Category Archives: Guerrilla Storytime

The Coolest Things Happening IN VEGAS

YOU GUYS. It has been 1 year since we launched the first Guerrilla Storytime at ALA 2013. We will sure as hell be facilitating some in Vegas (see schedule below) but we are ALSO doing some other awesome stuff, and there is some other really, really cool stuff you don’t want to miss (with annotations by yours truly).


Our stuff:

Margaritaville Meetup

Thursday at 9:30 at the Flamingo Hotel

Guerrilla Storytimes in the Uncommons: 

Friday at 1
Saturday at 9
Sunday at 11:30
Monday at 3

Conversation Starter: Storytime: Not Just Reading Out Loud:

Saturday at 8:00
Convention Center

Ignite Session: Play, Baby, Play! (Kendra and Brooke):

Saturday at 11:30
Convention Center
N239/241 (Yep! Same room)

Conversation Starter: We Make Every Day: How you’re (most likely) already doing the Makerspace thing (Amy):

Monday at 1:30

Other Cool Stuff That Mostly Conflicts With Even More Cool Stuff:


Boba Fett at the Circ Desk: Library Leadership Lessons from The Empire Strikes Back, Sat@8:30 I KNOW THIS IS DURING OUR CONVERSATION STARTER BUT YOU GUYS. Bryce might skip our panel for this one.

Creating Fun, Accessible Programming for Youth with Disabilities, Sat@10:30

What, no Tchotskes? Creating an Experience-Based Summer Reading Program, Sat@10:30


More than Fun in the Sun! Building Collaborative Relationships and Using Real Data to Increase Summer Learning, Sat@1

Dynamic Duos: Collaboration Between School and Public Library Systems, Sat@4:30


Children’s Librarians In The Lead: Managing Change, Inspiring Innovation & Empowering the Next Generation Sun@ 10:30 SERIOUSLY THIS PANEL IS ALL STAR

So Long, Drive-By Storytimes; Hello, Focus and Impact! Sun@10:30

Conversation Starter: Change Does Not Suck, Sun@4 GO TO THIS ANGIE AND KATE AND DOLLY ARE ON THIS PANEL


ALSC Membership Meeting, Mon@10:30


Conversation Starter: What I Really Want to Do is Direct: First-Time Library Directors Discuss Their Experiences Mon@4 THIS IS ANOTHER ALL-STAR PANEL



Kirby did a brills job of highlighting how to do ALA right by night, and INALJ also posted a guide to socializing. For my money, ULU Dance Party and Mango are the two can’t-miss baller times.

Did I miss something? Leave it in the comments!

We’ll see you in VEGAAAASSSS!


This is Bruno Mars. Just FYI.

The Complete Massachusetts Guerrilla Storytime!!!

Remember how I told you guys about the AWESOME Guerrilla Storytime at the Massachusetts Library Association conference? Rachel Keeler and Ashley Waring sent us an amazing write up AND PICTURES. After you get done reading it, if you haven’t already facilitated a Guerrilla Storytime, you’re going to want to. I cannot WAITTTT for Vegas, personally.

Here’s what they wrote:

On Wednesday May 7th at the Massachusetts Library Association annual conference in Worcester, MA, the Youth Services Section sponsored a Guerrilla Storytime. Rachel Keeler of the Boston PublicLibrary and Ashley Waring of the Reading Public Library rallied together and led over 45 youth services librarians as they shared songs, fingerplays, problem solving ideas, and more. We gathered in the convention center hallway during lunch. Many librarians were with us from the start, but more and more kept joining us as they walked by after lunch. Quite a few library administrators got to see all the action, too.


Rachel started us all off by singing her favorite hello song:

If you’re wearing red today, red today, red today

If you’re wearing red today, stand up and shout “hooray!”

(continue with other colors)

Then she started pulling questions from our sparkly and be-ribboned question jar.

1) What’s your favorite shaker song?

We shake our eggs together, together, together

We shake our eggs together because it’s fun to do

We shake them up high, up high, up high,

We shake them up high because it’s fun to do (down low, behind your back, in a circle, etc)

Take your eggs and shake with me, shake w me, shake w me,

Take your eggs and shake with me, it’s easy as can be

Take your eggs and shake them high, etc etc

(sung to London bridges tune)

Throw in a “stop” to surprise the kids and make sure they’re paying attention!

Laurie Berkner “Popcorn Calling Me” song – super fun to act out

Laurie Berkner “I Know a Chicken” song


2) A firetruck pulls up outside and everyone gets up to look, what do you do?

Sing a firetruck song.

Hurry hurry fire, firetruck, hurry hurry fire, firetruck etc.

Change words to “hurry hurry let’s go sit down”


3) What are your favorite websites for ideas/help:

Evernote for planning

Mel’s desk

Storytime Katie


Storytime Underground website / facebook group


4) No one is dancing with you. What do you do?

Keep dancing but change it up so they want to join you. Make it a challenge. “I am going to dance

slow…” “I am going to dance fast…”

Ask people to get up. Don’t start song until they stand up!


