Ask a Storytime Ninja: Facebook Highlight from April

This week I pulled my favorite question from Facebook, so far, this month. This just seems like the best problem to have.  What would YOU do? Let us know in the comments!

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What do you say to storytime kiddos who tell you they love you? I have a couple really affectionate little girls who will come over to me in the middle of a song or flannel story and give me hugs and kisses on the cheek, which immediately turns into group hugs. It’s always just a little interruption and then everyone goes back to their spots and listens again. But I’m baffled by how to respond to I love you’s. I thought about saying something like, “thank you, you are all my very favorite people.”


Answers (I’ve edited these from the originals to keep it short. I don’t want anyone giving me grumpy cat face.)

-At the end of storytime have everyone hug themselves (and you do it too) so they can all get a hug. It takes a while to work, but it does. Be patient! 

-Tell them you love them, too!

-Hug them back!

-Say thank you. And follow up with something about how glad you are they came to the library.

-Offer high-fives, not hugs, but if a child offers a hug, hug back (I try to either be crouched down, or facing slightly to the side, as the child’s height can put them in an unfortunate location otherwise), and a kiss on the cheek from children gets them a big silly mwah air kiss or I blow a kiss to them. 

-Show them how to say, “I Love You” in sign language (thumb, pointer finger and pinky finger up, two middle fingers tucked down toward palm). I encourage them to try it with both hands (this is harder!) and then I encourage them to find someone else in the room they love, and to say and sign “I Love You” to them (this takes the focus off of me, and puts it back on the children and their caregivers and is quite fun!).

-If it happens during the program address it like any other I HAVE TO INTERRUPT TO TELL YOU ABOUT MY FROG issue.

-Use a song! End the program by telling everyone you love them. Instead of the whisper, sing ” I love you and you and you and you (pointing around) then fling my arms wide and say Everybody!”

-Get caregiver eye contact to make sure everyone is OK with the hug, etc.

-Say and do whatever makes you comfortable


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6 thoughts on “Ask a Storytime Ninja: Facebook Highlight from April

    1. Brytani

      The signing was my favorite suggestion, too. I do love those little kiddos, but I have trouble saying that to a stranger’s child. (I mean, I tell my dogs I love them roughly 10 times more often than I tell my husband.)

  1. jess

    If anyone tries to give a hug during storytime tell them to save them for afterwards. That way the kids know that they are special & get their hugs, but it’s not a disruption. When I was teaching I always told my students to save kisses for at home, but offered up plenty of “I love you too’s”, but I think that “Thank you, you are special to me too” works just as well if you aren’t comfortable with it!

  2. Profile photo of Kelsey Forkner

    I’ll ask them to save hugs for after storytime (because they typically forget by the end), and with kisses, I generally say, “Kisses are especially for mommies and daddies, and I know a special way to send them a kiss. Do you know how to blow a kiss?” I really like the sign language I love you idea too. Redirection is generally my preferred technique.

  3. Profile photo of Colleen McWhinnieColleen McWhinnie

    I got my first during storytime hug last week. I was holding my arms wide open during a rhyme and one kiddo flew up out of their seat and wrapped their arms around me before I could even tell what was happening! It was super cute, but a second later I was awash with fear of how I would regain control if all the other littles wanted in and decided to come get hugs too. Luckily that didn’t happen and I thanked her for the hug and continued on. I occasionally get hugs when kids are saying goodbye, but I prefer to not encourage touching beyond the occasional high five so I love the “hug yourself” idea!
    “-Get caregiver eye contact to make sure everyone is OK with the hug, etc.” great idea

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