Guerrilla Storytime at Annual 2015

This is a very late recap, but we have some great notes on the GS sessions at ALA, thanks to Rachel K., so we wanted to share. Annual 2015 was the 2 year anniversary of the birth of Guerrilla Storytimes, and there have been at least 41 of them around the country and Canada since then. That’s almost two a month. !!!!


We love getting everyone together at Librarian Summer Camp, and getting to learn from all our internet idols. This year some brilliant things were shared, and it continues to be my favorite part of conference. It probably would be even if I hadn’t invented it.


Before we get into the nitty gritty, here are some great resources from people who were there:


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Here are Rachel’s notes*:

*Bonus video at the end!


Guerrilla Story Time

ALA Annual



Pull a challenge stick. Answer if you can, if not pass to the group. Let’s also try to  to share an early literacy tip you would use along with that song/rhyme/etc.


Start off sharing favorite summer welcome song


  • Good Morning, Dear Earth


Good Morning Dear Earth (hands as if holding earth on abdomen)

Good Morning Dear Sun (stretch arms above head in a circular arc)

Good Morning Dear Trees (stretch arms to side, like tree branches)

And the Flowers Everywhere (hands holding flowers on ground)

Good Morning Dear Beasts (hands as if petting a dog,etc..)

And the Birds in the Trees (hands “fly” away like birds flying away)

Good Morning Dear You and Good Morning Dear Me. (hands reaching to each other, then hands cross over our chest)

  • EL Tip: “We just did pinching and finger movements which are good practice for motor control.”


Favorite shaker song


How do you promote your baby story times?

  • Wake up senses to start
  • Facebook, post learning activity and remind parents about upcoming programming events
  • Branding of story times “Little U Classes:” Baby Brilliance, Talented Toddlers, Junior Genius.
  • Inviting parents when you see them in the room – being very friendly and making sure they feel welcome to attend. An individual invitation can go a long way.
  • Baby Wednesdays – everything blocked together in one morning


What do you do to make story time welcoming to non traditional families?

  • Focusing on the character’s love/caring for the child, not their role “That is someone who cares about Ducky” not “It’s Ducky’s mom.”
  • When unexplained, just leave it at that.
  • If you are told you *have* to do a themed program like Mothers’ Day, make sure that it is advertised, so families that are sensitive to that might avoid if it if they choose.
  • Also if doing a program, chose books with non-traditional arrangements like A Mother for Chaco.


Family Story Time (How handle wide range of ages?)


  • Step Into Storytime by Ghoting


  • Keep it interactive, use lots of props and puppets
  • Lots of activities outside the book like singing, puppets, etc.
  • Advocate for separate toddler time (if enough are attending to merit)
  • Start with the little ones, tell everyone you are doing this. That way if the younger ones have shorter attention spans, they can leave when they’re ready and you can focus more on the older kids later in the program.
  • Have the older kids help you tell the story, like a fairy tale
  • Provide modifications for caregivers who have kids of varying ages (ie: lift your baby up or preschoolers can stand up themselves)
  • Ask the big kids to help you sing “extra loud”
  • Sing a lot, use songs where you can get input from the older kids


Storytime Underground Plug

  • Collaboratively run by the joint chiefs
  • Actively seeking new joint chiefs, please contact if interested.


Favorite Way to Use Props

  • Alternate: 3 songs with shakers, 3 songs with scarves
  • When Ducks Get Up in the Morning with puppets
  • Rhythm Sticks: march around the room
  • Coffee can stories (from Wolftrap) where you tell a story and gradually pull out props from a can as you do to faciliate.
  • Bean bags: use them on chest when doing yoga to see breathing; on the parachute; as a substitute for shakers
  • Bean bags with letters (uppercase/lowercase on either side): Hand out and ask caregivers to talk about your letter with their kids. What kind of lines does it have? What shapes do you see? Feel it with your finger. Showing that sometimes you don’t have to do an activity or play with something, just having a conversation about it is valuable.
  • Scarf song: Popcorn Kernels (
  • Another Popcorn song

You put the oil in the pot and get it real hot.

You put the popcorn in and get a big grin

Sizzle, sizzle, sizzle

Sizzle, Sizzle, Sizzle Pop!

How do you hand out lots of props without chaos?

