Guerrilla Storytime: Get Local

This past Friday, 10 librarians from Tacoma Public Library, Puyallup Public Library, and Pierce County Library System got together for storytime sharing. Since I hosted at my library, I decided to force them all to do this as a Guerrilla Storytime. First, I drugged them with sugar in the form of cake and cookies, so it wasn’t like they could resist much.


In any case, I wanted to share all the fabulous ideas that came from that small, but mighty group. I truly can’t recommend this technique more for staff meetings and local get-togethers like this one. You don’t need a huge group and you don’t even need it to be in the open where bystanders can see the storytime hijinks in action. Sure, these things are great, but just creating an open environment where everyone, hopefully, feels empowered to share their expertise (yes, everyone has something to share!) and take in new ideas and skills, is the key.


Thanks to all of you who attended-I got TONS of great ideas, and I hope you did, too.


Here’s the recap:


Introductions: who you are, where you’re from, and one thing you think you’re super great at, or even an expert. We had everything from “cheating” on songs by holding up a picture card with the words to the song on the back for the presenter to read from to connecting with parents and children to a literal bag of tricks. Plus, Carol from Puyallup actually wrote the book on toddler storytime activities! In case you’re interested it’s called Artsy Toddler Storytimes: A Year’s Worth of Ready-To-Go Programming, available from the ALA Store.


Challenge: One child starts punching another

-leave it up to caregivers to break up

-put hand out or step physically between the children

-ask a caregiver to help only if it is actually disturbing others

-if it is not disruptive, be flexible-they may still be listening, just kinetic learners


Audience posed question: What times are best for storytimes? 

-basically, it seems to vary but 10:30 seems quite common for most, with 11:15 or 11:30 being next common

-whatever time you choose, build in time for stragglers


Challenge: Audience has the wiggles, what do you do?

-Shake your sillies out on the ukulele (or without, too). Do it fast and slow.

-Wiggle my fingers, wiggle my toes, wiggle my fingers, wiggle my nose, now there are no more wiggles left in you, you, you, you, and me!

-Reach for the ceiling, now how about the floor? Can you find your knees? Now find your nose. Only don’t touch your nose-touch your chin or something and fool them! Is this my nose? No!

-Get quiet. Do a softer song or fingerplay. Sometimes getting quiet has an equivalent effect for regrouping as doing a wiggle does

-Build in a wiggle as part of your storytime. Open Shut Them or This is Big are good ones. Just plan on doing these before or after a book.

-Form Banana (aka Bananas Unit, aka Form the Orange). Let them pick the fruits or veggies to form. Additional verses could include building a house, painting a house, rocking the house.


Challenge: How do you add singing to storytime?

-sing along with music found in your library’s collection

-The Shimmy Shake by The Wiggles – Carol uses lots of music- you can find her storytime plans on her blog

-Chanting to a song when you can’t find the tune or don’t have music available. Then, tell caregivers that chanting has a similar effect as singing-being rhythmic  helps children hear the various sounds of language and how they work together.

-Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star: on the ukulele, give kids stars to hold for the song and on the third time you sing it have the kids come and put their stars on the flannel board. Then everyone counts the stars.

-Recess Monkey and Caspar Babypants! They’re local so we get a little excited.


Challenge: How to incorporate caregivers asides based on ECRR skills?

-write your message on a post it note and stick it to the back of the book so you will remember to mention it while reading

-integrate messages as part of the story-point to a circle and talk to parents about pointing out images while you are saying the text that corresponds. This help children understand that objects have names and expands their vocabulary.


Challenge: A child says ” I don’t like that book!” before you begin to read. 

-just keep going and don’t address it

-if they don’t let up, say “Well, you can plug your ears and not listen but other people might want to hear this book.”

-“You don’t have to listen, but maybe you will like it this time.”

-Just tell them they will like it, and they will.


Challenge: How do you add writing to your storytimes?


-including cutting activities, finding things to cut out of magazines

-art activities after using fine motor skills: finger painting, shaving cream play, etc.

-coloring sheets to do there or take home

-fingerplays, objects to grasp, anything using fingers


Challenge: Share your favorite action rhyme.

-If You’re Happy and You Know It- chicken style -flap your wings, lay an egg and more

-Bonnie has a toy toolbox and tools and sings this song

-Rob Reid’s Goodbye Rap, edited to be shorter

Tooty Ta by Dr. Jean. You can do it with, or without the music


Challenge: Share your goodbye song.

We Wave Goodbye Like This

The More We Get Together with signs

My hands say thank you 

Goodbye Bubbles


Other things shared:

-Brian read Bunnies! by Kevan Atteberry, an almost wordless, super adorable book

-Maria loves doing “Grandma is Sleeping” (aka Baby is Sleeping or Wake Up!) with shakers

-Bonnie shared her awesome use for toilet paper and paper towel tubes. Cut them into smaller tubes (in half or quarters) and then cut open one side so the tube can open. Decorate the to be bracelets, spy gadgets, OR OR OR SUPERHERO CUFFS!!!

-Michelle shared her 5 Little Elephants Went Out One Day (she is an expert at 5 Littles) magnet board. There are lots of version of this song, but here’s one.

-Sara (teen librarian!) shared an awesome idea for using bubbles with school agers. Basically, as a drinking games with bubbles. Every time certain words or activities happen in a program they blow bubbles. Fun!

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