During this week where my email inbox is extremely quiet, it seems a fitting time to advocate for a storytime practice that I think is important: BREAKS.
Most of us love planning and presenting storytimes…it’s one of the things I miss most in my current job. Certainly the families and kids that come to storytime love it. And like most really terrific things, it is good to take a break from it! Some librarians argue that it confuses families to have a storytime break, or that they don’t want to disappoint families, or that they are afraid they’ll lose momentum if they take a break. I disagree! I think breaks from storytime are essential, and I will tell you why.
Here are my top five reasons for taking a break.
1. Prevent burn-out! This is the most important reason. It takes a lot of energy to plan and present storytimes. If you keep going and going with no time to refuel your creative gasses, you will run out of them! Resting seems to be highly under-rated…and sometimes it is restful to just do something different.
2. Have time to prepare new stuff! Storytime is always enhanced by new material…new flannel boards, new songs, new activities, new stories. If you never take a break, it can be hard to keep things fresh because you simply don’t have time. If you end up relying on the same stories, songs, flannel stories, activities–even if they are terrific, things will start to feel a little stale.
3. Have time to work on other projects! Clean out your storage cupboard. Start an outreach project. Weed your picture books. Brainstorm book party ideas. Create a puppet show. Make some phone calls. Plan a way to thank all your volunteers. Organize your craft supplies so you don’t have to spend time digging through them. Figure out a terrific publicity plan for your next storytime series.
4. Learn new things! Maybe it’s time to learn a little more about child development or “classroom management”. Or early literacy techniques. Or which blogs have the best storytime ideas to steal/borrow. Or what are changing in the demographics of your community, and how you can better meet their needs. Sometimes it is hard to make time for this learning in the middle of the daily grind of storytime preparation.
5. Absence can make the heart grow fonder! Don’t forget that sometimes having a break from something makes it extra exciting when it is time to go back and do it again. Think: breakfast, vacations, family reunions…It really makes folks appreciate you when they have a chance to miss you.