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4.4.4: Spotlight on Asides

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    The Strategy:

    Would you like to …

    … inspire children’s learning that continues outside of storytime?

    … empower caregivers to develop new knowledge and skills?

    … enhance your leadership skills?

    If you answer yes to any of the above, try this: use an aside to explain to caregivers how and why what you’re doing helps children build school readiness (Ghoting & Martin-Diaz, 2006).

    The Reasoning:

    Our survey results indicate that many caregivers attend storytime in order to increase their child’s school readiness. Many early childhood studies have shown that the most important factor in preparing a child for success in school is the child’s primary caregiver (Beecher & Van Pay, 2020; Cunningham & Zibulsky, 2011). A caregiver is the child’s first and best teacher. Like all teachers, caregivers know some ways to help their children based on their own experiences and observations, but they often appreciate guidance in best practices to provide support for school readiness. That’s where you come in! Storytime can be an informal learning environment for the caregivers as well as the children (Neuman, Moland, & Celano, 2017). Caregivers will learn more from your direct explanations in asides than from only watching you model school-readiness-boosting strategies (Beecher & Van Pay, 2020). For example, in a survey of caregiver attendees of storytimes in which the librarians were trained to include asides about early literacy, the majority of caregivers reported increases in their knowledge of early literacy skills (Stewart et al., 2014). Share your expertise as you share storytime fun.

    Troubleshooting Tips:

    • If you’re worried that you’re not knowledgeable enough about school readiness or that you’ll sound judgmental, you’re not alone. Some of the librarians we interviewed and librarians in other studies (Neuman, Moland, & Celano, 2017; Stewart et al., 2014) shared these worries about delivering asides. You’re already taking a step to overcoming the first worry by reading this guide! You can talk to caregivers about the strategies you’re trying, sharing while you explore and learn. Overcome the second worry by practicing your wording ahead of time so that you sound more informative than instructional. To avoid saying things like “you should,” prepare phrasing such as “I like to [strategy] because [reason/way it promotes school readiness]” or “When we [strategy], we’re promoting [aspect of school readiness] because [reason/way it promotes school readiness].” For example, "I like to ask children why a solution worked in the book because it promotes problem-solving skills."
    • Experiment to find wording that feels comfortable for you. You might choose a form of address to alert the caregivers that you’re talking directly to them— “caregivers,” “adults,” “grown-ups,” “friends,” etc. You can call the aside an early literacy tip, a take-home tip, a “try this at home” idea, a school readiness strategy, etc.
    • Pair giving an aside with an element you already always include in your storytime routine. The most obvious choice is with the first book you read aloud; pair saying the book’s title and author with saying your aside.
    • Make a visual aid to remember your aside. Put a sticky note on the book you’re sharing or on the container of materials for an activity or craft. Add a note to the slide presentation or other technology you use to display song lyrics.

    4.4.4: Spotlight on Asides is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.