Category Archives: Storytime Badassery

The Coolest Thing I saw on the Often Sexist Internet (This Week)

The Internet is a place full of wonder, cat videos, and some of the best social justice work being done today.

(Looking to follow more social activists on Twitter? Might I suggest Feminista Jones and Suey Park?)

It is also a place full of some of the worst scum of humanity, and profound, stultifying misogyny (and racism!!!).

You know what else is fully of misogyny? Y’all know what I’m going to say, right?

If you said LIBRARIANSHIP, you won. . . . a career where men are disproportionately in positions of power, and heinous male behavior is shrugged off at conferences because the perpetrators are special snowflake liBROrians (Shout out to Jesse Dangerously for the portmanteau).

Lisa Rabey (@pnkrcklibrarian) has not been quiet about this issue. She just published an article in American Libraries about sexism in tech, and you should FOR SURE go check it out ASAP. There’s no direct link so you have to flip through the current issue, but it won’t kill you.

In The Library With The Lead pipe recently published an article by Hugh Rundle about asking ourselves who we’re empowering, and how, and why. It’s long, but it has a lot to chew on. I would love for you guys who read it to talk in the comments about who YOU’RE empowering, and how.

We all know people who live in our neighborhoods aren’t using our services. Are they disinterested, or do they feel unwelcome?

So, what about Storytime?? Melissa wrote about how walking like animals can help kids develop strong shoulder muscles, which in turn helps them be ready to write. Say what?! So smart.

Pop Goes the Page always features some INTENSE interactive storytime play. I am especially enamored of this mini magic show on the go, which would be great for outreaches.

SPEAKING OF INTERACTIVE PLAY. Little known (super widely known) fact about moi: I am obsessed with Elephant and Piggie. Like, Margaret Willison (@MrsFridayNext) recently said she identifies with Ruby Olivery (of the e. lockhart books) to a worrisome degree. Oh how I wish that were true. I identify with Gerald. There is some truly excellent interactive play happening to the tune of I Broke My Trunk, over at A Librarian Less Ordinary.

Stay Tuned Tomorrow, as our week of SO MUCH CONTENT continues with a rant by Amy about how not to be an asshole, and cite your colleagues.

baby book

I went looking for an Elephant and Piggy GIF and found THIS INSTEAD (thanks Obama?)


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)



The Coolest Thing I Saw on Facebook

The absolute best stuff I saw this week was on the SU Facebook group. Y’all are talking up a storm, and all your ideas are genius. If you’re not a member of the group yet, readers, you are missing out on the best professional community on the internet.

Some other cool stuff happened, too!

Katie did a presentation on the hows and whys of flannel boards. I definitely got involved with the larger online storytime community to begin with because I could not figure out how the hell flannel stories worked, so I think this is a great resource. 

I clipped this post of Bryce’s weeks ago and it got lost in the shuffle. It’s amazing, though. I think we’ve all picked out books for a program only to have the totally wrong age of kids show up. Bryce brings her regularly scheduled brilliance to talk about differentiated instruction as it applies to public library programming. 

SPEAKING OF BRYCE: I got you this GIF, which made me giggle:


Welcome to the storytime blogosphere, Jane! Every Day Is Storytime has some truly phenomenal ideas about integrating storytime principals into home life. I can’t wait to see what else she posts!

SLC Book Boy has a really fracking cool idea for a pocket on an apron, and all sorts of messy storytime brilliance to go along with it. I also like his brief reviews of how the kids responded to each book. 

Loons and Quines is back with a new post!!!! Thank God. 

Kendra wrote about how she tweaked her storytime to work for 1 year olds. It’s brilliant enough to make me break my rule about posting stuff from the Joint Chiefs. 

That’s it for my, Ninjas. Keep rocking your shit out



The Coolest Thing I Saw — Spoiler! Guerrilla Storytime! — On the Internet This Week

Massachusetts Library Association’s annual conference is going on RIGHT NOW and they had a Guerrilla Storytime today. Rachel had this to say on Twitter: “If I could just do guerrilla storytime every morning, I wouldn’t need to eat or sleep. I’d just live off that crazy GS energy.” and here is a video from the blessed event of her singing our all time favorite, the FRUIT SALAD SONG. Also she made BUTTONS: 



In storytime news: 

Abby put up a transportation themed plan with soooo many good literacy tips. 

Dana gives details on how she planned a multilingual storytime, even though she’s not multilingual. 

Anne incorporated digital storytelling and traditional flannels to make one really fun BOATS storytime, and build vocabulary.

I love this frog storytime from Cultivate Wonder, with letter and number knowledge built in! 