5) What’s your favorite fingerplay

2 blackbirds sitting on hill (hands behind back)

one named Jack and one named Jill (bring one hand out with finger up, then other hand)

fly away Jack, fly away Jill (put one hand behind back, then other hand)

come back Jack, come back Jill (bring them back out again)

Can change where they’re sitting to change the action rhyme: on cloud=quiet and loud, in snow=fast

and slow, or high and low

10 snowflakes blow into town (put up two hands with all fingers out)

5 were square and 5 were round (hold up each hand)

They drifted up, they drifted down (shake hands up and down)

And then they drifted out of town (shake them behind back)

(can also do leaves, horses (black/brown), whatever you want as long as you can make a rhyme with

town and down)

We have 5 eggs and 5 eggs and that makes 10 (hold up each hand then both hands out)

and on top sits mother hen (cup one hand on top of fist)

crackle crackle crackle (clap clap clap)

and what do we see

10 little chicks happy as can be (hold up ten fingers and shake them, say “cheep cheep cheep”)

This is big big big (open arms wide)

This is small, small, small (put hands close together)

This is short, short, short (put hand close to ground)

This is tall, tall, tall (reach hand up high)

This is fast, fast, fast (roll hands quickly)

This is slow, slow, slow (roll hands slowly)

This is yes, yes, yes (nod head)

This is no, no, no (shake head)

These are my glasses and this is my book (makes rings with fingers for glasses, open hands for book)

I put on my glasses and I open my book

I read read read and I look look look

then I take off my glasses and I close my book (clap during close)


6) How do you handle siblings in storytime?

– Tell parents to have older sibling bring their own babies (ie: dolls, stuffed animals)

– Make extra props to engage older kids and have them on hand just in case (ex: star wars characters

jumping on the bed)

– Have them be “helpers” and model for younger babies how to sit, listen, etc.

– If old enough, talk to them about how they are older and smarter and need to let younger kids answer

questions and have a turn. Remind them it takes about 9 seconds for little kids to process and respond

to questions, so ask older kids to slowly count to 9 in their heads before answering.

– Have older kids who are readers read a short poem to the group at the beginning and/or end of

storytime (a funny one is good).


7) What is your favorite felt or flannel prop/story?

Take a tissue box, decorate it, and put different colored felt animal shapes inside.

Ask “What’s in the mystery box?” Hold it up and makes a sound clue (ex: meow if cats are inside).

Do a little rhyme as you take them out of the box and put them on the felt board:

So many fish in the deep blue sea, what color fish do I see?

Blue, blue this fish is blue

Continue thru all animals in the tissue box.

To clean up, at the end ask the kids to help scare away the felt animals – count to 3 and say “boo!” and

quickly scoop up felt animals when kids yell out.

Peek a boo game for babies/toddlers:

Print out clipart pictures of things babies know (ball, cat, flower, etc. – things you’d see in a “My first

words” type board book). I do 4 pictures each storytime.

Tape picture to the feltboard and cover with a blanket draped over the board.

Peek a boo! I see you! (cover eyes and play peek a boo with kids)

Peek a boo! I see… (lift the blanket to reveal the picture)

Repeat 4 times or for as many pictures as you have.

Hide felt mouse behind 4 colored houses and have kids guess

Little mouse, little mouse, are you in the red house? Little mouse little mouse are you in the blue house?

Can take same concept and have mouse hide behind different colored shapes.

Little mouse, are you behind the red circle? Little mouse, are you behind the green square? Etc.


8) Do you do any signing in storytime?

The colors of the rainbow sign language song is great for many ages. Little kids may just do the signs for

“color” and “rainbow,” but older kids like learning signs for the colors.


9) All the kids have the wiggles. What do you do?

Sing “Head shoulders knees and toes!” Sing it slowly and quickly.

Wiggle rhyme:

I wiggle my fingers, I wiggle my toes, I wiggle shoulders, I wiggle my nose

now no more wiggles are left in me, so I will sit still, as still as can be

Sing “Shake your sillies out”

Do the Hokey Pokey – change up the lyrics to your storytime theme (ex: put your right claw in for

dinosaur storytime)

One clever librarian just hums and wiggles her fingers at the group. It is intriguing and unexpected and

always gets the kids’ attention (parents’, too!)

Sing “The wheels on the bus” and end with “shh shh” verse


10) What is your favorite book for audience participation?

Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett

Dinosaur vs Bedtime by Bob Shea

Early Bird by Toni Yuly

Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberley

Can You Make a Scary Face? (and almost any other title) by Jan Thomas

Wiggle by Doreen Cronin

There Are Cats in This Book by Viviane Schwarz

The Little Old Lady Who Wasn’t Afraid of Anything by Linda D. Williams

I Am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines

Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

The Squeaky Door by Margaret Read MacDonald

Press Here by Hervé Tullet

Tap the Magic Tree by Christie Matheson

Warning: Do Not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt


11) Do you use wordless picture books in your storytimes? How? Which ones?

Yes, I just share the book and ask what kids see or notice.

A good feature of doing wordless books is that kids come up to you to and want to be more involved.

