Advocacy Toolbox – Research Study: Valuable Initiatives in Early Learning that Work Successfully (VIEWS2)

A lovely ninja recently brought our attention to the amazing research that Eliza Dresang did on storytimes.  As the website says, “VIEWS2 is the first research study that validates what you already knew: Storytimes can provide many opportunities to help children develop early literacy skills.” 

Advocacy Toolbox with watermark (1)


The study provides hard data that supports the connection between early literacy development and storytimes. This would be a great site to visit when you need to make the case to hire a new librarian or paraprofessional who will offer storytimes. There is even a specific page for directors! Basically, we’re in love with whoever designed this site.


With great printable resource pages, a clear description of each “tool” that should be used in storytime, and videos showing the tools in action this is an amazing resource to use for yourself, your management, new employees, and anyone else that works with children. Check it out here!

Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Coolest Thing I Saw: Chag Sameach!


I love Brytani. We haven’t met in person (I don’t think?! Brytani, if I met you and forgot, I am the worst and we should karaoke), but I have full faith that she’s the best. She wrote this great piece about lifting up rural libraries, which I don’t just love because it gives us a shout out. I used to work in a semi-rural library and it’s both a frustrating and incredibly rewarding experience.


Thanks to the Loudmouth Librarian for calling out the lack of religiously diverse holiday titles for teens. For real, though, how hard could it be to do some Chanukah books?


Even Tom Cruise is confused, and he practices a completely made up religion.

Eight crazy nights? That seems made for YA. I have like 5 ideas right now.

1) Each night told from the perspective of a different Jewish teen, who are all mysteriously connected. Bonus points if the kids are from around the world.

2) Teens meet at dinner on the first night, fall in love over the next week (bonus if they’re LGBT!)

3) Historical fiction! Teens light the candles in secret! Bonus if there’s a romance with a non-Jewish citizen who has to decide whether or not to keep the secret.

4) Two Jewish brothers, estranged from their parents, go on a road trip over Chanukah. Wacky hijinks ensue OR they learn the true meaning of miracles OR something scary/tragic happens OR their mom just died and they’re questioning their faith

5) It just happens to be Chanukah and the kid just happens to be Jewish and they say some prayers and eat some latkes in the background because guess what? That is a normal ass thing that happens in America.


Claudia at never shushed posted about an alternative program to 1000 Books Before Kindergarten that she’s doing. I think the program is SUPER NEAT but I also like that she looked at something a lot of people are doing successfully, and thought about it, and decided it wasn’t the right fit for her right now. I think in libraries we often fall into doing the hot new thing, before we know if it really fits a need we have. Love it!


‘Tis the season for the best lists, and I am digging NYPL’s 100. Mmm, diversity. Plus, I have long been obsessed with their site design. It’s fun to play with. Thanks to Betsy Bird for the list, and the tip.


This week, some dud I’ve never heard of posted a list of 200 librarians you should follow Twitter. I’m not going to link to it, because I think it’s bunk. Oh, there are amazing names on there. You should for sure be following Buffy Hamilton, and Anna (both Annas, but it’s @helgagrace who makes the list) and Liz Burns. Like, obviously. But he also lists Joe Murphy, a bunch of Joe Murphy’s supporters, the Safe Libraries guy, and also a bunch of white dude liBROrians I personally have found to be remarkably douchetastic IRL. I was going to make a list of people you should follow instead, but then I realized that you are INFORMATION PROFESSIONALS with MASTER’S DEGREES who teach people how to use Twitter FOR A LIVING BASICALLY and decided I would not talk down to you, but instead assume that you are smart enough to figure out who you dig the most on your own.



Except I will talk down to you maybe to say that if you’re not #teamharpy I don’t know what you’re on about but you’re amazingly incorrect.


Please share your own must-follows in the comments or on the FB page. Points (POINTS! – Chris Hardwick) for women of color, trans* folks, social justice activists, or dudes who are categorically not mansplaining, hit-on-you-at-networking-events, credit stealing, dismissive snotbuckets.


May your lights be festive and your food be fried, be you People of the Book or just Book People. <3 <3 <3

Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Ask a Storytime Ninja: Nursery Rhymes!