  • Have them all in a paper bag, everyone grabs on the way into the room and grown-up regulates getting out/putting away each as needed
  • Simon Says as you pass out and clean up (“Simon says put the bean bag on your head”)


Plug for CLEL







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Advocacy Toolbox – Zero to Three’s Baby Brain Map

The Advocacy Toolbox is back! Check the main page often for new tools to add to your toolkit. We’re doing amazing work – and we’ve got the research to back it up!


Advocacy Toolbox with watermark (1)


You probably already knew what a great resource Zero to Three is. But did you know about their Baby Brain Map? Click on a baby’s age and you can see what exactly’s going on in the brain in different areas – like language, movement, social-emotional, and vision. Why is it important to talk to a baby? Because even at 6 months their brains are developing their language centers!


Simple parent tips are included too: “take a break yourself. If the infant is tired of doing too much, pick her up and have her rest on your lap. You might want to read a book out loud. She might not understand the words or pictures, but your voice, your words and what you are doing are “having an effect on the developing brain.””


Throw this resource in your toolbox to use whenever someone asks: why do we do storytime for babies? They can’t understand what you’re saying!


The more you know…. (yeah, you sang that in your head. I know you did).



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Forward: Digging Deep with Playtime

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“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
– Fred Rogers

This week, we’re bringing you resources to build a deeper understanding of play and its importance to early learning.


Early Literacy Beyond Circle Time- Integrating Language & Literacy into Play, by Melissa Depper and Laurie Anne Armstrong

Our beloved Mel and the brilliant Laurie Anne Armstrong showcase powerful books for storytime and also discuss related activities to boost learning through play.

The Power of Playful Learning in Early Education: How Guided Play Sparks Social and Academic Outcomes by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

Do you include a playtime in your storytimes or offer other play-based preschool programs? Kathy Hirsh-Pasek will demonstrate how you can set up guided play activities and provide the scaffolding children need to build knowledge and language.

Must-Read Blog Posts

Storytiming: Story Dictation

Cate talks about letting children be the leaders in dramatic play and quotes one really amazing author and teacher. Imagine letting children tell a story with puppets, writing down the story, reading it back to them, and also being able to use what you wrote to help a child realize that the words he speaks can be found on pages, too!

Sturdy for Common Things: The Picture Show

This post is everything! It’s playing and writing and talking, it’s social and narrative skills, and it’s awesome!

Reading with Red: Mail time!
Please read all of Brooke’s early literacy center posts, but especially this one where children wrote to their favorite characters and then those characters wrote back. Dramatic play and writing, for the win!
Don’t forget to submit the link if you watch a webinar! You’ll get a new shiny badge!
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Literacy Fast Facts

Today I’m super excited, not just because this is my first ever post on Storytime Underground (moment to squeal!), but also because I get to share with you a brand new series!Early Lit Fast Facts

Literacy Fast Facts is a series to bring you quick and dirty statistics and facts about literacy. These super shiny designs are easy to share and use to advocate for the important work that we do as YS librarians. You can share them with your library board, with your community, or with other staff members who maybe aren’t quite sure what goes on in the children’s room… Tuck these away in your toolbox and pull one out when you need a quick boost to engage in a polite, meaningful conversation using your superpowers to change the world for the better…

As we wrap up summer reading at my library and prepare for the utter chaotic amazing-ness of new programs this fall, I find myself taking moments to step back and remember why I do what I do. Today’s Fast Fact reminds us of the long lasting effect of providing books to kids and teaching parents to share those books with their children.


Via this website and this study.

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The Coolest Things I (We) Saw on the Internet This Week

It’s my first blog as a new Joint Chief and hoo boy, the pressure’s on! Not really. I’m just happy to be here! *Does happy dance*


This is a joint effort post (and not just because we’re joint chiefs – get it??), because the lovely and talented Cory has saved up a few great, and indeed, cool things to share that she hasn’t yet had the opportunity (what with being busy growing a tiny human and all).  She most kindly passed those cool things on to me so I’m happy to sprinkle those in with a few of my own.


Without further ado, let’s check out the cool:


Have you all visited No Time For Flashcards? My goodness, the number of supremely cool early learning activities, all presented in neat pinnable blocks, is truly staggering. I want to do everything she posts. Those cute dark-haired kiddos in the pictures? Her kids. I know this because I follow her on Instagram. Those are some lucky kids.


Somewhat related, Cory shares Beth’s latest edition of Think Outside the Stacks, which includes a cool roundup of process art for toddlers posts. Check it – and start encouraging the process over the product (which I’m sure you already do because you’re awesome people).


