Planning effective storytime sessions

Last updated:  13 March 2024

This section aims to assist library staff in planning effective storytime sessions.

When planning your storytime, remember to always keep the big picture goals in mind:  

  • sharing the enjoyment of books and reading with the children
  • exposing them to a wide variety of high-quality books
  • sharing ways to support children’s early literacy with adults.  

These are the overarching goals of all storytime programs. In addition, during storytime, presenters model the behaviours that may directly promote the language and literacy development of young children.

When you are planning your overall storytime program you need to think about:

  • early learning opportunities of storytime sessions
  • age of the audience
  • the space you will use and how it will be set up to minimise distractions for the children.

Storytime session planning template

The storytime session planning template and run sheet can assist you in planning your storytime session.  


Planning a storytime session

When planning a storytime session you need to think about:

  • How you will greet each child/caregiver at the start of the session to establish connection and welcome them.
  • Which songs, finger plays, or rhymes you will use to warm up the group and how you will display the words of the songs.
  • How you will use to introduce the theme of the week.
  • How you will signal transitions between different activities in the session.
  • How you will prepare the children to understand the content/topic of each book:
    • are there any difficult words you need to explain? How will you explain their meaning?
  • What they can do while you are reading each book.  
  • Will there be an independent reading opportunity for children and their caregivers?  
  • Will you include explicitly tips on how caregivers can select suitable books for young children of different ages, or you will use a basket with suitable books that they can choose from and read during and/or borrow after the session?  
  • What other activities you will include – dance, musical instruments, oral storytelling, craft:
    • what craft activity would best suit the theme, or linking the craft (e.g. drawing) to a book or cultural event (e.g. Chinese New Year, Anzac Day, Book week)
    • how you will demonstrate craft activities
    • how much time each activity will take
  • How you will close the session. Remember to give adult caregivers a closing tip for reinforcing the literacy skill at home and to encourage borrowing.

Tips for planning and running storytime sessions

Read our tips for planning and running effective storytime sessions below for more detailed information.

Organising your children’s storytime space

How can we best organise children’s storytime space?

If you are using a special story time rug and the number of children is not too large, you can ask the children to sit on the rug together with you as equal members of one group and one community. The advantages of sitting together in this way are that you are all at eye level, so it is easy to smile and interact with them one on one. This closeness, moreover, facilitates direct eye contact with both the children and their caregivers.

If the group is large, you can sit on a chair at the front of the group, so you are easier to see. Being higher than the children also clearly signals to the group that you are the educator or leader, so they need to listen to and follow your instructions/guidance.

If you stand at the front of the group, the children need to look up at you and you tower over them making the connection somewhat more distant. However, this position is very useful for acting out ‘words’ or demonstrating actions as everybody in the group can see you.

You may also need to give some thought to how you will arrange seating for the parents and caregivers. Many young children like to sit on the lap of their parent or caregiver, especially if they are new to the library and feel insecure. As they gain confidence, though, children do tend to migrate from the lap to the rug. So, you may wish to keep adult chairs in reasonably close proximity to the rug. Keeping adults close to the rug has another potential benefit, as it brings adults closer to the ‘action’ and makes it harder for them to talk and distract the group.

Another vital consideration is whether or not the children can see the book you will be reading and the illustrations. Managing this may require some careful thought especially if the book you have chosen is small. Is it possible to use a big book? If not, how will you try to ensure that all the children can see the book and the illustrations?

Related to this, when you read a book aloud, how will you manage the logistics of reading to a group? What side will you hold the book on — the right or the left? Which side is most comfortable for you?

You also need to give some thought to the songs and lyrics you plan to use. How will you display the words of each song for the group? Will you use a whiteboard and display all the songs on it at once? Or will you display the words on nearby shelving? If so, how will the group know which words will be sung before the song begins? Will you say the name of the song aloud and point to the text on the board at the same time so that you promote print awareness? Will you bind the lyrics into a flip chart? The drawback of this is that it fixes the order of the songs, yet an advantage is the group would focus on only one text/song/rhyme at a time.

Creating a thriving library community of learners

How can we create a thriving library community of learners?

We know that language interactions with others are crucial for literacy and learning as well as community formation. So, arrive early before each session in order to set up and also use the opportunity to create a welcoming atmosphere by greeting children and their caregivers as they arrive. Be sure to smile warmly as you say hello. Try to make eye contact with each child as this invites the children to make a social connection with you. If there are children who attend regularly, try to learn their names. To engage individual children, as well as to promote print awareness [link] and alphabet and letter knowledge [link], some presenters write each child’s name on a nametag sticker, and others ask caregivers or any children who can write their own names to do that, so that the children can wear the nametag and the presenter can see and use children’s names during the session.

