Author Archives: Brytani

Storytime For Social Justice Kit

This is the time of year when you normally see the SU community light up with resolutions to change our practices, learn something new, and improve our services. It’s a time when we ramp up our energy and set goals to smash expectations of what libraries should be. It’s a tradition we love and honor, but this year is different.


This year most of us in the library profession had our ethics, hearts, and years of work demolished by a perfect storm of bigotry, ignorance, and apathy. In the wake of endlessly disappointing legislation, devastating and infuriating election results, and ever-capitulating leadership (both in our government and in our profession), the Joint Chiefs are choosing to fight. Our weapon is something so innocent and so elegant that you may miss its power on first glance.


We’re fighting back with Storytime.


See, we think that when we are faced with fascism on a terrifying scale, it is radical to empower the public with messages of strength in community, empathy for those who are different from us, equality with those we cannot understand, and love without boundaries. We think it’s nothing short of sedition to sow the seeds of unity, equity, and power.


We think Storytime should make bigots tremble. It should establish a place of belonging and safety, raising up families who are willing to advocate for one another. It should normalize and celebrate diversity, dispelling all fear of differences. It should give children the foundation they need to have confidence in their ideas, pride in their ability to make and change things, and a place of acceptance for voicing their thoughts and feelings.


Storytime is social justice.


So, yes. This year is different. Instead of asking for your resolutions, we’re issuing a challenge to throw away your trusty road map and become an explorer again. Re-examine your mission and practices and choose the path to being a social justice warrior. We invite you to join us in reading diverse titles, using your songs and activities to create a sense of community and safety, and encouraging support and love among families and neighbors.


As always, we’re here to support you as you make this leap. Below you will find a kit complete with book suggestions, songs, flannels, and extension activities. We’ve also included some ideas for fostering constructive conversations in Storytimes and linked to other lists that may be helpful.


Click here to view and use our brand new Storytime for Social Justice Kit.




If you’re ready to take a stand with us, shout it out. #storytimejusticewarrior

And, don’t worry. There is much, much more to come. Check back with us next week for more resources related to this challenge.


Motivational Monday: November Shout-Outs

Here at SU, we think that it’s up to every member of a team to encourage and lift up your peers. It’s why we started things like Guerrilla Storytimes and our Local Chapters. We want YOU to have the power to learn from each other, connect, and grow.


Today, we’re introducing a new feature that we hope will become a staple in our blogging content. For the first time, we put all of YOU in charge of publicly recognizing the teammates and peers in your lives who are doing great work. We want to regularly reward the workers who are making a difference every day and we want you all to feel seen and appreciated.


So, here goes! Our first round of shout-outs is small but mighty.




First shout-out comes from our friend, Rebecca McCorkindale aka Hafuboti. She’s lifting up her whole team today!


I want to give a HUGE Shout-Out to my Children’s Library team. Jennifer, Natasia, and Ashlynn have created such a positive atmosphere for both each other and the public. When I was gone for almost half of a month recently, I was able to have two wonderful vacations knowing that these three ladies were keeping things going.
Jennifer, our Children’s Librarian, oversaw everything along with my Director (who would also deserve a GINMOURMOUS shout-out on her own for her support and encouragement). Super-fabulous early literacy and just straight-up fun events were prepped and executed. She resolved issues, and if she felt I needed to know something, she left me clear notes. She did a lot more, but I don’t want to bog-down my Shout-Out with a list.
Natasia, our Technical Services Librarian and my “Marketing Minion” made sure that November’s theme and decor would be ready to go when I came back on November 1. Although she’s headed up planning and execution of our monthly themes, this was this first time that I gave her a theme and then basically left. Her creativity, artistic skills, and teamwork attitude add to my joy when I come to work every day and not just when I come back from vacay.
Ashlynn, our Technical Services Librarian with diverse interests and a generous heart, helped out in any and every area that she could. She created November’s scavenger hunt, and stayed vigilant to others’ needs. She also came up with one of my all-time favorite passive programs: leaf piles on our lawn. She took a problem that we’ve had since opening the Children’s Library (fallen leaves getting everywhere) and solved it in a creative and memory-making way.
Upon my November 1 return, I had the easiest reentry into work-world that I can remember. Things felt great, I knew what had been going on, and things were in a great place for me to take up my tasks and duties again. It was more like returning to my family than coworkers. And for all this and more, I want to shout to world at how awesome these ladies are.
Next, we have Kaitlin Frick calling out a co-worker, Grace Zell, for going above and beyond.
I’d like to give a shout-out to my work twin, Grace Zell. She’s all-around an incredible children’s librarian who seems to know every name, has a kind and warm personality, but steps up to handle tough situations when necessary. This past couple of weeks in particular, she’s been working her butt off to put in a grant proposal for a project we want to put together here at our library. We didn’t receive word until very last-minute that we needed to make changes to the proposal, and she took time outside of work to make those changes happen and (hopefully) get the funding to create some incredible children’s programming. Basically, she’s amazing and I aspire to be more like her in so many ways.
That’s all for now, but we hope that you will continue to send us your shout-outs and dazzle us with the dedication and passion that you admire in your teammates.

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:

Motivational Monday: November’s Awards

I’m so excited to bring back a feature that means a lot to me. I can remember so many days that have been discouraging to me in my career, and on those days it really helped when I had teammates and peers who reminded me of something I did well or something that made a difference.


That’s what this month’s awards are about. They’re about noticing when someone is down and reaching out with a little bit of encouragement. I hope you consider printing these for one of your co-workers, and even writing a note about a specific story or time on the back.




Coolest Things Strikes Again!

So, we’re a little behind on our reading.




After much catching up, here are just a few things we want to call out this week:


Abby wrote about how asking her staff to do a lap around the children’s area made her space more welcoming and secure AND helped them provide better customer service. Go, Abby!


We LOVE the awards that Bryce made for her staff, recognizing them for all the everyday aches and pains and calling them out for small acts of excellence. Go borrow some of hers and then steals ours while you’re at it.


Are you looking for new material for your fall-themed storytimes? OF COURSE Jbrary has you covered with a round-up of their favorite fall and Halloween songs and rhymes.


Have we pointed out one of our new favorite blogs, Jen in the Library? No? Silly us.  If you’re getting your feet wet with media mentoring and using apps in storytime, her blog is a godsend. She has details on what apps and ebooks she’s using, how she used them, and how they were received.


Did you know that joint chief Holly is working on a guide for Demco on programming with Meeperbots? Don’t worry, you can get a preview of a Battle Bots program here.


Lisa Mulvenna made these adorable foam figures to go with The Nuts: Sing and Dance in Your Polka-Dot Pants. They are the best!