The Coolest Thing I Saw on the Internet This Week

Beth had a Guerrilla Storytime and she sent us this picture of her challenge cup!!


beth challenge cup


Amy made an Unconference, because she is secretly/not secretly A LIBRARY CYLON GODDESS and they had a Guerrilla Storytime and let’s just all take a minute to wish we’d been there. Here are some notes so you can a little bit feel like you were there.


I love love love that Melissa is always asking herself, and us, hard questions about best practices. Real talk, folks, Mel is an invaluable treasure to us as a profession.


Check out this awesome Block Party that is family event/STEM activity/ early literacy skill builder all in one!   I


bet this Smell-A-Rama Bingo from Thrive After Three would be a BIG hit with your school-aged kids.


Have you caught up with In Short, I Am Busy lately? 1) Messy Art Club. 2) Take Home Storytime!!! Soooo smart.


I thought this was a good quick picture of how to make your programming/library more inclusive, no matter what you’re trying to be more inclusive OF.


I love these pictures of library buildings from across the country. Ask me sometime about the story behind my great great grandfather and Truth or Consequences, NM.


This YouTube channel has a bunch of cute baby rhymes, with bonus cute baby!


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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Storytime for Older Kids

Lots of great tips for storytiming with kids older than 3 this week! Have something to add? Please do!


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I have to plan an after school storytime with the ages from 3-7 and maybe a touch older. I have only done toddler storytime and I’m not sure if the songs and flannels will fly with the older kids, so I’m at a loss at what activities to do between stories and I also am unsure how to structure it so it’s still interesting for the older kiddos. Help?




From Sue:


I use flannels even up to age 7 or 8 when I have school visits.    The flannels I would use in Toddler story time (colors, counting, ‘5 littles’) I wouldn’t use, but I would definitely use full-story retelling, or a story like Monkey Face that has a buildup and punchline to it.  Kids this age like to anticipate outcomes and have the attention span to hang on longer for the ending.  The other great thing about K-2 is they will tell you when you’re not doing it right, so you can re-tell a familiar tale (like 3 little pigs) and make lots of funny mistakes and even have THEM participate with voices and sound effects.  If the crowd is even older, you can make it like a play with props and costume pieces.


Unlike toddlers, you can take advantage of them being able to sit and interact for longer periods.  Songs where they follow directions (Freeze Dance for example), repeat, or build (Going on a Bear Hunt) would work too.  You could even do more non-fiction stories and do show and tells.


From Lisa:


We run a story time for grades 1-4 after school.  While this is a little older than your group, we still use flannelboards and songs.  I also look for longer picture books, such as Cloudy with a  Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett.  Since this group should be able to sit, you can also work in some great nonfiction, such as Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy.  My favorite resource when starting this program was Cool Programs for the School-Age Crowd by Rob Reid.  If you can’t that title, then most of his professional reference books are adaptable to working with school-aged kids.  This title really helped me with my original plans until I had enough experience to come up with my own ideas.


The other thing to keep in mind when doing an afterschool program is that these kids just sat for most of the day at school.  You will want to work in some games, crafts, or activities that involve some movement.  We tend to work in a 10-15 minute craft/activity time where the kids can talk or move around, whether it be a scavenger hunt or making a pet rock.


From Bryce:


I definitely agree with Susan on attention span and silly songs!


“Ages 3-7″ is actually a difficult to range to program for; cognitive development at 7 is much more advanced than at 3. Kudos to you for trying it out! Something that I’ve found that works with a range of ages is including activities that encourage team work, with older kids helping their younger siblings when needed. This gives the older kids ownership of the program and they’ll sit through the parts they might think are “babyish”.


I recently held a story time for older kids based on Bedtime Math (, and the attendees were families with kids ages 3-10. The structure worked for me and I would definitely use it in the future when planning storytimes for this age group:


1. Introduce yourself and list the things you’ll do at the program (this helps for all ages with self-regulation; they’ll feel a connection with you while also knowing that if you start with a book, you won’t be reading forever).
2. Read 2 short stories or one longer one
3. Release the families to complete one activity or crafts related to the books at stations (explain the activities first!)
4. Bring everyone back with one more book or song


This way, everyone gets what they need!


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The Elephant in the Room, by Tabin Crume

I’m speaking for myself (because I’m not the official press secretary for all minorities) and using Disney princesses to describe race relations today. On the surface, every Disney princess is beautiful and smiling, which either means she’s happy or she was harassed enough by men on the street to plaster a perpetual grin on her face. Yet on closer inspection the minority princesses wear the least or plainest clothes, their princes are nothing to write home about, and the black one has a job. I mean, really? We finally have a black princess and her “after” looks like Cinderella’s “before”? Shouldn’t birds be cleaning, not Princess Tiana? Sure, some will say, “It was her dream to open a restaurant.” Let me scroll through my dream index… craftsman home in the country, fountain of smart, intergalactic travel, limo service, mega millions jackpot, private plane…Nope, I searched between “universal health care” and “world peace” yet didn’t find “wake up at 4 a.m. next to broke husband to chop onions” in my dream index.

