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.

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