Category Archives: Storytime Skills

Hey, why don’t you… encourage summer “doing” for pre-readers?

Hey why don't youI would guess that it’s a rare library that doesn’t offer some sort of summer reading initiative. A huge proportion of those SRP libraries, I would guess, also offer some sort of summer literacy program for pre-readers, whether it’s the same program as for older kids or something designed specifically for 0-5s. How many libraries, though, have thought about supplementing summer reading for pre-readers with summer “doing”?


That’s exactly what the Arlington Heights Memorial Library did in summer 2014. They put together “Summer Reading, Summer Doing” program cards for 0-5s, packed with great ideas to encourage caregivers to engage in early literacy activities with their children. I love these types of programs for caregivers of young children when they include lists of activity options–it acknowledges that all children this young can be vastly different, and what activity is great for one particular little one may bomb with another. All the activities! All the literacy!

Awesome materials provided to me by Lindsay D. Huth, formerly of AHML and now with Arapahoe Library District.

Awesome materials provided to me by Lindsay D. Huth, formerly of AHML and now with Arapahoe Library District.

Bonus: AHML also handed out cards to program participants during each week of their program. For 0-2s, these cards offered tips for caregivers on how they can do simple things to stimulate early literacy skill development. For 0-3s, these cards each had a simple, excellent activity idea that could be easily replicated a home, either for free or with inexpensive household supplies. Think a balance activity using a hanger, string, and cups; making play dough; digging for “worms” in pudding; and more. Families who participated throughout the entire summer ended up with a complete booklet of age-appropriate activities for “summer doing”–having fun with early literacy benefits. What a great initiative!


So, hey, why don’t you think about how you can incorporate some summer doing at your library this summer? It could be for any age, formal or informal, part of a program or an at-home activity–possibilities are bounded only by your imagination. Get doing!

Hey, why don’t you… explore some new blogs?

Hey why don't youYou know who has some of the absolute best ideas and practices for library programs and services for young people? YOU GUYS! And we’ve just updated our Resources page, which is a big old blog roll of excellent sites dedicated to all aspects of youth librarianship. I personally find it incredibly invigorating to read through colleagues’ blogs. It’s where I stumble upon new ideas, where I’m prompted to think about my own practice, and where I can support a larger community of sharing within this profession. The sharing is what makes youth services librarianship great, y’all.


So hey, why don’t you check out our updated Resources page and explore a few new blogs? The time investment of checking some new blogs every now in again has huge payoff in terms of fostering ideas and new members of your PLN. Peer learning at its best!

Hey, why don’t you… check out media awards for youth beyond the YMAs?

Hey why don't youOn the Monday morning of every ALA Midwinter Meeting, crowds gather in an auditorium-style room for the announcement of the Youth Media Awards. The announcements, which are also streamed live, encompass many of the awards given by committees charged through ALSC, YALSA, ALA, and other ALA affiliates serving youth. But did you know that there are a range of additional awards that you can check out and use for collection development and readers’ advisory?


This month, take some time to explore the multitude of excellent and diverse media for youth recognized by awards you may not have heard about before. Many of these awards recognize titles that have storytime potential and/or would be great to share with the families you serve. Jamie Campbell Naidoo compiled a list of awards for culturally diverse children’s literature, shared below, as a resource in his white paper, “The Importance of Diversity in Library Programs and Material Collections for Children.” The awards with an asterisk at the beginning will be a part of the YMA announcement:


So hey, why don’t you check out these awards and the titles they recognize? It’s a great way to expand your knowledge of the range of excellent titles out there while also ensuring that you’re representing the diversity of literature, nonfiction, and other media available for youth.


Do you have a favorite non-YMA award? Favorite diverse titles you’ve loved this year?

Hey, why don’t you… make a song/rhyme cube?

Hey why don't youFor your consideration this month, a most excellent homemade storytime prop: the song/rhyme cube! This idea has made a resurgence of late, in particular with Katie’s including it as her recent Flannel Friday post. The premise is straightforward: you’ve got a large die with an image to denote a different song or rhyme on each side. In storytime, you toss the die (“How many times should we toss it? Help me count: one, two, three!“), then sing the song/rhyme that lands facing up. So, hey, why don’t you make a song/rhyme cube of your very own, tailored to your personal favorite storytime songs and rhymes?


It’s fairly simple. Start with an empty cube-ish tissue box. (Yes, I realize that since it’s not exactly a perfect cube, you won’t have equal odds of landing on each of the six sides, but this isn’t Vegas. A bit of uneven distribution will be fine.)



If you anticipate lots of use for your song cube, you might use an extra piece of cardboard (like from a cereal box) to reinforce the open end.



Next,  you wrap the box as you would a present. You can pick a pretty color of paper if you aim to leave some room for a border around your songs and rhymes.

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Print out images that are representative of your 6 favorite songs and rhymes. You can include words, or not; it’s totally up to you.



Cut out those images and use clear packing tape to affix them to the six sides of your cube.



Ta-da! You’re ready to roll! (PUNS!)


So if you’re looking for a new way to bring your favorite songs and rhymes into storytime, why not make a song/rhyme cube? If you try this idea at your library, feel free to report back in the comments!

Hey, why don’t you… let caregivers introduce their babies and toddlers?

Hey why don't youLast month, Storytime Underground readers voted for their preferred new features for this website. These votes have resulted in two new monthly features: Free Training Resources, which debuted a few weeks ago, and “Hey, why don’t you…” which debuts today.


The “Hey, why don’t you…” feature is meant as an invitation to consider, or perhaps try, something new in your storytimes. Are you looking for new storytime skills? New songs, fingerplays, early literacy asides, etc.? The monthly “Hey, why don’t you…” feature poses a storytime practice or idea for your consideration–to use in your own storytimes, or not, as you see fit.


For your consideration this month, an idea for getting to know your baby and toddler storytime charges from Brooke Newberry. At the beginning of each new storytime session, Brooke invites caregivers to introduce their little ones by name, age, and (my favorite!) fun fact about them. As an example, if my cousin and her daughter were in Brooke’s storytime, the introduction might go something like this: “This is Emma. She’s two, and she likes to pretend that she is a puppy dog and have her sister take her on walks in the yard.”


I love this introduction idea for a few reasons. First, it gives caregivers an opportunity to brag on their little ones a bit, which can be a great way to ease adults unfamiliar with storytimes into a comfy state of mind. Second, it allows us as storytime providers to get to know our storytime kids in more complex ways than we might see in a 30 minute program. And last, it acknowledges that all these little people are fascinating personalities already–and we should recognize and celebrate that.


So hey, if you’re looking for a new baby/toddler storytime intro, or if you’re looking for a way to help caregivers feel more part of the storytime group, why don’t you try letting caregivers introduce their kids? If you try this idea at your library, feel free to report back in the comments!