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But because 1 black president princess is better than 0, it’s progress. Really, our racial relations slogan could be: “Minorities…we acknowledge you exist.”


So when something racist happens involving children, instead of saying, “Maybe you’re being too sensitive,” people, including library people, are asking themselves:


Am I biased?
Have I treated one group better than another?
Do I merit out unequal punishments?


After searching our hearts, many concluded, “I hate everyone equally,” or “I only hate those who park next to me in an empty parking lot. Seriously, there’re 80 spaces yet I have to crawl through the passenger side because my car has a conjoined twin?” And more than likely, you discipline the public equally; if you didn’t, you’d read about it on Yelp. However, there are library discrimination problems that extend beyond individual onsite patron interactions. These include only hiring or acknowledging minority performers and staff members for heritage months; fuzzy guidelines that lead to unequal and/or unfair development and treatment of staff; and library to library treatment of patrons. I’ll break it down for you because some things are fixable.

Juggling while Japanese is not a heritage program.

It’s 5 a.m. on a Sunday in February and I’m on the news. Why?


1.      It’s black history month.

2.      I’m black, and…

3.      TOBL (The Other Black Librarian) said no.


TOBL did the Black Book Festival this year. So we can either hire ABL (Another Black Librarian) or next year one of us will probably do it…or not. These events are open to all…oh, who are we kidding? TOBL and I are preferred representatives. It’s kind of like how your boss wouldn’t send Steve from accounting to represent your organization for Women’s History Month. Steve could have written Title IX. Doesn’t matter. They will sooner put a woman on the news who thinks Title IX is a Kanye track than send Steve. I get why we’re preferred. At the same time, I’ve hosted so many events that I get evil glares and people asking, “Wait, a Chicago Bear is coming? Didn’t you just have in the Sacramento Kings?”


Yes, I did.


That said, many minorities’ existences are only remembered when big events pop up: the Black performers who only work in February; the Cuban magician who disappears on October 15th and magically reappears on September 15th; the Mexican-American poet who is only booked May 5th. Systems often promote minority performers for these events as a reminder that they’re available year round. Yet the message doesn’t always get out, or worse, performers are hired not because they’re discussing their heritage, but because their heritage in and of itself is considered enough to make it a heritage program.


It’s not. It’s just a Random Act of Ignorance (RAI).


Staff also gets hit by RAIs. You’re in a meeting, the boss says, “It’s almost LGBT Awareness Month,” and instead of asking who wants to do a display, all of you look at Mike, a gay librarian.


And Mike looks behind himself to see if anyone is standing there.


Mike is not asked if he would like to make a display. Bridget didn’t want to be responsible for Black History Month programs. Harold figured anyone could pull books from the 950s because he was going on leave. Creating events and displays should be open to all, yet it’s expected that minorities will handle it.

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Maybe they’re booked. Maybe they wish they were asked to do things all year long instead of for four weeks. Maybe they’re busy with their Amish Vampires in Space book discussion group. Yet many are afraid not to participate, and not simply because they fear displays of urban fiction and books depicting large chopsticks; they’re asking themselves, “If I don’t do this, will I never be asked to do anything else again?”




Same time, next year.


Can I get it in writing?

Librarianship is fairly ambiguous work, probably so that when you’re asking your boss, “Since when do I have to re-tar the roof?” they can answer, “’Other duties as required’ was in your job description. Now where are you with those spent nuclear fuel rods? We need them done before we can start processing adoption papers.”


Libraries do a lot more than we used to.


Little is in writing, which is ironic since we’re book people. Unless it’s on YouTube or Instagram, whatever verbal agreements you have might as well be written on a snow cone. Many of us don’t know what exactly we should be doing or what others are doing, expectations are ever shifting, and you don’t know your boundaries until you step over them. Thing is, your boundaries are different than people’s the boundaries.  It’s like we’re playing football, we know the rules of football, but the tight end shows up with a golf club saying, “Coach said I can defend myself with this.”


That’s not going to work.


Either we all get golf clubs (and better insurance coverage), or hopefully a referee says, “We should wait until the concussion study is complete in the year 2986 before we do this.” But what ends up happening is he gets to keep his club, we’re all bleeding, and we end up playing a game called “If That Were Me…”


The rules: watch an outrageous act or statement by a colleague seemingly go unchecked or even get applauded, and wonder what would happen to you if it were you.


Event: A librarian says, “Get your ass to the library.”

ITWM: My supervisor would get a call.