Two new studies examine the unexpectedly complex interactions that happen when you put a small child on your lap and open a picture book (an article written by Dr. Perri Klass, no less!). Thanks for sharing, @rebeccazdunn! 


Library Girl on why kids need a reading champion – and why it should be you. Viva la free choice reading!


This article on oppressive language (and what we should replace it with) is SO powerful. We know our behavior, words and actions are models for children. We also strive to be inclusive providers. So think about the words you use in front of children and their families. Or anywhere, really.


Malinda Lo writes about perceptions of  diversity in book reviews.


Erin over at Falling Flannelboards posted a super-cool and fairly simple iPad moviemaker program and now I want to go and make ALL THE MOVIES.


Meg posted this Science Lab program (featuring Batman (gravity!) and the Wonder Woman (5 senses!) almost a month ago so those of you who are up on your blog reading may have seen it. But holy cool STEM program, Batman!


How do you feel about Time’s list of the 100 Best Children’s Books of All Time?  Maybe I shouldn’t have put this on a “coolest things” list because personally, I feel like they could have asked a few children’s librarians and maybe have gotten a slightly more updated list. I mean, there’s some Mo Willems and Jon Klassen there, and Aaron Becker’s Journey, but I know there are a few more awesome books that could have been listed. But that’s just my opinion. What do you think?


Even though a lot of what we do for children in storytime can be supported by brain research, we are “still in the infancy of brain research” (HA!). Scientists are learning more and more every day and we’ll be able to put it all to good use in our libraries. Share this article with administrators, funders, parents – anyone who wants to know more about why we do what we do!


I think that’s probably enough to keep you busy until next week. Did you see/read/find anything particularly cool this week? Do share! And now, go and…


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Storytime University: Education Badges

With Fall just over the horizon there are a lot of opportunities for continuing education. I’m going to share some opportunities below, but be sure to look in your area for other opportunities. Completing these tasks will get you closer to earning the coveted Grasshopper badge! Only 8 of your peers have earned this badge. Will you be next?





Earn the webinar badge and don’t spend a dime.


Storytime Underground: A Peer-Created Community

Want to learn more about SU? Sign up for the webinar!


Urban Libraries Council has some that might be relevant.




Check with the youth division of your state’s library association. Many divisions hold Fall and Spring workshops which might be of interest to you.  These are sometimes free, or very inexpensive and are fabulous for learning and networking. Take this chance to get to know other youth services folks in your state! And, earn the local training badge!




In Washington we have two conferences in October that would be relevant to the work of youth services staff of all levels. You probably do in your state, too. One for teacher librarians/media specialists (they do storytimes, too, you know!) and one for all library employees (CROSS TRAINING OPPORTUNITY!). Conferences like these won’t be free, but if you can make your case to attend you are guaranteed to learn something new and build stronger relationships with library staff who work in different parts of the library world. Earn the conference badge for this one.


Don’t forget to check out local early learning affiliates!

In my state we have WAEYC (the WA affiliate of NAEYC) and you likely have an affiliate in your state, as well. The WAEYC Conference is in October and while I’ll be presenting this year, I have attended in the past and always come away with loads of great ideas and information. AS is the case in many professions, we sometimes forget to look outside of our own profession’s bubble for learning opportunities. Other fields have a lot to offer us and vice versa. I encourage all of you to attend a non-library training or conference if you get the chance. You’ll learn a LOT, plus, it’s a great chance to network and do some outreach and advocacy work. Earn the local conference badge for this one.


Know of any free or inexpensive learning opportunities in your area? Please share in the comments!

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Welcome New Joint Chiefs

As many of you may have noticed, posting has been a little less frequent here. That’s because we have been focusing our efforts on finding new Joint Chiefs to rebuild and expand our team. We bid a sad farewell to Amy, one of the original Joint Chiefs, not too long after Brooke also left us. They are both very busy with lots of other fabulous things. Thanks to both of you for everything you did for SU. <3


Thanks to all of you for your patience during this time of change. We are really excited about the future of Storytime Underground now that we have new Joint Chiefs on board. We have been 3, then 4, then 3 again and are now 7! We’d like to take this opportunity to introduce the newest members of our team and reacquaint ourselves with you.  Stay tuned for all kinds of awesome in the future! We are SOOOOO excited!!!



