Category Archives: Guerrilla Storytime

Virtual Guerrilla Storytime- January 2017



Back in January, the joint chiefs hosted a virtual Guerrilla Storytime via Facebook and Twitter. During the event, we introduced our new social justice-focused questions, which you can find here.


Below are a few teaser questions, but please do read through all of the thoughtful responses by clicking here.




  1. What is your favorite storytime book featuring a main character of color?



  • The Snowy Day
  • I Got the Rhythm
  • One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree
  • Lola At the Library
  • Lottie Paris and the Best Place
  • Ada Twist, Scientist
  • I Love My Hair
  • Whose Toes Are Those?
  • All Different Now
  • Big Snow
  • Show Way
  • Big Red Lollipop
  • I Like Myself
  • My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood
  • Dim Sum for Everyone
  • Princess Hair
  • How to Find a Fox
  • Super Hair-O and the Barber of Doom
  • Jazz Baby
  • Peekaboo Morning
  • Bee Bim Bop
  • Last Stop on Market Street
  • Looking for Bongo
  • Love Is a Truck
  • Thunderboy, Jr.
  • Say Hello
  • A Chair For My Mother
  • Pumpkin Eye
  • Every Little Thing
  • The Bus For Us
  • Lenny in the Garden
  • When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat


  1. How would you accommodate a family in the disability community in your regular storytime?


  • Wearing a mic for families with a hearing impairment
  • Having rhymes and modifications for children in wheelchairs (upper body movements).
  • Let everyone know they can step out for a break.
  • Offer noise-cancelling headphones and warn of extra loud noises.
  • Including a variety of activities–things to touch, different volumes, options for seating.
  • Ask families about accommodations or welcome feedback to make them more comfortable.


  1. How do you address diversity in your welcome message?


  • “Today we’re celebrating all the different ways young children learn. We’re going to be singing and playing, laughing and talking, and, of course, reading together. Since our storytime reflects our community, that means we also have some songs to learn in different languages. Sometimes our little listeners like one activity more than another or maybe they find an activity overstimulating and upsetting. Please stay close to your child during storytime so you can respond if they become upset. I do have some fidget toys that you can take for your child to hold and there’s lots of diversions in the children’s area if you need to take a break.”
  • I make a note for accommodations. “Miss Julie will be jumping and clapping today, but please modifying if you need to.” Then I give examples based on what I may be doing. “You can lift arms instead of jumping, say ‘clap’ instead of clapping!”
  • I welcome everyone at the door as they come in and then as a big group by saying “Welcome, friends!” And then we go into calendar time and talk about all the different holidays we have that month. And I say “Do we have any friends that celebrate any of these holidays?” And then I’ll say, “But it’s okay if we don’t celebrate any of these holidays too. We might have friends that don’t.”
  • We add hello and goodbye in each language represented in the room. It’s very quick and very sweet, especially when the children start to do it rather than the grown-up.


Social Justice Meets Guerrilla Storytime



Did you know that we have new questions for Guerrilla Storytime that relate to social justice in our practices? No? Stop everything you’re doing and take a look at them right now. Click here for a list of the questions in a straight text format.


Love them? Want to stand on a rooftop and shout about them? Us, too! If you were checked into Facebook or Twitter with us back in January, you may have noticed that we had a virtual Guerrilla Storytime featuring these new questions. The answers were beautiful and inspiring and we’ll have a round-up up on the blog soon.


We wanted to re-introduce the questions today, though, because we have a lot of hopes for them. Hopes like the following:


  • Our peers could explore any unfamiliar terms and topics brought up by these questions and become more knowledgeable on the issues.
  • Individuals might have informal conversations with their co-workers and raise awareness for these topics.
  • Supervisors can take the initiative to use these questions in their own guerrilla training.
  • They might make an appearance at more public Guerrilla Storytimes, like the ones at conferences, and raise the profile of public libraries as places for critical analysis and perspectives.


And maybe we’re shooting for the stars a little, but we’re so pleased that one library system has already taken up the challenge. Back in January, Enoch Pratt Free Library incorporated these questions into a Guerrilla Storytime training for internal staff. It challenged the team to come together and talk about the issues, sharing thoughts and concerns and working out how to address them.