Event: Staff members are chronically late.

ITWM: I’d be at home unemployed watching Netflix.


Event: Librarians get applauded for crazy examples on handling unruly teens.

ITWM: I’d be sitting next to my union rep on live TV for my hearing.


Sometimes something so unfair happens (like your shelver is promoted to deputy library director) that you’re about to explode. I will honestly say there are times I think, “This wouldn’t have happened if I were white.” And I hate thinking this, but without transparency, all of us are left wondering what is going on. I might be thinking it’s about race, yet older white woman might be thinking, “If only I were young. These newbies are taking over.” And a young librarian might think, “If only I were hip. They only seem to like edgy people.” The next person believes, “They’re not interested in developing me as a librarian because of my disability.” This could go on forever. If only I were thin, rich, a man, a woman, older, plain, pretty, straight, gay, married, single, childless, a family person, fill in the blank. We see people being treated differently, we don’t know why, we internalize it in the manner our brain can best digest, because truth is more difficult to handle than straightforward racism, sexism, and most other isms: it’s favoritism and nepotism. Favoritism is like the new girl on a campus. All the boys like the new girl, and you don’t get it because the new girl is just like you, only new! Not improved. Not better. She doesn’t come with a bonus pack of magic erasers or a 30 day trial membership to the shaving club. She’s just new. This creates lots of WTF moments. Nepotism is Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods being hired by her sorority sister, all of whom share the same background, the same outlook on life, and except for the woman who plays Robin Scorpio on General Hospital, look like attack of the clones. But at least Elle was qualified, because sometimes nepotism doesn’t simply mean hiring the people in your cell phone circle, but believing it’s okay for your friends and family to take a year to learn the job skills all other applicants are expected to have starting day one. Favoritism and nepotism are more insidious than other forms of discrimination because they’re not flat out racism or sexism or ageism. It’s more that those aspects are a side effect, like how your hay fever medication gives you itchy eyes and makes you take long walks on the beach. The perpetrator can say, “I’m not (whatever)-ist!” And while this may be true, the results are the same, and all of us know how it makes us feel when rules are applied to us yet not to others.


It feels horrible.


It’s paralyzing. You’re immobilized because you can’t point out the unfair behavior without sounding like a blamer or a snitch. You learn, “Do your job, stay in line, and we’ll get along fine.” You learn not to speak.


You learn not to be all you’re capable of being.


Unfair treatment means two similar people doing the same acts receive different responses. One gets verbal reprimands equivalent of farts in the wind. The other has a paper trail started.  One is seen as fun, fresh, and innovative. The other learned to keep the status quo and becomes a work horse, a mule. Who do you think will get promoted, tracked into emerging leader programs or declared a mover and shaker? People can have the same degrees and goals and one receives steady promotion and accolades and the other is singing “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” for three decades.


Which brings me to your treatment of your library patrons.

My theory is library patrons face de facto discrimination based on the library they visit, which is most often in or near their neighborhood, which in America, is likely to be segregated. Confused? I’ll give you an example. There are two system libraries, Average Joe Library, and Important People Library. Average Joes is in an average area, possibly even segregated since we’ve reach the point that upper class blacks live in neighborhoods with more poverty than lower class whites. At Average Joe’s, the staff follows the library system rules because they know they weren’t just made up by a bunch of drunk librarians out to ruin people’s lives (at least I don’t remember doing that). Rules are what keep the library organized and prevent someone from filing the House of Pleasures books next to the Harry Potter series. When someone breaks the rules there are consequences such as being asked to leave or pay a fine. While there are complaints, staff holds firm, reminding patrons of the rules and regulations, the patrons each agree they all get equal treatment, and peace rules on earth.




Now let’s pan over to Important People Library, the library for Important People (IPs). IPs have problems and you are there to help them, especially since they pay your salary with their tax dollars even if all their money is in the Cayman Islands. It seems there have been a few misunderstandings about how they and their children use the library, because they are upstanding citizens and their children would never behave like anything but perfect little angels and I don’t know what you’re talking about and you had better withdraw those statements. IPs aren’t VIPs, people you actually know are important because they’re celebrities or you voted for their political opponent, but they know VIPs, and if you upset them they will write city hall more letters than the women on White Chicks.

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IPs have decided the library rules should, and will, be bent to their liking, and you will do it because the longer you deal with them the greater the chance they will give you an aneurism. Fine. You’ll help them. It might start with waiving fines, yet that creates a paper trail, so maybe you’d be better off backdating the items like you did following that new shelver training incident involving mixed up carts. And the damaged material…the book had checked out a good two times already. It’s easier to weed it than to argue with this IP about charging them. They don’t care for this whole “claims returned” deal, so perhaps it’s easier to turn in the item and mark it missing. Or just delete the record. And move the DVDs to a more secure location? Are you implying just because half the movies are gone that IPs are giving themselves the five finger discount? They should stay right where they are, and you should give my children at least 17 warnings before kicking them out, and if they say sorry, immediately let them back in.


