Tag Archives: preschool storytime

Diverse Storytime Music

Are you using diverse music in storytime? There is a ton of conversation in the library world about the need to make sure your collections, displays, reader’s advisory, and programming books show diversity. Rudine Sims Bishop is often quoted, citing her wonderful Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors essay. That work is very important, and books are at the core of library services. But, we also highlight other forms of media in our programming, storytimes, and events. Think about your hired presenters and performers (virtual in 2020 and in-person in 2019). How many were diverse? Who are you supporting with your library’s limited funds? What about your storytime music playlist? How often do you share music by a diverse artist?

Since my time on the ALSC Notable Children’s Recordings committee, I’ve been thinking a lot about children’s music, especially the music we use in storytime. Most of the artists I use are white. Jim Gill and Laurie Berkner are great, but there are some really fantastic diverse artists out there. You just need to put in the time to look for them.

And it does take time. The music world is hard to break into at any level. Getting an agent isn’t easy or cheap, and the children’s music world is competitive. An artist might be able to self publish or perform locally, but that creates a very limited audience for a time consuming and costly pursuit. In some ways, the pandemic has opened up more opportunities for smaller presenters and performers to perform, virtually, on a national scale. But, the pandemic has also made it harder for those same smaller performers to survive. Money is tight everywhere, and many libraries who could never afford to bring a big name performer in person, might be able to afford them virtually. Libraries want to attract a large virtual audience, and that is easier with a name that caregivers will recognize. Caregivers recognize children’s musicians that they hear a lot–which they may mostly hear in storytime. So we are back to the beginning again: what musicians are you highlighting in storytime?

I am picky about my storytime music. I present for all ages now, but mostly babies and toddlers. I want music selections that are:

  • Short. Preferably 1-2 minutes, though I’m flexible with this (I can always stop the song myself where I need to).
  • Clear actions that are preferably repeated in a straightforward way. And actions that are appropriate for the age range. We can always adapt words and motions, but it is hard to spin a squirming one-year-old sitting on your lap.
  • Good pace. For me, I don’t want something too slow, but it also needs to be at a speed that is feasible for a toddler or preschooler to follow.

Your storytime music preferences might be very different. Some of my coworkers only use songs that have a rhythm that is way too slow for me, while others really want to theme their music to their storytime topic.

One more note: look at artists that you haven’t heard of. It’s great that you are highlighting Ella Jenkins and other artists that have been around for a few decades–but there are many new, modern artists creating amazing music right now that would appreciate your support.

I’ve been rambling on for months in other blog posts on how I have been working on a spreadsheet with diverse artists and diverse storytime music. That isn’t ready yet, but I want to start to highlight diverse musicians regularly in preparation for that longer post. Many of these names may be familiar if you follow my weekly storytime outlines.

Diverse Children’s Musicians: A Starting List

Some of these artists are my personal favorites while others are ones I plan to explore over the next few months. Who am I missing? Let me know in the comments!

Also, not a specific music group, but check out the Trans & Nonbinary Kids Mix by Ants on a Log and Friends.

Diverse Storytime Music: Favorite Songs

Again, I haven’t listened to every song by every artist listed above (yet–that is the plan by the end of the year), but if you are looking for some diverse storytime music to add to your storytime playlist *right now*, I’ve highlighted some of my current favorites below!

Jazzy Ash

Teddy Bear (preschool or school age)

Baby Loves Beignets (great with shakers)

Leap Frog (great with shakers – wish this didn’t gender with boys and girls)

Kymberly Stewart

I Am a Robot (toddlers, preschoolers)

Timmy the Turtle (Tiny Tim rhyme)

Down Down Up Up (all ages–could be a fun work out for caregivers with babies)

Nathalia

Animal Bop (toddlers, preschoolers)

Alina Celeste

Clap Hands (wish this wasn’t strictly mama and papa repeatedly, but the beat and actions are great)

Little Miss Ann

Shake & Sing (with shakers)

Aaron Nigel Smith

Everybody Loves to Dance (featuring Ziggy Marley) (all ages)

Itsy Bitsy Spider (featuring Zion Nigel Smith) (all ages)

Culture Queen

Super Shaker Song (with shakers! or scarves!) (all ages)

Blazer Fresh

Banana Banana Meatball (preschool or school age)

Jay Laga’aia

Wheels on the Bus (all ages)

Uncle Jumbo

Clap Clap Stomp Stomp (all ages)

Molly of Denali Storytime

Molly of Denali Storytime! I’ve been planning this for a while, but I’ve also been quite nervous about it–I want to do Molly justice. Our community is pretty white, our library staff is mostly white, and I am (you guessed it) white.

