Guerrilla Storytime @ #alaac14: The Sunday Recap

Sunday’s Guerrilla Storytime in the Uncommons at the 2014 ALA Annual Conference included 50-ish participants and a whole bunch of onlookers peering down from the escalator and balcony. What can we say–when youth services folks are peer-sharing and having fun, it’s definitely noticeable!


Opening Song: “When the pigs get up in the morning / They always say ‘good day.’ / When the pigs get up in the morning / They always say ‘good day.’ / What does the pig say? / ‘Oink!’ / They say, ‘Oink, oink, oink, oink!’ / That is what they say.”


Challenge: A child keeps pulling the pieces off of the felt board. What do you do?

  • Put the pieces higher on the board so they are out of reach
  • Ask a caregiver to help manage the situation
  • Have an announcement at the beginning of storytime about the leader’s “special space” or “no fly zone”
  • Have two felt boards–one for you, one to play
  • Have participatory felt stories so everyone has pieces to contribute

Challenge: A parent complains that you’ve integrated new media elements into your storytime. How do you respond?

  • “Storytime is about all sorts of new experiences”
  • “Libraries are more than just books” Video.
  • Talk in an accessible way about research around the subject
  • “Not everyone has access to these types of fun tools at home”
  • Explain that, just as we model new ways to interact with books, we want to model great ways to use media
  • Model something that is part of a child’s world so the experience isn’t wholly standalone

Challenge: How do you incorporate other languages in your storytimes?

Challenge: What’s your favorite way to add phonological awareness to storytime?

Challenge: An ambulance pulls up during storytime and all the kids run to the window. What do you do?

    • Sing “Hurry Drive the Firetruck” (tune of Ten Little): “Hurry, hurry, drive the firetruck / Hurry, hurry, drive the firetruck / Hurry, hurry, drive the firetruck / Ding ding ding ding ding!”; repeat with “Hurry, hurry, climb the ladder…squirt the fire”

  • Let kids be ambulances themselves, zooming around the room making siren noises

Challenge: What’s your favorite “Five Little” rhyme?

  • Five Little Elephants: “Five little elephants in the bathtub for a swim / Splash, splash, splash / Swim, swim, swim / Come on in!”
  • Five Hungry Ants: “Five hungry ants were marching in a line / They came across a picnic where they could dine. / They marched across the sandwich / They marched across the cake / They marched across the pepper / Uh oh! That was a mistake! / AH-CHOOO!!!!
  • Pyjama Party This one can be done on the ukulele, too!

Guerrilla Query: What are your favorite parachute activities?

  • Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play” to the tune of Bingo: “Talk, sing, read, write, play / Talk, sing, read, write, play / Talk, sing, read, write, play / Make a reader everyday!”
  • “The Colors Over You” to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle: “Red and green and yellow and blue / These are the colors over you. / Red like an apple and green like a tree / Yellow like the sun and blue like the sea. / Red and green and yellow and blue / These are the colors over you.”
  • “Pop the Bubbles” to the tune of Ten Little: “Pop, pop, pop the bubbles. / Pop, pop, pop the bubbles. / Pop, pop, pop the bubbles. / Fast fast fast fast fast!”
  • “Popcorn Kernels” to the tune of Frere Jacques: “Popcorn kernels / Popcorn kernels / In a pot / In a pot / Shake them, shake them, shake them / Shake them, shake them, shake them / Till they POP! / Till they POP!”
  • “If you’re happy and you know it give a shake!”
  • Use recorded music with the parachute for baby dance, like “Under a Shady Tree”
  • “Peekaboo, I See You” to the tune of Frere Jacques: “Peekaboo / Peekaboo / I see you / I see you / I see your button nose / And I see your toes / Peekaboo / I see you”

Challenge: No one is dancing with you! What do you do?

Guerrilla Query: How do you deal with a HUGE storytime crowd?

  • Think about projecting your story so that everyone can see it–think apps, or a document camera
  • Use books that pop up, books you can sing to–illustrations aren’t as important
  • Limit yourself to one prop per storytime so you don’t spend the whole time managing props
  • Put the parachute flat on the floor for play
  • Make your props worthwhile–do 3-4 activities with them before collecting them
  • Change your program format to offer back-to-back storytimes, both the same content; families may be willing to wait 30 minutes for the next session if the first is packed
  • Address possible disruptions, like talking, up front to help control the crowd Lindsey shares her strategy.
  • Get families talking to each other instead of everyone trying to talk to you when you ask questions
  • Create a warm up game that keeps kids busy (warm up your elbows! etc.) while you share some house rules with the caregivers. See Audrey’s AWESOME warm up.
  • Offer other programs that can accommodate such a big crowd, like a baby dance program

Guerrilla Query: What are your favorite interactive books?

  • Can You Make a Scary Face
  • From Head to Toe
  • Press Here
  • Tap the Magic Tree
  • Count the Monkeys
  • Don’t Push the Button!
  • It’s a Tiger
  • There are Cats in this Book
  • Clip-Clop
  • Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
  • Cat Secrets
  • Bounce
  • Moo!
  • Really Terrible Musicians
  • Pete’s a Pizza
  • The Foot Book with labels on the kids’ feet so they can play along
  • The Croaky Pokey
  • Jump!
  • If You’re Hoppy
  • I Got the Rhythm
  • Make any book interactive by asking questions! Example: cold reading of Love Monster and the Perfect Present by Jenny

Challenge: What’s your go-to goodbye song?

  • “Can You Kick With Two Feet” to the tune of Mary Had a Red Dress: “Can you kick with two feet? Two feet? Two feet? Can you kick with two feet? Kick, kick, kick!”; repeat with verses for hands that clap, lips that kiss, fingers that wiggle, and waving goodbye
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