Brytani Fraser


Brytani is an all-purposes librarian in western North Carolina, serving everyone from babies to seniors. She loves to sing and play in storytime and she’s especially fond of scarves (as props and as accessories). Growing up, she idolized Captain Janeway, dreamed of being a zoologist, couldn’t part with her SNES, and named classical composers for days. In college, her lack of math skills led her to a BFA, which taught her to fail brilliantly and to be daring with punctuation. She’s never loved any vehicle more than her old, rugged Jeep Cherokee and she uses it to go hiking most weekends. She eats curry as comfort food and plays video games into the wee hours of the morning.


Cory Eckert


Cory is the librarian for a private Montessori school in Houston, and is the idea-genius behind Guerrilla Storytime. She can often be heard bemoaning the lack of Eegee’s in her tiny adopted town. Most of the things there are to know about Cory can be found out by following her on Twitter @helenstwin (No, she hasn’t a sister named Helen. But Clytemnestra did). Here are a few things you might not already know: Cory is a huge fan of Tennessee Williams, hates the Narnia books and thinks no book has ever been or will ever be funnier than I Am The Biggest Thing in the Ocean. If asked politely, she can recite Puck’s entire closing monologue from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and/or all the things MeatLoaf wouldn’t do for love. She firmly believes that cats with tails are inferior. Sometimes she dances with a sword on her head. Like dragons, Cory loves tacos.


Holly Storck-Post

holly-headshot square

Holly is the Youth Services Coordinator at Monroe Public Library in Monroe, WI. She loves everything about youth services, especially early literacy work, art/maker/STEAM programming, and reading teen books. Holly speaks Spanish fluently, advocates for library services to Spanish speakers, and loves doing bilingual storytime! She is part of the administrative team of the Library as Incubator Project, and loves sharing how libraries and artists can work together. Holly is also a founding member of WisCode Literati, an initiative which promotes coding by supporting librarians and educators to bring coding to their communities. Holly blogs about her adventures at


Julie Crabb


Julie Crabb is currently a Children’s Library Associate at the Olathe Indian Creek Public Library in Kansas. She presents multiple Storytime programs each week for the baby to toddler crowd and is truly working her dream job. She shares her life with a hilarious and kind husband who puts up with her bad habits (mainly burping). They spend their days off visiting the zoo, shopping at thrift stores, or watching movies in their pajamas. Julie loves reading gruesome crime novels, silly picture books, and almost everything in between. She plays pop parodies on the ukulele at every family function and loves mint chocolate chip ice cream. She also has weird fascination with geese, Paul Simon, and the 1980 classic, Animalympics.


Kendra Jones

tiara pic

Kendra is a Children’s Librarian with the Tacoma Public Library system in WA. She became a Guerrilla Storytime groupie the second Cory mentioned the idea. Kendra is a toddler wrangling Twitter addict (@klmpeace) who blogs all things storytime (and more) at Read Sing Play. She spends more time watching TV series than is likely healthy and believes garden slugs are plotting to take over the world. There are too many amazing stories for her to pick a favorite. She is a terrible joke teller but thinks everything is funny, including her terrible jokes. Blue is her favorite color. She hopes Mary teaches her more ukulele chords.


Mary Kuehner


Mary Kuehner is the Early Literacy Senior Specialist at Denver Public Library where she works with a passionate team committed to sharing books and early literacy activities with children and helping parents learn what they can do to help their young children become readers. She is a founding member of Colorado Libraries for Early Literacy (CLEL), sits on the steering committee for Earlier is Easier, and, to make sure people don’t take her TOO seriously, has tattoos of Pete the Cat, The Pigeon, and Grumpy Bird. She’s a proponent of the snort-laugh and wishes somebody would create an emoticon to represent it that she could use on twitter (@daisycakes). This –> \<>/ is the emoticon she made up for *kermit arms*. She can frequently be found singing storytime songs to her disapproving three-legged cat and/or blogging at Miss Mary Liberry. Se habla español.


Soraya Silverman


Soraya Silverman-Montano is a Youth Services Librarian in good ‘ol Sin City, Nevada and is still surprised she managed to trick the other Joint Chiefs into letting her craziness into Storytime Underground (but shhh!  Don’t tell anyone!).  She enjoys cosplaying, video gaming, eating (although $100 says she’s pickier than anyone you know), being a mad scientist, not so much talking in 3rd person, and her favorite part of the job is getting bear hug tackled by 30 kindergarteners.  She believes that professional development is A MUST, that continuing to grow and learn and spread that knowledge with her peers and participate in SU has been such an honor.  J  You can find her on twitter @vivalosbooks although she hasn’t quite figured the whole twitting thing out yet but if you’d like to see her crazy first hand, just follow her on Facebook.