You can model these concepts with all books – like “What do we see on the cover? On the endpapers?”

Someone did a themed PJ storytime with all wordless books. At the beginning she did a mini-lesson on

how to “read” wordless books. So the storytime was a nice teaching moment for parents and kids.

Where’s Walrus? by Stephen Savage

Tuesday by David Wiesner

Chalk by Bill Thomson – do in summer and follow with chalk outside

Wave by Suzy Lee


12) What are your favorite book to use with babies?

Favorite authors:

Karen Katz

Sandra Boynton

Jane Cabrera

Todd Park

Nancy Tafuri

John Butler illustrations


Yawn by Sally Symes

Diggers Go by Steve Light

Hello, Day! by Anita Lobel

Sleepytime Rhyme by Remy Charlip (can sing to Twinkle Twinkle melody)

Big Bug by Henry Cole

Dancing Feet! by Lindsey Craig

10 Little Fingers and 10 Little Toes by Mem Fox


13) What are Your Favorite Props?


Bubble gun


Guess box – kids reach hand in and feel what I’ve hidden inside. They make a guess based on


Song sheets for parents and caregivers to sing along

Song cube

We ended with some fun songs:

Mr. Sun Song with sign language


Fruit Salad song


Banana chant:

Bananas unite! (clap hands over head)

Peel banana, peel peel banana (peel)

Slice banana, slice slice ban (pretend slice)

Mash banana, mash mash banana (smash hands)

Eat banana, eat eat banana (pretend eat)

Go….. bananas! (crouch down then shimmy up high and wave arms around)



Guerrilla Storytimes @ 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas!

It’s happening.

GS flyer

Guerrilla Storytimes are 1 Year Old. How Did This Happen?!?!

It’s been a little more than a year since I started my mad scheme to steal all your storytime ideas, and a little bit less than a year since we started planning Guerrilla Storytimes in earnest. Now that Guerrilla Storytimes have become not just an international phenomenon but a training methodology that other types of librarians are using (!!!!! More on this in Coolest Thing) I thought it would be awesome to look back on my own genius. . .er, the amazing journey my little idea has taken over the past year.


3/19/13 I tweeted this series:

@MelissaZD @sotomorrow I feel like there’s a bit of storytime magic in things like transitioning smoothly to a new activity or incorporating

@MelissaZD @sotomorrow learning opportunities into a book (what color is this? What shape is this? etc) that feels overwhelming to new ppl

@MelissaZD @sotomorrow and that’s why I’d like to watch a few whole successful sotrytimes start to finish, although obvs copyright issues

@MelissaZD @sotomorrow Um. . .could we stage guerilla storytimes in the uncommons? I just want to watch y’all make magic + steal it.

chris greatest idea


Thanks, Chris! I liked it, too.

The next day, I hashed out the idea.


@meghancnyc @MelissaZD @klmpeace @sotomorrow Oh that’s true. I just love the idea off ppl walking by uncommons mid-shaking sillies out

@MelissaZD @meghancnyc @klmpeace @sotomorrow I have this mad idea abt a battledecks format. Here’s Donald Crews’ Freight Train, incorporate

@MelissaZD @meghancnyc @klmpeace @sotomorrow 5 learning tips, 3 body movements and 2 audience participation noises, GO!

@MelissaZD @opinionsbyanna @meghancnyc @klmpeace @sotomorrow So maybe a little of both? “A kid wants to tell you 85 stories about his cat. .

@MelissaZD @opinionsbyanna @meghancnyc @klmpeace @sotomorrow . . .what do you say? GO! + Each person acts out the response?

This is almost exactly the format we ended up running with.

Melissa got on board RIGHT AWAY and was really excited and retweeted like crazy. Because she had just gotten Movers and Shakers, and had been building her PLN for a lot longer than I had, she had a much wider audience than I did. People started getting excited.


At the beginning of May, Anna Haase Krueger (@opinionsbyanna) started a Google group for us to plot this thing out. Amy, Kendra, Katie Salo, Meghan Cirrito all joined. . . basically a dream team. We got ourselves on the Uncommons Schedule. Amy made blog badges. We got into the ALSC blog. THINGS MOVED FAST.

During the Google group conversations, I brought up that I wanted to start a grassroots advocacy network, called the Storytime Underground. Amy and Kendra were like

bring it on

We had our first Guerrilla Storytime at ALA 2013, and as you know, the rest is history.

I adore and am infinitely gratefuly for each and every one of you who has made this phenomenon possible. In the words of another Cory,

emotional rollercoaster gif

But in a really great way. Let’s see what happens THIS year. Are you with me?

Michigan’s Awesome Guerrilla Storytime, and a Big Community Milestone

I loooooove me some Michigan librarians (also: Vernor’s, Hamtramck, legalized same sex marriage and the Red Wings, so basically, all of Michigan except the snow), and some of my favorites just put on a Guerrilla Storytime at MLA’s Spring Institute. AND THEY TOOK GREAT NOTES, and Lisa @ Libraryland has posted this extensive recap post, because she rocks. AND AND AND AND they made a Pinterest page! Whut? I think this idea has legs, y’all. 