In case you aren’t familiar with Molly: Molly Mabray is a 10-year-old Alaskan Native (Gwich’in/Koyukon/Dena’ina Athabascan) vlogger from the fictional village of Qyah, Alaska (near the mountain of Denali). The PBS show is the first show to feature an Alaskan Native main character. Much of the cast and crew, including the voice of Molly – Sovereign Bill of Auburn – are of Alaskan Native or First Nations heritage. The show authentically portrays the life of an Alaskan Native girl (while also having a particular focus on examining and evaluating sources of information).

Molly of Denali is a wonderful show, and I encourage you to watch it yourself, explore the website (and app and podcast), and find ways to promote it at your library. I tried to keep Molly’s energy during this storytime while focusing on some of the places Molly frequently visits in Qyah as well as some of the popular storylines from the show.

There were some adjustments for me. I’m used to music being a big part of my storytimes, but the music featured in Molly of Denali is wrapped up in her culture. Dancing (often nonsensically) to the Daniel Tiger or Pete the Cat theme song felt fine–wiggling, swaying, and shaking along to Molly’s theme song felt like it might be closer to cultural appropriation. Instead, I played the Molly of Denali theme song before I came on screen, and I promoted official Molly of Denali content on YouTube with this playlist.

Looking back, I’m afraid I focused a bit too much on animals and too little on Molly’s culture. My reasoning for this during planning is that my main audience for these storytimes are ages 2-3. While some of the concepts were still there for older kids to explore, I knew I needed to keep the attention of those bouncy toddlers. In hindsight, this program would have been better suited as a separate event aimed for ages 6-8.

Just like past virtual storytimes, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Many of these materials are from PBS. Download it here.

Watch the short preview video below. I tried to not dance through this the way I often do, instead highlighting storytime activities:

The general storytime layout–in order of what I presented–is below, with videos where applicable.

Molly of Denali Storytime Outline

Intro Song: Molly of Denali Theme Song (played before I came on screen)

Daniel Tiger Story: Crane Song

Exploring Qyah: I really like when these storytimes have some kind of unifying theme. For Molly of Denali storytime, we were simply exploring Qyah along with Molly.

Denali Trading Post: 5 Shiny Agate Stones

We started out at Molly’s parents’ store: the Denali Trading Post. Molly and her friends were trying to buy a new tubing raft, so they were selling agate stones again. We talked a bit about agate stones before jumping in with the rhyme shown below.

Down around the corner at the trading post,
There were five shiny agate stones at the most.
Along came a neighbor with a dollar to pay.
She picked out an agate and took it away.

Dog Kennel & Vegetable Garden: Anka Playing Hide and Seek
Tooey didn’t show up to help with the agate stones, so we went to find him at the Dog Kennel to make sure everything was okay. His dog, Anka, is missing again–but Tooey doesn’t think she is lost this time, just playing hide and seek…in Trini’s vegetable garden! Did you know that vegetables grow ENORMOUSLY large in Alaska? I learned that from Molly.

Anka, Anka playing hide and seek!
Are you behind the _?
Let’s take a peak!

Fish Camp: Five Little Salmon
Off to find some fish for hungry Anka at the Fish Camp! Catch your pretend salmon by tossing out a line and reeling it in or snatching a salmon from the air like a bear.

Alaskan Animal Adventure
Now that Anka was taken care of, it was finally time to explore Alaska by looking for something Molly loves and Alaska is well-known for–its amazing wildlife! I gave some hints for each animal before revealing the puppet and after the reveal, I encouraged viewers to do a quick motion.

There’s something by the river,
Now what can it be?
There’s something by the river,
That I can’t really see.

Wrapping Things Up
And that was it! For the reasons mentioned above, I didn’t have a closing song either (which was unusual for me). I once again directed people to the official Molly of Denali PBS playlist.

