For me, it's more than just reading a few picture books and perhaps doing a finger play or two.
In fact, with my toddlers (12-24 months), it's not about books at all!
Story time for ages 2 and up for me IS about just that--stories. But that goes far beyond books.
It's about books, but they are books that allow the kids to interact with the book--and perhaps with each other.
It's about story telling. Sometimes with objects, sometimes with puppets, sometimes with stories that involve a lot of audience participation--things as simple as joining in the chorus of a song, or making animal noises.
It's about singing. Lots of singing, often with gestures or counting or a puppet.
It's about finger plays, but more often it's about action rhymes and songs with full body movement.
It's about dance. Nothing complicated--perhaps a scarf to twirl or a noisemaker, but often just putting on a song that inspires turnings and jumping and spinning.
Let's be blunt about it. Story time as I practice it--and people really like what I do--is really a PERFORMANCE .
Frankly, a lot of librarians I have known are just not into it,and probably shouldn't be doing it. And they probably WOULDN'T be doing it if it wasn't a required part of their jobs Don't get me wrong--they often love kids, and they certainly love children's books. But they're not performers.And working with groups is performance.
It's a very interactive thing.
It's finding your voice and letting go and getting a chance to play.
It's working with your audience--feeling what will and won't work and adjusting to their needs.
When it works--there's nothing like it, if you love it.
Of course, sometimes it doesn't, and you have to learn to deal with that too!