cuento on my Bilingual Storytime Resources blog post but forgot it here. The others I haven’t heard of but will check out now!

      1. Thank you so much for such great resources! Do you have any book/resource recommendations that might be helpful for teaching English through storytime with ESL students (toddler & preschoolers)?

        1. I don’t know of any specific books on this topic. Most of what we do in storytime – repetition, slow pace, focus on early literacy skills – will be helpful to ESL children in general. I did find a blog post called ESL Storytime that has some good tips:

          I’ve also written a Bilingual Storytime Guide if you want to incorporate home language, though this one is Spanish specific:

          You could also check out these webinars from ALSC:

          1. Thank you Lindsey, will definitely check them out!

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