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How can we best organise children's storytime space?

If you are using a special story time rug and the number of children is not too large, you can ask the children to sit on the rug together with you as equal members of one group and one community. The advantages of sitting together in this way are that you are all at eye level, so it is easy to smile and interact with them one on one. This closeness, moreover, facilitates direct eye contact with both the children and their caregivers.

If the group is large, you can sit on a chair at the front of the group, so you are easier to see. Being higher than the children also clearly signals to the group that you are the educator or leader, so they need to listen to and follow your instructions/guidance.

If you stand at the front of the group, the children need to look up at you and you tower over them making the connection somewhat more distant. However, this position is very useful for acting out ‘words’ or demonstrating actions as everybody in the group can see you.

You may also need to give some thought to how you will arrange seating for the parents and caregivers. Many young children like to sit on the lap of their parent or caregiver, especially if they are new to the library and feel insecure. As they gain confidence, though, children do tend to migrate from the lap to the rug. So, you may wish to keep adult chairs in reasonably close proximity to the rug. Keeping adults close to the rug has another potential benefit, as it brings adults closer to the ‘action’ and makes it harder for them to talk and distract the group.

Another vital consideration is whether or not the children can see the book you will be reading and the illustrations. Managing this may require some careful thought especially if the book you have chosen is small. Is it possible to use a big book? If not, how will you try to ensure that all the children can see the book and the illustrations?

Related to this, when you read a book aloud, how will you manage the logistics of reading to a group? What side will you hold the book on — the right or the left? Which side is most comfortable for you?

You also need to give some thought to the songs and lyrics you plan to use. How will you display the words of each song for the group? Will you use a whiteboard and display all the songs on it at once? Or will you display the words on nearby shelving? If so, how will the group know which words will be sung before the song begins? Will you say the name of the song aloud and point to the text on the board at the same time so that you promote print awareness? Will you bind the lyrics into a flip chart? The drawback of this is that it fixes the order of the songs, yet an advantage is the group would focus on only one text/song/rhyme at a time.