Guerrilla Storytime @ #alaac14: The Saturday Recap

We’re continuing our recaps of the Guerrilla Storytimes that took place at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas. The Saturday event included 50 participants, with the added bonus of tons of conference-goers peering into the Uncommons to see what was going on while they were on the escalator or on a session break. Storytime advocacy to the masses!


Opening song: “Shake Your Sillies Out”


Challenge: Share your favorite opening song or rhyme.

  • Clap as you recite “Apple, peaches, pumpkin pie. / If you see me, please say ‘hi!'”
  • Clap as you sing “Hello. Hello. Hello and how are you? / I’m fine. I’m fine. And I hope that you are, too.” See Nat demonstrate.
  • Use ASL to sing “Hello friends. Hello friends. / Hello friends, it’s time to say hello.”
  • Use ASL to sing the same song in Spanish “Hola amigos. Hola amigos. / Hola amigos, es tiempo saludar” and French “Bonjour amis. Bonjour amis. / Bonjour amis, est temps de saluer.” See it!
  • Make your own promo song: “Clap your hands, boys and girls / It’s the best storytime in the world! / It’s storytime / Yes storytime with Mr. David!” Mr. David himself.
  • Variation of “Mary wore a red dress” with kids’ names. Video proof.

Challenge: How do you incorporate vocabulary into storytimes?

  • Read stories with interesting and new words and talk about them
  • Use words you know to help define words that are new (scaffolding). Amy talks about this.
  • Talk to kids and have them help provide context and definitions for words
  • Alphabet Basket with the letter of the day and other things that start with that letter. Hear it explained.

Guerrilla Query: How do you get parents to participate?

  • Invite kids to get their caregivers for participatory elements
  • Use props that require participation, like a parachute
  • Don’t put out any chairs so parents have to sit with their kids
  • Frame participation in a humorous way, like saying “It’s your workout for the day!”
  • Give parents specific instructions so they know what is expected of them (e.g., “Point to your child’s eyes.”)
  • Call out examples of good interactions
  • Mention expectations for participation in program publicity
  • Be cognizant that maybe a language barrier is affecting participation–have someone help translate so instructions are clear
  • Be compassionate about what parents need–maybe the 30 minutes in storytime is the only time during the day that the parent is not 100% in charge of the child. See the explanation.
  • Video examples here and here

Challenge: Two kids are punching each other. How do you respond?

  • Distract them from the disruptive behavior by switching to an activity with props. Like this.
  • Ask the parent to help relocate the child
  • Transition to a fingerplay that requires kids to use both hands.
  • Have everyone stand up and do something active–punching may be acting out because of feeling fidgety. Wiggle My Fingers
  • Do some calming stretches with the group

Challenge: How do you make sure your storytime is welcoming to all types of families?

  • Try not to read too many books about Mom or Dad specifically
  • Add in stories with nontraditional families–Mice & Beans is a great choice with a grandmother as caregiver, also bilingual text
  • Have materials in the library that are written in all the languages you serve; e.g., board books in Mandarin, etc. Angie tells us what she does.
  • Have and promote diverse collections
  • Don’t prescribe heteronormativity in stories
  • Talk after a story to help kids see their own lives in the themes; e.g., with The Kissing Hand, as kids who is the most important grownup in their lives–doesn’t have to be a mother like in the story
  • Use excellent books like Emma Garcia’s trucks books, which has male and female trucks
  • Check out Magination Press for excellent story options, like This Day in June and Not Every Princess
  • It’s Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
  • See the discussion here.

Music Break: “Sleeping Bunnies”


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

  • Do something that is interactive and feels rewarding, like taking turns throwing a pig in the air a la MGOL: “Hickory Dickory Dare / A pig flew up in the air! / Farmer Brown got her down. / Hickory Dickory Dare.” Cory demonstrates.
  • Have a box of fidget objects, like an I Spy bottle, to channel energy into quieter activities
  • Wait for everyone to put on their “listening ears”
  • Think about behavior modification techniques–check out Bryce Don’t Play
  • Humorously frame it as if the parents are the ones being disruptive to draw them into helping their children
  • Be aware that you DON’T know the circumstances leading to the behavior–a child could be fidgeting because they haven’t had a meal since the day before–so be compassionate. Brooke explains.
  • Do an action song like “Open, Shut Them” See it!

Challenge: A parent is too focused on trying to get their child to sit still and strikes the child. What do you do?

  • Know your library’s acceptable behavior policy
  • Know your community’s culture and values to be cognizant of what is excessive
  • Talk one on one to the parent afterwards and state clearly, “We don’t hit in storytime; not kids, not grownups.”

Challenge: Favorite Fingerplay

  • “I had a little turtle / He lived in a box. / He swam in the water / And he climbed on the rocks. / He snapped at a minnow. / He snapped at a flea. / He snapped at a mosquito / And he snapped at me. / He caught the minnow. / He caught the flea. / He caught the mosquito / But he didn’t catch me!”
  • “Two Little Blackbirds” with lots of opposites See Angie demonstrate
  • “Itsy Bitsy Spider” three ways (itsy bitsy, big giant, and eensy weensy) See Nat demonstrate.
  • “I have a little turtle / His name is Tiny Tim / I put him in the bathtub / To see if he could swim. / He drank up all the water / He ate up all the soap / And when I woke up the next morning / There were bubbles in his throat!” See Rebecca demonstrate
  • “Way Up High in the Apple Tree” See Mary demonstrate

Challenge: A storytime attendee loudly says, “I miss the other storytime leader.” What do you do?

  • Respond “I do, too!”
  • Acknowledge the feeling and move on
  • Acknowledge that different leaders do different programs, but that all of them are great
  • “We’re going to do stories now, but when we’re done you can go say hi!”
  • Give a bribe to ease a storytime leader change, like stickers

Challenge: How do you help kids transition between activities?

  • Picture schedules that depict everything that will happen in storytime
  • Sing goodbye after every activity: “Goodbye bells / Goodbye bells / Goodbye bells / We’ll play another day”
Share this!Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook6Pin on Pinterest1Share on Google+0Share on Tumblr0Email this to someonePrint this page

2 thoughts on “Canada Does Guerrilla Storytime!

Leave a Reply