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 11

My last week of Preschool Storytime! I ended up doing quite a few changes at the last minute here–I really do like the Amy Wu books, but the day of storytime I just wasn’t feeling Amy Wu and the Patchwork Dragon, so I swapped it for an old favorite. (Do make sure you check out Amy Wu though!)

I also filmed a video for Little Blue Truck but that did not appear at all in my storytime. There is a lot of rhyming in that book, which makes it harder to ad lib/not recite word for word (and this was not a week for memorization). Also, the flannel set I so carefully crafted is way too big to fit on my flannel board setup. I was so proud of the work I put into this flannel set–and it ended up not working out at all beyond a YouTube video (though at least I have that).

Even though Little Blue Truck was a wash, I did get to present one of my favorite storytime activities ever–Make A Pig. This is much more entertaining with an audience in front of me, but it was great to return an old favorite, even in the more limiting virtual format.

Next week is another storytime special week–I am very excited to have fun with Molly of Denali and celebrate all things Alaska. If you aren’t familiar with the Molly of Denali show (or app or podcast) check it out–it is so well done.

More Preschool Storytime Content:

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Playing

Go on a letter hunt at home! Pick a letter and find all the items that start with that letter. This will help build your child’s letter knowledge while having fun!

Book: Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins

Song: Jump Jump by Joanie Leeds

Fingerplay: Shapes Song

Discover more Fingerplays. —

A circle is a shape that is round
A circle is a shape that is round
A circle is round, no corners can be found
A circle is a shape that is round

A triangle has three sides, three sides, three sides
A triangle has three sides, 1, 2, 3
A triangle has three corners, three corners, three corners
A triangle has three corners, 1, 2, 3

I am a square. A lovely square!
I have four sides. They are all the same!
I have four corners, four lovely corners.
I am a square, and square is my name.

Book Retelling: Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle (not used in storytime)

Discover more Book Retellings. —

Action Rhyme: Row, Drive, Fly

Row, row, row your boat (sway)
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily
Life is but a dream.

Drive, drive, drive your car
So quickly down the street
Merrily, merrily, merrily
Driving can’t be beat!

Fly, fly, fly your plane
Fly your plane so high
Merrily, merrily, merrily
Way up in the sky!

Chug, chug, chug the train
Goes quickly down the track
Merrily, merrily, merrily
Hear it click click clack!

Flannel: Make A Pig

Discover more Flannel & Magnet Activities. —

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 10

Gosh I’m having fun with preschoolers! The hardest part has been narrowing down my content for these three weeks. Everything is so up in the air with virtual vs. in person programming, and I’m not typically on the preschool rotation (never was in person and only sparingly virtually)…so sometimes these feel like I’m trying to cram in everything I can because I never know which storytime will be my last with a particular age range.

With that in mind, when I’m back to toddler storytime in February, I am going to be repeating more content. There has been so repetition here month-to-month, especially if you go through all of the virtual storytime plans I’ve shared, but I’m going to let that be the norm a little more often once I get through the last of my dwindling stack of flannels and magnet sets that I can’t wait to make into videos. I’ve got almost a year’s worth of content on my library’s YouTube page now…though I do really like making these videos, so maybe I’ll continue on my own time through Book Cart Queens? Not sure yet.

More Preschool Storytime Content:

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Reading

Children learn new words best in context. Rather than teaching new words in isolation, discuss words as they come up in stories or conversation.

Book: Don’t Feed the Coos! by Jonathan Stutzman

Amazon.com: Don't Feed the Coos! (9781250303189): Stutzman, Jonathan, Fox,  Heather: Books

Song: Can You by the Wiggles

Fingerplay: Five Little Snowmen

Discover more Fingerplays. —

Five little snowmen went out one day!
Rolling through the snow
They played and played.

Out came the sun,
And it shined so bright,
One little snowmen melted out of sight!

Repeat with 4, 3, 2, 1

Book Retelling: Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera

Discover more Book Retellings. —

Fingerplay: Itsy Bitsy Spider (practicing audiation)

Discover more Fingerplays. —

The Itsy Bitsy Spider went up the water spout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.
And the Itsy Bitsy Spider went up the spout again.

Flannel: Five Little Eggs

Discover more Flannel & Magnet Activities. —

Give it a whack, (clap)
Hear it crack, (hand behind ear)
Drop it in the middle, (pat hands on your lap)
One egg frying on the griddle.

