Youth Services are Invading the Midwinter Uncommons!

It’s happening, folks. The youth services revolution has begun.


This coming weekend at ALA Midwinter in Chicago, not one, not two, but THREE groups of youth services advocates will be taking over the Networking Uncommons to facilitate sharing and learning among the youth services folks in attendance. It’s bound to be fun, probably a bit irreverent, and definitely informative, so make room in your schedule for any (or all!) of these gems.


Friday, January 30

1:00-2:00 p.m. – Guerrilla Storytime with Storytime Underground


Saturday, January 31

1:00-2:00 p.m. – Guerrilla Storytime with Storytime Underground

2:00-2:30 p.m. – Storytime Petting Zoo with Flannel Friday

2:30-3:30 p.m. – YA Smackdown

3:30-4:30 p.m. – Special Needs & Inclusive Services for Kids, Teens, & Families


Sunday, February 1

12:00-1:00 p.m. – Guerrilla Storytime with Storytime Underground

2:00-3:00 p.m. – YA Smackdown


Remember, the guerrilla methodology of tapping into participants’  knowledge means that each of these individual events, even those with the same name or target age range, will be different. You could attend each and every one of these sessions and learn a whole toolbox worth of new tips and skills. So go ahead–become a repeat attender. You’ll get to meet great folks, too.


And don’t forget–if you can only stop by between meetings, you’re more than welcome to bring your lunch into the Uncommons so you can participate AND avoid low blood sugar. We care.

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The Coolest Thing I Saw on the Internet: Midwinter is Coming!

Sorry for the cheesy GoT joke. In my defense, I started reading the Song of Ice and Fire back when Storm of Swords came out, so I’m old school.


It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for us! Book Riot ran an article about us and the Facebook page EXPLODED with new members, which is fantastic. Welcome, new people! We love you.


TSU got a shout-out over at SLJ, too. Congrats, guys! You deserve it!


Basically, we’re everywhere, and in case you’ve forgotten, one of the places we will ALL be is Midwinter, doing Guerrilla Storytimes and being in ur conference, taking shit over. Come say hi! We’ll be the nerds in the ninja turtle hats, probably.


Thanks to Lisa Shaia who sent over this amazing submission: Miss Meg hosted a SPY ACADEMY and I am pretty jealous that I am not a kid and did not get to go.


New song alert!! Katie at Storytime Secrets took a sweet as pie folk song and flannelized it, and I think y’all are going to be really into it. I am!


From the same recent Flannel Friday roundup, I am lovvving Amy at one Little Librarian’s 5 LITTLE OLAFS.


The AASL blog posted this smart article on doing what is important v. what is urgent and I think it fits in quite nicely with our Resolve to Rock stuff. Also, Hi, AASL Blog! I should spend more time with you now that I’m a school librarian.


Over at the ALSC blog, SU Joint Chief and General Best Person Amy has an interview with PAT MORA! Happy Birthday, Dia!!


I love Maggie (Playing the Hits)’s idea of focusing on Storytime All-Star books, and highlighting things that always rock the house. I feel like we’re all always looking for books that just sing to a room of toddlers every time.


I’m mostly linking to this post by Carrie at The Lion is a Bookworm because I think it’s INSPIRED to have a craft for a color themed storytime that’s just. . . paint. I think kids have ore fun the more open-ended crafts are, and blue finger painting is exactly right. LOVE IT.


A couple of my favorite discussions on the FB page this week were this one celebrating a shy kid coming into their comfort zone at storytime, and this one asking for help with graciously turning down offers from volunteers to lead storytime. I love how our community supports and celebrates each other and our kids and families!!


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Ask A Storytime Ninja: Awkward Comfort Measures

This month is apparently all about awkward storytimes! You’re welcome ninjas.




The Question:

Related to boundaries in storytime. I do a baby storytime and will sometimes have an older sibling along for the fun, which has never been an issue. However, I am at a loss as to what in the world to do with one of my older siblings, or if I should even do anything at all honestly. Here’s the scenario: older sibling (age 3) comes along with baby brother and has a ball. He assists with “big brother” duties like helping me collect materials at the end, sings along, plays peek-a-boo with his brother, bounces or jumps with Mom while she holds baby brother, etc. Sounds great, right?! Well…in the past two months I’ve noticed that unless he’s jumping along or singing, he has one thumb in his mouth and the other hand down his pants – especially while I read. I am certain it’s a comfort thing – I was a thumb sucker myself, so this is not concerning…but the hand down the pants? Now NONE of the other caregivers have mentioned it, and Mom doesn’t scold him for it or even mention it (as in, we only do that at home son), so I’m assuming everyone is ok with this as just another comfort measure. I don’t mind either except I want to know what to say if a caregiver DOES say something to me. I don’t have the foggiest idea where to go with this one. I’m ok with whatever kids want to do, and especially understand comfort measures, but what if I have someone in storytime that clearly is NOT ok with this? (And no, I do not think he’s getting any sexual gratification here, I firmly believe it is a comfort measure, but also that it is one that can make folks uncomfortable and won’t understand about the lack of sexual pleasure angle – I live in a pretty conservative area.) Help??


