Saturday, March 27, 2010

Thrilling Tales and Selected Shorts: An Adult Story Time for Your Library

Are you ever too old for storytime at the library? David Wright of Seattle Public Library thinks not. When his library moved into its new building in 2004, he found that he had a small theater at his disposal, so he started a storytime series for grown-ups. He told the Public Library Association Conference about reading stories to the older set at his program Thrilling Tales and Selected Shorts: An Adult Story Time for Your Library.

David foresaw that a storytime for adults would go well in his location, a busy city library. Having a noon-time program twice a month would provide an entertaining activity for local workers and tourists, practically a captive audience. He also figured that the popularity of audiobooks could carry over to live events if well presented. He further believed in the importance of story, saying that telling our stories is one of the actions that defines us as human. He knew he had nothing to lose, and he is still publicly reading aloud six years later.

Knowing that not all libraries can draw noon-time audiences, David had other ideas that libraries can try at other times, including the following:

  • Short story discussion groups
  • Reading aloud while knitting programs
  • Short stories and movie adaptations
  • Stories that go along with one book/one city programs
  • Stories that help celebrate historical anniversaries
  • Stories for outreach to seniors, patients, etc.

David discussed his experiences and provided a variety of "take away" advice.

Always use a microphone. You will be heard better, preserve your voice, and be able to range from whispers to raised voices.

Read at least two stories. The first should be really short, 5 to 10 minutes. It gets the audience used to listening before starting the main story.

Promote as entertainment rather than literature or culture. Then choose very entertaining stories, modeling the program on the methods of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Twilight Zone. Start with sure bets, such thrilling stories by Ray Bradbury, Roald Dahl, or Patricia Highsmith.

Use different voices for characters. Turn slightly for changing character.

Practice, practice, practice. Practice aloud to learn what are the hardest words and phrases. Mark up a script to help with voices and emphasis.

Keep water handy. Plan pauses.

Have a clock handy. Don't rush.

Plan ahead so that the program can be well marketed and the reader has plenty of time to practice.

1 comment:

AndAlex said...

I'm looking forward to starting a similar program at the library where I volunteer.