Ask A Storytime Ninja: Storytime Music

Do you use music in your storytime? Are you looking for some fun, new songs?




The Question:

Music is a very important part of my preschool storytimes. My favourite storytime songs are high energy and interactive (action songs). Thing is, I find that I’m loving my favourite songs to death, and need some new material. I do know what I’m NOT looking for, and that is songs that I can only describe as syrupy or sickeningly sweet. Some of my favourites are Kathy Reid Naiman (Tommy Thumb, Roly Poly and Clap Your Hands); Raffi (Shake My Sillies Out and Brush Your Teeth); and the odd Sharon, Lois and Bram. Any suggestions?


The Answers:


Ariel says:

So I have to admit I blatantly steal all the songs I use – usually from Jbrary. It’s collaboration, y’all! One of my favorites is Bananas Unite – I actually ended up doing it every week with my toddlers and preschoolers for a while, and they LOVED it. You can’t be grumpy when you’re doing Bananas Unite. Another song I first saw on Jbrary is Baby Shark. Although I will warn you that Baby Shark will get stuck in your head forevermore, so use it wisely.


Ellen says:


I love dancing and incorporating music in storytimes! This session, I created a “Song Cube” based off of an idea I saw on Mel’s Desk. I’ve only used it 3 times so far (it’s the very beginning of our session) but the kids love it. The songs I put on it are: “My Energy” by Laurie Berkner, “Silly Dance Contest” by Jim Gill, “Clap Your Hands” by They Might be Giants, “Shake Your Sillies Out” by Raffi, “Rock and Roll Freeze” by Hap Palmer, and “The Freeze” by Greg and Steve. I like to think of this as my “Storytime’s Greatest Hits” collection because it is all my favorite action songs. I also love incorporating non-children’s music into storytime, such as La Bamba, The Locomotion, The Jackson 5’s ABC, and Happy. Also, Ariel is so right about Jbrary, they are the best and have tons of inspiration for great music! Baby Shark really will get stuck in your head.


Amadee says:

I love music at storytime too, but rarely use recorded songs. I like the flexibility of being able to change the pace, add or subtract verses, and change words on the fly. So I tend to learn songs by favorite artists like Laurie Berkner or Jim Gill, and then just sing them. But of course that doesn’t work for every storytime group or presenter.


When it comes to recorded music, I like a lot of the usual suspects (Raffi, Ella Jenkins, Hap Palmer). And I’m crazy about Steve Weeks ( But I also second Ellen about including songs that aren’t specifically aimed at kids… I’ve had great storytimes featuring Kraftwerk (“The Robots”), Silver Convention (“Fly Robin Fly”), REM, and the Beatles. And I used to have a wonderful (completely clean!) 45 second cut of House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” which was guaranteed to make grownups dance along.


Instrumental songs can also be a fun change of pace. Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk” works for all kinds of themes, and a short version of the William Tell Overture is killer for horses or fast and slow. Oh, and don’t get me started about the Chicken Dance. 🙂




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