In addition, make time to chat with children individually. You can sit with them on the rug before storytime and talk to them about the weather, their pets, their clothing or use puppets or a picture book to begin a conversation with them. You may also offer them playtime before the session to encourage interaction with other children and adults by providing them with soft toys (beach balls), puppets or musical instruments to play with. Providing opportunities for play before storytime may allow adults and children some time to transition from the outside world they have just left behind to the world of books and the library.

At the end of storytime, try to engage the children in conversation again if possible. One storytime presenter designs each craft activity in such a way that the child must come to them for a staple, rubber band or sticker that completes the craft object. This reinforces the social connection with the child and provides the presenter with the opportunity for a brief one-to-one interaction with each child. Such interactions may enable the presenter to ask questions about each child’s interests and make individualised borrowing suggestions for children’s books or other relevant library resources. Borrowing helps to foster the habit of coming to the library and keeps the connection between the library and the child alive. Other presenters ask the children to show their craft object to a library staff member at the front desk. This also opens up the potential for interaction, social connection and community formation with a simple question like ‘Tell me about your drawing/puppet/craft’.

Creating an engaging opening and closing to the session

How can we create an engaging opening and closing to the session?

To establish a safe learning environment for regular attendees, include some repetition within and across your storytime sessions. One easy way to do this is to use predictable routine elements such as the same Welcome and Goodbye song each week. Such repetition not only enables children to learn the songs, it actually helps them participate more easily.

As you sing the Welcome song, greet each child with a smile again, make eye contact and wave hello. This is an important opportunity to connect with each child as you formally welcome them to their local library community. Such greetings offer a powerful opportunity for social interaction between the library staff and storytime participants and among the participants. In fact, greetings not only initiate social connection and strong engagement, they also function to personalise the library experience. Smiling and waving goodbye at the end as you sing the Goodbye song also gives the session a warm sense of closure. Goodbye songs can include, ‘This is the Way We Say Goodbye'.

Attending a library storytime session also teaches children how to behave in a group setting. So, at the start of each session, supportively articulate your expectations about both adult participation and child behaviour. For example, ‘We encourage everyone to listen carefully to our stories today, join in with the songs and rhymes, and have fun together’. You may also wish to let the attending adults know that seeing caregivers participate enthusiastically (e.g. listening carefully, singing songs and joining in the activities) will encourage children to adopt the same behaviours themselves and join in too. It is useful to give parents and caregivers permission to leave at any point if their child is not feeling happy and return when the child is feeling more settled.

Many presenters report problems with attending adults who continue to chat to the person sitting next to them — a behaviour that can be very distracting and unsettling for the entire group. Some presenters arrange for their peers to help out by standing behind ‘the talkers’ and singing more loudly. Others are not able to do this as staffing ratios are not high enough. If adults keep talking during storytime, you may want to remind them that children tend to watch ‘grown ups’ closely and imitate our behaviours. Encourage adults to join in the activities and save their conversations until storytime has finished, so that everyone can have fun and help the children learn.

Ideas for warming up the group

What are some ideas for warming up the group?

To warm children up and continue fostering a sense of community, introduce a couple of songs and rhymes with finger play. These not only expose children to the rhythms and sounds of the English language, they also help to synchronise the group into one community, much like a Mexican wave. Do not be afraid to sing each song or rhyme twice as such repetition helps children learn. You can also clap or tap to syllables in words while saying or singing them, and use finger play activities that engage children in moving their fingers.

With pre-school children, you could consider songs like ‘Willoughby Wallaby Woo’ to focus on rhyme and learn each child’s name. A soft toy elephant or puppet could make this song even more enjoyable.

With younger children, a popular song is ‘What do you think my name is?’. If the group is small, you could consider incorporating the rolling of a large beach ball into the song or the clapping of hands.

Before you start, to help coordinate the group, you could count to three. For example, ‘Let’s sing Open – Shut them. Are you ready? One, two, three.’ When you finish each song, clap and praise the children for participating, ‘Give yourselves a big clap! Yay!’. This can also function as a transition marker. How can we signal transitions more effectively?

Effectively signal transitions

How can we signal transitions more effectively?