The Answers: 


Tracey says: 

From what I have read, the behavior you are describing does appear to be a comfort measure. He may not even be aware he is doing it. If however anyone does mention it, I would let them know you think this is what it is, but if it really bothers them they can speak to your supervisor.  Generally, I find that most parents are pretty tolerant of the actions of other children. It doesn’t appear that this is causing any disruption or getting in the way of other children enjoying the storytime, so hopefully it will not become an issue with anyone.


Anita says:

This sounds like a comfort response, on his part and a worry on your part for adult perceptions.  If you have not had any signs or signals from other parents (raised eyebrows or pointed glances) it may not be worth addressing for a little while.  It may inadvertently cause a bigger problem and lose a family or families in the crossfire.  The main focus is on you and your stories and activities and those small behaviors are lost in the bigger picture.  If you do glimpse a negative reaction from another parent, institute a reading buddy at your next session, where each child may hold a stuffed animal during the story. If the Mom admits it as a problem, I have this to offer, in the schools I visit, I have seen the very active children offered items to hold that they can manipulate, called fidgets.  These are items like child-safe strings or bendy beads on a chenille stem/pipe cleaner or a small stuffed beanie baby type toy, etc.  Having something to fiddle with helps keep them calm.


Emily says: 

I agree with what has been said, and there’s not much I’ll add. I will share what my child development professor said (that kind of builds off of Anita’s point): It is often a normal comfort response or subconscious response for boys, and therefore you definitely shouldn’t make a big deal out of it (we don’t want the child to feel like he’s doing something wrong). The best way to correct the behavior, if it really is bothering you, is to simply give his hand something else to do. So, like has been said, a stuffed animal or toy to hold on to. Focus on the other kids, or the group as a whole and just have fun with your storytime!


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Free Training Resource: Día Resources Get Together Archive

January’s free training resource may seem a bit like we’re jumping the gun–after all, it’s a resource tied to Día, which takes place formally on April 30 of every year. But, as it’s never too early (or too late, for that matter), to start assembling your resources and planning, today we’re sharing the first ALSC Día Get Together archive, which is all about resources.


The Día Get Together took place on Facebook on January 15, and a representative from Colorín Colorado (a great resource in and of itself) as well as plenty of other librarians participated to share their favorite resources for finding diverse and multicultural books, program ideas, etc. Because it all happened on Facebook, there’s a great visual archive packed with tons of links. So many great resources!!


Check out the archive and use it to tap all sorts of great resources for multicultural and diverse youth librarianship, both for Día celebrations and beyond!

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Adapting the Guerrilla Methodology for Teen Services

We’ve started exploring variations on the Guerrilla Stortyime methodology here on the blog; we shared Sophie Brookover’s application of the guerrilla concept to tech trainings last month. Today we want to draw your attention to the teen services iteration of the guerrilla method: the YA Smackdown. Evan Mather, of Arlington Heights Memorial Library, shared some information on the new Teen Services Underground about the YA Smackdown he helped run this past summer in Chicagoland. This type of guerrilla training is certainly worth checking out!


And if you’re interested in seeing the YA Smackdown live? You’re in luck! Says Evan, “We’ll be hosting two YA Smackdown sessions in the Networking Uncommons, on Saturday, January 31 from 2:30 – 3:30 p.m., and on Sunday February 1 from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Come and join us to share all of our great ideas for working with teens.”


Are you applying the guerrilla method to trainings in an area of librarianship? Let us know!


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Ask A Storytime Ninja: Awkward Baby Storytimes

We’ve got an amazing question today all about baby storytime! The ninjas really knocked it out of the park on this one.




The Question: 

How do I make the baby story times less awkward? I sing songs and do read some books, but I always feel really awkward. I try to keep the books about body parts and things, but really struggle with this. I can do toddler and preschool story times no problem…… it’s just the babies I struggle with. Help!