We all know nursery rhymes are important to share with little ones. What if you’re uncomfortable doing it though? The ninjas gave some insightful answers this week.


Also, if you haven’t read Mel’s blog post all about nursery rhymes, and her research process (which is amazing) then check it out!


Ask a Storytime Ninja badge



The Question:


How do you incorporate/introduce nursery rhymes in story time? Particularly when they’re not theme related. I want to increase the nursery rhyme vocabulary of my story time kids, but I’m not sure how to make it fit.


The Answers:


Alyssa says:

Nursery Rhyme of the Day (or something more catchy and clever)!  Make it a part of your Storytime routine, just like the opening and closing songs.  As Andrea said, you don’t have to lock yourself into a strict theme during the program.


Andrea says:

Although I love themes in storytime in terms of planning, try not to get so stuck on them that you feel trapped. The kids won’t notice or care if a rhyme or a book doesn’t follow a particular theme, so don’t fret; throw a nursery rhyme in wherever your heart desires! I usually say, “All right, let’s get out our bouncing legs” (while sitting) and then bust out a nursery rhyme or two. That way, the kids are getting to move (at least a little bit), as well as hear the rhythm of the rhymes and the cadence of the language.
You can also make a nursery rhyme cube, like this one. The kids will love rolling the “die” and chanting or singing whichever rhyme it lands on. Time and supplies permitting, you can make multiple cubes with different nursery rhymes on each to keep it fresh each time you use them. Again, if you make reciting nursery rhymes a game, the kids won’t notice that they didn’t follow a particular theme up the hill; the fun (and learning) will come tumbling after.


Natalie says:

You don’t have to make your songs theme related to your program. I never have. I will incorporate a themed finger play or action rhyme, but we have a musical CD with songs on it. You can always start with Itsy Bitsy Spider as part of the beginning of your program and incorporate the others in each. I wouldn’t do more than three or four in one program though.

Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Free Training Resource(s): Webinars

Usually we only share one free resource, but this month we are making an exception and sharing some webinars that have been submitted by you and your colleagues in exchange for a badge from Storytime University. “View a Webinar” is one of the 5 tasks to complete in order to earn the Grasshopper Badge. Only a few have done it. Will you be next?




Watch one of these webinars and you will be well on your way! When you’re finished, come back here and submit the link to the webinar you watched.  Then wait for your shiny task badge to arrive in your inbox.


Beyond the Rhymes: Rethinking the Who, Where, and How of Storytimes by Patrick Remer and Heidi Dolamore

Storytime is the most vital early learning program in your community. This series of three webinars (People, Place, Package) will introduce techniques to achieve bigger outcomes for more of your community through storytime. The ideas presented will move beyond the nuts and bolts of storytime delivery to look at big picture concepts that influence strategic decision-making about storytimes.


Beyond Storytime: Creative Ways to Support Early Literacy in the Children’s Department and the Home by Melissa Depper


Storytime is an excellent way to support children’s developing early literacy skills, but not all children attend storytime! What can you every day to help families read, write, sing, talk, and play together in the library and at home? And why should you?


In this program, we’ll talk about how your existing youth services programs and services already support early literacy, then practice using an easy “remixing” tool to help you identify new strategies–targeted to your needs–to boost the early learning potential in your children’s department.


Booklist Webinar—Let’s Read! New Books for the Newest Readers by Ilene Cooper


Get children excited about reading with an impressive array of picture books and early readers from Capstone Publishing, HarperCollins Children’s Books, and Holiday House. Find books that readers can love for a lifetime in this free, hour-long webinar, moderated by Booklist Books for Youth senior editor Ilene Cooper.


Every Kid Ready to Read: Tech Tools for Early Literacy


When used the right way, technology can increase early literacy skills. Hear best practices, resources, and ideas to help you effectively bring technology to your library’s early literacy programming.