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

Virtual Preschool Storytime: Week 9

Preschoolers I’m baaaacccccckkkkkkk! I think Noon Year’s Eve and Daniel Tiger Storytime (and the rest of the world) took out any of the new energy I should’ve collected during my few weeks off of weekly storytime, so no book retelling this week. I have so much fun with those, so this makes me sad, but developmentally I’m good with two books for preschool age (I’d much rather have the babies and toddlers moving or exploring books differently).And most importantly, the Elmo Slide is back!

More Preschool Storytime Content:

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

Storytime Resources (includes all storytime outlines)
Virtual Preschool Storytimes
Virtual Baby Storytimes
Virtual Toddler Storytimes
Virtual Family Storytimes (including themed special events)
All Virtual Storytime Outlines

Preschool Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Playing

Action songs build physical awareness. Try songs like “The Hokey Pokey,” which name specific body parts.

Book: Every Little Letter by Deborah Underwood

Song: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

Fingerplay: I Built a Little Snowman

Discover more Fingerplays. —

I built a little snowman.
He had a carrot nose!
Along came a bunny,
And what do you suppose?

The hungry little bunny
Looking for his lunch,
Ate the carrot nose…
Nibble, nibble, crunch!

Book: There’s a Superhero In Your Book by Tom Fletcher

Action Rhyme: Galoomp Went the Little Green Frog

Galoomp (hop) went the little green frog one day
Galoomp (hop) went the little green frog
Galoomp (hop) went the little green frog one day
And his eyes went blink blink blink

Repeat with last line added on each time:
Arms went flop, flop, flop
Feet went splash, splash, splash

Flannel: Snowball and Mitten Hide and Seek

Discover more Flannel & Magnet Activities. —

Snowball, snowball
Cold and round!
Behind which mitten,
Can you be found?

Closing Song: Elmo Slide by Sesame Street

Daniel Tiger Storytime

The first themed Saturday storytime special of 2021! We started the new year with the one and only Daniel Tiger Storytime! This set a highly unrealistic attendance expectation for 2021, but I am very happy with the final product. If nothing else in 2021 works out whatsoever, maybe my storytime game will be on point?

Daniel Tiger is close to my heart because of Mr. Rogers, though I did learn in this process that I am not the biggest fan of the Daniel Tiger tv show. But, there is most definitely an audience for Daniel, and, if we ever return to in-person programs in the next five years, this is something I would like to recreate as a party-style event. The heart of the story is excellent, and in person I could use some Mr. Rogers tunes–something Facebook strictly does not allow (it WILL shut down your stream, mid-stream or immediately after–be warned). Daniel Tiger songs are fine.

I talked about Daniel Tiger during the well-attended Noon Year’s Eve Storytime, and I could tell the Facebook event had a lot of interest (over 1000 people responded to the event), so I did not make a trailer for this one. (Also, Noon Year’s Eve was barely a week prior, and I’m tired.)

The trailer was not needed because, following the Noon Year’s Eve Storytime fun, we once again broke attendance records. This is the most-well attended program I have ever done…ever. (Except for the in-person Wizards & Wands Festival, but that is a whole other thing.) Final attendance was 770 people, most of which were from central Ohio based on anecdotal info (where we are located), and even knowing that Facebook’s one-minute view count isn’t the most accurate, we had 400 people just from families self-reporting how many people were watching in the comments (so they stuck with us long enough to hear my announcements).

Moral of the story: Daniel Tiger > Dog Man.

Just like past virtual storytimes, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Download it here.

Watch the full storytime here (starts about 5 minutes in):

The general storytime layout–in order of what I presented–is below, with videos where applicable.

Daniel Tiger Storytime Outline

Backdrop Setup: Daniel Tiger pennant banners, book covers, and images. I’m happy to share these printable files if anyone is interested–just let me know in those comments or send us an email.

Intro Song: It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Daniel Tiger Story: Meet the Neighbors!

Meet the Neighbors! (Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood): Shaw, Natalie, Style  Guide: 9781442498372: Amazon.com: Books

Neighbor Day Help: The premise for storytime was that it was time for the annual Neighbor Day Festival, and we needed to help all of our friends in the Neighborhood of Make Believe get ready.

Each time we were ready to find a new friend we took a seat and pretended to “drive” trolley.

