By Awnali Mills
This week I did a “Bedtime Stories and Stuffed Animal Sleepover” program. It was a hit! Unbeknownst to me, a local paper had picked up and advertised the program. Fortunately, the branch manager caught it and let us know to plan for extra—and it’s a good thing she did!
I opened the room early and had people work on filling out and attaching nametags for any animals spending the night with us. Naturally a lot of people came in late, so they had to fill them out after the program before they could leave the animals.
Since this was a family storytime with lots of different ages, and because we had a whole bunch of new faces, I explained the storytime rules (laughing inwardly at the man who guiltily whisked his cell phone out of sight when I asked for cell phones to be put away) and off we went!
Oh, I should mention that I was wearing my pajamas, slippers, and a robe.
Our first book was A Bedtime for Bear by Bonnie Becker. While this verges on being too long for preschoolers, it offers great opportunity for different voices, squeaking, roaring, and dialogic reading. There were a lot of laughs and even my littlest ones were (mostly) engaged.
Then we all stood up and sang:
This is the way we brush our teeth, brush our teeth, brush our teeth
This is the way we brush our teeth, when we get ready for bed!
Yawn and stretch….jump in bed…pull up the covers…turn out the light
I asked if anyone else liked to jump on the bed, and they all said that they did. So I pulled out our little stuffed monkeys in their pjs and we sang “Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.” I made them do it over after the first verse because they weren’t wagging their fingers. It’s so much more fun if you wag your finger!
Our next book was In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck. I just love this sweet little story. It’s not as engaging as A Bedtime for Bear, but it’s a perfect slow-down-quiet-down story for bedtime. Then I asked if anyone liked to be sung to before bed, and that was a big yes! So, I asked the parents to help me and we sang “Hush Little Baby” while I put pictures up on the flannelboard. We all know about the first four things mama’s gonna buy, and then it gets dicey. Still the parents bravely soldiered on, and I referred to my notes, and we got through it.
Our last book was I’m Not Scared by Jonathan Allen. I asked kids if they were ever scared at night (mixed response), and said that we were going to read about an owl who says he’s not scared. Then, through the book I kept asking if they thought he was telling the truth and really wasn’t scared. Again, there was a mixed response, but everyone seemed to enjoy the story.
Lastly, we got our fingers twinkling and sang “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.”
I announced that we’d read our last bedtime story and now it was time to kiss all the animals goodnight who were staying with us at the library. I reminded them that anyone who was staying needed to have a nametag, and handed out bedtime coloring sheets. Everyone got together for a group photo.
There was a lot of uncertainty at this point with some of our kiddos, and I put no pressure on anyone. I did solemnly swear to take personal care of Pooh Bear to ensure that he didn’t get scared at all, and agreed that he was absolutely the bravest bear in the world.
After the kids left, I ran around madly in the hour before closing, taking pictures of all the animals getting up to hijinks around the library, and then putting them all together into Publisher. In the morning I printed out little packets of papers with pictures of the animals for their parents. Each child got a group shot of all the kids and animals, a picture of their animal doing something in the library, and another group shot of all the animals having another storytime with Mr. Chris.
I also put together a quick little scrolling PowerPoint presentation of all the photos and installed it on one of our children’s desk computers. It ran all morning as kids came in for Preschool storytime.
My only caution–when going over storytime rules, mention that any stuffed animals who make sounds keep their sounds off until AFTER storytime!