Integrating STEAM into the ECE Classroom: Finding and Utilizing the Right Resources for Your Center by Amy Koester

This webinar will explore the variety of options available for integrating STEAM into the ECE classroom, allowing attendees to determine what method is most appropriate for their individual centers. We will also consider a range of age appropriate STEAM elements that can be integrated into the ECE classroom, both in the form of new activities and as modifications to existing classroom activities. ECE professionals will be introduced to a variety of resources they can utilize to add STEAM elements to their classrooms, including books, blogs and websites, and community partners like the public library.

Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

TL;DR Advocacy- Elementary Reads

Today’s Boots on the Ground comes from Arwen Ungar. Arwen is a youth services librarian at Gladstone Public Library outside of Portland, Oregon and she’s ecstatic that she gets to sing with kids at least twice a week. She used to be a technology reporter which is the exact opposite of a children’s librarian, in her spare time you can find her hanging from a trapeze bar and she just learned how to swim last year!

TL;DR Advocacy



Elementary Reads is an outreach project I developed for the Gladstone Public Library funded by Target. It aims to expose children to fun books by giving them rotating classroom sets of fiction, nonfiction and graphic novels, while also distributing library cards and introducing them to staff. We want to provide access to books to all children even if they do not have a library card or the ability to visit the library.


I visited first grade classrooms this month and was overjoyed by how excited kids were to talk about the library, the books I brought and books they want me to bring next time. Every day since my visits, children have approached me in the library to ask for help or for book recommendations or simply to brandish their new cards with a smile. Parents say their kids have been talking about using their new cards nonstop!


Tell us your advocacy story in 149 words or less and we’ll put it up for the world to see. This is a great opportunity to refine your next elevator pitch, and to inspire others to step up their advocacy game.

Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Ask a Storytime Ninja: How Much Is Too much?

We’re starting off this month of questions with a hard one! How much is too much? Feel free to chime in on the comments if you have some great tips to offer!


Ask a Storytime Ninja badge


The Question: 


How much is too much? I’m a new librarian and the only youth services librarian at my branch. The teen librarian and a programming librarian do some kid-oriented programs, but mostly for the older elementary kids. Reaching out to kids 0-8 is really my domain.


I’ve given myself six months to settle in and now I have lots of ideas about how I’d like my job to look. There are some unsuccessful programs I plan on discontinuing and holes I’d like to fill, but I’m just one person. I’m worried about stretching myself too thin as much as I am worried about not having enough to do. I also don’t want to overwhelm our patrons with too many new storytime options.


The Answers


Natalie says: 

You definitely don’t want to do too much and burn yourself out. Can you establish programs for different ages on the same day? For example, Mondays is for babies, Tuesdays are for toddlers, Wednesdays for K-2, and then one evening All Ages program. That’s four programs a week. If that seems too much, you can narrow it down to three in the beginning and slowly add once you get assimilated into the new position. We’re a department of three and offer usually one program per day and some of them we hire out.


Andrea says: 

I’m glad you took the time to settle in, become familiar with the workings of your library, and get to know your patrons’ wants and needs! The simple advice would be to ask your patrons what they want and to then start small. Add one program or event at a time, and see how you feel. Start with the areas you feel are the most lacking. If you see TONS of small toddlers and infants, add a storytime for them. If you’re still ready for more after that, take on a preschool storytime. If after that, you’re still saying, “Give it to me, man. I can take it,” then add an after school program like Lego Club once a week for your 5-8 year-olds. (A Lego Club almost runs itself.) While most storytimes are weekly, you can add monthly “special” programs for ages 0-5  and for 5-8 that shouldn’t be as stressful as weekly programs. Depending on your budget, you can also hire performers or the like to lead programs for you, which then takes less preparation on your part. You can also utilize volunteers to help with program prep, if that’s available to you. And remember, take care of yourself first. Add slowly, and don’t be afraid to cut back or ask for help. “Put on your oxygen mask before helping others.”


Alyssa says:

Basically everything Andrea said! A few things to add:

-I would look at the programming holes you wanted to fill, and maybe tackle 1 or 2 of those programs first. Since they’re already on your radar, you won’t be doing a lot of “reinventing the wheel” in terms of creating a ton of new programming to start off.

-Once you start a program (or programs), be sure to reevaluate them from time to time. I like to review things every three months. It gives you a chance to see what aspects of the program are working and what you may need to change.