As you transition one from part of storytime to another, build in ‘signals’ to help the participants. Signals could include songs, musical signposts, a puppet or something as simple as clapping at the end of a song or a signposting statement such as ‘It’s time for a story now’, ‘Let’s sing our hello song’ or ‘This is the last song for today’. These transitions are vital to the audience as they let them know what is coming next and orient them to how much longer the session will last.

What strategies can we use to introduce the theme of the session?

If you are using a theme, talk about it with the children first and try to make connections to their own experiences. For example, ‘Today we are going to read some books about friendship. A friend is somebody who cares about us, and who likes to spend time playing with us. Can everybody who has a friend put a hand up in the air? What kinds of things do you like to do with your friends?’

Alternately, you could use a puppet hidden in a box to introduce the theme and stimulate curiosity. A session about mice started with the following introduction: ‘Today’s books are all about a very small animal. It has two ears, a long tail and whiskers. Can anyone guess what it is? That’s right, a mouse.’ The presenters then incorporated a factual book on mice and used selected pages from the book to talk about the different body parts of a mouse and its appearance (e.g. whiskers, the number of legs, tail and so on).

Another option is to bring in a prop to stimulate children’s interest in the theme. In a session about pirates, the presenter introduced the theme, and related vocabulary, through a puppet: ‘This is Pete the Pirate. Pete, can you teach us how to say some pirate words?’. Pete then taught the children various expressions such as ‘Aye’ and ‘Ahoy me hearties’. The information book 100 Things You Should Know about Pirates by Andrew Langley was also used to teach vocabulary associated with aspects of life on the seas (e.g. ‘hammock’, ‘tall ships’, ‘mast’, ‘sails’).

Before the session, you may need to research the theme in order to be able to introduce it well to the children. For example, if the theme is insects and you plan to read The Hungry Caterpillar, you may wish to read about the process of metamorphosis before the session, so that you can easily recall, and teach preschool-aged children, the names and functions of the different stages in the life cycle of butterflies – for example, immature stage (caterpillar) to an adult stage (butterfly); the function of the cocoon (to protect from predators); behavioural differences (most caterpillars feed on plants and butterflies on nectar from flowers). Include any interesting questions and facts you think relevant (e.g. Are caterpillars insects?) to promote the development of background knowledge [link].

Effective strategies for shared book reading

What are some effective strategies for shared book reading?

Thought needs to be given to how many books will be read and how, to the quantity and the quality of the selected books and the way they are read. Do the children need exposure to 4 or 5 books on the theme or would two, carefully read, be more effective for engaging a young audience? Is there anything about the actual language and images in the book that would make this an ideal choice for an engaging storytime? For example, books structured around questions (e.g. Would You Rather… by John Burningham; Whose Bottom? by Jeannette Rowe) promote interaction because questions, by their very nature, expect a response from the reader/listener. This helps to make the reading experience more interactive.

After selections have been made, it is important to practise reading each book out loud from cover to cover. During the practice, think about how you will use intonation and sounds to convey meaning, voice inflection for different characters, point to key images on the page, and use illustrations to best prepare children for the next page and the unfolding sequence of events.

While you are reading aloud, also think about how you will keep the attention of the group and encourage their participation. You really need to know the contents of each book very well (its language/words as well as images and overall structure) if you are going to ask effective questions of the children.

Finally, plan for contingencies: think about how you can shorten a book if the group is noisy and a story has not engaged them. You may also wish to consider having a selection of theme related books on display during storytime, so that caregivers who would like to can borrow them to read at home with the child.

Strategies to introduce the theme of the session

How can we introduce a book?

First, show it to the children. Tell them the title, the names of the author and illustrator in a way that is appropriate to the target age group. You may introduce 4-5-year-olds to words such as ‘author’, ‘illustrator’ and ‘title’, while for younger children a simpler introduction to these concepts of print may be more suitable (e.g. ‘This book is called Monkey Puzzle. The words are written by Julia Donaldson, and the pictures are by Axel Scheffler.’). To foster print motivation, too, help children understand that somebody writes the words and somebody draws the pictures, and in this way people create the picture books children love to listen to and look at. You can also ask them to look closely at the book’s front cover (and sometimes even back cover) and try to guess what the book will be about. This will encourage them to draw on their background knowledge to engage in prediction, an important reading comprehension strategy.

Before you begin reading, it is very helpful for comprehension to clearly explain any unfamiliar words or ideas e.g. camouflage. Think about how will you convey their meaning e.g. can you act them out? Explaining unfamiliar words in this way should help prepare each child to understand the story that is about to unfold. During and after the reading, keep drawing attention to the unfamiliar words/phrases and repeat them because repetition is crucial for learning vocabulary.