Congrats to all our friends who were elected to Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz and EXTRA SUPER SPECIAL congrats to our amazing Mel, who is embarking on a fantastic new adventure


And, to welcome Amy home from Abroad, she asked for a Jane Austen GIF. I spent like 5 hours looking at GIFs of Alan Rickman and various Darcys (OH WHAT I DO FOR YOU) and this was the clear and wonderful winner: 



The Coolest Thing I Saw On The Internet This Week

This week, Amy’s taking the waters of Bath (no, seriously, that’s what she’s doing) so feel free to direct jealous pains of frustrated Austen fandom in her direction.

What is happening in the world of youth services librarianship while the rest of us are stuck in our everyday superhero lives?

Kim over at Literary Commentary brought Guerrilla Storytime to Ohio, and did an AMAZING write up afterward. As usual for a GS, it has great tips AND Kim has posted links for songs, etc that were shared! Welcome to the revolution, Ohio!!

Sophie Brookover took the idea of Guerrilla Storytimes and RAN WITH IT and made a crazy/beautiful tech training/GS mashup and pretty much the greatest moment of my existence was when I realized that I had invented a training methodology. I AM THE GREATEST. Ahem. It’s exactly what we wanted, when we made this site, was for people to go crazy with the Guerrilla Storytime idea and change it up to suit their needs. This is amazing and I’m so excited that Sophie is such a ballsy genius.

Miss Meg posted about how her Personal Learning Network helped her feel comfortable doing baby storytimes, including some wise words by our resident babytime expert, Brooke. Use your PLN! We’re here for you! And now Meg is one of May’s Storytime Ninjas, so YOU can ask for HER help with YOUR storytime problems!

Michelle Kilty wrote a really smart guest post for Little eLit about using Evernote for storytime collaboration and to increase parent participation. It’s excellent problem solving!

Keren at Intentional Storytime really spends time with why she chose each element and how it worked, which I appreciate. This post on an Egg Storytime is pretty excellent in part because it uses one of my favorite flannels, Miss Mary Liberry’s egg game, but also because it’s clear how deeply Keren understands early literacy elements and how to use them while keeping kids engaged.

Andromeda Yelton, all around bad ass tech lady librarian, posted about being inspired by Danish librarians to do a Waste Lab with her kid, and the results are pretty phenomenal. Also Andromeda shouts out youth services librarians for starting the whole Maker thing about 50 years ago, and we always appreciate the recognition.

Also from Sophie, this brilliance:


You’re welcome.

Coolest People We Haven’t Seen In Awhile

I was going through my own archives this week to see who I haven’t talked about in awhile, because, let’s face it, the internet is SO FULL of great storytime stuff, sometimes I miss things! Great things.

What is Librerin up to these days, I thought to myself? Hosting (and blogging about) a great Getting Dressed storytime, including fine motor skill-building activity. Storytime: It’s not just for language literacy, but also life literacy. 

Over at Library Bonanza, check out these SUPERCALIFRAGILISTIC Busy Bags, which are just, seriously, the smartest. Interactive! Tactile! Imaginative! Pocket Sized! You’re going to want some. 

Amy at Catch the Possibilities did a PI DAY PROGRAM with PRESCHOOLERS. !!!!! Just go over there already. 

Another old favorite? I’m The Biggest Thing In The Ocean, my all time favorite storytime book. Here is a VIDEO of a PUPPET SHOW of it’s GENIUS. You’re welcome.  


Did you see something great this week that I missed? Email me, tweet me, or comment!

The Coolest Thing on the Internet (and in Canada)!

OMG JBRARY DID GUERRILLA STORYTIME AND IT WAS INSANE!!!! We here are Storytime Underground LOVE our adorable and highly productive Canadian sisters Dana and Lindsey. They have made a huge contribution to our profession with their video library and also, are great. This past week, at the British Columbia Library Conference, they facilitated Guerrilla Storytime and then they posted really, really killer notes about it on Jbrary. Like, they rival Amy in note-taking awesomry. You need to go check it out. It is ALMOST like you are AT a Guerrilla Storytime, but with less ukulele. 

You know who’s been rocking it this week? The ALSC blog. From Katie’s post about unconventional storytime prep (“Does this shirt ride up when I shake my sillies out?”) to this post about whether or not you’re a mandatory reporter (you need to know!), there is no shortage of bad-assery happening. 

Also rocking it hard (I know you’re SHOCKED) is Melissa. She’s been surveying youth services librarians about their storytime workload. I think this is so vitally important. Often administrators see storytime as something we do for 30 minutes/week (x however many storytimes you do) and don’t take into account how much program prep is required to truly do a spectacular storytime that incorporates ECRR and props and flannels and new songs and. . .  So, it’s great for us as a community to have some evidence of just how much time we’re spending. 