In other News of Note, this weekend the Facebook community hit 1000 members!!!!!!!!!! This is amazing. I asked ninjas to share what awesomeness they are doing, and some GIFs, and here are some responses: 

“I’ve revamped our weekly storytime structure to include more developmentally appropriate story groups, we now do tradition storytimes. . . but we also offer Hop, Skip & Jump (a gross motor playtime that incorporates stories, rhymes & songs), Little Scientists . . .Silly Sensory (a messy playtime that incorporates stories, rhymes & songs-the kids get to play in sensory bins with things like rice, playdoh, gelatine, cooked spaghetti, sand, etc) and Multicultural Music & Me.” -Wendy Lehman


“We’ve required registrations for our storytimes and they always filled up quickly with a huge waiting list. We had a great group of loyal regulars but we felt as though vwe weren’t connecting with new families. We added a walk in storytime on Friday morning that’s been filled with new faces. We’re also doing walking crafts that are based on picture books and are developmentally appropriate for toddlers and preschoolers. We give parents a list of questions and prompts that they can use to enhance their child’s crafting experience and encourage that growing vocabulary. We’re also doing toddler dance parties and parachute playtimes to encourage gross motor skill development.” -Katie Kiekhaefer


 Introduced a new program a week ago after months of planning. Common Ground – outreach to the community. Using the pre-k and K CCSS books combined with the principles of ECRR and bringing tablets along (to close the digital divide) I meet once a week with an amazing multi-cultural group of moms and dads and their preschoolers for stories, songs, flannels and fun ” -Jane Breen

“As part of a special statewide early literacy initiative rolling out next month, we have chicken eggs incubating at our library (initiative has a bird theme). The baby chicks should arrive by April 5 when one of our state senators will be onsite to read a story to the kids and we distribute free books. Because it is never to early to read to your babies, I read “The Little Red Hen” to the eggs yesterday. I think they were very inspired!” -Jean Bosch


 In the process of revamping my Saturday storytimes to focus on bringing families together. It’s now a short family storytime with board games and card games afterward and I’m extending invitations to our local ESL tutors to hang out too! Yay! ” -Brytani Fraser





Guerrilla Storytime at #pla2014: The Recap!

Something like 90 of you amazing guerrillas showed up to the Guerrilla Storytime at the 2014 PLA Conference to mingle, advocate, and swap ideas and strategies for outstanding, meaningful storytimes. Brooke and I could not have anticipated such tremendous turnout and participation for the last day of the conference. Thanks to everyone who participated! I hope you’ll all consider how throwing your own Guerrilla Storytime can benefit your library system, your local PLN, or your state association. Guerrilla Storytimes for everyone!!

Need persuading? Just check out the amazing expertise shared at the #pla2014 session.

Brooke started everyone off with her new favorite welcome song for 1-3s: The Good Morning Train song, complete with train noises and space to greet each child. Get kiddos to make the “choo choo” sound and motion along with you!

Challenge question: What are your favorite storytime props?

  • Song cube – Make a cube by taping together empty small boxes (book tape boxes work great), then cover each side in paper and an icon to represent a common kids song (e.g., I’m a Little Teapot, Grey Squirrel). Toss the song cube in storytime to determine what group song to sing
  • For “On Top of Spaghetti” – A plate with white yarn for spaghetti, red yarn or pom poms for tomato sauce, and a brown pom pom with a string attached to be the wandering meatball
  • Popsicle plates on sticks with animal images on them – Excellent for use with Laurie Berkner’s “Pig On Your Head”
  • Chicken puppet to go with Laurie Berkner’s “I Know a Chicken”
  • Cloth bag – Give kids clues about the objects in the bag before you pull them out. You can do animals and their sounds, red objects for Valentine’s Day…
  • Magic bag – The letter of the day goes in, and an object starting with the letter of the day comes out
  • Dr. Seuss hat filled with puppet letters – Turn your hand into a “letter crane” (make crane noises!) and pull out the puppet letters one by one. When they’re all out of the hat, they combine to make a word.
  • Storytelling apron – Great for baby time because little kids can’t just run up to the flannel board and knock it over. One librarian even takes her storytelling apron to budget meetings to help advocate for what youth services needs!
  • Puppet – The puppet pops up to explain new vocabulary words as they come up in stories

Challenge question: No one is dancing with you! What do you do?

  • Pull kids up for a well-known song like “Ring Around the Rose-y”
  • Use props and scarves to give everyone something to hold and dance with so they feel less awkward
  • Kids don’t want to dance because they don’t want to hold hands? Grab some puppets for kids to hold onto.
  • Own the fact that dancing can be awkward, but is totally fun! Have the caregivers own it, too
  • Start storytime with a big action song to set the tone for interaction, or warm up with a different activity before an action song–gauge your audience
  • Let attendees know it’s great if they want to dance in their seats, “dance in small ways”
  • Do some partner songs and tell kids and caregivers to partner up
  • Appeal directly to the grownups and let them know you want them to dance, too
  • Constantly model what you want grownups to be doing–you never know which caregivers may not be native speakers of English and so prefer modeling over instructions
  • Give an early literacy sound bite: “You set the biggest example for your child–they will learn when you do things with them!”
  • Share the lyrics and actions so everyone can follow along
  • Use humor to gain participation: “Wow! Nobody in our group knows how to clap? Can the grownups help me show the kids how to clap?”
  • Sound bite: “Your kids are going to like dancing with me, but they’ll love dancing with you!”

