Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Storytime for Grownups?

Flipping through Public Libraries this morning, I came across an article entitled, "Thrilling Tales: How to do an adult storytime at your library, and why" - so of course, I had to read it to find out what an adult storytime might entail.  After reading the full article I have decided that the idea is genius and could be adapted to suit smaller libraries, such as yours.

To begin the article, the author David Wright (a readers' advisory librarian at the Seattle Public Library) sets the scene for his noon-hour program - a dimly lit auditorium, couples, seniors and groups with their lunches, needlework and soggy raincoats and the soundtrack from Vertigo playing softly in the background.  He then hooks the audience by suggesting, "Why don't we kill somebody?"  After getting their full attention with this bold opening line, he begins his 45 minute program during which he simply reads aloud to the group.  That's it.  He just reads - and he has an audience of between 45-80 people every time.

The idea is this: human beings are simply drawn to story; we use narrative everyday to explain and understand our lives and this doesn't end with childhood.  Everyone loves a good story, so that's what Wright delivers.

Here are a few ways that you could captivate your adult patrons in the same way:

  • present stories that interest both you and your target audience (Wright prefers to use short stories from the suspense and mystery genre, but you don't have to do the same)
  • add a discussion - read the story and then use pre-planned questions to get the audience involved
  • read the story round-robin style, which each audience member taking a turn
  • plan a "story and a movie" night - read a short story aloud and follow-up by watching the movie based on that story (make sure you have Public Performance Rights)
  • travel through time - highlight stories from different eras and include music and facts about that time period in the program
  • celebrate various genres with a festival or series of readings
  • adjust the age range to include all members of a family - keep the stories humorous 
  • combine a story with other activities that your patrons enjoy such as knitting or needlepoint
Here's what you need to get started:

1. podium or table to read from
2. a light (so that you can see the words in a dimly lit room)
3. a glass of water (no one wants to hear you clearing your throat for an hour!)
4. chairs for your audience
5. pre-show music to set the mood
6. a couple of great short stories, hand-picked by you with your patron's interests in mind

I don't know about you, but I would love to attend one of these "storytimes" - but then again, I am a bit of a literary geek. 

For more tips on creating a version of this program in your library, read the full article:

Wright, D. (2010, May/June). Thrilling Tales: How to Do an Adult Storytime at your Library, and Why. Public Libraries, 49 #3. Retrieved from Public Libraries Online

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