As a book lover and librarian, I was ecstatic to finally have a little baby of my own to take to library storytime.
Of course, as with all things with a new baby, it can be a little scary to jump right in. Will you feel out of place? Who else will be there? Will your baby scream the whole time?
Here are some tips for making storytime a fun and rewarding experience for both you and your baby.
1. Start as early as possible. The earlier you start taking your baby, the easier it will be for both of you. Many libraries have storytimes that start at birth, so you can take your newborn as soon as you’re ready to get out of the house. By the time your little one is mobile, they’ll know the routine and how they’re expected to behave.
2. Talk to the librarian. Ask the librarian to give you a rundown beforehand of how storytime goes so you know what to expect. Will there be bubbles? Singing? Crafts? The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to help your baby enjoy it and behave well.
3. Take a friend. Sometimes it’s a little nerve-wracking attending an event where you don’t know anyone else. Find a friend with a baby of similar-ish age and go together. Just don’t talk during the reading.
4. Find a storytime you like. If you go to library storytime and aren’t very impressed, find out if there are other librarians that lead storytime on different days. Or visit another branch in your library system, if that’s an option. You want one that’s a good fit for you and your child, or it’ll be hard to keep going. (If all else fails, start your own storytime with friends!)
5. Be consistent. Once you find a storytime that works for you and your schedule, be consistent about attending. You’ll make friends with other attendees, get to know the librarian, and be able to regularly check out new library books for you and your little one to read at home.
6. Get into it! Actively participate in storytime with your child. Sing along, listen to the stories (avoid the temptation to talk to other parents while a book is being read), and play together with the toys. Storytime is a special chance to show your child how much you love books, too.
7. When the time is right, move up. I loved our baby storytime and the librarian who ran it. When my oldest daughter aged out of it (at 12 months), we continued going for a little while until a schedule change forced us to start going to the appropriate age group. And you know what? She was ready! She loved the slightly longer books, the crafts, the other librarian, and the older kids. I’d been the one holding us back because I thought she couldn’t handle the change.