Challenge question: Uh oh, an ambulance pulls up next to your storytime window and the kids rush over to look. What do you do?

  • Sing the “These are the People in Your Neighborhood” song from Sesame Street
  • Go to the window, too, and talk about what’s happening
  • Talk about relevant vocab and make the siren sounds to turn it into a learning opportunity
  • Make an activity of waving goodbye to the ambulance to move back to storytime
  • [A few attendees shared some horror stories of when this exact situation happened to them: a firefighters storytime, complete with firefighters and firetruck, where a car accident happened right across from the library during the firefighter demo; an ambulance needing to be called for the children’s librarian who was gushing blood through the nose; and police telling the librarian at an outdoor, riverside storytime to clear the area so they could remove a dead body from the river. Yikes.]

Guerrilla query: Lots of the grownups are talking while you’re reading/singing/storytiming. How do you get them to engage with their kids?

  • Ask pointedly: “Are the grownups using their quiet voices?”
  • Shame them with “the look”
  • Emphasize that “we need to work together as a community, so let’s work together to make storytime fun”
  • Open storytime with an intro that gives caregivers a clear out to step outside of storytime to take a call, etc.
  • Emphasize that talking after storytime is a great way to have early literacy conversations with kids
  • “You are your child’s first and best teacher. They want to do what you do, and they will imitate what you do. Let them imitate your enthusiasm for storytime!”
  • Hand out all props (shakers, scarves, etc.) to everyone, including caregivers, to send the message that grownups are participating, too
  • “Let’s turn on our listening ears! Turn it [key in lips], lock it, put it in your pocket”
  • Before storytime, tell kids to pull out their imaginary cell phones and turn them off. Be silly about telling them “No tweeting, no selfies, no instagram!” They have heard the words and will think it’s funny, and it’ll send the message to grownups
  • Change the physical space of storytime–put all the chairs up front so folks can’t sit in the back and talk
  • Tell parents why you want them involved–that’s an advocacy message!
  • Make eye contact
  • Take it as a good time to make an early literacy talking point directed at the grownups
  • Assess the situation–Is the caregiver being disrupted, or are they communicating with their child?
  • On the flip side, if caregivers are over involved and answer questions meant for kids, you can say “It’s awesome all the grownups know their colors. They must have had lots of practice when they were little. Now let’s practice!”
  • Start storytime with a friendly invitation to put away distractions, like this sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”: “Be sure to turn your cell phones off so they do not distract us / Please join along as we sing songs / It’s always good to practice. / Storytime is starting now / Storytime for you and me / So sit back and enjoy yourselves / And we will all leave happy!”

Challenge question: What’s your favorite way to incorporate narrative skills into storytime?

  • Kamishibai and wordless stories
  • Get kids involved in acting out stories
  • Ask “What’s going to happen next?”
  • Tell a story without a book–use felt or simple shapes to tell a well-loved story together
  • Read a great story, like “Caps for Sale,” then use props to retell it
  • Use books with lots going on in the illustrations but perhaps few words
  • Connect a theme from a story to one from an earlier story
  • Use great apps like “The Monster at the End of This Book” and linger on pages with plenty of questions about what will happen next
  • Repeat a single story each week, like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, so that kids practice telling a story
  • Use wordless and near wordless picture books and invite kids to tell the story
  • Pull out apps to supplement stories, e.g., animal noises, to continue stories like Polar Bear, Polar Bear
  • Share a story with a simple sequence, then repeat it out of order so the kids can correct you and learn how stories work

Movement interlude: “Form the Orange” – In addition to the group participation (captured on video by Angie Manfredi), one guerrilla said she also has a verse for corn: “Form the corn/Shuck the corn/Pop the corn”

Guerrilla query: How do you pull the kids back into your activity after they start their own “storytelling” (e.g., “I have a dog!” “My grandma has a dog!” “I have a cat!”)?

  • Make a habit of ending storytime with kids getting a sticker or high five; then, in storytime, tell kids to come give you a high five/get a sticker after storytime and to tell their stories then
  • Create a stick puppet with an image of the interrupting chicken to signal when interruptions need to stop
  • Ask a yes or no question to the entire group to move away from a single “storytelling” child
  • Use the interruption to consider if it’s time to segue into a movement element
  • Turn it into a parent tip: “Sometimes stories don’t work, and that’s okay!”
  • Sing a familiar one-liner (e.g., “If You’re Happy and You Know It”) to get attention

Guerrilla query: Storytime starts with corralling of the kiddos into a line to walk to the storytime room. How do you get the kids to be in a line without running ahead of you and each other?

