Category Archives: Hack My Storytime

Pimp My Storytime Finale

Using the suggestions from others on how to improve my original Family Storytime on a Monsters theme, I’ve created a new outline.  For starters I wouldn’t use any of the books from that outline. They are all way too long and some have other issues. Really wish I could remember how they went over when I used them!

Everyone who chimed in agreed, MORE MOVEMENT! YES! Best advice for storytime: DO NOT SIT THE ENTIRE TIME. Or you’re doing it wrong (unless you can’t stand and then ok, but you can still get them to stand up or move a lot. You know what I mean.)

In making this new outline I’ve taken in to consideration my own style and taste in books (NEVER read a book you don’t like!!) and have built in flexibility for when the group tends toward the younger end or the older end. This is what a Monsters Family Storytime would look like for me today:


Hello Bubbles (everyone loves bubbles and it’s an echo song which is good practice for those in, or getting ready for, kindergarten)

Little Monster, Little Monster (they get to come up and pull their house color off the board if I pick them)

Now It’s Time for Storytime (tune of Camptown Races) OR I’d learn the one suggested by Lindsay:

Eyes open, Eyes closed
Wiggle your fingers, Wiggle your nose
Thumbs up, Thumbs down
Make a smile, Make a frown
Wiggle, clap, Wiggle, snap
Let your hands fly right to your lap. (Snapping makes the school age kids feel pretty suave.)

Book: For the first book I would read the longest I have that is still appropriate for the ages present.

These are the books I might have on my table: Go Away Big Green Monster, If You’re a Monster and You Know It, Can You Make a Scary Face, Leonardo the Terrible Monster,  Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli, Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance. You aren’t going to read them all but you should always have options so you don’t get stuck.

If it’s mostly 2 and 3 year olds I’ll do Go Away Big Green Monster or If You’re a Monster and You Know It. If there are mostly 4-7’s present I’ll read Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance, Monsters Don’t Eat Broccoli or Leonardo the Terrible Monster first.

Song: Monster Pokey. Kind of like Lisa’s Hooky Spooky but we’d have claws and snouts and tails to put in and out.

Book: If the group is younger read Go Away Big Green Monster or If You’re a Monster and You Know It (whichever I didn’t read before)

If the group is older read Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance or Leonardo the Terrible Monster

Song: Monster Boogie by Laurie Berkner with scarves

Book: If the group is younger or super squirmy I won’t read a third book and we’ll do Ram Sam Sam or more dancing instead. For an older group read Can You Make a Scary Face or If You’re a Monster and You Know It

Closer: Wave Goodbye– I still love this rhyme and it can work with all ages if the parents get involved with the little ones.

In my library I like to say goodbye to storytime because we move to a different part of the room for the activity. But I agree with Linda that in some cases it doesn’t make sense to do a goodbye song.

Activity: Make a Monster paper bag. Make a monster using a paper bag and the random items inside that bag. I also really like Linda’s monster feet. That would be a LOT of fun! Though I tend toward more open ended projects-it’s about process, not product- the physical activity part of making monster feet is appealing to me.

We hope to make this a regular feature of Storytime Underground so if you have a storytime you’d like pimped send us an email!

My Storytime Has Been Pimped. Again.

Another version of the storytime plan posted on Monday.  Stay tuned for the final post of this Pimp My Storytime round this weekend. Thanks, everyone, for playing! Don’t forget, if you have a storytime you’d like to see pimped, email us.

Monsters – Family Storytime Plan Revised by Linda Meuse, Notes from the Story Room

Caveat: Every library is different. Each librarian has a storytelling style that she/he is comfortable with. This will influence the selection of books and activities. Availability of material, where the program takes place, size of the audience, age range of children and length of the program will also influence selection. The following is a suggestion and illustrates how I do Family Storytime.

What I would change:

Opening – I would not use  “Open Shut Them.” It is too young for Family Storytime. I would use it with Toddlers. If an opening is desired, I would choose a silly song such as “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.”  It starts loudly and ends softly which is a good transition into the program. Also, a silly song sends the message that we are going to have some fun. An opening song also gives stragglers time to come in. Confession: I don’t have a set opening for Family Storytime.

