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Programming: Children

IMLS Definition

Whether it's a storytime, craft, or coding club, children's programming can be some of the most popular at the library. Resources to get you started or inspire some new programs have been compiled on this page. The IMLS definition of children's programming (slightly reworded for clarity) is below:

Any planned event for which the primary audience is children (age 0-11) and which introduces the attendees to any of the broad range of library services or activities for young adults or which directly provides information to participants.

Children’s programs may cover use of the library, library services, or library tours. They may also provide cultural, recreational, or educational information, often designed to meet a specific social need.

Examples of children’s programs include story hours, summer reading events, arts and crafts, scavenger hunts, Lego clubs, reading to animals, movie nights, STEM activities, etc.

Children’s programs can be held on-site or off-site and be sponsored or co-sponsored by the library. Children’s programs sponsored by other groups that use library facilities are not considered a program of the library.

If children’s programs are offered as a series, each program in the series can be counted. For example, a story hour offered once a week, for of total of 48 weeks a year, should be counted as 48 programs.

Storytime Resources

Storytime is a programming staple at most libraries. Many librarians choose to hold different types of storytimes for different ages. There might be baby storytime with scarves and shakers, toddler storytime with interactive songs, and a preschool storytime with puppets. It's important to adapt your storytime to fit the needs of your attendees; for example, too much stimulation in a toddler storytime may overwhelm them and turn the program into chaos!

Experiment with adding some of these things to your storytimes to see if you can find the find the perfect blend to help encourage early literacy and a love of books: fiction and nonfiction books, books about other cultures and in other languages, songs, movement, puppets, crafts, scarves or egg shakers.

The blogs below are full of ideas to help you get creative with your storytimes.

Early Literacy Programs

Many libraries choose to promote early literacy by hosting a special, on-going program to promote the love of reading in children. This might be a spin-off of the 1,000 Books before Kindergarten program or something they've created on their own. It typically includes being read to by a parent, sibling, or another caregiver, beginning to read on their own, singing nursery rhymes, tracing letters, and anything else that encourages language development such as imaginative play or practicing storytelling. Below are some programs for inspiration as well as other early literacy resources.

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Many of these resources and programs are funded under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.