Storytime,
the Next Generation???
Storytimes
at Virginia Public Library can get a little crazy, and I mean that in a good
way.  However, my version of crazy and
Hennepin County Library’s version of crazy are world’s apart.  Let’s just say that last week’s MEA bumped-up
attendance of 45 children at VPL’s storytime was NOTHING compared to what goes
on every day at HCPL.  (And, I am even
happier than before to live in our quiet little community in Northern
Minnesota.)

Youth Services at Hennepin County Library, next to Saroj Ghoting, have been my
early-childhood gurus.  They send out
this great newsletter that I always rush to open just to see what treasures
they have discovered.   I knew their MLA
session would give me a boxful of little gems that I could use to make my
storytimes sparkle.  Unfortunately, I
wasn’t quite prepared for such enlightenment.
I went into
the session with the highest of hopes, with my proverbial pencil sharpened, and
took absolutely no notes!  Why, you
say?  Because I was in shock after
watching the first clip of a normal storytime at HCPL and that shock lasted the
whole session.  Children were walking
around.  They were reading their own
books.  They were talking and playing
with their neighbors. They were looking towards the back. All this was
happening while a young (to me) librarian was conducting a normal storytime
session. It was sheer chaos and it was called a resounding success.
Sheesh,
most of my storytime kids sit quietly, they listen intently, they look to the
front, and if they are reading a book, it’s the one in my hands.  I began to wonder if I am turning into the
old stereotypical librarian with a finger plastered to my lips ready to shush
everyone at a nanosecond’s notice.  Were
my storytime kids having as much fun as the kids at HCPL? 
Gosh, I’d better
get with the times. I spent a whole week prepping myself to go with the
flow.  To realize that today’s parents
are a little different than the parents of yesteryear. I went over sky writing
and practiced making my finger into a pencil. 
I told myself that children learn differently now; they blossom in
controlled chaos.  I needed to let a
little chaos reign at my storytimes.

So, when
sitting in front of 45 smiling faces last week, did I tell them to sit criss-cross
applesauce, put their hands in their laps, and beam their big, beautiful eyes
on me?  Yep, you bet.  Did we have fun?  Absolutely! As for chaos, well, it can’t be
planned…it just happens.

Dawn Heisel 
Virginia Public Library