The library hosts their Halloween storytime party every year on the Friday before Halloween, so that there’s no conflict with other events the village puts on that take place on the actual holiday. Which means we had our party this past Friday.
It was…a bit like running a marathon. A super fun, adorably costumed marathon.
Our storytimes generally follow the same loose structure: two books mixed in with various songs and rhymes, including an opener and a closer. At least one of those songs is a shaker song so the kids can get up and dance. Our Halloween storytime was no different, only this time we had ALL our regulars (usually they’re spread out among the daily storytimes), totaling 35 kids and 33 adults. These are kids and parents who know the score and who are generally well behaved – all of which apparently goes out the window when you add a holiday and costumes.
We danced to Monster Mash, did a monster-fied version of the Hokey Pokey (You put your claws in, you put your claws out…), and our shaker song was Witch Doctor, which was a definite hit. The books read were:
We’re Off to Find the Witch’s House, Richard Krieb
Go Away, Big Green Monster, Ed Emberly (One of my personal favorites)
After storytime the kids did a bit of trick-or-treating around the adult area, for treats like pin wheels and bubbles, before coming downstairs for fruit and veggies (and also tiny cupcakes, because c’mon, it’s Halloween). Overall, people were happy, it was fun, everyone had a good time.
Except for one little thing, really.
I tend to think that parents should take a bigger role in helping librarians get their children settled for storytime; encouraging them to sit down, listen to the story, participate, etc. For the most part, the parents I’ve been meeting have done so.
For the most part.
There are ALWAYS one or two (or, in the case of the Halloween party, more) that don’t even seem to be paying attention. We had a couple of kids dressed as superheroes who were racing laps around the room, seemingly recreating a hero-chasing-villain scene, while a librarian was reading her book to the crowd – where were the parents?
I haven’t experienced this in my storytime, because the oldest kid who comes to mine is just under two. The parents who bring their babies to my storytime are always ready to engage, because babies can’t really do that without adult guidance and encouragement. But I’ve observed it in others – the parent, babysitter or guardian who leaves their child at the front of the room and moves to the back, spends the whole time on their phone, and checks out for the whole storytime. I get that it can feel a little silly to full commit as an adult to doing a fingerplay or dancing the hokey pokey, but you know what? The experience is better for everyone if they do. It helps model good behavior for the kid, it helps the kids get a better handle on what the activities are, and it makes for a more focused environment all around.
What I want to say to those distracted guardians/parents/babysitters: If you’re going to be there with your child, be there. Help us out a bit and play a little!