Now the reason Important People Library exists is you may have noticed that IPs congregate in select areas. If not, watch HGTV. No one wants to move from their neighborhood. It’s to the point that I think their ex is buried in the backyard and they want to stick around and discourage the new owners not to build a pool. They’re all in their quaint spots, probably in homes worth ten times as much as yours even though yours is larger and doesn’t have black mold. Since they’re all together it’s understood that this is their library, it will be run how they see fit, and if not, they’ll do something about it. Thus on paper Average Joe’s looks like a criminal training center with its loads of fines and incident reports; Important People Library is a shiny gem and Little Sally has apologized for setting the carpet on fire.


Does this seem fair to anyone?


Okay, You’re Depressing Me

You’re probably thinking, “Gee, this sucks.” But as someone succinctly put it at The Library Games, “It all begins with sucking.” So here are things you can do today @ your library that don’t require an act of Congress, not that Congress does any acting anymore.


1. Have a variety of performers throughout the year.

As a bonus, it’s much easier to book them in their off season of the other 11 months. I balance male and female performers, and a man comes in for my storytime breaks so that small children learn that just because a man likes to be around children doesn’t necessarily mean he belongs on Megan’s List.


2. No, I’m not TOBL.

When newbies call me by TOBL’s name I don’t mind because there’s a 99.78% chance I have no clue who I’m talking to. But if anyone, black, white, brown, Martian, has passed probation, learn their name or call us “library lady” like our patrons do.


3. Offer events and displays to everyone.

When I’m enjoying the view of my private pound from my sprawling country craftsman home, someone else will have to pull 15 multicultural books, and then they’ll need to pull 15 more that aren’t on MLK, Rosa Parks or Caesar Chavez.


4. Don’t be that person.

Occasionally (80% of the time) the je nais se quoi that makes you more loved than all others is you work for free and don’t get reimbursed.  Don’t do that. The rest of us like money and have to catch up on OITNB. Sure, I wrote this at home, at lunch and on break, but that goes into the next item on the agenda.


5. What are the rules again?

Ask for guidelines, and when I say ask, I mean send an e-mail. Even if your boss’s office is so close you’re practically wearing a red suit and asking them if they were bad or good this year, get it in writing, and use examples such as, “I noticed Buffy takes five hour lunches and does storytime from home and I would also like to do that.” I actually have a list of things I’m asking in the next month.


6. Document.

Yes, it’s not fair that Paula counts her visits to Massage Envy as outreach, so write it down, take a picture, but while you’re doing that, document what you’re doing and make an album of event photos. Toot your own horn. (“Hey everyone, I cured Ebola!”) It’s also important that you document exceptions. Exceptions should be made, but when you make them you should make sure they don’t become the rule.


While I know one day soon everyone everywhere will be treated fairly under all circumstances (HAHAHAHAHA!!!), until then, here are some tips. And don’t feel bad: if you’re wondering if you have a discrimination problem, awareness is half the battle.


(Yo, Joe!)


Tabin Crume works at a library in California.
This is the third post in a series exploring what it means to be an anti-racist library professional. See the first post, “What It means to be an anti-racist children’s librarian,” by Maggie Block, and the second post, “We can do better,” by Angie Manfredi.
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Nothing is Cool Today

I have so many links for you, but you guys, I just can’t. Not today.


On a personal level, mental illness and alcoholism and Peter Pan are all pretty formative parts of my existence and upbringing. The loss of Robin Williams is a deeply sad one for me.


On all levels, the events in Ferguson, MO this week are emotionally and mentally consuming, from the loss of another bright young life in the murder of Micheal Brown to the military state the peaceful protesters now face as they try to gather to mourn and understand and make their voices heard.


You can watch a live stream of the events in Ferguson here and here. Let us ask ourselves, as librarians, whose work is at its core social justice, and specifically as a community within librarianship that is committed to anti-racist works, what can we do? How can we be of service to this community held hostage by grief and state-sanctioned violence?


I think we can start by asking ourselves if we treat the visibly mentally ill who come to our libraries, for sanctuary, with the same compassion and grace we give to Williams’ memory.


I think we can start by asking ourselves, really asking, without flinching, how we react to young black men when they walk in the library, and what assumptions we make about them.


This dad, he looks an awful lot like the dads I see every day. The ones bringing in their beautiful little girls in fresh summer braids for storytime, playing Wii with their middle schoolers, and helping their about-to-go-to-college sons find books on their reading lists.


My job is to make one place where he is not watched with suspicion for the color of his skin. To make a space where those doing their best to cope with the betrayal of their own biochemistry can be treated as fully fledged human beings. Is it your job, too?