  • Get a rope and tie knots in it; use the rope to keep kids in line but in personal space
  • Turn the line into a train and use train vocabulary–storytime provider is the conductor
  • Turn the line into soldiers on a mission–“Shh! We don’t want the enemies to hear us!”
  • Don’t make any part of the line seem better than others–no line leaders!
  • Have kids come to you instead of corralling them –> “Change the structure to get the outcome you want”
  • Invite the kids to pretend they are walking on the moon or swimming through the ocean
  • Tell kids to show you their tippy-toes

Guerrilla query: What do you do when a caregiver pulls out a snack for their kid during storytime?

  • Some libraries incorporate a snack or lunch into the program — lunch bunch
  • Say that possible food allergies mean no food in the program room
  • Invite the eaters to quietly exit the program to eat and then come back when they are done
  • Put your storytime rules on a poster behind you–easy to see, doesn’t take up time stating rules
  • Decide if it’s worth worrying about. Good rule of thumb: Pick 3 deal breakers, and don’t worry about the other things that happen

Guerrilla query: What do you do about wandering younger siblings in a preschool storytime?

  • Tier your storytime so there are elements for everyone
  • Get caregivers involved to corral wanderers
  • Invite everyone to “Find a lap for a lap song!”
  • If you have young kids in an older kids storytime, plan more action stuff. And keep in mind that what’s good for younger kids is still good for older kids!
  • Have stuffed animals for older kids so that all the “big kids”/caregivers can have a little kid to do storytime elements with

Were you in attendance at the #pla2014 Guerrilla Storytime? Did I forget anything that needs to be included? Feel free to call me out in the comments!

Storytime Underground at #pla2014

Are you headed to the 2014 PLA Conference in Indianapolis this week? If so, and you want to meet, share, and learn with some other Storytime Underground folks, you’ve got at least two opportunities:

The #pla2014 Storytime Underground Meetup

Join fellow storytime ninjas & guerrillas on Thursday, March 13 from 12:15-1:30 p.m. for lunch. The meet up will happen at The Landing on Maryland Food Court in the conference center (that way no one’s plans to attend sessions are disrupted).

As per the conference center website, “The Landing on Maryland Food Court is centrally located outside Exhibit Halls A-D and features four themed concepts: Espresso Caffé™, Indiana Grille™, Pizza™ and American Delicatessen™. This variety, along with a seating area, gives attendees a great place to enjoy lunch, visit with others or to just sit and relax.”

I’m pretty sure you’ll be able to spot the SU-ers in the food court, as we tend to form an excited mini-mob whenever more than three of us are in the same place.

Guerrilla Storytime: Training and Advocacy for Storytime Professionals

You may have heard about Guerrilla Storytime; now’s your chance to see and participate in one live! Guerrilla Storytime will take place on Saturday, March 15, from 9:15-10:15 a.m. in Indiana Convention Center Room 102. This ConverStation was proposed by the effervescent Brooke Rasche, and conference organizers had the good sense to accept her proposal. I’ll be there to assist in the session as well.

The official session description reads as follows: “What do you do when a parent answers their cell phone in storytime? Join us as we tackle this problem and more at Guerrilla Storytime! We will introduce the training and advocacy potential of Guerrilla Storytime before sharing storytime tips and tricks, then we’ll open the floor with some great challenges for you to try. Whether you have questions, or just want to meet storytime colleagues and learn new techniques, all are welcome!”

If you attend, it’s a pretty sure bet that you’ll leave having witnessed a) the rich potential of sharing-based trainings, and b) some pretty amazing storytime skills straight from the mouths & experience of storytime practitioners like you. Come regardless of whether you want to participate or just observe.

**Other members of the Storytime Underground community will be presenting sessions, too, and I hope that they’ll add details in the comments so every #pla2014 attendee has a good idea of the options available to them.**

Happy conferencing, everyone!


Pop-Up Guerrilla Storytime! at Opening Minds 2014, a conference for early childhood educators

At the end of last week, I was in Chicago for the Opening Minds 2014 conference. I was there because another project I work on, Little eLit, was up for an Innovation Award (as was Every Child Ready to Read, which WON! w00t librarians!!!). In addition to showcasing Little eLit and networking with other innovators and attendees, I also met Andrew Davis, the Director of Early Childhood Products for Follett School Solutions. We talked about public libraries, and when Guerrilla Storytime came up, he loved the idea. And so Opening Minds 2014 ended up having a Guerrilla Storytime take place right at the entrance to the exhibit hall on Friday.

Scarf songs! Photo by guerrilla Holly Jin.

Scarf songs! Photo by guerrilla Holly Jin.

A group of early childhood educators and librarians participated in and observed the 30-minute Guerrilla Storytime, where we shared on a variety of topics (I didn’t get to take good notes this time around, but I’m waiting for some notes from a fellow attendee to fill in more of what was covered). We talked:

  • opening and closing songs, including “I Put on My Glasses
  • favorite scarf songs and activities
  • strategies for confronting kids’ fears in storytime, including using fairy tales
  • ways to combat the wiggles, including a number of stand up-sit down wiggle rhymes, counting movement rhymes, and just putting down the book and moving on
  • apps that have seen success in story-sharing settings, including Felt Board Mother Goose on the Loose, Peek-a-Zoo, and Moo Baa La La La
Trying out a counting wiggle-reducer. Photo by Holly Jin.