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Summer Reading Challenges?

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:


“I run the Summer Reading Program at our library. We are in a small community but have always had a HUGE success with participants in our summer program. I have a number of children who blow through our program every year and are looking for more to do. I’m contemplating creating a second, more challenging aspect next year for those kids that breeze through the original program, though I’m not sure what I should do. Do you have any suggestions?”


The Answers:


From Ann S.:


Our library doesn’t set a completion goal for the children that participle in our summer reading program. They are encouraged to read as many books as they can in six weeks. We do however offer bragging badges for every ten books read. The children decorate these any way they like, put there names on them, and we hang them on our wall of fame. We also offer weekly pizza slice coupons for a free slice of pizza from the local pizza parlour. They donate the coupons as well as an end of summer reading pizza party. If someone manages to read 100 books they get a free book to keep. These are gathered from donations throughout the year.


From Meg S. (@theemegnificent,


In order to avoid children completing the program and having no reason to be involved with the library we have summer reading passports. The kids keep these for the whole summer and once a week when the come in they get a stamp on their passport and get to add a sticker to our wall (this year it is hero city). There are also 4 bonus challenges they can complete to earn more stamps and a small prize. Our bonus challenges this summer are, ‘check out a nonfiction book’, ‘be a hero for someone else and tell us about it’, ‘draw a picture of yourself as a superhero’, and ‘attend a summer reading event’. The passport has been great for engaging them throughout the summer and the kids have a lot of fun doing the challenges!


From Tess P. (@tess1144,


I think it would be really fun to do a book review blogging workshop series for kids. They can read whatever they want and if they don’t know already, they can learn how to set up a blog, learn how to write reviews and promote their blogs, share and follow each other’s blogs etc. If you have access to kids’ book ARCs, perfect, then let them read and review those too. I would bet that lots of kids in fifth, sixth and seventh grade already know how to blog – lots of classrooms have blogs so I don’t think it a big stretch for kids who love books to do this for fun. While you would probably need to make sure the kids had their parents’ permission to start their own blogs, I think blogging is great way to get kids reading, writing and discussing books. BTW, my eleven year old niece has been blogging about books since the age of 8 with minimal help from her mom.


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

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Lightning Round – Roving School Librarian

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:


“Hi everyone. I am facing an unusual challenge next school year. I will be teaching my K-5 library lessons from a mobile cart that I will roll into each classroom. There will be no library that the students can visit. I will be doing lessons, checking in, checking out and doing story time from a cart. I am absolutely overwhelmed by the very thought. Has anyone out there done this? Have any tips? Thank you!”


The Answers:


From Abby J. (@abbylibrarian,


I haven’t done this in a school librarian capacity, but as a public librarian when we do outreach, we’re often visiting multiple classrooms with just the stuff we’re carrying. What helps me keep everything straight is going in with a plan (usually written down) for each classroom and keeping my materials in the order that I’ll use them. We usually bring bags of books, props, etc. around with us, so I’ll try to arrange it so the book I need first is on top and I can just go through the bag in order. If I’m repeating the same storytime for multiple classrooms, it gets easier with each repetition. If I’m presenting different materials for each classroom, it really helps me to have a separate tote bag for each classroom so I can go straight for what I need without having to dig around too much. This could maybe translate into separate sections or shelves on your cart, or if your cart is full of books the kids can check out, you might think about using tote bags or rolling crates to keep your storytime/lesson materials separate and easily accessible.


From Soraya S. (@vivalosbooks):

I’m a Youth Services Librarian in a public library so I haven’t been in that situation before but I do go to schools regularly throughout the week and have done classroom to classroom visits. On days when I know I’m visiting more than one class, I bring a rolling cart separated by which materials I’m using for which classroom. So my storytimes are catered for each specific age group and I’m sure to separate the materials appropriately. That is such an interesting design and a challenge! I definitely think it’s manageable though as long as you know each day what grades/classes you’ll be at and can set up your cart to easily transition as you changes rooms. Organization is key and you’ll be fantastic!


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

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