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Saturday, December 1, 2007

To Theme or Not to Theme?

I'm on the PUBYAC listserv and someone posted asking for recommendations for blogrolls. Of course I gave mine.

iLibrarian http://oedb.org/blogs/ilibrarian/feed/ LISNews.org http://lisnews.org/index.rss School Library Journal Breaking News http://feeds.feedburner.com/SchoolLibraryJournalBreakingNewsfeedburner Tandem Insights http://tandemlibrarybooks.typepad.com/tandem_insights/atom.xml Unshelved http://www.overduemedia.com/rss.aspx Yay for great blogs! But one of the best discoveries from when she posted her compilation was The Monkey Speaks http://themonkeyspeaks.wordpress.com/ For more convoluted web madness, The Monkey Speaks (Library Storytimes: an Excellent List of Tips) linked to this fun blog post... Seven Tips for Satisfying Library Preschool Programs The reason I bring this post up is because I am now conflicted with tip #3! "You really don’t need a specific theme." Egads!!! It's not that this is a huge surprise. I've even heard this mentioned before. It certainly makes sense. Only use books you really love and love to read to give the audience the best experience. But, when I actually contemplate doing it...I mean not using a storytime theme. It's intimidating. I've just come to accept it as standard structure. All the other librarians I've ever worked with have used themes. All my current coworkers use themes. In my mind the kids have come to expect themes. Or do they? When I actually sit down and think about it, the kids probably wouldn't miss the themes. And I do end up using books I'm not thrilled about just to fill in the blanks. But there are so many professional books and websites and conversations about this theme or that theme, good books and fingerplays to use, etc., etc. Working with themes has it's benefits as well. I constantly have teachers needing books to work with their units and having done that theme myself, I've already been through all our books on a given subject and I'm more capable of assisting them to locate the best read-alouds quickly. Working with themes also forces me to look through books I might not have picked up otherwise. I've found some real gems while scouring the stacks to find another good theme book. Anybody else have any insight? I think I'm at a standstill for the time being, and will still be doing cookie stories for December. Mmm...cookies.

2 comments:

Alkelda the Gleeful said...

Ms. Hegna, You make a valid point here:Working with themes also forces me to look through books I might not have picked up otherwise. I've found some real gems while scouring the stacks to find another good theme book.

There's something to be said for structure opening up avenues that you might not have thought of before. As I said in my post, if a theme really does help you, that's great, but there shouldn't be the pressure to do so simply because it's "done."

Thanks for linking to my post!

Walter said...

Hi; this is the Monkey (Walter Minkel). Don't worry about themes, unless you feel more comfortable using them. Some people adore structure, and others (such as yours truly) are happier when things are loose. Pleasing the kids and making books fun are what's important.

Serendipity - "I've found some real gems while scouring the stacks to find another good theme book" - is great, too. Not using themes never keeps me away from scouring the stacks for something new or something I might have forgotten. Thanks for the post!