Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Baby Story Time - Story Time Matters

We all know that story time is important for children. I think we sometimes forget how vitally important it can be for the parents who attend as well.

One thing I love about doing Baby Story Time is providing a chance for new parents to meet each other.  Although we often measure our story time "success" on the reaction of the children, I find it so rewarding to overhear parents making plans for play-dates afterwards, or just sharing stories and tips with one another about their experiences with parenting.  As a mother of a small child, I know how comforting it is to hear that other parents are just as sleep-deprived as I am, or that their children have some of the same quirks as mine (or are even quirkier!)  In fact, it is often that need for human interaction - with other adults, no less! - that brings parents to story time.  Yes, they know it is important for their children (interaction with other children, learning to listen, learning to share, the music and movement, the rhymes, we could go on and on, right?), but let's face it: when you are home alone with a 12-month old five days a week, you need some time with other parents!  And I am happy to provide that for the new parents in our community.

As I mentioned, I am also a new(ish) parent - my little boy will be three this June.  I've been doing Baby ST since he was about 7 months old, and I've been lucky that his grandmother has always been happy to bring him to my story time.  I have always felt that this has helped me to really build a rapport with my story time families, because they get to see both sides of me - the librarian and the mom.  I can help them find the best books, not just because I'm a librarian, but also because I've read them to my own son.  And here's the honest truth: I'm human. I need that parent interaction just as much as they do.  Because while I'm the one leading the group in songs, stories, and other activities, I'm just as new to parenting as they are.  And so these parents who bring their babies to my program are not just my patrons, they are my peers, and I'd like to think they have also become my friends.

Miss Kristen's son, Adam, attending Baby Story Time

When I told my story time families that I would be gone for a few weeks because my son was getting a new kidney, I expected smiles and head nods.  What I got was far more than I ever imagined: they burst into applause.  And I, of course, burst into tears (as I am right now, tearing up as I type this).  I didn't share this information because I wanted sympathy, but simply because I didn't want to just disappear on them, or for anyone to worry.  What I got was not their sympathy; I got their love and support.  And I also realized that by sharing this window into my personal life, I was also saying to them, "We understand each other. We are all parents who can relate to each other and learn from one another. We're all in this together."

Miss Kristen with her son Adam

I realize that as my son grows older and new faces appear in story time, I may no longer have such a strong connection with these parents, but for now the connection is there and I am so happy that it is.  Story time is not just for the children.  It is for the parents, too.  It is about making connections and relating to one another.  It is about supporting one another as parents because we know what it's like.  And that matters, it really does.  Story time matters.  What WE do as librarians matters. The connections we make with these families matters.  I'll never forget that day, that round of applause, the way it felt and what it meant to me. And that matters.


  1. There's an old Chinese saying: "The smile that you send out returns to you." When you aspire to help others, you often reap unexpected benefits. It's the universe's reward for good deeds.

  2. First, I want to say that I have been a faithful lurker, especially to your Baby Story Time, since I discovered your blog last October and pretty much borrowed all of your Fall storytime rhymes (hope you don't mind :)) I also followed along, because your team sounds so similar to mine and our stories seemed so parallel. In fact when I found your blog, I immediately sent it to both of my coworkers and said "If we do a department blog it should be just like this!" I too am a mommy to a crazy little 3 year old boy and teach Baby Rhyme Time. I love it, and love getting inspiration for it from wonderful blogs like yours, so thank you for that! What I love most about storytime though is making those connections, not just with the babies but the parents too; it is so rewarding. Also I feel it makes me a better mom to my own little one. Anyhow, just wanted to share my appreciation and well wishes. Keep doing what your doing, you are an inspiring librarian-momma and people recognize that! I wish you and your son health and happiness!

    1. Thanks so much for your support, Kelly! I always post my story times thinking, "I wonder if anybody actually reads these..." I hope you and your team do decide to start a blog - I would love to be able to borrow ideas from you too! :o)