Let us ask ourselves who we are meant to be.



Let us make our nation safe, so that for young black men, living can be an adventure and not a daily exercise in terror.




I don’t know how to cure depression, or alcoholism, or systemic racism, but we can stand with the victims and ask, what can we do?


What can we do, Michael? What can we do, Robin?

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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Adapt for Special Needs

This week’s Ask a Storytime Ninja is all about ways to make storytime accessible for all capabilities. This month’s featured ninjas have a lot of great information to share so read on!


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How do you make adaptations for special needs children that attend your regular storytime? What kinds of changes do you make? I have encountered this in a couple of different scenarios recently: a 14 month old that was born 3 months early (11 months adjusted age) and has a variety of developmental delays at our toddler storytime for one and two year olds and a 5 1/2 year old older sibling with a variety of cognitive and motor delays that attends my toddler storytime in the summer when not at preschool. I want to make storytime a good experience for these children as well as those that are typically developing and encourage these parents to keep attending the library.





From Sue:

How wonderful you are considering the individual needs of your patrons!  My answer would change depending on the specifics of the situation.  In the toddler years, there is nothing wrong with coaching the parents to do a gross motor activity WITH their child.  A simple dance with scarves or shakers with the parent modeling would work wonders.  Like a workout coach, you can show parents how to modify the same finger play (for example Itsy Bitsy Spider) using fingers and using whole arms, demonstrating the fine motor and gross motor skills. You won’t look like you are tailoring to one child, but to the whole group depending on the individual needs.


For the older child coming to a younger story time, that would depend on the needs of the child.  Is he participating now and/or is he disruptive otherwise?  I had one older boy that was very disruptive but sat perfectly still when I did a felt story.  I learned he was fascinated by them and sat intently until after story time so he could play with the sets.  After I caught on, I made sure to have an extra set ready in case he came that day.  Another child completely changed when I threw in a transition song.  He recognized the tune and wanted to join in.  When I worked with special education children, I understood quickly that blanket answers never worked.   Maybe the mom can help you determine what the child really latches onto.




From Lisa:

Every child is different and learns in a different way.  Many of us hit these different ways of learning as we plan our various programs, from pairing a book and a flannelboard to choosing songs where the words match the actions.  Here are some things you can try if you would like to adapt your programs for special needs:

  • Be mindful of sound as some kids are especially sensitive to noise.  If you use CDs, try to choose songs with a simpler flowing melody (ABC song), rather than those that can be loud and energetic.  If you do action songs, I tend to use ones with larger gross motor actions, such as Johnny Works with One Hammer.
  • Share your plan.  The unknown can be scary and almost all kids appreciate knowing what will happen when.  With a sensory program, I will use Boardmaker to make a posted schedule.  When I have a group that is especially squirrelly, I will bring out the schedule also.  It helps them to focus on what we are doing and see when their favorite part is going to occur.
  • What kind of room are you in for story time?  Is there a defined space for where the story time will take place?  I used to run our programs in a large meeting room that seated 100 and the first time I tried story time in there the kids ran laps around the room.  To make the room work for story time, we purchased a large carpet with alphabet and number squares.  It gave all the kids a boundary.  For those children on the autism spectrum, they knew that they sat on a particular square.  They needed a place that was their place.
  • Allow for movement and noise.  I know that as kids get older, we try to get them to sit on the floor and pay attention.  Many children with special needs will not sit still, whether they rock back and forth or fidget with their hands.  They may also make noises.  As long as it isn’t too disruptive, let them do it.  They are still paying attention to the story.
  • Add props!  This is the time to experiment with different ways to tell a story or sing a song, from stick puppets to scarves.


If you have concerns about meeting a certain segment’s needs, then definitely talk to the parents.  I normally phrase it as “Is there something that I can do to make this a more enjoyable experience for your child?”  Parents are great resources and many of them will gladly talk to you about what the library is doing or how you can make their experience better.




From Anna Francesca:

I love what my colleagues said about asking parents or caregivers what the kids who come with them can do.  They know best.  To that, I add:


I think that having a variety of types of activities helps children of all types and levels. No matter if participants are differently-abled than their peers, the opportunity to move and to touch things can be hugely important in making storytime a positive experience and one in which they learn. For kids with motor delays, letting them hold items with their parents or caregivers still allows them the opportunity for touch without it being overwhelming. This can be a fantastic chance to bond, too.


Bean bag or scarf play can be very helpful. I love basic musical instruments like shakers, too. Be sure with any little ones that the objects they hold have no pieces that could break-off and fit through a paper towel tube since those are choking hazards. If you can incorporate simple movements and/or music, that is great. It is amazing how some people who find traditional learning uncomfortable will open up when they get to hear rhythms in music.