-Collaborate when possible. We have a monthly Saturday program (usually craft oriented) for ages 5-11. Perhaps you could try something similar and trade off every other month with the librarian who programs for older children.

-Don’t be afraid to say no. Staff members and patrons can have awesome ideas for programs but it doesn’t mean you have to do them right away. Keep a list of programming suggestions and refer to it for ideas from time to time.

-Take care of yourself!




Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Adapting the Guerrilla Training Methodology for Tech

Are you intrigued by the idea of guerrilla-style trainings (i.e., Guerrilla Storytime), but you’re looking for ways to adapt that methodology for the library work you do? I’m happy to report that the guerrilla method is being adapted by colleagues across the nation, adding a new type of peer sharing and learning to professional development events.


Sophie Brookover, Program Coordinator & Social Media Manager at LibraryLinkNJ–The New Jersey Library Cooperative, wrote up her colleagues’ experiences with Guerrilla Training last year. Staff members from school, public, and academic libraries participated in Guerrilla Tech Hacks at a statewide technology open house, and the event was such a success that Sophie’s team is expanding it from 45 minutes to a full hour at their 2015 TechFest events.


For more on the guerrilla training method, head to that part of our site. We’ll be posting recaps of guerrilla trainings beyond storytimes/youth services as they come in.


And if you’re interested in putting together a guerrilla training for your library, association, etc.,  let us know! We’re happy to help in any way we can.

Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Save Your Outrage

So, we’ve ranted about a lot in the past year. Giving credit for other’s ideas. Not giving yourself enough credit for amazing work. Privilege. Imposter Syndrome. All of these topics provoked numerous reactions, both in agreement and disagreement. Then, Kendra decided to rant about the holidays. Not even the holidays themselves, simply holiday celebrations in the library. Are we atheists? Communists? Do we hate Santa? The answer is that it doesn’t matter.


The holiday rant has provoked some intense reactions. SLJ picked up the article. Someone from Horn Book wrote a response. Blogs reacted. Rude things were said on social media. Some people had extremely intelligent arguments that made us examine the issue again. Others made us shake our heads in disbelief. Some of the comments took our collective breath away with their ignorance.


We started asking ourselves, “Why did this strike such a nerve in our library community?” Then, we starting asking, “Why is this such a big issue at all?” Frankly, why can’t we get people this riled up about more issues? Serious issues. Issues that affect a child’s development and education. Issues that affect an entire community. Issues like literacy, poverty, racism, hunger. All very HUGE issues. REAL issue. (Maybe people feel they’re too huge for “us” [children’s librarians] to talk about? Maybe people think their community is exempt from these issues? Maybe people simply want to ignore them?)


Why are people willing to get so publicly upset about someone asking them to rethink their holiday celebrations?


But, really, our bigger point is: why is this even an argument? Does someone believe they will be recognized as Librarian of the Universe because they defended or fought against holidays? Do they think new ALA policies will be written because of holiday action? Do they think their community is being served to the best of their ability right now while they’re talking about Santa? This is an example of a time it’s easy to dismiss Children’s Librarians. While the world around us is being burned, we’re arguing about Santa Claus.


NOT EVERYONE. Not by a long shot. Look to Angie Manfredi. She saw a huge issue and tackled it the best way she knew how. The whole country is seeing this amazing thing Angie is doing and continues to do every day. She’s just one example of many. However, not as many as there should be.


So please, let’s have meaningful discussions about holidays when we need to, but let’s save our outrage and shock for things that truly matter.



Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

Storytime University: Updates and New Badge!

It has been a little over 5 months since Storytime University was launched. Apparently I should be spending less time ranting about holidays, taking a new job and moving, and selling a house (just don’t ever, btw) and more time sharing all your Storytime University accomplishments because I’m way behind! Sorry, friends!


We have about 320 participants so far!!!!! And there are many more pending (which, hey, if you tried to register and haven’t tried logging in to the site yet, do it and let us know if you have any difficulty). Hooray! I’m beyond thrilled with the response and hope everyone is learning a lot.