Do you follow @lizinthelibrary on Twitter? You should, because she’s rad. Also she has a rad blog called Born Librarian. Recently she posted about modifying songs to make them about Alaska AND about modifying storytime for when you’re pregnant. The latter is probably useful to many of you (everyone seems to be pregnant!!) and the former is a very smart early literacy trick. piggybacking new rhymes onto familiar rhythms helps kids learn about rhyme and makes them feel more comfortable with new songs. 

It’s not storytime PER SE but you could use Angie’s incredible posts about how she rebooted her American Girl program to reboot some pre-k programs, too. Or, you could just marvel at the genius that is @misskubelik. 

It’s been a pretty great week, you guys. Have a squirrel. 


Also the Red Wings have secured their spot in their 23rd consecutive playoffs, so. 


Things On The Internet, they are really cool

Cool thing one is getting to hang out with Curtis Acosta (@CurtisAcostaLLP), my maestro and friend. Acosta taught me to love Sherman Alexie and Langston Hughes, that it was okay to hate The Scarlet Letter, and that a teacher can save a life. Later, he taught the world about how an ethnic studies program can completely change a community, make broken kids feel whole and wanted and important and seen, terrify racists and draw out book censors and bigots in ways that had to be seen to be believed. I could (and probably someday will) talk about how his pedagogy changed the course of my life, but for now know that for real, Storytime Underground would never have become a thing if I’d never been assigned to that dude’s class junior year of high school. I probably also would not have my BFF, which is a BFD.


(15 years later, we are looking good)

Other Cool Things!


I am reallllly into this post over at 3 Dinosaurs about building gross motor skills and letter knowledge at the same time. Taping down letters, having kids walk over them, tiptoe over them, push balls over them. . .it’s just really smart on multiple levels. Plus, it takes advantage of whatever is available, and could easily be adapted to larger groups.

How cool is it to see the importance of talking to babies being featured in the NYT? Also, PROVIDENCE YO. Way to be pioneer ways to serve the least served, get early childhood brain development information to poor parents and generally believe that people want to be the best possible parents they can be.

Cate at Storytiming is doing a super cool and super easy to replicate program she describes as “astronomy storytime,” which is right up my alley.

Abby wrote a great round up of posts describing how to reimagine programs. She namechecks all my friends! But also I think we all have tired programs that don’t quite work as well as we want them too and it’s important to hear that other people have had success fixing that.

Katie at Storytime Secrets has a killer list of ways to incorporate nursery rhymes into storytime in new ways. I love nursery rhymes. I cut my storytime teeth on Mother Goose on the Loose and I think short well-known rhymes that parents can feel comfortable taking home and sharing with their kids over and over are a pretty big deal when it comes to charing brain development skills.

Carol Simon Levin at Program Palooza has a really fun cat storytime going on. What I LOVE about this blog post is that every element of the storytime plan has a corresponding educational element. You can tell that Carol’s storyime plans are incredibly purposeful.

Please watch this video from Zooborns about this baby gorilla who was born by emergency c-section and had to be on oxygen and is literally the cutest thing that has ever happened.

the coolest thing I saw. . . tomorrow

There is a new coolest thing coming! Tonight I went to a lecture by bad ass teacher and advocate Curtis Acosta, who is also am old friends (I had him for English junior year), and we had dinner after. Tomorrow, I’ll tell you guys all about the amazing work he is doing, plus I have some really fracking cool links. 

The Coolest Thing I Saw on the — NEW JOINT CHIEF!!!

I am SO EXCITED to announce that we, the Joint Chiefs, after a long search, have finally found our Michelangelo, our Ringo Starr, our. . . I don’t really know. People, start naming famous groups of four in the comments. Help me out here. 

We are all thrilled to officially announce that Brooke Rasche has become a Storytime Underground Joint Chief. WELCOME TO THE TEAM, BROOKE!!!



You. Yes. You.

One of the things we’ve been talking about a lot, as Joint Chiefs and as a community (THANKS ANNA!) is incorporating diversity in storytime, all the time. Do you feel like all your tried and true storytime go-tos are. . .not so diverse? Do you know about Black Threads in Kids Lit yet? Thanks to HiMissJulie for the link. 

Carol Simon Levin is doing a series of storytimes on art, and they are all really cool. This one has fantastic ideas for teaching different types of to kids through crafts. 

I love this post on Miss Mary Liberry about Going On a Picnic. It’s really smart to use the fruit to talk about letter sounds, colors and, well, fruit. 

Liz at Getting Giggles has an excellent idea for a “drive in movie.” There’s so much opportunity here for learning by touch and vocabulary building. She recently posted about a similar program with trains, and gives a great explanation for how she gets the kids to tell her stories (narrative!) and connect storytime back to their lives. 

So many good ideas over at Tippytoe crafts for incorporating books and STEAM! I’m especially fond of the chameleon. The seamless integration of literacy, art, science and fun is perfect. 


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