From Bryce:

Speaking as someone who has grown up with a disability, I know that a lot of times when I was younger I just wanted to do what everyone else was doing. And it didn’t matter that the way I was doing it was slightly different because of my cerebral palsy; I was participating and I felt like I was part of the group. I remember the times when I was given something different to do, and was the only one doing that activity– OR, when someone didn’t notice my disability at first and then acted REALLY WEIRD when they found out. Those were not the most pleasant experiences!


I understand that librarians are extremely empathetic beings, and if you see someone struggling it’s natural to want to help them. And from the looks of it, you are– having an older child in a group with accepting children at his/her cognitive level is great, and the 14-month-old will pick up things every storytime whether or not he/she is fully participating. If motor skills are difficult for these children, you can switch up finger plays with larger movement songs like Row Your Boat or the Elevator Song so everyone can participate. In fact, when I was going to substitute for Brooke’s Toddler Storytime last month, no finger plays were on the menu– My Itsy-Bitsy Spider is a one-sided broke joke! It doesn’t even travel anywhere. I feel like including a video so you can see how awful it is. BUT, when I was little, I learned that finger play too, and I looked all weird for the short duration of that rhyme. But Row Your Boat? I owned that, dude.


If a child IS having a visibly difficult time (crying, screaming, etc), trust that their parent or caregiver will know what they need. If you think they have a particularly bad experience one time, I would definitely approach the family afterward and ask if there’s anything you can do to make next time go more smoothly (Sue’s ideas are great!). They may just decide storytime is not for them, and that’s all right– a lot of kids visit the library and check out books to read at home. Not attending storytime doesn’t mean they’re not attending the library.


If you’re looking to create a special needs storytime, this ALSC blog series is a great place to start.


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Feed Research: Participate in the Young Children, New Media and Libraries Survey

We here at Storytime Underground love research that pertains to library services for children and their families. Anything that helps us understand our customers and our work better is a good thing. For that very reason, we’re excited by this current survey from ALSC. Check out ALSC’s full description below, and participate in feeding the research that can help our field to continually improve!


From the survey researchers:

Young Children, New Media and Libraries Survey

In order to examine how libraries incorporate different kinds of new media devices into their branches and programming; we ask for your participation in the Young Children, New Media and Libraries Survey prior to Monday, August 18, 2014.


Participation in this survey will help us better understand the scope, challenges, and next steps for libraries regarding new media use. We would like one librarian from your branch who is able to answer questions regarding your library’s use of new media to complete this survey.


Survey link:


The survey includes 9 questions and we anticipate it will take no longer than 10-15 minutes to complete. Additional information regarding this survey can be found online:


This survey was created in partnership with, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of ALA, and the University of Washington. If you have any questions about this survey, please contact us at the below emails.


Cen Campbell (
J. Elizabeth Mills (
Joanna Ison (

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Advocacy Toolbox – Bouncing Babies

Here’s a new research article to add to your toolbox. It’s all about how music and movement directly affects a young child’s behavior.


Advocacy Toolbox with watermark (1)

Interpersonal synchrony increases prosocial behavior in infants

By Laura K. Cirelli, Kathleen M. Einarson and Laurel J Trainor

Developmental Science



3 things to take away from this article

  • Moving in time (bouncing/dancing) with your baby affects their social behaviors
  • The study shows that babies are more likely to help another person after they’ve been moving in sync with that person. Even if it’s a stranger!
  • The things we do in storytime promote altruistic behavior.

So what does this mean for you? You now have even more scientific backing that the bounce rhyme and movements you use in storytime are vital. Children are forming bonds with their adults when you use bounce rhymes! This is some extremely powerful stuff and I think parents and caregivers would love to hear about it.


It also gives you a sassy comeback if someone ever says, “All you do is read to babies.”. Now you can say, “Actually, I help promote social bonds and altruistic behaviors by using movement and songs like Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”



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The Coolest Thing On The Internet IS US

It’s true, y’all. I truly believe that the best thing you can read this week is the first two essays in our anti-racism series. Scroll down. I will wait. Check out the August Ninjas while you’re at it.


But also some other cool stuff happened.


Miss Mary talked about why puppets are such a great early literacy tool.


Sunflower Storytime did “Grossology” as an SRP program, and it is amaazzzzzing.


Sarah at Read Rabbit Read has been doing a series on Early Literacy challenges and they are pretty great. Also, Dance Books list! Elephants CAN TOO dance.


Carrie at The Lion is a Bookworm (new to me blog! by a para-professional! so exciting!) did a very smart Light storytime that proves how easy and seamless it can be to incorporate science into even toddler storytime!


Library Makers posted this phenomenal toddler water graffiti program that makes me want to gather up some toddlers right this instant and make some art.



