Storytimes at the Combined Arms Research Library resumed sessions on Monday evenings and Friday mornings throughout October. The storytimes, conducted in the library’s Children’s Room, provide a moment to practice reading and literacy concepts while spending time in the library.
Sierra Hochstatter, CARL community library technician, said storytimes are hour-long sessions that library staff provide to improve literacy skills in young readers. She said storytime is best suited for 2-year-old to preschool audiences, but all sessions are family friendly events, meaning everyone is welcome to join regardless of age or interest. The library also provides designated storytime parking spaces and an area for strollers outside of the Children's Room for easier access to each session.
During a session, participants listen to two to three books read aloud, followed by a 30-minute stay-and-play activity in the Children’s Room.
“We do focus the activities to storytime-esqe things. We have our puppet theater, for example, and the puppet theater is always available in our kids’ room, but that gives children an opportunity to tell stories,” Hochstatter said. “So, they just heard some stories, (then) it’s their turn to then tell some stories. It’s all a part of improving your literacy skills.”
Hochstatter said more toys, including musical ones, will be added soon. She said that while not every toy is available each time, there are multiple options during the stay-and-play portion of storytime. She said CARL staff members encourage literacy concepts during activities and play, such as singing songs to practice repetition for word comprehension.
“When you’re always repeating, you're building those words, you're building understanding of the words and how they interact with the meaning of the song.”
Hochstatter said stories read during Friday morning sessions are repeated on the following Monday to allow an opportunity for young readers to attend at a time ideal for them and to practice similar concepts.
She explained that the library staff teaches based on well-researched concepts, including the Kansas State Library’s 6 by 6, Ready to Read program, a literacy program available to all public libraries with six targeted skills: “have fun with books; notice print all around you; talk, talk, talk; look for letters everywhere; tell stories about everything; and take time to rhyme.”
Hochstatter said she serves as a model during storytimes, teaching each skill to readers while sharing teaching techniques with their parents and caregivers. For example, as she reads, she points out words to help children differentiate between typefaces or emphasize the meaning of a word by changing her voice.
“(As a storytime reader,) you’re going to fluctuate the sound of your voice to make it fun. You’re going to ask the children questions. I have them repeat after me if it’s a repetition book, get them engaged in the story. If it’s a counting book, I’m going to ask them to count with me, and I’m going to point out as we count along on the page,” Hochstatter said.
She said she enjoys reading when participants engage with her during sessions. Hochstatter said readers are often excited to interact, and children are welcome to move around during sessions and read in an active-learning environment.