Ten tiny tushes plop down criss-cross-applesauce as the librarian asks everyone to settle. She opens a storybook wide and begins to read. Thus begins the tried-and-true staple to help spark children’s interest in books. But there’s more to storytime than meets the eye.
A variety of locations around the metro area are offering new twists on the traditional activity in hopes of engaging young minds and supporting early literacy skills in different ways. Here’s how they’re doing it.
Skills for Parents and Kids
At Douglas County Libraries (DCL), their main goal isn’t necessarily teaching preschoolers to read, but rather equipping them with phonological awareness—an understanding that letters represent sounds that adults use to communicate ideas. Each of DCL’s storytimes have an educational focus, emphasizing five practices for engaging young children: reading, writing, singing, talking, and playing.
“For instance, we might sing a song or nursery rhyme and then remind parents that they can enjoy singing the song at home or in the car,” says Patty Wright, head of youth services at the Philip S. Miller Library for Douglas County Libraries. Parents learn, too, as they pick up tips for creatively reading picture books, introducing new books at home, and even singing.
Likewise, Denver Public Library (DPL) prioritizes education for the adults as much as the kids. “We have really tried to make storytime an excellent experience in two ways,” says Sarah McNeil, senior librarian of DPL’s Early Learning Department. “First, that it’s a fun, engaging experience for kids and their adults, and also that it supports the adults by modeling what reading, talking, singing, playing, and writing can do for their kids.”
Storytime also brings communities together. “The storytime is the venue,” says Wright, “but what happens is that people come to meet each other, so there’s the social aspect for the kids and the parents. Playgroups have formed from storytimes here, it’s a nice opportunity for parents, especially new parents, to meet up with other people that are in a similar place in life.”
Special Storytime Themes
Venture out to try one of these storytimes with a special twist.
Under the Sea Storytime
Each Wednesday at 9:30 a.m., visitors to the Downtown Aquarium can attend a storytime about a featured animal, during Under the Sea storytime. Click the date you’ll be attending on their online calendar, to see what animal will be featured that week. The storytime is free for aquarium members and $5 for nonmembers.
Happier Hour Storytime
Bookbar, an independent bookstore and wine bar/cafe in the Tennyson Street arts district, offers Happier Hour for parents and kids on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Beginning at 4 p.m., wine for parents and kids’ meals are available at half-off, then storytime with cookies begins at 4:30 p.m.
Drag Queen/King Storytimes
Kids learn lessons about inclusivity at Drag Queen and Drag King storytimes at Second Star to the Right, a children’s book and toy store in Denver. During the storytimes, a drag queen from the Glamoure Family reads and sings with children, or a member of the Mile High Kingdom drag kings performs choreographed songs and routines, dances with kids, tells stories, and talks about inclusivity, accepting yourself, and being kind to others. The drag queen and king storytimes alternate every other month.
Butterfly Pavilion hosts a storytime every morning at 10 a.m. in the Invertebrate World exhibit with employees reading books about their favorite invertebrates, including caterpillars, spiders, squid, and other bugs. Experience the life of a busy spider, the harrowing tale of an ugly bug, and what happens to that caterpillar after he eats so much. Storytime is included with general admission.
Storytime in Spanish
In addition to their weekly Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. storytimes, The Bookies bookstore in Glendale hosts La Hora de Cuentos, a spanish language storytime, every Thursday at 11 a.m. Floor manager Anne Menon reads from the robust Spanish-language section at this independent bookstore that has served Denver for 45 years.
Little ones get a taste of French culture on select Mondays at 11:30 a.m. as instructors from the Alliance de Français de Denver share a French story, song, and activity during one of the daily storytimes offered at Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus. French storytimes run December 3 and 17 this month.
Tales of Trains
Executive director of the Colorado Railroad Museum, Donald Tallman, shares a railroad-themed story and craft on the third Tuesday of each month, 10 to 11 a.m., during Director’s Storytime and Craft at the museum. The storytime, which is included with the price of admission, is recommended for ages four to six.
Douglas County Libraries’ Castle Pines location teaches families how to relax and be calm while having fun and stretching their imaginations. Families work on mindfulness through breathing exercises and yoga poses paired with books the third Friday of each month at 10:30 a.m. In 2019, yoga storytime will be held on the second and fourth Friday of each month at 10:30 a.m.