I’m so tired, guys. Go read about racism. I’m going to be this guy:


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We can do better, by Angie Manfredi: Continuing the conversation on anti-racism

I live in the best small town in America.

No, really.


We have a high median income, a very-well educated public who supports cultural enrichment, and great public schools. It’s a great small town to work as a librarian in. Who wouldn’t want to live here?


But there’s more to my town that than. Part of my town is the community of students who attend our schools but don’t live in our community. By and large, these kids live in a place very different from our town. Many of them live in Rio Arriba county, our neighbor. THIS county, our next door neighbor, wrestles with serious heroin problems and had the highest drug overdose death rate between 2007-2011. While my town is a rainbow of immigrants and first generation Americans who work at our National Lab, a whole amazingly diverse group of people from around the world, this group of kids are by and large Hispanic. But though they don’t live in our county or our town, because these students attend our schools, they are members of our community and, yes, they are patrons at my library.


They are especially patrons at our library during after-school hours while their parents work in our town until 5:00. Some of the students go to our Teen Center, some hang out in our skate park, some participate in after-school activities, some take the bus off the hill and go home. But many come to the library. They get on the computers, they hang out, they check out material, and yeah – they often break the library’s Code of Conduct.


I never thought twice about the way we enforced the Code of Conduct. It’s straight forward, after all, as is our system of warnings. It’s all laid out and clearly posted and cleared through levels of our administration.


I never thought twice about it until the day I was escorting out a group of kids – frequent offenders, mind you – who had broken the Code of Conduct. I was explaining how they had violated the Code and would be asked to leave for the day. One of them rolled his eyes at me and snapped, “You’re only throwing us out because we’re brown. You’re biased against brown kids.”


And that, I thought, was just ridiculous. I mean, IF YOU KNOW ME you know that I am the least racist person in the world – that I have spent my life dedicated to progressive causes, through my donations, my volunteer work, my protesting and campaigning. I’m not a racist. OBVIOUSLY.




When I took a minute to step outside my own personal feelings (because who likes being called a racist?) I realized that – if I were willing to just listen – there were a few important lessons to take from this moment. They have helped me grow as a person and as a librarian who deeply believes it is my duty to advocate for the children and teens in my community and, more, in our shared society. I hope that YOU can take a minute to step outside of YOUR personal feelings, of the things you “know” about YOURSELF, and think about these lessons too.


1. Watch “How To Tell Someone They Sound Racist” by Jay Smooth, AKA Ill Doctrine. This is an amazing think piece from Jay Smooth and it lays things out in a constructive, useful way. I use it often when trying to get people to think about how to approach conversations about problematic speech. It’s a great way to get people to consider issues larger than “But I know I am not a racist! Inside my heart!” I was stuck in that place and I had to get out. As Jay says: “I don’t care what you are. I care about what you did.”


2. Acknowledge your privilege. I work on this every single day. I am not a racist. But I cannot escape the fact I benefit from the fact we live in a society that privileges me as a white, upper-middle class, cisgendered, well-educated, able-bodied heterosexual woman. I benefit from this system and I have my whole life. Acknowledging that makes me self-aware, it doesn’t make me complicit in it – JUST LIVING does that.


3. But what then? I’ve lived my life checking my privilege and working as hard as I can to be an ally. And that is constant work I don’t ever want to slack on. But it’s not enough and I don’t deserve applause for it. I must work to listen to and, more importantly, magnify other voices and experiences. Trudy, who writes at Gradient Lair, has an an amazing piece about this: Allies Are Still Privileged; Don’t Forget It.


But how did any of those things relate to those kids I threw out of the library? I had already known all that other stuff. It was in making the leap to connecting them and it was in accepting that I had to trust someone else’s lived experience.


Namely: the lived experience of those kids.


I would never tell a woman who has been sexually assaulted, “Well, I’ve walked down PLENTY of streets by myself at night just fine, so I don’t think anything really happened to you.” I would never tell a gay man, “Well, I’ve never heard someone say FAGGOT as a real insult, so I don’t think people really do that with malice any more.” And I would never tell a POC, “Well, I never get followed in stores, so I don’t think YOU do either.”


And I would be outraged beyond measure if a thin person ever told me, “Oh, no one really cares about weight anymore anyway – it’s not like you get harassed about it.”


Why? Because those people cannot presume to know what my life as a fat person is like. Because they would be denying my lived experience … as surely as I was writing off the lived experience of those teenagers. Why was I so quick to write off these teenagers? Because I was refusing to take myself out of the situation and try to hear their lived experience. But when I stopped for a minute and actually listened, it was impossible to ignore.


