I had a few positive comments about those felt ducks who made an appearance on this blog last week, so I thought I would try something new here. As you know, my first love in public library services is readers' advisory, and many posts here have been about RA.... but....
I also struggle valiantly against children's services taking over my life. My job is to serve all ages at my branch, which means, on a good day, literary conversations about the next Booker compete with a rollicking storytime about monkeys, and maybe a Twilight read-alike recommendation. On a bad day, it means being told how to spell Margaret Atwood (how stupid do I look?) while filling the printer with paper (x 100), trouble-shooting the PCs (remember to extract the pencil from the floppy drive!), tripping over toys in the early literacy corner, shouting over screaming babies, all while conducting a "conversation" with a monosyllabic teen about his 2 hour+ Facebook use and the need of other individuals visiting the library to use the Internet as well. Man, I really do love my job.
Anyway, I do children's programming, and I like the balance of serving all ages, except that there is always SO MUCH to do for children's programming. Luckily, after 8+ years of storytime experience, I am beginning to get good at pulling the occasional program out of my hat. I have a special place in my heart for felts. When I train new staff who are doing programming for kids, I always say, do what you love. Don't do a stick story if you hate stick stories. Don't do a tell-and-draw if, like me, you suck at tell-and-draw (10 seconds into mine: "It's a whale!" Thanks, kid). Unless you hadn't already noticed, kids can smell fear. Do what you are comfortable doing in your storytime, or practice something so you become comfortable with it. I don't recommend practicing on your family members, though, unless you want your husband to hate every children's book except for Bark, George (well, it is an amazing book, you have to admit. Another great example of the willing suspension of disbelief).
Felts are my security blanket. Not only are they tactile and interactive (given you have indestructible felts and a secure board, and preferably children older than 2), they are a great way to break the ice in storytime: set up the felt beforehand and ask kids if they can tell you what today's storytime is about. Be sure to make outrageous guesses yourself: "Did you say toothbrushes? I don't see any toothbrushes!" "Bellybuttons? I don't think so!" They can also act as marketing if your storytime room, like mine, can be viewed by the public. I leave my felts up unless another group is using our room, so people coming and going can see through the glass the types of programs libraries do. This is also why I never leave a messy program room: duh. Well, except for now, when it's full of boxes for the migration.
So, I hereby christen Fridays on this blog Felt Fridays! I will be posting a photo of one of my handmade (yes, by me! As the wise Kaya once muttered as she and I grimly glitter-fied some felts years ago, F.A.C.E. did teach us some life skills!) felts and some accompanying songs/rhymes/stories in French and English.
Have fun, children's programmers.