Trying out a counting wiggle-reducer. Photo by Holly Jin.

The most gratifying thing for me as the leader of this truly impromptu Guerrilla Storytime was getting to explain to an audience of early childhood educators what and why Guerrilla Storytimes exist. As I was sharing that one of the core tenets of Guerrilla Storytime is that every storytime practitioner has valuable experience and expertise to share with colleagues, I saw lots of nods of agreement coming from preschool teachers. Sometimes, when you’re at a conference and you’re moving from session to session of someone else sharing their tips and strategies, it can be easy to forget that you, too, have valuable knowledge to share. Guerrilla Storytime provides a forum for everyone to share, not just those in the program session guide.

Several preschool teachers said they found our sharing session valuable, and it made them see their public library as a resource for ideas and support of the work they do every day. I love how Guerrilla Storytime keeps opening up more doors for collaboration and sharing.

Librarian Renee Grassi sharing how she uses an app in storytime. Photo by Holly Jin.

Librarian Renee Grassi sharing how she uses an app in storytime. Photo by Holly Jin.

One more huge thanks to Andrew Davis and Follett, who enthusiastically let us take over their exhibit booth for half an hour so storytime providers of every ilk and setting could share and learn. Dedication to serving children means dedication to serving those who serve children, too, and I’m glad to know early childhood teachers have that support from Follett.

Guerrilla Storytime at #alamw14: The Recap

IMG_1252Storytime guerrillas took over the Networking Uncommons this past Sunday at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. For one hour, storytimers shared tips, asked questions, and advocated for the great work we do with children every single day by putting on a Guerrilla Storytime for all the conference to see. From my count, well over 50 people participated or actively stayed to observe, and even more people peeked in to see what was happening. Guerrilla Storytime Philadelphia 2014? SUCCESS!

I took notes on everything that went down at our Guerrilla Storytime, and I’m providing all the shared info here. Challenge questions denote prompts that came from the Guerrilla Storytime Challenge Cup. Guerrilla queries are questions asked by participants. Don’t forget to also check out Angie Manfredi’s coverage of this Guerrilla Storytime for American Libraries for even more information.

Things kicked off with a group singing of “Open, Shut Them,” after which the challenges began.

Challenge question: How do you add writing to your storytimes?

  • Talk to kids and create a word cloud — Open storytime by talking about your theme with the kids, ask what they know about the theme, and write down their answers
  • Shaving cream bags — Fill zipper-lock plastic baggies with some shaving cream, then seal shut. Kids can use their fingers to draw shapes, letters, etc.
  • In preschool science programs, write down predictions of what will happen in experiments.
  • Trace and label pictures and objects that you use in programs; for example, animal prints.
  • Do any activity that promotes development of fine motor skills, which are necessary for successful writing.

Guerrilla query: What do you do when you realize a parent is taping you as you do storytime?

  • If it makes you uncomfortable or the parent is just trying to capture a video of his/her little one, say, “Go ahead and film, but please do not record me or other children.”
  • If you’re cool with it and not using copyrighted material, ask if you can use the video for the library’s website or social media.
  • If you’re not sure what’s happening, ask the parent what is the intended use for the video.
  • If the parent is recording rhymes and songs to learn them better, offer a handout that lists the words for the rhymes and songs. That way the parent can engage with the child in the program and still recall the activities to do at home.

Challenge question: Share your closing song.

  • “It’s time to say goodbye to all my friends” by Dr. Jean (Sung to the tune of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”): It’s time to say goodbye to all my friends. / Oh, it’s time to say goodbye to all my friends. / Oh, it’s time to smile wide / And it’s time to wink your eye. / Oh, it’s time to say goodbye to all my friends. YEEHAW!
  • Signing “Goodbye Friends”
  • “Hands Say Thank You”
  • “Wave High, Wave Low”

Guerrilla query: What online resources do you use to learn new songs and rhymes?

Challenge question: What are your favorite shaker songs?

  • Open with a color recognition chant: “A shake shake shake, a shake shake shake, a shake shake shake shake shake — STOP! If you have a COLOR egg, shake your egg…” (Thanks to Kate Kosturski for taking and sharing the video!)
  • “Shake it to the left / Shake it to the right / Shake it to the back / [Count down and shake] / Shake it to the east / Shake it to the west / Shake it to the front / DROP! / [Count down and shake again]”
  • Have kids shake their shakers when they see a card that shows the same color; great for sensory storytimes.
  • Introduce the egg shakers as something fragile, that needs to be held in nested hands, as a way to deter children from throwing their eggs.
  • “I Know a Chicken” by Laurie Berkner

Guerrilla query: How do you get kids to do call and response?

  • Have a helper who says the response to your call.
  • Model how call and response works before launching into the song or story.
  • Introduce all call and response activities as “This is a say what I say and a do what I do song”; have children repeat that same phrase. After they hear it in several programs, they understand that it denotes a call and response activity.