After emailing and asking for some more clarificiation the question asker sent back:


I guess I could use any tips or tricks to use with the babies.  We usually do 20 minutes of books/songs and then play with toys afterwards.  How do you approach teaching rhymes to the parents and babies? Can you suggest any good ones? I would love love love suggestions for baby books to read.  I often feel that I’m reading the same ones (which is great…) but would love to expand our selection.  I feel a little less “awkward” when the books are interactive, or talking about body parts that the parent/guardian can touch on the baby.  I just want to get everyone engaged.  Any advice would be awesome.


The Answers:


Tracey says: 

I agree storytimes with babies can be a bit awkward since, as you say, you don’t get the same feedback as with the older children. However, I have found some tricks to make it a more enjoyable experience. While my preschool and toddler storytimes are geared toward the children, in baby storytime I really try to engage the caregiver as well as the child. As each person arrives, I hand out bells, egg shakers or scarves. This immediately provides an opportunity for the caregiver and baby to interact.


I also limit the number of books to two: one read aloud and one choral reader that we all read in unison. Interactive books such as lift the flaps, counting books, or songs in book form are all good choices. My favorite authors for babies are Karen Katz, Jane Cabrera and Leslie Patricelli. They all have simple language and colorful illustrations.


The rest of the program is made up of hand rhymes, bounces, action songs, lift rhymes and circle dances. These activities really allow the caregiver to participate with the child. We repeat Open Them Shut Them and This is Big Big Big every week. Action songs like Head Shoulders Knees and Toes and If You’re Happy and You Know It are also fun. Some weeks I will have a lyric sheet for the caregivers to take with them to practice the songs at home. I try to stick to simple actions like clapping, blowing kisses, tickling and tapping feet. Usually any action the child can do themselves or the parents can help with works well. My goal is to get the children and caregivers interacting and laughing together.


Puppets are something else the babies really love. One of the biggest attention getters I have is something I modified from an idea at I took a square Kleenex box and cut the bottom out. I put a puppet or stuffed animal inside. I tell the babies the animal is very shy and let’s help him come out, then I have the puppet pop up. It always gets a smile. This is a nice way to remind my caregivers that they can do simple things like this at home too.


Just a quick word about themes. The themes I use in baby storytime are really more for the caregiver than the baby. Some examples of recent themes used are: sign language, the five senses, importance of talking to your baby and the connection between music and literacy. This gives me an opportunity to talk about the different resources the library has on these subjects and to let caregivers know how easy it can be to work early literacy skills into everyday activities.


I hope this is helpful. Mel’s Desk and Jbrary are where I get most of my rhymes and songs from. Jbrary has a You Tube channel with a lot of great ideas for children of all ages.



Emily says: 

These are great questions. First of all, yes, baby time is VERY different from toddler or preschool storytime. Here are some basic tips, unique for baby time, that should help things run smoothly:


-Open your program the same way every week by introducing yourself, and laying out some guidelines that will ensure everyone is comfortable (not awkward!). Like “children this age like to explore, so it’s okay if they wander–but please grab them if they go ____ (whatever is off limits)” and “yes, they may cry and that’s okay; the door is always unlocked so feel free to take a break outside and come back in when they’re ready.”


-Repetition, repetition, repetition! Use the same four/five songs & rhymes to open and end your storytime. Reuse classic rhymes throughout (patty cake, itsy-bitsy spider, etc). Read a book twice over two weeks. Repetition is what helps kids learn at this age! I open with the same hello song, action rhyme, and lap bounce (our favorite is “Little Red Wagon” by Raffi) and close with a goodbye song and a bubble song (while blowing bubbles). Itsy-Bitsy gets used a lot, and then I can introduce variations to help build vocabulary (opposite: great, big hairy spider, synonyms: teeny-weeny spider)


-The younger the kid, the shorter then attention span. I’ve found that doing my rhymes and songs “rapid fire” helps keep everyone involved (including parents!). That means I say/sing the rhyme once, then everyone joins in the second time. Then I move right into the next rhyme quickly, without an introduction. Even when I’m passing out books or props (they love their jingle bells!), I sing a song about it. Since a lot of your program will be repeated week-to-week, your regulars will learn quickly and sing/rhyme along with you.


-Intersperse literacy/development tips for parents throughout, to make them feel their time spent with you was fulfilled. For instance: “singing songs slows speech helping kids learn words” or “rhymes helps kids with phonetics” etc.


-Play time at the end is perfect because it lets the parents connect with one another and lets the babies practice social skills. Try starting your play time with introductions (names, age/stage of child), so parents start communicating to each other about their children right away.


