Guerrilla Storytime at the Kansas Library Association

Woo hoo! Megan Bannen and Kelly Sime of  Johnson County Library led a Guerrilla Storytime last week at the Kansas Library Association Conference 2014: Out of the Stacks. We’re incredibly grateful to Megan and Kelly for leading some great skill sharing in Kansas, and also for telling attendees all about Storytime Underground. Thanks, too, to the amazing scribe who took all these notes so we can benefit from the Guerrilla Storytime, too!


What’s your favorite storytime book and why?

  • Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin: Great for toddler time. It teaches colors and encourages participation. You can listen to Eric Litwin perform the book on
  • Llama Llama Hoppity Hop by Anna Dewdney: Great to use with movement. If you repeat it, you can use the second “verse” to sit down.
  • Bedtime at the Nuthouse by Eric Litwin: teach dance first and be sure to cue kids when their part is coming up.

What’s your favorite closing song or rhyme?

What’s your best finger play?

  • There Was a Little Turtle and Tiny Time: both finger plays found here.
  • Five Little Pumpkins
  • Two Little Blackbirds
  • Five Fat Turkeys: Here are the words plus lots of other turkey rhymes, including the words to “Albuquerque Turkey” (to the tune of “Darling Clementine”)

Puppets: Freaky or awesome? How do you use them in storytime?

  • Use a hippo puppet to perform “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”
  • Buy stuffed animals for cheap from garage sales, pull out the stuffing, finish off the broken seam: voila! Instant puppets on the cheap!
  • The Puppet Ladies: a group of women who do awesome puppet shows – they’ll travel to many Kansas communities.
  • Use spider puppet for “Spider on the Floor”
  • One library lets kids into their puppet closet. Kids can select puppets and put on their own puppet show.
  • Puppet named Boomer helps with opening song. Kids get to wake boomer up.
  • Use a bear puppet to go on a bear hunt to find the puppet in the library.
  • Learn how to manipulate puppets correctly moving only thumb (like squeezing a tennis ball in your hand) so that puppet’s actions look natural.

What opening song do you like to use?

  • “If you want to hear a story clap your hands” found here. At the end of the song, you can sing, “if you want to hear a story, WIGGLE!” so kids can get their wigglies out.
  • “One little, two little, three little (insert something kids pick)”
  • “Get Funky” by Learning Express.
  • “Welcome to the Circle”

Adults won’t participate. What do you do?

  • “Let’s ALL stand up.”
  • Let adults know that they are role models for their kids and that their participation is an important part of storytime.
  • “And if Miss Megan is singing, we’re ALL singing!”
  • Enlist help from kids: “Go get your grown-up. Now, wiggle with your grown-up!”

What do you do about those really chatty kids in storytime. (“Oh, I have a dog! His name is Buster! My grandma has a dog!”)

  • Turn attention to other children. Take the time to get to know their names.
  • “That sounds like a story I want to hear at check-out time.”
  • Follow up on conversation after story time.
  • Give them a job. (“Can you help me hold this book?” etc.)
  • Hold up Interrupting Chicken on a popsicle stick.
  • Magic wand: it dings to bring back attention. Plus, it’s really awesome to have a magic wand.
  • Close the book and wait until you have everyone’s attention.

To theme or not to theme? That is the question.

  • Yes: letters through the alphabet make it easier to plan, especially if you do a craft.
  • Themes make it easier to teach
  • If you have books that you love but that don’t fit particular themes, you can have a Librarian’s Favorites week.
  • Creative themes: see if you can find some kind of thread running through the books you choose.
  • Don’t theme: Choose books you love.
  • You can have a coloring sheet out to go with your theme.
  • Have kids pick out books for storytime.
  • Focus on an early literacy (6by6) skill rather than a theme.

What storytime props do you like to use and how do you use them?

  • Magnet stories instead of flannel
  • Clothing: especially for The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
  • Shaker eggs: “I Know a Chicken” by Laurie Berkner – you can make them with plastic Easter eggs and rice.
    1. Also good for Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
    2. And you can make maracas if you tape the eggs between two spoons!
  • If kids don’t want to give the eggs back, you cans walk around with your eggs basket and sing, “Put them back so they don’t crack,” to the tune of “Jimmy Cracked Corn.”
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