Driving Round in My Little Red Trolley
Driving round in my little red trolley,
Driving round in my little red trolley,
Driving round in my little red trolley,
Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

When we got to a location, we would receive three clues to figure out where we ended up.

And then we figure out where we ended up (the bakery!) and see which friend is waiting for us there (Miss Elaina!):

Before starting that location’s activity:

Bakery with Miss Elaina to Mix a Cake

Mix the batter, stir the batter
Shake some flour in
Mix the batter, stir the batter
Pour it in a tin

Sprinkle in some chocolate chips
Put it in to bake
Then open wide the oven door
And out comes the cake!

Faster, Faster!

Music Shop with Katerina Kittycat for Head Shoulders Knees and Toes

Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes!
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes!
And eyes and ears and mouth and nose!
Head, shoulders, knees, and toes, knees and toes!

Playground with Prince Wednesday for Animal Guessing Game

Grocery Store with O the Owl to Count the Balloons

Red Balloons, red balloons, how many do we see?
Red balloons, red balloons, count them now with me!

Post Office with Daniel Tiger for Letter Matching

Oh, have you seen the letter W
The letter W, the letter W
Oh, have you seen the letter W?
It makes the sound wuh-wuh-wuh

Wrapping Things Up
After helping Daniel find all of the letters for his friends, we found one more lost letter that needed a home! But this one was addressed to…us!

When we opened it, we discovered that since we were so kind to all of our new friends, we would become honorary residents of the Neighborhood of Make Believe! First, we just had to sing our song one more time:

Noon Year’s Eve Storytime

Noon Year’s Eve Storytime! I’m still recovering from this one.

I learned something with this program that I pose as a challenge to myself and all of you: Not everyone is “zoomed out” or “over virtual programs.” Keep trying. Figure out what works for your audience, put in all of your energy, and try and try again when nothing seems to be sticking.

I was not that excited for Noon Year’s Eve Storytime & Dance Party. Honestly, the content is not my favorite. While I loved my dance party lineup, I didn’t like the book I was reading and some of the other activities felt like they drug on too long. I didn’t expect an audience because my library doesn’t regularly have a consistent Noon Year’s Eve program (so no built-in viewers), and we typically slow down our storytimes in December because our audience shrinks (which was reflected in our virtual storytimes throughout the month too).

Our Noon Year’s Eve Storytime received a little more press than regular programs. We weren’t able to advertise it at weekly storytimes the week before, since we didn’t have any the week prior, but a local newspaper and tv station briefly mentioned the program in their lists of ways to celebrate the New Year. I made a “commercial” advertising the event too but that is a regular practice for me.

In Ohio, per our state library, we count live program stats for programs that air live, like Facebook Like Storytimes, by adding the number of 1-minute viewers and the number of additional people mentioned in the comments. We ask families to let us know how many people are watching behind the screen in the comments, to get a more accurate count.

Our regular storytimes have been averaging around 30-50 people, with some peaks up to the 60s-80s, maybe 100 at a particular popular Saturday storytime.

Virtual Noon Year’s Eve Storytime Attendance: 439 people.

I was blown away. When I started the stream, five minutes early to give people time to join, I saw the “live view” count immediately jump to 25. That felt unusual so early, but fit within our normal numbers. By the time I started, five minutes later, the “live view” count was 65. I haven’t been really, genuinely, nervous presenting a virtual storytime since April–but those numbers genuinely terrified me, and you can sort of see it during the first few minutes based on how out of breath I am.

Anyhow, after that long-winded introduction, Noon Year’s Eve Storytime & Dance Party content awaits below.

Check out my preview video! I had a lot of fun with this one, reflecting on 2020 and including some fun bloopers:

Watch the full storytime here, including the dance party (storytime starts about 5 minutes in):

The general storytime layout–in order of what I presented–is below, with videos where applicable.

Noon Year’s Eve Storytime Outline

Backdrop & Logistics: New Year’s Eve pennant banner and decor.

Since everyone’s clock is going to be a little bit different, plus there is a delay on Facebook, I used two iPads to keep track of the time until our (approximately) noon countdown. They were synced, with one displayed beside me and another behind the camera, so it was in my line of vision, and I didn’t need to keep looking away from the camera throughout the whole program to check the time.

