To Theme or Not To Theme


When it comes to story time planning, do you theme, or do you freestyle?

The library technician at my branch plans beautiful family story times around themes like “firefighters” or “rabbits” or “spring”.

Themes have never really suited my style.

I don’t really like being tied to my outlines – I always plan my story times, but I don’t always stick to my plans. My groups can vary wildly from week to week, and I never really know who will be sitting on the carpet waiting for me when I arrive. I often change my plans around to suit the makeup and the mood of the day – if it seems that everyone’s feeling really bright and energetic we’ll do more movement songs, but if everyone seems sleepy or we’ve got a few kids who are feeling under the weather, we might keep things more low key. Sometimes I’ll have a big group show up, and sometimes I’ll just have a handful of parents and little ones. I like being able to switch things around at the last minute, without worrying about deviating from the day’s theme.

I know that some people do fantastic themed story times, and I really admire their creativity. I also know that there are different ways to use a theme – some people use the same songs and rhymes every week but just change up their books to suit their weekly theme, while other people follow a theme from hello song to goodbye song.


There are lots of different ways to plan a story time, and different approaches and styles suit different people’s skills and abilities. There’s no right or wrong way to do story time, as long as you’re always putting your families at the heart of your programs.

If you do children’s programming, how do you like to plan? Do you like to work around a theme, or do you freestyle your programs? I’d love to know!