There have been so many tasks completed, I cannot even begin to recap all of them this time. You have all been very busy! Here are some stats, though, for those of you who love them as much as I do. The rest of you, just skip down to the NEWS part.


Flannel Friday: 7 have completed all tasks.  A total of 122 tasks have been completed in this category.


Foot Soldier: 0 have completed all tasks. FIX THIS!!! There are only 7 submissions so far, and we just can’t have that. We are all advocates! Everyone, go talk to Jenna Nemec-Loise about Everyday Advocacy and get involved there, and here.


Grasshopper: 8 have earned this badge. 61 conferences and trainings attended! 16 blogs read and commented on! 23 webinars viewed! 26 storytime content videos watched! We’ll be sharing links for some of the content viewed soon.


Guerrilla: 5 have earned this badge. 29 Guerrilla Storytimes attended and hosted. Though we know there have been more. Tell us where you attended or hosted and earn the badge.


Ninja: NO ONE HAS EARNED THIS BADGE! But lots are close- 15 tasks completed thus far.


Samurai: 3 have earned this badge! 22 tasks have been completed.


Sensei: Woohoo! Go, Lisa Shaia! She is the only one to earn Sensei status so far. You’re awesome. 31 tasks have been completed.


Warrior: this badge has been in flux as we settle in to some new regular posts going. So, keep your eyes peeled for new tasks to complete for this badge.




And now, for the news! OMG you guys, I’m so excited! Thanks to the help of the one and only Soraya Silverman-Montano, we now present to you…


Storytime ABCs badge! 

To earn this badge you must complete 8 tasks: La La La, Parachutin’, Props, Puppeteer, Scarf Love, Shake It Up, Talk It Up, and Tap It Out (on a drum or rhythm stick-geez, get your mind out of the gutter). You will received a pretty, bright and happy badge for completing each of these tasks along the way. Let this badge be your courage to try something new, or revisit an old standby. Whatever you do, we want to hear about it. When you submit a task, be sure to include details for what you did.


Ok, now stop reading this because…




Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page

The Coolest Thing I Saw On The Way To Winter Break

Y’all are mostly public librarians, I think, but I, I am a SCHOOL LIBRARIAN and I am now officially counting down the days until I wave goodbye to my little postage stamp collection and get on a plane to my hometown for 2 STRAIGHT WEEKS. While there, I will have breakfast with CAROLYN (@papersquared) and Nicole (@pumpedlibrarian) who probably does not know that she is walking into the center of our tangled love web. Heh. I suspect we will chat about our badass library websites.

I googled best gif and this came up. What even?


Here is the part where I admit something at which I am terrible: I often forget about emails I have opened, including emails to the SU account. This means I am sitting around bemoaning that no one ever sends me Coolest Things submissions, when in fact I’ve just forgotten them. Sigh. Abby is AWESOME at sending submissions, so the next three links are from her, and they are super, super cool.


Miss Michelle blogged about letting go of perfectionism and tailoring storytime to meet her personality, which I really think is Thing You Need To Know About Storytime Number One.

Same google phrase. Fewer questions, because, whipped cream.

She was inspired by Brytani’s post (HI BRYTANI!! <3) about flexible storytimes. It’s so true that our storytime preferences change as we grow and get comfortable, but also that each group has its own needs. Some mixes of kids just have a vibe, and learning how to read the vibe is so important, and takes practice!


Sarah has been doing a series called Tune In Tuesdays where she shares ideas for music she uses in storytime. Sarah is the best. You should follow her on Twitter and RSS feed and also look at pictures of her unbelievably cute kid.

This is obviously the best of the best gifs.


My friend Connor (@keepthemuse) who, if life is kind and this whole blog thing blows up will someday be my personal assistant, linked me to NPR’s book convergence app, which is great if you don’t have an awesome RA librarian at your disposal (although probs in that case you should befriend @helgagrace). But it is pretty awesome, which you know because Margaret (@mrsfridaynext) is involved.


Happy December, y’all. Make sure to check out the new ninjas, and the kick off of Amy’s new feature, Why Don’t You. . .?


Let’s be careful out there.

Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestShare on Google+Share on TumblrEmail this to someonePrint this page