Guerrilla query: What are some ideas for inexpensive storytime props?

  • Make shakers out of bottle tops or Easter eggs; hot glue shut.
  • Tape spoons together for shakers.
  • Use small water bottles from a meeting and fill them with rice, beans, etc.
  • Fill different shakers with different substances and explore how they make different sounds.
  • Use party streamers/crepe paper in place of scarves. Bonus: Color recognition potential!
  • Ask your Friends of the Library to help buy some props, and emphasize that they’ll be used by hundreds of children over and over.
  • Use non-stick electrical tape-style material as stretchy bands.
  • Visit the fabric remnants bins at craft stores for scarves.
  • Cut up old summer reading t-shirts for scarves.
  • Make “stretchies” with lycra fabric — like exercise bands.
  • Use panty hose for a stretchy prop.

Challenge question: One child in storytime is being disruptive. What do you do?

  • Move the disruptive child close to you.
  • Make the disruptive child your storytime helper.

Challenge question: Your group has the wiggles! What do you do?

Guerrilla query: What does yoga storytime look like?

  • Use the same books you would for any storytime, but do yoga poses as between-book interludes. End with relaxation poses (Star Pose) and a Beanie Baby breathing exercise (Children lie on the floor with a Beanie Baby on their chests, then focus on the Beanie Babies moving up and down with their breathing). See also Laura’s blog post about her early Yoga Story Times
  • Read one story. Retell the story without the book, and instead do relevant yoga poses to “act” out the story (Bark, George! is great). It’s optional to let kids come up with the “poses” by asking how they’d look if they were a certain character in the story. Do some sun salutations and end with relaxation poses.
  • Use bath towels or yoga mats cut in half to denote each child’s space.

Challenge question: No one is dancing with you! What do you do?

  • Choose a child to be your dance partner.
  • Break the song’s movements into smaller parts and practice them together; no dancing may mean the kids don’t understand what to do.
  • Tell the grownups: “None of our friends are dancing! Grownups, let’s show them how it’s done!”
  • Use puppets (or a finger as a puppet) and get the puppet to dance.

Guerrilla query: How do you address the movement components of storytime when a child is in a wheelchair?

  • Encourage dancing in chairs.
  • Make small movement accommodations, like raising hands in place of jumping.
  • Do an upper body rhyme like Finger Family: “Finger family up / Finger family down / Finger family dancing all around town. / Dance them on your shoulders / Dance them on  your head / Dance them on your knees and tuck them into bed.”
  • Talk to the child’s caregiver to determine what the child can do, or what movements the child is working on at school or therapy so you can incorporate those movements into the program.
  • Talk about modifications for different ages and abilities; each child can choose which way to do the movement.
  • Have children make stuffed animals or puppets do the motions.

IMG_1254Guerrilla query: Favorite way to use puppets? (Thanks to Kate Kosturski for taking and sharing the video!)

  • Puppet introduces storytime and models appropriate behavior.
  • Have a contest for customers to name the puppet, which becomes the storytime mascot.
  • Puppet eats flannel pieces.
  • Have the puppet at every storytime regardless of the staff member who leads the program; puppet provides continuity.
  • Match a puppet to your theme.
  • “What will Frog eat?” with frog puppet and pictures of different foods.
  • Bring puppets to reinforce letter recognition for the program; e.g., a pig puppet when talking about the letter P.
  • Use puppets to add some humor.
  • Use puppets in All Star/sensory storytimes as a way for children to express themselves.
  • Use puppets in oral storytelling. Beyond the Book is a great resource.
  • Have puppets available for free play.
  • Allow kids to approach and interact with the puppet if uncomfortable approaching the librarian.
  • Introduce the puppet at the beginning of storytime, and then the puppet says hello to each child (name game).
  • Use puppets to help young children learn to interact with an adult who is not their caregiver.
  • Puppet tells knock knock jokes.

Guerrilla query: Opening rituals?

  • Vaudeville style goofing, e.g., putting hat on the feet, boots on the head.
  • Name songs as a greeting.
  • Activate prior knowledge the children have by introducing the theme or story about to take place, and ask what children know about it.

Festivities concluded with a group singing of “If All the Raindrops were Lemon Drops and Gum Drops,” accompanied by some stellar ukulele playing. Learning and sharing and fun, oh my!

Guerrilla Storytime THIS Sunday at #alamw14!

Attention all storytime guerrillas and storytime fans! Don’t forget that there will be a completely awesome Guerrilla Storytime going down at the ALA Midwinter Meeting THIS Sunday! The details:

Guerrilla Storytime

Sunday, January 26, 2-3 p.m.

in the Uncommons in the Pennsylvania Convention Center

I’ll be there with my guerrilla storytime challenge cup, ukulele, and egg shaker, and I am seriously looking forward to having a great skills-sharing session with all you excellent youth services folks out there. So if you’re at Midwinter and have some time on Sunday, make plans to stop by to participate and/or observe–even if it’s only for a few minutes. See you there!

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