When preparing a session, thought also needs to be given to what the children can do while you read the text. In other words, how can they interact with the story? For example, are there animal noises they can make, can they clap when they hear a particular word, shout out answers to your questions or press a button (it can be an imaginary button on the palm of their hands)?  Such choices for interaction keep children engaged and help them develop their listening skills.

How to talk about the book after the reading

How can we talk about the book afterwards?

After the reading, review what you have read with children and expand on new words, concepts or ideas. With pre-school children, from time to time, explain the differences between similar words: e.g. In Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney, the author uses the words ‘whimper, weep and wail’. Ask what is similar about these words and what is different? You could demonstrate the differences in meaning and then ask the children to act out each word.

You may like to read a book like, What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas. During the reading, the children can make the animal sounds or repeat the refrain ‘What will fat cat sit on?’ After the reading is complete, you could retell the story with the group using animal puppets (a cat, a cow, a chicken, a pig, a dog) and a chair.

To promote comprehension, especially in storytimes for 3-5-year-olds, try to ask at least one open-ended question that encourages children to infer information that is not explicitly stated in the book, for example, to draw conclusions about a character’s emotions or motives. As this may be too difficult with large and/or mixed-age groups, you may ask this question right at the end (and in this way provide caregivers with a model for the kinds of higher order questions they can ask children when reading together at home) and present it as one for children to think and talk about with their caregivers later. Using Yes or No (polar) questions instead may move the group along more easily. You can also use specify questions (who, what, when, where) to check comprehension of the key elements of the story that has been read.

For younger children

With younger children, read predictable books and books with repeated word patterns. If the book is about an animal such as a lion or tiger, you can also ask them to provide the animal sounds before, during and after the reading. An excellent book for young children is the factual text Whose Feet? by Jeanette Rowe. It is a lift-the-flap book that encourages interaction because it is structured as a series of questions (that demand answers). In addition, the use of flaps encourages children’s prediction skills. These are tested when the storytime presenter lifts the flap stimulating both curiosity and engagement. At the same time, lift-the-flap books may attract the attention of children who want to come and touch or even take the books away from the presenter, so you need to consider how you will use them to discourage such behaviour.

Involving caregivers in shared book reading

How can caregivers become more involved in shared book reading?

With all age groups, you can place a basket of books that you have selected on the floor and invite each child to choose a book for their caregiver to read to them. E.g. ‘Now it’s time for your own reading. Choose a book you like and read it with your parent or caring adult’. This is an important choice as it encourages independent reading. Independent engagement with books in this way seems to be crucial for libraries especially if it can be later extended to the borrowing of other books. You could also consider including wordless picture books so the adult and child could jointly construct a story together.

Incorporating oral storytelling into the session

How can we incorporate some oral storytelling into the session?

Another option you may wish to consider is the inclusion of oral storytelling. Oral storytelling involves both a story and its telling (or performance). A key advantage is that it removes the logistical challenges of shared book reading (e.g. the audience not being able to see the book being read). In addition, oral storytelling brings characters to life, so the children can see how they move, look and even sound. You may choose to tell a well-known story such as Red Riding Hood or Goldilocks by acting it out.

If you find this idea challenging, think about using a puppet to tell the story. When the puppet ‘speaks’, remember to fix your gaze on it, so that the audience also looks at the puppet (rather than your face, which is really narrating the story).  Although you, the storyteller, are always visible to the audience, it is the puppet and not you who should not be the focal point of their attention.

Some storytime presenters have developed signature stories with predictable and repeated action sequences that they share with the group each week. These stories may integrate familiar songs (e.g. Twinkle, Twinkle; Baa Baa Black Sheep and Old MacDonald) or repetitive refrains, allowing the children and their caregivers to join in. Stories like these expose children to a sequence of unfolding actions, help to develop their listening skills and support their physical development with movement activities while also nurturing their phonological awareness.

Getting the most out of craft activities

How can we get the most out of craft activities?

Craft activities are well appreciated as a valuable opportunity for children to develop fine-motor skills important for learning to write as well as school readiness in general. They also connect children and caregivers during and after storytime sessions. After a session, for example, the object created during craft and taken home could prompt a child to tell family members and friends who did not attend storytime about that experience. This helps the child develop important literacy-related oral language skills and establishes a stronger connection between families, storytime and the library. Craft offers an opportunity to incorporate mark-making and writing into children’s storytime (e.g. children writing their names), too.