I also attempted a balloon drop, filled with balloons and confetti. This didn’t work quite as planned, with maybe 3 out of 20 balloons falling, but that might have been better than what I expected, which was everything, tablecloths included, to fall on my head 5 minutes into the program.

Intro Song: Shake Your Sillies Out by Rainbow Songs (my go-to opening storytime song)

Book: The Night Before New Year’s by Amy Wummer
I struggled with this book. I wanted a more diverse representation of New Year’s Eve, but the only diverse options I had access to before the program were Our Favorite Day of the Year, which feels like a back-to-school book, and Shante Keys and the New Year’s Peas (and I can’t get past some of the rhyming choices in Shante Peas). I did like that this book showed one family celebrating at home by themselves (no extended family or community parties). I tried to find a middle ground by spending some time before and during the book talking about how everyone’s New Year traditions are different and how not everyone celebrates New Year’s on Dec. 31. (This issue, right here, is why I struggle with theming storytimes–decisions are made for the sake of the theme instead of the quality of the materials, their diversity, and their developmentally appropriate content.)

Amazon.com: The Night Before New Year's (9780448452128): Wing, Natasha,  Wummer, Amy: Books

Song: Dance Freeze Melt by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael

Hilda the Dragon, Playing Hide and Seek
I wanted to include some of the familiar characters we saw at virtual storytime specials during 2020, so I decided to have us discover some characters while hunting for our library dragon, Hilda (see a photo of 30-foot, smoke-breathing Hilda here.)

Zoom Zoom Zoom, A New Year’s Coming Soon
As always, thank you jbrary.

Fabulous Fireworks

If You’re Ready for the New Year (If you’re happy and you know it)

We finished If You’re Ready for the New Year with just about a minute until our countdown, which I still almost missed because I talk too much.

And it was finally time for our 20-minute dance party! I used these songs:

And that was 2020 Virtual Noon Year’s Eve Storytime and Dance Party! I didn’t receive much specific feedback from this program, other than those attendance numbers, which makes me a little sad (I really rely on that feedback to keep my energy up), but I think it went well enough. I just hope some of those people listened to my always-rambling announcements and return for our weekly live storytimes next week and Daniel Tiger Storytime on Saturday.

Fancy Nancy Storytime

Another themed Saturday storytime special, filled with the most fantastique Fancy Nancy Storytime fun! This outline has a lot of extra content because I came up with so many activities that made me super excited. Not everything made it into my storytime since I had a limited amount of time.

I had so much fun getting FANCY for this storytime, particularly after getting to know Nancy Clancy and her universe. I was more familiar with Baby Shark and Elephant & Piggie before those storytime specials, but for some of these storytimes, I’ve got to really explore these characters for the first time. Nancy is such a sweet kid who just wants to make everything better with lots of accessories, lace, and glitter.

I made a preview video you can watch here:

To help continue the Fancy Nancy fun at home, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Download it here.

Watch the full storytime here (starts about 5 minutes in):

The general storytime layout–in order of what I presented–is below, with videos where applicable. All the extra videos I didn’t use for the program are at the bottom.

Fancy Nancy Storytime Outline

Backdrop Setup: Fancy Nancy pennant banners, book covers, and images. I’m happy to share these printable files if anyone is interested–just let me know in those comments or send us an email.

Intro Song: Add a Little Fancy by Fancy Nancy

Fancy Nancy Dance Soiree Checklist: Whenever possible, I like to give my special storytimes a storyline to help with transitions and to make the experience more entertaining for everyone.

In our Fancy Nancy storytime, we were hoping to complete our Fancy Nancy Dance Soiree Checklist (soiree is a fancy word for party). If we completed all of our tasks by the end of storytime, we might just get a magical phone call from the one and only Fancy Nancy inviting us to an after-storytime dance party!

Download your own Fancy Nancy Soiree Checklist here:

Get to Know Our Hostess (Book): Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor

Fancy Nancy: O'Connor, Jane, Glasser, Robin Preiss: 9780060542092:  Amazon.com: Books

(And Her Secret Indentity) (Music): Dazzle Girl by Fancy Nancy (with scarves)

Speak with Fancy Words

Bring Fancy Food: Down Around the Corner

Wear Fancy Clothes: Get Dressed Fancy

Find this template here.

Show Your Magic Ticket: Magical Butterflies

And can you believe it…we got invited to the Fancy Nancy Dance Soiree!