As for the other part of the question: favorite books! I love most anything by Karen Katz (Babies on the Bus is a favorite because everyone can join in on the actions) or I also used Eric Carl/Bill Martin a lot with our collection of animal puppets (babies LOVE puppets!).


Hopefully these tips can help. Most important of all: have fun and be happy! If you have a good attitude, it will be easier for others to have one, too.


Anita says: 

The intro below from Melissa Depper’s blog (cited as ‘mels desk ‘on the storytimeunderground Home Page) may help to set the purpose for a baby storytime; it guides my selections for parent-child interactions at this level. Additionally, we model some of the activities with a large stuffed doll or toy. Sometimes the baby faces us and sometimes it faces out for the songs and fingerplays – I find it helpful to review this excerpt before starting prep for this age group.




Parents, when you play lap games and bounces with your baby, it makes them feel secure and happy because they are close to you. Their brains release endorphins, which make them, feel good and actually reinforce learning, too. In this case the learning includes hearing the sounds, rhymes, and words of our language, and helps lay the groundwork for becoming good talkers, readers, and writers later on.


With these thoughts in mind, some of our best sources are the board books and flap books. We look for bright pictures and simple stories, too. The “That’s not my Bear” series is popular, as each child feels the page for texture as we read. We may pass around bears to share during the story and each child gives a special hug as we put the bears away for another time. These sessions are filled with activities. We intersperse rhymes, rhythms and matching activities between two or three stories before retiring to a craft project to end the set. I would say our recipe for success is: a rhyme to start, a story, a song or fingerplay, a story, a matching game, another story, an activity with scarves or instruments and exit for craft. The storytime lasts about 15 to 20 minutes with 10 minutes for the craft. For a six-week series, the songs, fingerplays and matching games remain the same.


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Storytime University: Make Your Resolutions Happen, plus Videos!

The last couple weeks we have seen many of you declare your resolutions for this year. Haven’t seen any yet? Check our round up here.


Ok, so you’ve made your resolution (If you haven’t, go for it! No resolution is too big or too small.) but now how about keeping it? If your resolution involves professional development we hope Storytime University can help with posts these, including ideas for free professional development. And, we’ve decided to reward you for making and keeping your resolutions with our brand new Resolve to Rock badge.




All you have to do is share your resolution(s) either on a blog, in the comments on the Resolve to Rock round up, or on the Storytime University Facebook page. AND, comment on someone else’s resolution or in some way support someone else in making their resolutions happen. Submit your successes and support to earn the badge. Let’s continue to strengthen our amazing, supportive community.


Now for some resources! Today I wanted to highlight some of the videos folks have been watching in order to complete a task for the Grasshopper badge.


This amazing video from Lisa and Thrive After Three.


Jbrary. These and this and this and omg, just watch them all because there are too, too many to link here!


This one of a Toddler Storytime.


This one about puppetry.


King County Tell Me a Story. You should watch all of theirs, too. I’d like to give a big shout out for KCLS because so many librarians with so many styles are showcased. There really is something for everyone.  This one and this one were watched among others.


Storyblocks! This one and this one and so many more!


Sleeping Bunnies!


Denver Public Library’s Read Aloud YouTube channel


There’s a Spider on the Floor. With a giant spider!


More puppets! Steven Engelfried has lots and they are all really awesome.


Deschutes Public Library. I am selfishly very excited to see SO MANY west coasters in video. Go us! Its most likely the air. Or the water. Or something.


Intellidance. There was a crocodile. This is the first I’ve heard of these. Excited to watch some more!



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The Coolest Thing I Saw the First Week of 2015

Happy 2015, y’all. I have high hopes that this year will be less awful than last year. Actually, I have no such hopes, but I’m pretending optimism.


This week I saw a WHOLE LOT OF AWESOME in peoples Resolve to Rock posts! The roundup is here, and it continues to grow.


Also the MOST EXCITING THING happened which is that Teen Services Underground launched!!!!!! Someday, we would like to have other affiliates, like, maybe LibTech Underground, or Academic Underground. Basically what I’m saying is we’re trying to grassroots take over librarianship, and this is the first step in our conquest. Secret evil plan, revealed. Thanks to Drea and her phenomenal team for making it WORK. It’s very shiny, no?


Thanks to Gretchen Caserotti (@gcaserotti) for tweeting a link to this SO SMART I CURSED IN GLEE AT MY COMPUTER SCREEN article about kids in the library. LET ME PULL SOME QUOTES FOR YOU (apparently this article made me into Angie Manfredi): “Young people in the library aren’t just children of members of the community; they are the community.” OH OR: “This does not mean they are using the library as a recreation center; it just means that they have a broad definition of what the library is used for.” HALLELUJAH AND AMEN. Gooooo read it nowwwww.


