Stage Fright on a Storytime Night

After a week-long break from programming (phew!), storytime commences once again tomorrow morning. I put on my “show” for toddlers ages 18 months to 3 years four times a week–twice in a row on Tuesday mornings, and again on Friday mornings. I love storytime, I really do. But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that my most fitful nights of sleep occur on Mondays and Thursdays, or that I’m always completely unmotivated to get out of bed on storytime mornings. It’s called stage fright, people, and it strikes me–hard–despite the fact that my audience is a bunch of 2-year-olds and an assortment of moms, dads, grannies, and nannies who could care less if I falter.

To understand my little issue fully, it’s important to grasp the sheer numbers we are dealing with at FPL storytimes. After moving into the new building and having no proactive plan in place to deal with large crowds [and not realizing we would need one], my first storytime ever here involved a roomful of 200+ toddlers and parents. Being used to the more manageable groups of 15 or so at my old library, I was in a mild state of shock that day, to say the least. The massive crowds instigated a full blown attack on my part–I came to the next storytime armed with a wireless headset-mic, Powerpoint slides with song lyrics and rhymes, and some carefully placed masking tape to keep the audience at bay. These tricks have certainly worked, and so has the first come, first serve “ticket system” we soon implemented to limit our numbers to 125. I’ve recently even been able to ditch the mic, which had a nasty habit of falling off my head what with all the jumping, dancing, and falling that goes on up there.

Needless to say, it was nice to have a break, even if just for a week. I slept well every night, and was able to face each day without that weird fluttery feeling in the pit of my stomach [or, more aptly put, those sickening waves of nausea that engulf my insides.]

My mom always used to remind me, when I was a neurotic youngster with solos in musicals and choirs and orchestras and whatnot, that Johnny Carson puked every blessed night before his performances on The Tonight Show. That always made me feel much better (thanks, Mom!), and to this day, I figure that if Johnny could barf on a regular basis because of stage fright, I at least have every excuse to feel sick to my stomach, sweat profusely, and grammatically mangle a good 2/3 of all my sentences.

The beautiful part is, no one seems to notice! Parents constantly give me props; the little guys think I’m a celebrity; my mentor and supervisor thinks I’m a natural. But don’t expect to see me hosting any late night talk shows anytime soon…



  1. adrienne said

    I pace. And pace. And pace. And I hate that weird bit of time in between when I pretty much have everything ready to go and it’s not time to start and I can’t really do anything else because there isn’t enough time.

    Those are insane storytime numbers. I feel okay until I get to about 85 people, but more than that in an audience freaks me out. I’ve worked with larger audiences, so I know I *can* do it — but it is very much not my preference. I love the modifications you came up with, though. I would never have thought to use Power Points for the rhymes, but that in particular is brilliant.

  2. stephanie said

    Wow! You are my first comment…very special. I so know what you mean about that in between time. At least at this library I have a desk “backstage” where I can pace and be weird. At my old library, my desk was smack dab in the middle of the library and directly next to the program room door. I would inevitably be searching for Thomas books for all my little boys until the last possible second–and then resume the search the minute storytime ended!

    Thanks for the props on the Powerpoint slides. I’m lucky that we are so technologically hooked up–many libraries would not have that convenience. It really does make the whole thing go MUCH more smoothly, though!

    Can’t wait to read your page again!

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