Vries, P. (2008). Parental perceptions of music in storytelling sessions in a public library. Early Childhood Education Journal. Vol. 35 Issue 5, p473-478.


This case study examines parent/caregivers perceptions of music in storytelling sessions provided in a public library to children under the age of five, including music activities and ideas parent/caregivers implemented in the home as a result of the sessions. The researcher collected data from parent/caregiver focus groups, along with interviews with the storyteller and observations of storytelling sessions. Based on these data, the researcher found that music in storytelling sessions enhanced social interaction for children; music helped focus the children in storytelling sessions; and the sessions provided parents new ideas for using music in the home.

Key Findings:

  • Music enhanced social interaction for children. The singing involved in the story times fostered more interaction between the children and the teller, as well as the children with each other because they got to sing and move together.
  • Music focused the children during storytelling sessions. The interactive nature of the storytelling, such as singing during certain parts of the story, helped the children focus on the story itself. Parents began using this technique at home when they saw how well it worked in the library.
  • Parent/caregivers were able to integrate things they learned at the library at home, for example, new songs and new ways to sing songs. They also observed that children sang and played instruments at home on their own more after they began going to the storytelling sessions.

Significance of the Findings:

This research suggests that storytelling events at libraries can positively impact children, during the sessions and after, through the integration of music. The singing of songs in the sessions expanded parent/caregivers’ song vocabulary and exposed them to using actions to songs, new ways of singing songs, and integrating songs with stories. Finally, simply exposing young children and parent/caregivers to a variety of musical experiences in the storytelling sessions was a way to engage parent/caregivers and young children in musical activities they might not have done otherwise.


The researcher collected data through an exploratory case study approach. The primary method of collecting data consisted of four, thirty- minute focus groups over a seven-week period with the same sample of eight parents/caregivers attending the storytelling sessions at the public library with their children. The researcher simultaneously collected and analyzed focus group and observation data, in line with a constant comparative method. This ongoing data analysis allowed the researcher to identify emergent themes, which she further explored and refined as data collection continued. The researcher conducted a member check with focus group participants to ensure the reliability of her focus group data. The researcher also observed an undisclosed number of storytelling sessions over a seven-week period. The sessions occurred on weekday mornings at 11 am, with the first twenty minutes dedicated to a story with music, and the remainder for a craft activity. There were usually 20 to 30 children in attendance.

Limitations of the Research:

The limitations of the study include: 1) no interviews were conducted with the children that took part in the storytelling programs; 2) while there was a large group of child participants (between twenty and thirty at each session), the study only conducted focus groups with a small sample of the parents/caregivers; 3) the focus group participants exhibited a gender bias, as all were female; and 4) the findings have limited generalizability due to the fact that the study is a single case study.

Questions to Guide New Research:

Does integrating music into storytelling sessions for older children work as well as with younger children? How do the children interpret the music in the storytelling sessions?