To encourage children to complete the craft activity, it is important to keep craft simple and engaging, ideally open-ended, and to give children and caregivers very brief and clear instructions. When introducing the craft activity, clear instructions that focus on the most important aspects/steps in the activity and presented in a child-friendly language are not only likely to increase children’s confidence in completing the activity independently, but also expose children to an important type of language – giving instructions (this is of course as much about literacy as it is about school readiness).

To encourage interaction between children and their caregivers, the activity should be as open-ended as possible. In one multi-age storytime that included the picture book What’s in My Lunchbox (written by Peter Carnavas and illustrated by Kat Chadwick), children were given an A3 sheet with the outline of an open lunchbox drawn on it, glue, scissors and discontinued magazines and asked to work with their parents/caregivers to find/select and cut out anything they would like to take to school in their lunchbox. This generated a lot of talk between the children and their caregivers about what a child likes/doesn’t like to eat, healthy vs. unhealthy food, why they would like to take a toy car in their lunchbox/to school, etc.

As suggested above, craft activities can also be designed to support the growth of oral language skills that are essential for later literacy and academic achievement. These include having a rich vocabulary, which allows a child to be precise in referring to various objects and aspects of their experiences (in some cases using abstract words such as ‘animals’ or ‘love’). A rich vocabulary combined with other language resources (e.g. grammatical resources such as past or future tense, number, etc.) also allow children to interact effectively with different people in different contexts (e.g. with close family members and friends but later also teachers at school, participate in one-to-one or one-to-many interactions), especially to share information that others don’t already know and is not easily available in the immediate physical context (e.g. tell a parent what happened at preschool or at library storytime that day when the parent was at work).

When writing, unlike in face-to-face interactions, we cannot point to objects in the immediate physical context, or rely on gestures and facial expressions, and so we need to be clear about what reference words such as ‘here’, ‘there’, ‘it’, ‘she’, ‘he’, etc. mean. To become effective writers, children also need to learn to think about and anticipate what their readers know or don’t know and what their reaction to something would be.

Craft activities can also be designed to incorporate actual mark-making and writing into storytime. For instance, for ‘Library Lovers Day’, children and caregivers can be encouraged to complete the sentence ‘I love storytime because…’ written on a piece of paper inside a heart-shaped frame. A similar prompt could be used on Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. You could also formulate some simple dialogic questions that prompt children to think of their own story, which they tell their caregiver during craft time, who writes it down and reads it back to them. Some children are fascinated that words from their mouths can be recorded on paper and read aloud.

Managing props and music during a storytime session

How can we manage our props during a storytime session?

First of all, what props will you use during the session (e.g. a doll, a stuffed owl, a beach ball or a puppet)?

What will be the function of your prop(s)? Will it be your ‘baby’ so you can use it to model actions that caregivers can perform with their babies during the session? What will you do the rest of the time with it? Where will you put it when it’s not in use?

Will you introduce it as a surprise at a special moment in the session? Will you, for example, hide an object in a basket and use it to introduce the theme by describing the object and asking them to guess what it is?

Or will it become a mascot for the group, that is, a regular ‘guest’ that makes an appearance each week and that the children connect with routinely? If so, when is the best time to introduce the mascot? Will the children be allowed to touch it? Or will it just appear each week and wave hello (and goodbye) to the group? Be sure to model how you wish children to interact with it and move it away if any child is afraid of it. You may house the mascot in a box and sing a special song with the group (e.g. ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’) to wake it up each week, and then put it back to sleep at the end of storytime.

Will you include musical instruments in the session?

What rules will you introduce for instruments when you bring them out?

How will you integrate them? Shake them to the beat of a song? Integrate them into a dance? Use them to develop comprehension (e.g. during the reading of a picture book about fire fighters, instruct the children, ‘Shake the instrument when you hear me say ‘siren’’)?

Will you get children to practise making music/the action(s) before the song begins (so they have some idea of what to expect and are listening for it)?

How will you get children’s attention back once the instrument activity is completed?

Will you use a music player?

If so:

  • check that it is working
  • make sure it is next to you (so you can turn it on/off easily)
  • make sure it is loud enough for everybody in the room to hear
  • make sure you have the CD or audio file/s you plan to play with you, and, if possible, set the music player so that it is ready to go.

How should you organise your props?