In case every human you’ve ever met did not tag you about this on FB, NPR talked about ECRR2. Exposure! We like it.


Thanks to Mary K. (@daisycakes) for being a part of this amazing initiative, and tweeting about it. Denver PL, along with many collaborators, launched Earlier Is Easier, a website to help parents use ECRR2 skills. Way to get around the web like and early reading hussy, ECRR2.


Katherine at Read Write Reflect held a Mock Caldecott, which I love anyway but am linking to especially because it looks like we all need to buy copies of The Adventures of Beekle if we haven’t yet.


For some reason I had never heard of Noon Year’s Eve parties until this year and I think they are so clever, and the FB group had great posts about them. Erin Davison @erinisinire tweeted this picture that made my life:


Embedded image permalink

“ROARING like dinosaurs at our Noon Year’s Eve Party with @LadybugsLilAnne! “


Did I miss something amazing? Tell me about it!


Welcome to the BEST YEAR EVER. Let’s stay warm out there. <3

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Meet the January Ninjas!

A new year just in time for our new batch of ninjas! The questions are great this month and I’m sure the answers will be even better.




Meet Tracey: 


photo (1)


Tracey started her career as a librarian in an academic library, but knew her heart was in working with the public. She has been with Baltimore County Public Library since 2001 and working with children has always been the best part of her job.  Her current position as an Early Childhood Program Assistant allows her to focus exclusively on storytimes. Her weekly schedule includes programs for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.


Meet Anita: 



Anita is am a semi-retired Librarian, with 34 years of experience in schools and in public libraries. She have been a Department Head, supervising support staff in a Public Library and a lone Teacher-Librarian in a School of 600 students, supervising speech and volunteer clubs. In her current position, She is an Outreach Librarian, visiting Preschools and Head Start classrooms with a little bit of Library Magic. They sing, play and visit new friends and places found in books while supporting early literacy development. In a typical month, she visits 44 classrooms with about 460 students. She enjoys adding ideas and sharing ways to increase the use of literature in education, from preschool on to college. She also helps to write blogs for her library, the Altoona Area Public Library, and post ideas and articles of interest to these sites.

Early Literacy Articles and information
Issues Relevant to School and Public Libraries


Meet Emily: 




Emily is a fresh, one-year-employed children’s librarian at a branch library in the Valley of the Sun (aka metropolitan Phoenix) where she manages the fun stuff like baby time, preschool storytime, grade-school kids programs, STEM programming, and the kids book club. Some programs she’s on her own (like preschool storytime) and some she splits with a coworker to conquer as a team (like baby time). While not in management, she also co-supervises her group of volunteer shelvers and volunteer Teen Tech experts. In addition to all that, she helps manage our social media presence and has a storytime/book review blog  and Twitter handle (@literaryhoots). Also, she likes owls.



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Hey, why don’t you… make a song/rhyme cube?

Hey why don't youFor your consideration this month, a most excellent homemade storytime prop: the song/rhyme cube! This idea has made a resurgence of late, in particular with Katie’s including it as her recent Flannel Friday post. The premise is straightforward: you’ve got a large die with an image to denote a different song or rhyme on each side. In storytime, you toss the die (“How many times should we toss it? Help me count: one, two, three!“), then sing the song/rhyme that lands facing up. So, hey, why don’t you make a song/rhyme cube of your very own, tailored to your personal favorite storytime songs and rhymes?


It’s fairly simple. Start with an empty cube-ish tissue box. (Yes, I realize that since it’s not exactly a perfect cube, you won’t have equal odds of landing on each of the six sides, but this isn’t Vegas. A bit of uneven distribution will be fine.)



If you anticipate lots of use for your song cube, you might use an extra piece of cardboard (like from a cereal box) to reinforce the open end.



Next,  you wrap the box as you would a present. You can pick a pretty color of paper if you aim to leave some room for a border around your songs and rhymes.

IMG_0237 IMG_0238


Print out images that are representative of your 6 favorite songs and rhymes. You can include words, or not; it’s totally up to you.



Cut out those images and use clear packing tape to affix them to the six sides of your cube.



Ta-da! You’re ready to roll! (PUNS!)


So if you’re looking for a new way to bring your favorite songs and rhymes into storytime, why not make a song/rhyme cube? If you try this idea at your library, feel free to report back in the comments!

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