Category Archives: Ask a Storytime Ninja

Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Snacks in Storytime

Here’s our newest Lightning Round question! These questions are posed to all of our ninjas instead of just our featured monthly ones and are meant to be quick and efficient responses to some interesting inquiries. Here’s our question for this week which we’ve had a lot of responses for so this one’s a tid bit longer than most:




The Question:


“What is your opinion on snacks as a regular part of storytime? I’ve seen mixed reviews/policy on this.”


The Answers: Nope! (And we had a lot of nos but we’ve limited it to four responses.)


From Sue J.:


As soon as a snack is opened, or opening, I have lost the crowd. All heads turn to the offending noisy wrapper. I say no to snacks….along the lines of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie”….I think it opens far too many cans of worms with allergies, sharing, messes etc.


From Lisa M.:


No snacks! We don’t even let kids/parents bring their own snacks in for story time. Story time (and all library programs) should be for EVERYONE. There are a lot of allergies and different food lifestyles out there and we just can’t accommodate them. By allowing in or providing food, you are excluding these people. We do have a designated eating area in our library and if people need a snack, they are welcome to visit this area before or after our programs.


From Eve P.:


Regarding snacks as a regular part of storytime, I say no! There are so many children with food allergies – eggs, wheat, rice, gluten, nuts, milk – that it is very difficult to address everyone’s allergies safely. Also, mixing food with books sets a bad example. I don’t want my patrons to think it is OK to handle a book while eating. Books are food for the mind – that’s food enough for me!


From Katya S.:


In my large library system, we don’t allow food outside of designated areas, so food at storytime isn’t an option. We have so many different potential allergies and dietary needs that feeding kids is messy and impractical for us. I occasionally have food in programs but really only for children over 9. I also lavish the teens with candy.


The Answers: Sometimes! (And we had a few in-betweens but we’ve limited it to four responses.)


From Nancy M.:


Personally, I prefer a craft to snacks. I always worry about leaving a child without because of allergies or family food policies. The only time I have given snacks is when I did our “bedtime” storytime as their bedtime snack and then it was just a very small treat–a few pretzel sticks or a pack of fruit gummies. However, I work in a middle class suburb. If I worked in a library serving a less affluent community, I’d consider providing healthy snacks with grant monies or community donations.


From Tess P. (@tess1144,


First, let me say, I love food. But snacks as a regular part of storytime, no, I am not into that mess thanks! But…for special occasion programs, like for instance the Caldecott Picture Book Party or Shamrock Shenanigans or Winter Whimsy or Spring has Sprung Storytimes, I do like to include a cookie decorating station as one of the activities that take place after the stories and songs. We always have at least one craft or art activity going on concurrently so even kids who can’t do the cookie activity will have something fun to do at another station.


From Ann S.:


I don’t serve snacks on a regular basis during story time because we have a policy that only allows prepackaged foods to be served. We also have several children with food allergies that regularly attend our story times. If parents want to bring a snack for their child to eat that is fine as long as it doesn’t contain nuts, the child sits at one of our tables to eat it, the drink is in a lidded container and no food or drink is near our computers. We allow this because we don’t know if a child is diabetic and required to eat at regular intervals. I have also found that a hungry toddler is a cranky toddler so am more than willing to allow parents to give their little ones something to eat.


From Natalie K. (


We don’t have snacks in our regular storytime programs. A traditional storytime for us includes books, flannel stories, songs, a movie, and a craft for them to take home. We have created a Lunch Buddies program for children ages 3-5. The children bring their lunch and we provide them with snacks and drinks. We run a program before they eat and then enjoy quiet time together as they have lunch.


The Answers: Yes!