Books – I would probably not use any of them. Since my library does not own Under the Bed, I cannot comment on that book. No Such Thing is too long. I would lose my younger ones. Although Where the Wild Things Are and There’s a Nightmare in My Closet  are classics, they don’t fit in with my storytelling style for Family Storytime. The illustrations would not read well in the large room I use. (Mayer’s book would probably be problematic in my community now though it wouldn’t have been when it was published in 1968.) To be fair, the selection of monster books has improved since 2007.

Activities – As much as I like “Going on a Monster Hunt,” I would not use it because I am lazy and that is a lot to remember. I do better using props and flannel board pieces to trigger my memory. I am torn about “Horns and Fangs” because I really like this and would probably use it if the audience had lots of two-year-olds. (It is always good to be flexible. With a mixed age group, one should be prepared to make changes as needed while doing the program.)

Closing – I would not do a good-bye song because it is not the end of the program. My Family Storytimes are followed by a craft.

Craft – This is the social time. I try to choose crafts that involve the parents/caregivers and the children. I love seeing the families working together. If you can’t do a craft, a coloring sheet or activity sheet relating to the theme is fine for the children to take home.

Note: I did a Monster Family Storytime in 2012 and posted details about the props I used on my blog. Links to these posts are included. You will see that I have changed some of the books but not the other material.

My philosophy:

Goal – To engage the entire family, adults as well as children

Method – Heavy use of visual material and an emphasis on humor and folktale themes


1. Read/Sing If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca and Ed Emberley  The illustrations are bold and colorful. There is a free song to download. The tune is familiar. The book encourages audience participation. Silly monster noises are always fun.

2. Finger puppets – “Five Little Monsters” There are several versions of this rhyme. I made up my own to go with my made up monsters.

3. Read My Monster Mama Loves Me So by Laura Leuck. Although the illustrations are detailed, they are colorful and fit well with the story. It is told in rhyme which will appeal to younger children. Older children will enjoy the role reversal. The grown-ups will like that it is a sweet story about mother and child.

4. Prop story – “Sam and the Acorn” This is a story I wrote using a common folktale theme – be careful what you wish for. It was the hit of my monster program. The adults particularly enjoyed it.

5. Read Monster Munchies by Laura Numeroff I don’t usually use easy readers in storytime but this one is not too long and has bold illustrations.  It also goes with the next story.

6. Poem with Prop – “Monster Lunch” Children enjoy seeing the food go into the monster’s stomach. I have the poem glued to the back of the prop.

7.Paper cutting story – “The Mess Monster” Children love it when you open up the paper to reveal what you have cut out.

8. Game – “Little Monster, Little Monster” This I would keep. However, I would do it at the end of the program so there are no time constraints. We have played numerous versions of find the object/critter and it never gets old. What child doesn’t like trying to outsmart a grown-up?

9. Read Nighty Night, Little Green Monster by Ed Emberley. Although it is a little on the small side, the illustrations are easily seen. It makes a nice ending to the “story” part of the program.

10. Craft – Monster feet and Monster mouth The feet are easy to make and wear. There was a whole lot of stomping going on.

My Storytime Has Been Pimped

That’s a phrase I never thought I’d use…

Thank you Lisa for sharing this much improved version of this storytime!

Let me start by saying that for someone who had no storytime training and hadn’t been doing storytimes that long, that this isn’t a bad plan.  You are always harder on yourself than others would be.  Plus, we are luckier now with the explosion of blogs and Twitter that we get to see a lot of fantastic storytimes all the time without being at a conference.  I know that this has raised the bar for my programs.

Here are my thoughts about the plan:

  • My thought when doing family storytimes is to gear them towards your youngest follower, other than babies.  Since this is a plan for 10ish 2-7 year olds, I would gear the plan towards the 2-4 range.  If their attention span goes, it becomes very easy to lose control of the program.
  • Plans are great.  I use them for all of my programs.  You just need to be flexible enough to chuck the plan if it isn’t working.  You also need things to substitute, such as songs, rhymes, etc., when you ditch the plan.
  • You kiddos will have the longest attention span at the beginning of storytime.  After all, it is really hard to pay attention for 30 minutes or so.  Knowing this, start with your longest book first and go progressively shorter.  I also like to do something in between each story, whether it be a rhyme or a song, so they can get any wiggles out.