We wrapped things up with about a 10 minute dance party including these songs:

Closing Song: Add a Little Fancy (Round 2)

Fancy Nancy Storytime Extra Videos

I made a lot of extra content because I was in love with all things fancy. Check out more Fancy Nancy fun below!

Fancy Nancy N-A-N-C-Y (BINGO)

Fancy Nancy Playing Hide and Seek

If You’re Fancy and You Know It

2020 Favorite Storytime Books

It’s book list season! I’ve read a lot this year, and I am excited to highlight my favorite releases of 2020. I’m thrilled to start this year’s lists with 2020 favorite storytime books.

These lists are personal. The storytime books that work for me may not work for you–and that is okay! We each have our own storytime preferences. Also, I very well may have missed some great titles that were released over the last year–so make sure to check out all of the great lists all over the internet.

I had so many favorites this year that I split picture books over two lists: storytime favorites and picture book favorites. Make sure to check both places for amazing 2020 titles!

Which titles were your favorites of the year? Please share in the comments!

2020 Favorite Storytime Books

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#Baby by Michael Joosten
Adorable baby photographs paired with humorous hashtags will make this a winner for both babies (who will love the close ups of other babies) and grown ups (who will appreciate the humor). Fun choice for virtual baby storytime.


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A is for Another Rabbit by Hannah Batsel
“A is for A Rabbit. B is for Bunny. C is for Can you believe how many rabbits are on this page?” A rabbit-obsessed narrator makes an owl angrier and angrier as this alphabet book fails to follow normal expectations. Try this out at an elementary school storytime.


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Animals Brag About their Bottoms by Maki Saito
Bottoms are cool. Animal bottoms are SUPER COOL. For toddlers, focus on identifying the animal by their bottom. For preschoolers, read through the story and talk about loving our bodies in all their unique shapes and sizes. Pair with a nonfiction book about animals, Whose Poop Is That?, or any Steve Jenkins title.


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The Babies and Kitties Book
by John Schindel and Molly Woodward Redd
A companion to the adorable The Babies and Doggies Book, this book features photographs of babies…and kitties! Wonderful photographs featuring diverse babies are paired with fun actions that work well in a storytime environment (climbing, hiding, jumping).


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Bedtime Bonnet
by Nancy Amanda Redd and illustrated by Nneka Myers
“In my family, when the sun goes down, our hair goes up!” A little girl shows us her Black family’s nighttime hair routines, but when it comes time for her to go to bed, she can’t find her bonnet! Where could it be? A fantastic own voices book that centers a diverse narrative in a bedtime storytime.


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Do Sharks Bark? by Salina Yoon
These lift-the-flap books are perfect for toddler or preschool storytime. Read them as they are written–opening each animal mouth for that sound–or try retelling them with puppets.


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Don’t Feed the Coos!
by Jonathan Stutzman and illustrated by Heather Fox
Coos are so cute! And they are begging you for a snack…but don’t give in! If you feed one, they will all come! Lots of humor and giggles about what happens if you feed pigeons (or seagulls or ibis or ducks depending where you live).


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The Elephants’ Guide to Hide and Seek
by Kjersten Hayes and illustrated by Gladys Jose
Elephants love playing hide and seek–but they aren’t very good at it. Consult this handy guide for tips and tricks to improving your hide and seek game. Ask storytime attendees to think of new places or ways for an elephant to try to hide–maybe even places in your library!


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Federico and the Wolf
by Rebecca J. Gomez and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
A clever retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Frederico tries to take food to his grandfather’s store, but a hungry wolf has other ideas. A bouncy rhythm makes this fun to read aloud. Spanish words are scattered throughout, with a glossary and pronunciation guide in the back.


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Fussy Flamingo
by Shelly Vaughan James and illustrated by Matthew Rivera
Lola is one fussy bird–she doesn’t want to eat shrimp like her fellow flamingos. She is determined to try any other food, and each of those foods changes the color of her feathers. Lots of repetitive text and humor make this a fun family read aloud.


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The Ghosts Went Floating
by Kim Norman and illustrated by Jay Fleck
A spooky Halloween story sung to the tune of The Ants Went Marching. Perfect for counting practice, with a catchy tune that will soon have everyone singing. The last few pages include a Halloween tie in with the spooky friends all attending a Halloween party, though those could be skipped.


