Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Guerrilla Storytime Recap

This afternoon, I presented a Guerrilla Storytime session at the OLC North Chapter Conference. For those of you who are unfamiliar with what guerrilla storytime is, head on over to the Storytime Underground blog and read all about it!

Twenty participants shared their best storyime tips and tricks. Below are their responses:

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

  • It depends on the particular behavior of the child. You could always speak to the caregiver. But if the children are in immediate danger, it should be dealt with right then and there.
  • If the disruptive child is of the vocal variety, you could involve them in your storytime and make them a helper to focus their energy.
  • Be willing to be flexible - If you notice that your entire storytime group is antsy, you might need to move on to another activity.
  • With younger children, you can use bubbles at the end of storytime. To focus them, a good thing to say is, "Ok, everyone. Go back and sit with the grown-up that you love very much." (Awwww.)

Audience Question: How do you handle parents/teachers that aren't participating?
  • It might be good to explain to the parent/teacher what the purpose of storytime is. You could even talk to the head of the school.
  • You could make an announcement to the group up front about expectations for both the kids and the parents.
  • Have 30 minutes of play time after storytime to let parents visit and converse with each other.
  • A good trick to do in the transition between storytime activities if need be: Very quietly say, "If you can hear my voice, clap your hands." This is a good trick to get everyone's attention.

How do you incorporate Print Motivation into storytime?
  • I choose books that I enjoy reading.
  • I like to use interactive books or books with animal sounds.
  • Pop-up books are good.
  • I read a book about different birds. I combined it with an app with different bird sound effects and the kids loved it!

Audience Question: There's a 2 year-old child from a different country that visits the library and is very disruptive and has very limited social skills. The parents aren't any help. What can I do?
  • You could read out to a community service group in your area, such as Help Me Grow.
  • Project Learn is another good group to contact.

What's your favorite "5 Little..." rhyme?

What's your favorite way to incorporate singing into storytime?
  • I love to sing. I start and end with the same song every week. I like "Can't Wait to Celebrate" by Jim Gill and the CD Toddlers on Parade.
  • I like to use books that are also songs that kids love, such as "The Wheels on the Bus".
  • I like to use the "There Was an Old Lady.." books.
  • The ukulele is a great way to incorporate music into storytime. Learning 4 chords lets you play a plethora of storytime songs! 
    • For all of you Northeast Ohio librarians, Royalton Music Center offers intensive ukulele lessons.
    • If you want to teach yourself, Ukulele Mastery Simplified by Erich Andreas is a good guide. It's downloadable on Kindle for $2.99! You can also search for how-to videos on YouTube. 
    • A good site with song chords is here.
  • Pete the Cat books and the Mr. Eric CDs are my favorites to use!

What's your favorite baby storytime song/book/rhyme?

What's your favorite preschool storytime song/book/rhyme?

What's your favorite way to add talking into storytime?
  • Ask the kids questions throughout storytime.
  • Using flannels that allow for activities such as shape sorting can encourage talking.
  • Use dialogic reading skills and ask the kids to make predictions about the stories.
  • Ask the kids to help you tell the story.
  • Encourage the parents to have conversations with their children after storytime, such as pointing out signs outside.
  • Using props such as puppets and ask the kids to identify the name of each prop - this builds vocabulary.

What's your favorite fingerplay?

How do you incorporate print awareness into storytime?
  • I put up four-letter words on a flannelboard and then move the letters around.
  • Sing "BINGO" using different words (such as "HEART" or "APPLE")
  • Point to words as you read them.

Audience Question: What do you do if you have a storytime craft for a certain age group, but there are parents who insist that the younger siblings get to do the craft as well?
  • We always expect that, so we plan for it by having extra craft materials.
  • Maybe offer a coloring sheet for the younger siblings?
  • Set expectations ahead of time and explain to the parents that you will only have enough craft items for the age-appropriate storytime child.

What's your favorite toddler song/book/rhyme?

Challenge: One child starts hitting another. What do you do?
  • If it isn't full-on hitting, maybe just poking, you could point out to the group the children who are exhibiting good behavior.
  • You could try the rhyme "Criss-Cross Applesauce" to focus them.
  • I had a couple of boys in preschool storytime (no parents in the room) who started wrestling. After asking them several times to stop, I made them leave storytime without doing the craft and had a conversation with their mothers. They came back later to apologize to me and the behavior was much better next time.

For those of you who attended the session, if I missed something or something needs to be corrected (I was furiously trying to take notes as fast as the great ideas were coming!), please comment below or send me an email!


  1. This is excellent, Kim! I'm going to link to it on the Storytime Underground page for Ideas from Guerrilla Storytime!