At its simplest, program building is relating appropriate materials, within a
given period of time, to reach a predetermined goal.
—Dorothy De Wit1
CAREFUL PLANNING, FLEXIBILITY, AND creativity are required for a successful storytelling program.
Planning ahead allows the storyteller to select stories to learn and to arrange them in a program that is a satisfying whole. Know the number of programs you are going to give during the year and the types of programs, such as regular story hours, holiday and special celebrations, family story hours, and any others.
In planning the story hour consider the ages and interests of the children, their cultural or racial heritage, their listening capacity, and the scheduled length of the program. Selecting stories for children of similar background is not difficult, but often story-hour groups are composed of children of varying ages and interests. Although the story hour may consist of a single story, one that includes a variety of types of stories will appeal to the greatest number of children and make for a more interesting program. It will also provide a change of pace. Now is the time to go back to the cue cards that you made from your readings. You have the titles, types of stories, sources, and synopses at your fingertips. In building your repertoire you have chosen different types of stories, stories of varying lengths and moods, and stories of universal appeal.
The storyteller learns with experience to judge the mood of the children and to adjust the program accordingly. Sometimes the choice of stories, though planned in advance, must be changed at the last minute. The public librarian does not always know who will be at the story hour and, therefore, must be prepared to make changes.
Because it is more difficult to establish a listening mood for the imaginative literary fairy tale than for the robust action of the folktale, it is usually best to tell the folktale first if your program includes both types of stories.