Notes from Maryland’s Guerrilla Storytime

Today we’re posting notes sent to us from Maryland’s Kids are Customers training, where they recently held a Guerrilla Storytime.


As a reminder, please email the Joint Chiefs anytime you hold a Guerrilla Storytime. We can add your event to our calendar here on the website, make sure you have the kit, and offer some helpful pointers where needed. Guerrilla Storytimes are the intellectual property of our co-founder, Cory Eckert, so we do ask that you credit her at each presentation and that you ask people to visit and join Storytime Underground, if they haven’t already. We also love when you send us your notes and photos to share here on the blog so that lots of readers can benefit from your groupthink.


Now, on with the learning!




See all the photos and videos from this session here:

What’s your new favorite book for storytime?

  • Jane Cabrera – anything by her
  • Nanette’s Baguette – Mo Willems
  • Groovy Joe- Eric Litwin
  • Dilla Gorilla
  • Arctic – Little Penguin Gets the Hiccups- Tadgh Bentley
  • Next to You- Lori Haskins Houran

One child in storytime is being disruptive. What do you do?

  • Have them sit near you
  • Put finger on nose- “If you can hear me, put your finger on your nose…”
  • “Quiet llama” hand signal- teach children to copy the llama hand shape and hold it up as a signal to quiet down and look at you. (photo:
  • Ask the child to puts thing on flannelboard for you

How do you incorporate phonological awareness into storytime?

  • Read the voices of book characters with different accents
  • Clap to the “beat” of the words to find the syllables
  • Pay attention to environmental sounds, by listening to and identifying them

What does yoga storytime look like?

What online resources do you use to learn new songs and rhymes?

  • Youtube
  • Jbrary
  • Miss Nina
  • Other library’s website
  • Kent county
  • Flannel Friday
  • Pinterest

How do you incorporate letter knowledge into storytime?

  • Holding up one letter and
  • Air letters- drawing the shape of a letter in the air with our fingers
  • “B-I-N-G-O” and similar songs
  • Storytime is brought to you by the letter…
  • Alphabet box- fill a box with things that start with the same letter. Pull them out (or let kids pull them out), identify them, then guess the letter together.
  • Letter of the day – circle in a message

What is your favorite “5 little…” rhyme?

  • Five little kites
  • Five little pumpkins
  • Five little speckled frogs
  • Five little apples

Favorite way to use musical instruments in storytime

  • 1.Scarves (not an instrument, but great to use with music)
  • 2. Learn to play the Ukulele or another instrument so you can sing the songs without a recording. Take suggestions from the kids to add verses or lines to songs like “If you’re happy and you know it… what do YOU do?” of “Who ELSE is on the bus? What sound do they make?” (for wheels on the bus), then sing it with their suggestions.
  • 3. “Night animals” and similar books – use instruments to make sound effects, and have the kids help.

A big sibling has joined you for storytime and is taking over from the younger children- blurting out answers before the young ones get a chance, etc. What do you do?

  • Make them your helper/ junior librarian
  • Silent signals- have them signal you that they know the answer, but keep it quiet so the littles can guess
  • Ask them to wait until the little ones answer, then the big kid can tell us if we got it right!

No one is dancing with you – what do you do?

  • Have the grownups help demonstrate the moves for their kids
  • Tell the caregivers – movement is good for sleep deprivation! Dancing is better than coffee!

How would you adapt activities for kids in wheelchairs or with other mobility limitations?

  • Change the movements to something the child can do
  • Announcement at the beginning: Everybody do as much as you can do.
  • Include a tactile element that the child can experience- if everyone is dancing with scarves, give them a scarf for their caregiver or assistant to help them touch and explore the texture, if they are not able to hold and move it around.
  • Use bells with large-grip handles
  • Attach bells, scarves, shakers, etc. to a hair scrunchie and slip it onto the child’s wrist, if they are not able to grip things.

How do you add writing to storytime?

  • Use wordless books and have the children create the story
  • Make a name tag for everybody- even if their “name” comes out as a scribble
  • Fingerplays develop the motor skills needed for using writing utensils
  • Jim Gill “one to the left” song, moves our bodies like we move our eyes when reading and our hands when writing
  • Coloring pages- practice using writing materials
  • Letter writing to post in mailbox in the children’s room

How do you transition from high energy activity to something quieter?

What are your favorite shaker songs

More suggestions:

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