Guerrilla storytime is part training, part advocacy. Challenges are drawn or posed by attendees, and everyone chimes in to share their expertise from being a storytime practitioner. For more on the Guerrilla Storytime method, see the Storytime Underground.
One of your storytime kids is being very disruptive. What do you do?
- Refer kids to a rug to refocus them
- Tell the storytelling kid to “whisper it in your hand, put it in your pocket so you can save it to tell me later”
- Miss Sarah’s Reading Crown—when the crown is on, kids know it’s time to sit on pockets, listen with ears, think with our minds, and only talk when Miss Sarah asks a question
- Do something unexpected! Catch them off guard
- Have spare books on hand for individual perusal, as a distraction
- Sometimes, you just have to have a conversation with the parent/caregiver. Make reasonable accomodations. If a kid can’t deal with the whole program, invite them to come just for the end.
- Remind kids and parents that if they need to take a break, they can take a walk in the library then come back.
- Name the child specifically and ask them to save it for later.
How do you handle the chatting parents in the back of storytime? Disruptive parents (cell phones, etc.)
- Set the tone for the program at the beginning. Start with a song and make it clear that adults are expected to sing along and be engaged throughout.
- Make a joke to get involvement—“Parents, I need someone who can help me carry a tune.”
- Do you use listening dust to quiet kids? Make a joke about sprinkling listening dust on the parents.
- When you stop to tell kids to save stories for later, ask parents to save their talking for later, too.
- Have a one-on-one conversation to emphasize that talking in the back is disruptive.
- State your expectations in your introductory material. “If you have an emergency phone call, please feel free to take it outside. If grownups have the wiggles, the kids can take them outside for a break.”
- Only provide chairs for people who physically need them; make the default room setup one that tacitly forces caregivers to engage.
Favorite Fingerplays & Motion Songs
- “Wheels on the Bus”
- Long version of “Open Them, Shut Them” — a great way to engage, especially if you use a song each storytime because kids are excited and know how it goes
- Open Them, Close Them, Open them, close them / Give your hands a clap / Open them, close them, open them, close them / Now put them in your lap / Creep them crawl them up to your chin / Open up your mouth but do not let them in / Open them close them / To your shoulders they fly / And like little birdies they fly high up in the sky”
- ASL “Five Little Monkeys”
- “Clap clap clap your hands / Slowly as you can / Clap clap clap your hands / Quickly as you can” – repeat with “Shake your hands,” “Roll your head”
- Tommy Thumb: “Tommy Thumb is up, Tommy Thumb is down, Tommy Thumb is dancing all around town. He’s dancing on your head
- 10 Fat Sausages: “Ten fat sausages sizzling in a pan. One went TKTK (hands clap) and the other went BAM! (hands on bottom)” Count down by twos
- The Crocodile Song: There was a crocodile (chomping motion with arms) / An orangutan (monkey action) / A flying eagle flying (flap arms) / And a silvery fish / A bunny (make rabbit ears) / A beaver (make beaver teeth) / A crazy elephant! (make elephant trunk ) / Da na na na na, da na na na na! (swinging dancing action)
How do you incorporate print awareness into your storytimes?
- Nametags! Explain to parents that they help kids get practice writing their names, or watching caregivers write their names
- “BINGO” song variations for letter recognition
- Have giant post-it notes with the words written on them—helps caregivers know words, also provides opportunity to tell kids that the notes have the words on them
- Sing the ABCs forward and backwards and point out letters by doing it slowly
- “Goodbye, babies. Goodbye babies. Goodbye babies, It’s time to say goodbye.” And then quickly tie in upcoming events
- “Our hands say thank you with a clap clap clap / Our feet say thank you with a tap tap tap / Clap clap clap / Tap tap tap / Thank you, everyone!”
- Do versions of “Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear” to suit your theme (Batman, etc.), then give craft instructions and have the kids help you count attendees together (number awareness)