Before the session begins, order your props: put the first object you will be using on top, then the next one and so forth.

Make sure they are all where they need to be for the session to run smoothly and then go and greet the children and their caregivers.

Encouraging participation for everyone in the library group situation

How can we encourage participation for everyone in the library group situation?

One issue which concerns some storytime presenters is how best to manage the behaviour of the children and their caregivers. Children are most likely to be engaged when they can hear, see, have time to comprehend what is being presented, and are interested in the content, and when they have positive role models to follow, that is, when their caregivers are engaged as well. It is important to maintain the attention of the group to achieve your storytime objectives.

Explain your expectations at the beginning of each session

After the greeting, briefly explain what will happen in the session (e.g. ‘We will sing some songs first and then listen to a story about …’). State clearly your expectations of the group. You could hold up a sign with words and pictures presenting the ‘rules’. For example, for preschool-aged children, these rules may include:

  • Put on our ‘listening ears’
  • Join in the songs
  • Raise your hand up if you want to say something.

Emphasise that it is very important for caregivers to pay attention and join in the singing and nursery rhymes, too. In this way, the adults would provide children with a good model of how to participate in storytime and help them benefit from storytime.

You can decide what you want the ‘rules’ to be for your sessions. Then keep reminding children and their caregivers whenever necessary.

Ensure that everyone can see and hear you

Children quickly become distracted when they cannot see or hear the presenter clearly. They begin to talk and move about, which creates more disruption to the group as a whole. Be sure to use a strong, clear voice and project it to the group as a whole. If you have to turn away briefly, stop talking until you are facing the children again, and resume speaking loudly so that everyone can hear you without having to strain.

Pace your presentation

Young children need time to process what you are saying, so speak slowly, articulate clearly and emphasise key words by varying your pitch, intonation and body language. Monitor the group visually and make sure that you take the children with you as you move through your program. Repeat a song or rhyme a couple of times if necessary, so that children have ‘thinking’ time to work out how to respond.

Choice of book

The choice of book plays a key role in managing the behaviour of children. The aim is to choose books which will engage all children by addressing themes which matter to them and which treat them with respect (e.g. families, friends, animals, helping etc). Avoid books which focus on special interest topics. For example, books about diggers and dump trucks will fascinate some children but are unlikely to appeal to a wider audience. Books about dinosaurs may frighten younger ones. The language in books is also important. Rhyming books and repetitive texts allow all children to participate and become ‘tellers’ as well as ‘listeners’.


Questioning is an important way to encourage children’s participation, but it needs to be managed carefully so that a small number of talkative children don’t dominate. In the library context, it is best to ask mainly yes-no and ‘raise your hand if…’ questions related to the text (e.g. ‘Who has a pet?’; ‘Who came to the library on the bus?’) or specific/single answer questions (e.g. ‘Who knows what this animal is called?’). If you ask questions which require an explanation, be aware that some children will give factually incorrect responses, or begin to talk about an unrelated topic, so think about how you will handle this situation tactfully. If the response is not correct, it is important to give feedback (e.g. ‘Good try, but I think he might be looking for his mummy.’) or if a child begins to recount a personal experience, you might say ‘Can you tell me more about that later?’, rather than allow one child to dominate the session.

Craft instructions

If the session incorporates a craft activity, present the instructions for the activity very clearly at the start.  

Ask caregivers to avoid completing the activity for their children and complete it with their children.  

Explain that the best way adults can support children’s language and literacy during craft activities is to supervise and let children themselves complete the hands-on parts of the experience (e.g. the cutting, gluing, colouring-in, threading), which help children develop the fine motor skills involved in learning how to (hand)write. Engage children in talking about the activity – the steps it involves, the materials they are using, the creative decisions they are making, how the craft they are making relates to books they have read, and so on.


If you find the group is becoming disconnected and distracted, it is important to refocus the group before you attempt to continue with a story. Perhaps ask children to stand up, shake their hands, have a wriggle, or some other strategy to regain their attention. Some find songs like ‘Twinkle, Twinkle’ to be very soothing and to settle the group effectively. Another song that seems to work well in refocusing storytime groups especially after a noisy interlude with musical instruments is ‘Row, Row, Row Your Boat’.


Self-reflection and feedback from others can help to improve storytime sessions.  

Ask yourself:

  • What worked well?
  • What did the children relate well to?  
  • How would you do it differently next time?  

Sharing experiences with other library colleagues can also help to improve the effectiveness of the design and delivery of the learning experiences they provide.