Using your plan as a basis, here’s how I would switch it up:

  • Rhyme-Open shut them
  • Read There’s a Nightmare in My Closet
  • Flannelboard-Little Monster, Little Monster
  • Read Where the Wild Things Are
  • Action Rhyme-Going on a Monster Hunt (If I had a big enough room, we would actually move to each pretend section as if we were going on a real hunt.)
  • Read Under the Bed
  • Song/Dance-“We Are the Monsters” from Bouncy Blue by The Learning Groove
  • Flannelboard-Five Little Monsters
  • Action Song-Horns and Fangs  (at least 2x)
  • Book-Wave Goodbye
  • Coloring page

My back-up stuff would include-

-words and actions to do the Hooky Spooky (like the Hokey Pokey)

-a copy of Go Away, Big Green Monster! plus flannelboard

-cd copy of “Monster Boogie” on Laurie Berkner’s Buzz Buzz

I would get rid of No Such Thing as it has a lot of words.  It would be fine if you had a bunch of older kids, but very few 2 year olds will sit through this length.  I would also pass out a stamp or sticker along with the coloring page.

You can still add your 2 cents! How would YOU do this storytime differently?

Pimp My Storytime

Welcome to


How to Play:
Look over this storytime outline and share HOW you would do it differently and WHY. Be brutal y’all. You can comment, or if you’d like to quickly work up a whole new outline to share, email us at storytimeunderground at gmail and we’ll post your new and improved outline (with you explaining why you did what you did) this week.  On Friday I will post a new outline including as many suggested changes as possible. Do you have a storytime you’d like pimped? Email us!

About the Storytime:
This storytime outline is one of mine from 2007 when I had been doing storytime for less than 2 years and had NO formal storytime training. There are SO many things I would change about this storytime but I will share those later this week. First, I want to hear from you!

Ages: Family (if memory serves there were usually about 7-10 kids between 2 and 7, with the occasional baby)

Theme: Monsters

The Outline (I stuck to this without wavering, by the way):                                       

Open Shut Them

Little Monster, Little Monster (instead of Little Mouse)

Read No Such Thing

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Going on a Monster Hunt
Going on a Monster Hunt (slap knees)
And I’m not afraid (point to yourself)
-There’s a tall mountain up ahead (look around with hand over eyes like visor)
Can’t go under it (move hand down)
Can’t go around it (move hand around pretend mountain)
Guess I’ll go over it (reach hands up like climbing)
-There’s a River up ahead (look around)
Can’t go over it
Can’t go under it
Guess I’ll swim across it (move arms like swimming)
-There’s some tall grass ahead
Can’t go under it
Can’t go around it
Guess I’ll go through it (make swooshing noises and slaps hands up and down in front)
-There’s a monster cave!!!
Can’t go over it
Can’t go under it
Guess I’ll go in it (shake as if scared)
It’s dark and spooky in here (shiver with arms wrapped around you)
I feel something furry (pretend to rub something)
I feel some big teeth!! (pretend to touch something)
It’s a monster!!!!!! (scream)
Run out of the cave (slap thighs)
Go through the grass (Swish through grass)
Swim across the river (air swim)
Climb the mountain (climb)
Run home (slap thighs)
Open the door
Jump into bed (cover head with arms like hiding in bed)
I went on a monster hunt and I wasn’t afraid!

Read There’s a Nightmare in My Closet

Five Little Monsters Felt board
Five little monsters by the light of the moon
Stirring pudding with a wooden pudding spoon
The first one said it shouldn’t be too runny
The second one said that would make it taste funny
The third one said it mustn’t be lumpy
The fourth one said that would make me grumpy
The fifth one smiled, hummed a little tune
And licked all the drippings from the wooden pudding spoon

Horns and Fangs
Horns and fangs,
knees and claws,
knees and claws.
Horns and fangs,
knees and claws.
Eyes and ears and tail and paws.

Read Under the Bed

Wave Goodbye by Rob Reid

Coloring Page

What would YOU do differently?