EPFL mixed these new social justice questions with those from our original kit using images on a powerpoint. The mixture helped to keep the conversation moving and fun and to help develop answers to these deeper questions, they sent the list to staff ahead of time for reflection.


Follow this link to read the notes from EPFL.


As you review the notes for their meeting, we invite you to think about how you may be able to discuss these topics with your own teammates and staff and we hope that you’ll feel free to incorporate these questions into your next meeting. If you’re interested in making your own powerpoint with the images from our January virtual Guerrilla Storytime, here is a link to our file.



Announcing: a virtual Guerrilla Storytime for Social Justice

By now, I hope you have read our Storytime for Social Justice Kit and started thinking about the Social Justice Blog challenge. Today we are thrilled to announce our next virtual Guerrilla Storytime to go alone with our Social Justice Challenge. On Friday, January 6, we will be posting Guerrilla Storytime for Social Justice questions all day long on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #StorytimeJusticeWarrior.




Follow along, share your answers with our community, and learn a great new resource or tip to help you with your own Storytime for Social Justice challenge. Not sure what a question means or why it is an issue? Just ask!


After the event, we’ll be posting a roundup of all the questions here, so check back to make sure you don’t miss anything great!


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:

Guerrilla Storytime Recap: Maryland Library Association Conference 2016

Here at SU, the joint chiefs get so much joy from hearing about all the Guerrilla Storytimes that are springing up all over the country. We encourage you to share notes, pictures, and videos with us, as well as any personal stories about what you’ve learned or experienced through GSTs. Don’t forget to let us know about your GST so that we can add it to the map and calendar, too!




Today we’re posting (some of) the recap from Maryland Library Association’s Guerrilla Storytime! You can find even more by clicking here. Check out the videos!


How do you incorporate number concepts and early math into storytime?

  • Counting songs
  • Flannel boards
  • Orders; use language to order concepts
    • First, second, third
    • First, next, last
    • Smallest, bigger, biggest
  • Organization of shapes; groupings of items
  • 5 little _____ songs & rhymes, counting up and counting down
  • mind parents of cardinal and ordinal concepts
  • Simple subtraction and addition of items- there were 4, one’s gone, now there’s 3.


How would you adapt scarves or shaky eggs for children with disabilities that can’t grip objects

  • Try another type of object
  • Peek-a-boo
  • Hold child’s hand around the egg and shake with them
  • Tie scarves to chairs
  • Attach item to a scarf or scrunchy that will go on child’s wrist
  • Noisemaker that goes on an arm or wrist


Favorite ways to use musical instruments in storytime

  • As children enter
  • Music playing during an extension activity
  • Music sometimes playing in the children’s area
  • Basket of instruments for free use
  • You can interact with kids as you play an instrument more easily than if playing a recorded song.
  • Playing an instrument provides more freedom to be silly and include children’s ideas
  • Ukulele, slide whistle, harmonica, accordion,


A child keeps pulling felt pieces off your board, what do you do?

  • Ask parents to keep control over kids (but say it nicely)
  • Put flannel board up high out of reach
  • Give each child a piece of flannel to add to the story


Favorite way to use puppets

  • Finger puppets- variations on “2 Little Blackbirds” (2 little [anything that goes with theme])
  • Waiting for families to file in, walk up to kids individually to interact with the puppet
  • Mother Goose’s “I Went Out for A Walk One Day” Uses animal sounds and not voices
  • Mascot puppet, puppy taps/kisses each kid on the head to count the kids


How do you get kids to do call and response?

  • Get very loud and excited
  • Talk to parents at beginning about participation and then call them out later (in a humorous way) if they don’t play along
  • Do a practice round
  • Have a partner lead the response part


What can you do with a stretchy band? Also called cooperative bands, & brand name “ElastaBlast”


  • Make a circle
  • Sit down in a circle with legs straight out, holding band, & do motions w/ band while seated:
    • Shake slow/fast
    • Storytime crunches/lean back
    • Row row your boat
    • Hold up high
    • Hold down low
  • Bounce to the beat of a song as you walk in a circle
  • What color are you holding? If you’re holding [color] then shake it. Then pass the band around to get a new color & repeat