From Karen H.:


We allow snacks during storytime but the parents provide it for their own kids. I do baby storytime so its not too much trouble. 🙂


From Angela R. (@annavalley):


We’ve had great success with our “Milk & Cookies” storytime. We offer a peanut-free cookie, milk, and juice (for the lactose intolerant children). This is after storytime has done, and it gives parents & kids a time to chat & play. We also put toys out at this time. When we stopped offering the milk & cookies, people stopped coming, so we re-instated it. Food is a big thing around here, and so we continue. What works best for your community is the way to go.


Thanks for all the great responses everyone! Do you have any of your own? We’d love to hear about them in the comments and I’ll post some of the other awesome answers we got that we couldn’t feature on the post!

Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Child Development Literature

Here’s our newest Lightning Round question! These questions are posed to all of our ninjas instead of just our featured monthly ones and are meant to be quick and efficient responses to some interesting inquiries. Here’s our question for this week:




The Question:


“Can you recommend any books on child development that youth services librarians should put on their ‘to read’ lists? Thank you for being such an awesome group!”


The Answers:


From Ingrid A. (


I like Young at Art: Teaching Toddlers Self-Expression, Problem-Solving Skills, and an Appreciation for Art Paperback by Susan Striker. Her tone is a little harsh sometimes, but I learned everything I know about process-oriented art in this book.


From Danielle Z. (@LibrarianDani):


“A Moving Child is a Learning Child: How the Body Teaches the Brain to Think by Gill Connell. I name drop this book all the time! I have learned so much about how children learn through movement and play and what they’re actually doing when they’re trying to jump up and hang from the light fixtures (no, not ruin storytime…learn!)


From Mary K. (@daisycakes):


My favorites:
Bright from the Start by Dr. Jill Stamm
Brain Rules for Baby by John Medina
Reading Magic by Mem Fox (the book that ignited my passion for early literacy)


Thanks for all the great responses everyone! Do you have any of your own? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Ask a Storytime Ninja: Preschool Storytime Newbie

If you have anything to add to this week’s answers, please share in the comments.


The Question:


I am doing a Preschool Story Time for the first time at my library soon, (I’ve always done Toddler and Family story times.) I’m wondering how to gear it differently for preschoolers and what things I should make sure to touch on for them, ie early literacy statements, things to point out about the books, songs, etc. Any suggestions?


The Answers:


From Nancy:


I love preschool storytime! I prefer to have caregivers in the room to help with behavior, but I ask them to sit in a semi-circle (in chairs) behind the kiddos and me because storytime offers a great opportunity for preschoolers to get their social skills ready before kindergarten–taking turns, waiting to speak, etc. Unlike storytimes for younger kids and babies, I do not interject commentary on why I chose a book or how this action song reinforces one of the Five Practices of ECRR2. I let the storytime flow but I am always thinking of how I can engage the preschoolers to take turns, predict what happens next in the story or work together to finish a cumulative rhyme or activitiy. Each week, I create a flyer (just a half sheet of paper) with homework for the kids and their caregivers.  One side has a 2 or 3 sentence summary of what we did that week (theme, book titles, songs). Then I explain how we incorporated one of the Five Practices (ECRR2). At the bottom of the caregiver side, I offer suggestions for fun or unusual things to do at home to reinforce that week’s practice (reading, writing, singing, playing, or talking). On the back of the homework sheet, I add a line art image that ties to the theme for the preschoolers to color and I add the theme word in dotted lines on writing practice lines for them to trace the letters (I use this website: but there are a number of free sites to choose from). I wasn’t prepared for all the kids returning their completed “homework” the next week–so I now make sure to have stickers or our “I visited the library” hand stamp ready and waiting.


