Storytime is not just for preschoolers. Traditional storytimes (stories, fingerplays, songs, etc.) using more involved materials still work for Kindergarten and 1st grade, but for grades 2 and up you need to alter your presentation tack. Just because children have learned to read on their own does not mean they should not be read to. All school-aged children are active listeners and really enjoy a good tale, for 4th and 5th graders particularly if it is silly, gross, or scary. Folktales and a “chapter a day” angle from children’s fiction are especially effective with older school-aged children. While children enjoy and are quite used to listening to tales read aloud, try memorizing one and present it using props, and involving the group in a hook line or refrain.
Puppetry can be adapted to the age of the audience. There are so many types of puppets; marionettes, shadow and hand puppets are just a few. You could present examples and talk about the various forms and cultural histories. School-aged children enjoy doing puppetry at least as much or more than watching it. Develop a dual program where you first teach the art of puppetry in a single program or series setting, and then schedule a puppet play for smaller children using your new “talent”. A puppet club could even take life among a group of dedicated children.
Music is a hit across the ages. Rounds or cumulative action songs like “The Green Grass Grows All Around” prove quite successful with the school-aged. Folk songs and multicultural music are educational and entertaining, you could talk about the background of the song then play and sing together. Rhythm stick activities incorporating more involved rhythms are also a good choice. Another program idea involves talking about, making, and playing various instruments as a group.
Group participatory activities are a good choice. For a classroom presentation you could read a few of George Shannon’s Stories to Solve (series) and invite guesses from students. Stories to Solve is a collection of folktales from around the world that take a riddle or logic puzzle form. Some examples are the easier “Crow and the Pitcher” which asks how was the crow able to drink from a pitcher with only an inch of water way at the bottom, to “Dividing the Horses” which takes some more advanced math skills since the number of horses is not equally divisible by number of sons. Thinking games such as “mad libs” (you have a story with blanks every few words – a noun here a verb there, an adjective, etc. and ask children to simply give you any noun, verb, adjective, etc. then insert them into the story to make it strange and funny) or group games such as “library pictionary” (drawing a character or classic item from a book) are good fun for special occasions or on a regular basis.
Arts and Crafts
Art and craft is popular with the after school crowd as a program in itself, such as “walk-in crafts” and a quick project is also easy to incorporate into any presentation. Crafts with recycled materials are low in cost but high in entertainment value. Don’t worry that the concept will not appeal to boys. On the contrary, boys are very interested in hands-on projects. Drawing/cartooning, origami and paper airplanes are of special interest to school-aged boys and girls. Art or craft projects can also be tied in with books. For example, you could read Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown and have the children create their own “Flat Bobby” and “Flat Susan”.
Many children are already very savvy users but they are always open to learning something new. Show children how they can create “books” or greeting cards on a publisher program, or do an online scavenger hunt. For the scavenger hunt, you provide a list of questions from which the participants must search either pre-selected sites or on the open Internet to find the answers. You could also design a program that simply presents new fun and useful websites and provide a handout for further exploration. Offer a time where children can show each other (and you) new discoveries and tips, a kind of computer club. There are many program possibilities; involve a computer and you will have a hit.
Reader’s theatre (acting out a portion of a book) is a fun and easy way to get students reading and participating in creative dramatics. There are a great many books that provide ready-made scripts for any number of participants such as Laughlin and Latrobe’s Readers Theatre for Children. This is another area, like puppetry, where dual program options apply; there is a program in teaching the art and in presenting a piece. You could also encourage children to engage in monologues or one act plays or in writing and producing an original play. Depending upon resources, the library could host or present a single production, create a regular (weekly/monthly meeting) drama club, or provide something in between.
A technical definition of Booktalking is that it is “a presentation designed to persuade an audience to read a book or books”. It is not a book review or literary criticism. Booktalking is selling books to readers. While booktalking, you are promoting a book or set of books in a very interesting way. You can booktalk on a specific theme like “adventures at sea” or simply present a potpourri of new arrivals each month. The idea is to talk up the book, providing just enough information to hook potential readers, never giving away the ending. You can include props and be as creative as you wish.
Young Reader’s Choice Award nominees make for excellent booktalk presentations. YRCA, The Pacific Northwest Library Association’s annual award is the nation’s oldest reader’s choice award. School and public library staff should engage and empower children in the voting process which takes place each spring, and booktalking the nominees is a great way to get children involved in reading and participating.
Summer Reading Programs
Summer Reading is a sacred tradition in the public library and one that should receive wholehearted support from the school library. Summer Reading takes many forms across the country. Whether it is called Summer Reading Program, Summer Reading Club, Summer Library Program or Summer Library Club, the goal is the same, to encourage and inspire reading for pleasure during the off-school months so that skills are retained (or gains are made) upon return to the classroom and to promote life-long learning. Summer reading is designed to make reading enjoyable, not hard work.
Summer reading is perpetual. Planning for next year’s summer reading begins the day after this year’s summer reading ends.
The program or club, running anywhere from 4-10 weeks, generally includes the following components:
Even if your library has an age-old routine for implementation of summer reading, the program must be tweaked every year to keep it fresh and effective. There are a great many resources for program concepts (statewide manual) new ideas, tracking reading, incentives and programming in books, journals, listservs and out on the Internet and your State Library is a great resource for summer reading planning and support materials. Area schools should be partners in promoting summer reading. School librarians and classroom teachers should be encouraged to promote summer reading. Making a point to visit area schools in late May and present at an assembly or go room to room talking up summer reading makes an impression and is quite worth your time.
There are a great many resources to assist you in program planning and implementation. Some examples are included in the bibliography that follows this course.
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