Story Hour for Preschoolers: Everything You Need To Know

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Does anyone else feel like story hour for preschoolers and younger can be a little…tricky at times? Anyone have rambunctious rugrats who can’t sit still for five minutes? Who seem to prefer shredding paper to snuggling on your lap to hear a story?

I’m so with you! Today we’re gonna talk about story hour for preschoolers, how to do it successfully and why it’s so darn important!

Learn all of the tricks to hold a successful story hour from an experience mom who has done it for year. 20 minutes of reading everyday is the most important time for your child. Learn how to make it fun for kids and adults.

My daughter and I started attending story hour at my *tiny* local library when she was 13 months old. I have fond childhood memories of the library and wanted the same for her. While story hour was available and well-done, it was geared towards 5 and 6 year olds. I spent most of the time restocking the shelves my toddler was rapidly and repeatedly unloading. I spent most of my time frustrated.

A year later, an amazing friend with a toddler and preschooler moved into my small town and we started our own story hour for preschool kids. Now, two years into it, I feel like we’ve hit a rhythm that is easy, fun, and so effective!

Today I’m sharing my hard-learned secrets with you for hosting a successful story hour for preschool kids, without losing your mind or (much) of your precious free time. For easy tips to teach reading to your child check this post out. 

#1 – Read high quality picture books!!!

Children’s books are not all equal when it comes to reading aloud. If you don’t enjoy reading a story, chances are the kids aren’t enjoying hearing the story. Do NOT read the easy reader Disney or other TV-related books during story hour. These are for children who are learning to read, not children who are being read to by a capable adult reader.

Picture books with vibrant illustrations and rich and varied language are much easier to read aloud and captivate small children’s imaginations. It’s absolute magic when the entire gaggle of 13 three year-olds falls totally silent to hear what happens to the ten apples up on top when the mop comes out!

#2 – Keep it simple  

Small children love routine and the ability to anticipate what’s coming next.  Find a routine that works for your story hour and stick to it. For example, I begin every story hour with the same three songs and game (pass the bean bag, if you were wondering.)

#3 – Don’t over-schedule your time

Aim for three books per story hour, with two songs, finger plays or wiggle sessions in between each story. Crafting with this age group is nearly impossible.  We stick with a simple coloring sheet at the very end. That way babies can leave without missing anything.

#4 – Engage caregivers

Another plug for simplicity, the more you sing the same songs or play the same games, the more the adult caregivers can participate.  Story hour is just as much for adults as for children.  The songs and rhymes, games and finger plays, and stories we read all enter into the adult’s parenting toolbox, so to speak.  If parents know the songs, they can sing along during story hour and when they are at home, alone with their child.  

#5 – Repetition, Repetition, Repetition

Kids love, love, love to feel like they’re big, grown up, and in charge. Children feel empowered when they know what’s coming next since you use the same routines, songs, and activities over and over again.

If your library already offers a variety of story hours that address different developmental levels then great! If not, you are totally capable of running your own story hour for preschoolers or toddlers.

Reading stories to children is not a complicated task, but it does take a little know-how and understanding of developmental capabilities. It’s okay for preschoolers to fidget, ask questions, and look through other books or meander along the stacks while an adult is reading to them. Just because they’re fidgeting doesn’t mean they’re not listening.

My primary goal when I lead story hour is to help parents (caregivers) connect with their kids. I purposely use the same routine and activities to help parents learn them and incorporate them at home. Because, in the end, the hour we spend at the library is far less influential than the time we spend at home.

What questions do you have about story hour for preschoolers? Do your kids have a favorite storybook?  Check out this infographic for USBORNE BOOKS. This is kind of a big deal and something we should focus on as parents! Twenty minutes goes a long ways!