Though it’s true for toddlers too, I especially like gross motor activities for preschoolers because being physical helps cement the information in their brains (learned that from an occupational therapist years ago). So things like introducing the letter of the week then having them stand to draw the letter giant-sized in the air (like they do in Super Why) is appropriate. I like to narrate that and tell them that “A” starts at the ceiling over my head then comes down to my left foot, then goes back over my head and comes down to my right foot, then “A” gets a belt right in the middle. You get the idea!  I like making “Alphabet Soup” too–I let the gang pick a magnetic letter (or you could use laminated letters) as they enter the room. Then I tell them I love alphabet soup with vegetables (I put play veggies in a cheap witch’s cauldron) and lots of letters. As we sing the alphabet song slowly, they identify their letters and drop them in the soup pot.  We stir and stir then let it simmer for 2 books. After book 2, I pull out felt letters that spell out the theme (we put them in order on the flannel board, sound them out then say the word).  Using black letters in the pot is great–they blend in and the kids think the pot is magic! I like this trick as they have to keep track of how many books we’ve read and they remind me it’s time to check the soup; they have to wait for a result; and we get some phonics fun in our program.


Basically, the examples are to let you know that you can create a simple yet sophisticated storytime that meets the needs of the preschoolers without being preachy or boring. Use your imagination to think of what a preschooler will need before kindergarten then package it as fun with lots of opportunities for movement and you’re good to go!


From Lindsey:


I also love preschool story time! My age range is 3-5 for this group and we have so much fun! I like to choose normally 3 books that allow these kiddos to think. I try to choose books that teach a certain lesson, like being generous, helpful, kind, ect. They like to think about that kind of thing and parents love it, too, as it gives them a great teaching opportunity to expand on at home. I also use this opportunity to use wordless books. Their imaginations are so active! They really love interactive books as well, so I try to choose those when I can!
As far as activities go, I do a lot of painting/art with this group. They have wonderful imaginations and I love to allow them to explore and do things they might not get to do at home. I don’t usually sing or do flannel boards because we do more craft type activities afterwards, but I’m sure there will be great suggestions for songs and things!

With preschoolers, I find them to be like mini adults. I love having conversations with them and interacting with them one on one. I like to provide extension activities for parents to do with their children at home after story time, as well. Whether it’s a book list of books related to what we talked about during story time, a list of activities they can do for a special prize, ect, they love it! You will LOVE preschool story time!


From Chrissie:


If you love interaction with children, you are going to LOVE preschool storyime! Depending on what the ages of the children are, they may be very chatty. Children of this age like to tell you everything that is going on in their lives! Ask questions and encourage discussion!  For example, if you are reading a story about pets you can ask the children if anyone has a pet at home. How do you take care of your pet? It helps introduce the story, but also helps children relate to the story by developing reading skills at the same time.


Personally, I do not provide any kind of early literacy tip or ECRR2 information. Parents are already on information overload and I don’t like storytime to feel too much like school for children or adults….if you decide to include adults in your preschool storyime. In the last few years I stopped doing storytime for 3-5 year-olds, because honestly, there is a big difference in learning abilities between a three year-old and a five year-old. I started pairing 2&3 year-olds and 4&5 year-olds together- it is just what worked for my library at the time. For the younger group, I would have parents come down to storytime for obvious reasons, but the older children I would have come down by themselves. It helped some children get used to the idea of being away from a parent for school readiness. Also, I didn’t feel as though I was being judged by the parents as much when it was just the children in the room. (And a good portion of the time, I spent quieting the parents from their side chatter.)  It’s all about what you are comfortable with!


Definitely include some of the aspects you are doing in your other storytimes. Older preschoolers still like music and movement, plus you can also play simple games with them. I am a big fan of Yo Gabba Gabba’s Freeze Game- music, movement and a game! A simple game of hot potato will easily please them, too. They will also like many of the rhymes you do for other groups.  One thing I have always liked doing is putting out the puppets and other props for the children to play with after storytime is over. It gives the children a chance to use their imagination to either re-tell a rhyme or story or create one of their own!


I found the best way for me to get ideas about an age group I have never worked with is to see another librarian in action. If you are able to, visit a library close to yours and see how that librarian does storytime. Sometimes a visual is all you need!


Just remember, if something doesn’t work out the first time you try it in storytime, you can always change things for the following week!

Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Opening Songs for Baby, Toddler and PreK Storytime

Here’s our newest Lightning Round question! These questions are posed to all of our ninjas instead of just our featured monthly ones and are meant to be quick and efficient responses to some interesting inquiries. Here’s our question for this week:




The Question:


“”What are good songs or chants for hello and goodbye songs for the following age groups:
Lapsit – 2 months to 18 months
Toddler Time – 18 months to 3 years
Story Hour – 3 years to 5 years”


The Answers:


From Michelle M. (@mmlibrarian):


My song choices are for Lapsit and Toddler Time: Hello Everyone
Hello Everyone, and how are you? How are you? How are you? (wave baby’s hand)
Hello everyone and how are you? How are you today?
I am fine, I am fine and I hope that you are too (point to self and then point to child).


From Soraya S. (@vivalosbooks):

I mostly do all age, family storytimes but I think these would work for 3-5 for sure and probably toddler as well:
Hello Song in Sign Language
I learned this from Jbrary and love it! Here’s the YouTube link:
Hello Song
And then we do a wake up song with Jim Gill’s Can’t Wait to Celebrate


From Jaime C.:


For babytime I use three songs, all from Mother Goose on the Loose by Besty Cohent Diamond:
Hello Everybody:
Hello everybody yes indeed, yes indeed, yes indeed (wave baby’s hands)
Hello everybody yes indeed, yes indeed my darling (wave baby’s hands)
Clap Clap Clap Your Hands:
Clap, clap, clap your hands, clap your hands together (clap baby’s hands x2)
Stomp, stomp, stomp your feet, stomp your feet together (stomp baby’s feet x2)
Wave, wave, wave your arms, wave your arms together (wave baby’s hands x2)
Nod, nod, nod your head, nod your head together (I normally recommend kind of bobbing with baby x2)
Sway, sway, sway and sway together (sway with baby x2)
See My Fingers Dance and Play:
See my fingers dance and play, fingers dance for me today (wiggle baby’s fingers)
See my ten toes dance and play, ten toes dance for me today (wiggle baby’s toes)
For toddler time I use two songs and one fingerplay:
Shake Your Sillies Out by Jim Gill
These Are My Glasses by Laurie Berkner
I Wiggle My Fingers Fingerplay:
I wiggle my fingers,
I wiggle my toes,
I wiggle my shoulders,
I wiggle my nose.
Now no more wiggles
Are left in me,
So I can sit as still as can be.
Have any songs you use that weren’t listed? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Endangered Animals & Tigers Storytime

This is our first Lightning Round of the month! These questions are posed to all of our ninjas instead of just our featured monthly ones and are meant to be quick and efficient responses to some interesting inquiries. Here’s our question for this week:




The Question:


“Do you have any book recommendations for an endangered animals storytime for 3 – 6 year olds? Especially ones featuring tigers?”


The Answers:


From Natasha F.C. (


Two of my favorite tiger books are It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle and Augustus and His Smile by Catherine Rayner. It’s a Tiger would be great for talking about how people are scared of tigers which can make them more likely to not worry about them, and Augustus and His Smile revels in the natural world, including Augustus taking a swim.


It could also be fun to use a book like Actual Size and pick out animals that are endangered (some gorillas, some crocodiles, etc.).


From Michelle M. (@mmlibrarian):


I like It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle.


From Bridget W. (@bridgetrwilson,


Moon Bear by Barbara Guiberson
Almost Gone: The World’s Rarest Animals by Steve Jenkins
The race to save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose
Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins
Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney
Little Mist by Angela McAllister (features red pandas, snow leopards, & moon bears)


Once a Mouse by Marcia Brown
It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle
Read to Tiger by S. J. Fore
Conejito by Margaret Read MacDonald


From Sue J.:


Eric Carle’s Panda Bear, Panda Bear, what do you see?


Thanks for all the great responses everyone! Do you have any of your own? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!