What to expect at infant/toddler storytime

It’s been a year – a year! – since we have had in-person storytime at Maryville Public Library and many parents and other caregivers who are considering bringing their children may be doing so for the first time and wonder what to expect. While storytime will look a little different than in the past, the philosophy is the same which is to learn while having fun in a relaxed environment. So what should the grown-ups expect? Movement. Music. Mayhem. Ok, well maybe not full-on mayhem, but there will be a lot of action. Toddlers are not known for sitting still or long attention spans and toddler story time is geared to them. Youth Services Coordinator Elizabeth Argo often says that storytime is not for sitting still. However, some of you are still wondering, “but what are the rules?”

  1. Be safe.
  2. Enjoy books.
  3. Love being at the library.

Unfortunately, I must add to this list that due to COVID precautions, safety also includes staying in or near your hula hoop on the floor and staying at your family table during activity time. It also includes masks for those older than

What are kids gaining when they don’t seem like they are paying any attention at all?

  1. Books are important
  2. Language skills
  3. Social skills
  4. Key concepts during play and learning activities

After songs and stories, we have some learning and play activities. All of our activities are based on Every Child Ready to Read’s curriculum which indicates that kids who talk, sing, read, write and play are more ready to learn to read when formal instruction begins. Finger painting? It gets little fingers ready to write. Doing puzzles and matching? These activities help kids to recognize small differences similar to what they will need to notice in letters when they begin to read. Learning and play activities will be a little different as we start back to storytimes. We will not go to a variety of learning stations as we did pre-COVID, but will have each family at their own table in order to social distance and eliminate shared supplies. For those who aren’t comfortable with staying with the activities afterward, activity bags will be available that can be taken and used at home.

For kids attending for the first time, it is very normal for them to want to look around and explore and pay little attention to the songs and stories. They are curious learners and want to know what is going on in the world around them – especially when it’s new. Don’t worry. They will settle into the rhythm of storytime and are learning more than you think. As long as they are staying within the three rules of storytime, relax and have a great time participating with them.

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