What have I done since then? I’ve taken real steps to address this problem. I worked with my administration to establish an area within the library that lends itself more to hanging out – a place where we don’t have to enforce the elements of the Code of Conduct that involve noise. I hope to expand this area through the course of this school year – adding music stations and maybe one of our gaming systems. This step alone has helped de-escalate incidents in the library and I hope created an area that feels welcoming to ALL library users. And I’m making sure that my staff knows that we enforce the Code of Conduct evenly across the board – we don’t let the kids we “know don’t mean any harm” slide. I want to try to learn more names and actually engage with these patrons at times when I am not discipling them. But I also want ALL our patrons to know that discipline will and does happen at the library – that’s important to me too.


We haven’t solved all of our problems. And I know we’ll face more Code of Conduct problems, some we can’t predict. But I don’t want any of them to be centered around one group feeling like their worst lived experiences are happening and being echoed at the library. *I* have the ability to do better than that. No – I have the RESPONSIBILITY to do better than that. We all do.


You know those basic lessons we try to teach to our littlest patrons? The ones we hope will foster empathy, growth, thoughtfulness in them? The ones we hope will make them better people as they grow? They can – and should – apply to us too. It can be a much easier first step if you’ll just think of it along those lines.


Stop. Consider. Listen. BELIEVE. Change.


Do better.


Angie Manfredi works at a library in New Mexico. Find her on Twitter @misskubelik and at her blog Fat Girl Reading.
This is the second essay in a series this week exploring what it means, and what it requires, to be an anti-racist library professional. See Maggie Block’s essay, which started off the series.
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Ask a Storytime Ninja: Featured Ninjas for August

Ask a Storytime Ninja badge



Another month, another set of questions to be answered. Here to take them on are our featured ninjas for August:



Meet Anna (who is the real Anna? Ninja? Librarian? Both?!) Francesca Garcia:

annaninja anna1











Ninja bio: Confidential


Storytime bio: Since 2004, Anna Francesca Garcia has worked in public libraries, and she is the Kansas City Public Library’s Education Librarian (liaison to schools, homeschool groups, and enrichment programs). Anna Francesca earned her Master of Library and Information Sciences degree from the University of North Texas in 2008, six years before the birth of some of her youngest patrons. Newborns through geriatrics in Missouri and Nevada have enjoyed her programs, and she has led regular storytimes for caregivers with their babies and pre-readers.  She focuses on appealing to all sorts of learning preferences.  This is why she loves to incorporate dance/ movement (kinesthetic), felt (tactile), instruments (auditory), puppets (visual), and group activities (social) into story time. As she explores library offerings, Anna Francesca’s favorite test-subject remains her now seven-year-old daughter.



  • American Library Association: YALSA, ALSC, EMIERT Roundtable—Electronic Communications Committee
  • Missouri Library Association


Twitter: @AnnaFrancesca18

Monthly Blog Contributor:

Regular Blog Contributor: and

Storyland– Early Literacy Blog (completed):



Meet S. (She claims it stands for Sara, but it’s really for Sparkly) Bryce Kozla:



S. Bryce Kozla (also known by her alter-ego moniker Sara Bryce) is a Youth Services Librarian at La Crosse Public Library in Wisconsin, where she works in a non-management position on a team of six (including one of the joint-chiefs– HI BROOKE! HI!). Seven years’ professional experience in education have served her well in her library’s long and storied battle to reclaim the enormous boat in the children’s department in the Name of Reading. Bryce considers her expertise to be crowd/space management and non-storytime programs, but is happy to run her mouth about all sorts of stuff. She blogs about programming and other youth services topics at and can be found gallivanting on Twitter at @PLSanders



Meet Lisa (I want to live in her Libraryland) Mulvenna:



Lisa has 10+ years of presenting highly energetic story time programs featuring props, music, and now apps. She is known for her innovative new youth programs, including parachute games, dance parties, and early literacy stations. Lisa was the recipient of the 2012 Pletz Award for Excellence in Service to Youth, given by the Michigan Library Association. Lisa is the Head of Youth Services at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library. Lisa’s expertise includes toddler and 2 year old story times, early literacy, sensory programs, and technology. Twitter-@lmulvenna



Meet Sue (she’s done it all!) Jeffery:



Sue Jeffery is one of the founding members of the blog called Library Village, where she blogs about her preschool story times with her professional BFFs Kristie and Kristen. She had 15 years experience as a performer (database consulting was the day job)  and several years as an aide in special education classrooms before hearing the call of librarianship.  Sue was part of her amazing team for 2 years before moving to a new branch to be the solo youth librarian, but then leapt right into management in time for this year’s summer reading club.  She graduates this month from Kent State and is now the Head Librarian at a small branch (managing a staff of 5) in a county system in Ohio. Sue’s expertise is preschool story time, lower elementary library visits, outreach, flannel boards, transition songs, and coffee-fueled story time craziness. @suelibchick (twitter) Library Village (Facebook)



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