Making Library Videos: Children's Videos

Some of my library's most watched videos are aimed at children.  Library children's videos promote early literacy, engage youngsters into developing lifetime reading and comprehension skills, and are fun for kids and caregivers to watch.  There are many types you can create, some of which include:
  • Live-action puppet shows, which may include some of the following aspects;
  • Readers' advisories;
  • Children's crafts;
  • Readalouds;
  • Singalongs;
  • Children's songs;
  • Nursery rhymes;
  • Book trailers (for librarian book talks);
  • Live video recordings of children's programs; 
  • Promo trailers for upcoming or ongoing children's programs; and
  • Instructional videos (telling children how to use the library's resources, etc.).
My library has done all of these (examples further below), but some are more popular than others.  Viewership of our puppet shows always lagged considerably behind our readalouds and singalongs.  This seemed strange, since our youth services staff making the videos (almost all of whom have now moved onto other jobs elsewhere; hence, my use of past tense) were energetic, engaging, funny, and knowledgeable. They were highly skilled in creating and providing informative, stimulating youth services programs and activities.  Our patrons loved them and flocked to the library to participate.  I admired these youth librarians and enjoyed working with them.

But the puppet videos didn't garner huge viewership.  Why not?  Let's watch one to see if we can detect what's slightly off about them.

Miss Jaymi & Sammy the Toucan
The Letter X x (Early Literacy Fun) (2012)

The basic approach is sound:  Talk about books being read during story times and craft activities being made in conjunction with the reading.  That should appeal to caregivers looking for do-it-yourself home projects for their kids, as well as to other children's librarians looking for good ideas.

Therein lies the problem.  Our puppet videos were geared to adults (caregivers and youth services librarians), sharing ideas that were working in our children's programming.  There's nothing wrong with that focus, by the way.  Videos aimed at caregivers and librarians can be extremely helpful and informative, but viewership will be limited.  Plus, you don't need a puppet to discuss these things with grownups.

If you're trying to reach the largest audience for children's videos, the target should first be kids, with adults as a purely secondary consideration.  Talk about reading books or making crafts--but talk directly to the youngsters watching.  The adults also watching will discern the clever crafting ideas or reading suggestions, but the kids will be fully engaged in the human/puppet interaction on the screen while they're learning to read and do new things.

This is why some of our other youth videos (readalouds, singalongs, children's songs, nursery rhymes, etc.) are watched more:  They're directly aimed at children (particularly preschoolers or early elementary schoolers).  Let's see some examples.

Animal Alphabet Song, by Miss Jaymi (2011)
(Our most-watched video)

MPL Readaloud #4, by Miss Janet (2016)
Dream Big, Little Pig!, by Kristi Yamaguchi

The "Open Shut Them Song," Featuring Miss Michelle @ MPL (2013)

Five Little Peas (Nursery Rhyme Time With Miss Michelle) (2014)

Little Bunny Foo Foo (Fingerplay Song)
by Miss Michelle @ MPL (2013)
(Storytime Rocks! Video Series)

Book trailers, too, can become a staple of a library's children's videos, coupled with book talks at schools, the library, or elsewhere.  Consider this playlist from our Ms. Casey's book talks.

Ms. Casey's Book Talk Trailers (Playlist)

Promo trailers encourage youngsters and their caregivers to visit the library to participate in fun activities.

Addison Public Library (Illinois) Programs for School Age Children (2010)

Legos at the Library Program Trailer
by Mooresville Public Library (2014)

Video-recording entire children's programs allows those unable to attend to watch after the events, but these can try the patience of short attention spans if the complete programs are filmed continuously from start to finish.  It would be better to slice the program up into shorter, more watchable segments.

Instructional videos about using the library's resources can be fun for kids, but they need to be short, simple, and straightforward.  Giving a video tour of the library's youth services collections or other resources can help new patrons learn where to go or what to do when they visit the library.

How to Use Our New Self-Checkout Kiosks, by "Flat" Cauli Le Chat (2013)

Library children's videos should be fun to watch.  It's another way libraries can share the joys it provides to young patrons and their caregivers.


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