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Going Up
by Sherry J. Lee and illustrated by Charlene Chua
Sophie and her dad are excited for Olive’s birthday party! Sophie pushes the elevator button, and they start the long journey up their building–but at each floor, the elevator stops, and more neighbors crowd in. Repetitive text helps keeps readers engaged as they meet the diverse residents of this apartment building.


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Hey Baby!: A Baby’s Day in Doodles
by Andrea Pippins
Lovely photographs follow a 1-year-old through everyday activities. The black and white contrast is great for young eyes (if a little busy for a virtual storytime setting). Great actions and motions to compare the baby’s day to your family’s day.


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I Love Me!
by Laronda Gardner Middlemiss and illustrated by Beth Hughes
Celebrate diversity, identity, community, and everything that makes you special. Rhyming text, vibrant illustrations, and the repeated “I Love Me!” makes this a great fit for toddler and preschool storytimes


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I Love My Fangs! by Kelly Leigh Miller
Little Dracula loves his two, pointy, beautiful fangs! But then–oh dear–one falls out. How can Dracula be a vampire with just one tooth? Why won’t it pop back in? Lots of humor and drama surround our adorable young vampire, including a hilarious battle with the tooth fairy. Bright, colorful illustrations will keep the youngest readers engaged. 


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Jules vs. the Ocean by Jessie Sima
Jules wants to build the best sandcastle ever! But the ocean has other plans, washing away all of Jules’ attempts–and eventually it takes her bucket too. A fun summer beach story filled with dry humor in both the words and illustrations.


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Lia & Luís: Who Has More?
by Ana Crespo and illustrated by Giovana Medeiros
Lia and Luís argue over who has more of their favorite snacks. A great way to include math concepts in storytime including measuring, counting, estimating, and weighing. Perfect for STEM programs!


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Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse
by Jonathan Stutzman and illustrated by Heather Fox
I am a fan of everything Llama! While this sequel isn’t quite as amazing as the original, Llama gets into even more hilarious shenanigans in an effort to never have to clean his house again.


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Lift by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat
Wow! This book is visually gorgeous, but also contains serious storytime potential. Iris tapes a broken elevator button to the wall of her room. When she pushes the button, a new world opens up. A great book for older readers paired with an activity where kids create their own imaginary worlds that they would like to find behind magical elevator doors.


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On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex
A poor kid wakes up with gum in their hair, and their grown up is determined to get the gum out. Instead, they make things much, much, much worse along the way. Lots of laughs.


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One of These Is Not Like the Others by Barney Saltzberg
Three cows and one elephant–one of these is not like the other! A great read-aloud for toddlers practicing similarities and differences (and celebrating both). Easy to skip spreads to shrink the length of the book.


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Our Favorite Day of the Year
by A.E. Ali and illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
Musa’s kindergarten teacher, Ms. Gupta, proposes a yearlong show and tell, where each child shares with their classmates about their favorite day of the year. As a class, they celebrate Eid Mubarak, Rush Hashanah, Christmas (with some Lantinx cultural elements), and Pi Day. A great way to have a conversation about holidays without focusing on one religion (or, in the case of Pi Day, any religion at all).


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Sloth Went
by Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrated by Bensom Shum
Is there ever an audience where poop books don’t get a good laugh? Encourage young sloth to climb down a tree for his weekly poop. Pair with fascinating facts about how sloths poop in the wild, or a conversation about bathrooms and potty training.


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Smug Seagull by Maddie Frost
Smug Seagull can snatch more snacks than you! But…who is this new crab? How is crab so good at swiping? Is there enough room at the beach for two snack snatchers? A perfect read aloud to pair with Mo Willems’ Pigeon.


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Speak Up
by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Ebony Glenn
When you see something that doesn’t feel right, when you make a mistake, when you can help someone in need, use your voice and speak up! While this book’s message is simple, it approaches kindness, activism, and using your voice in a tone perfect for preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first graders. 


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Turtle Walk by Matt Phelan
“Turtle walk! Nice and slow. Here we go. Are we there yet? No.” This repetitive story is delightful. Adorable turtles make their plodding walk, exploring the wonders of the world, slowly making their way through the seasons to the cave where they will nap for the winter. Lots of fun to read aloud with a great refrain to repeat as a group.


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Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You
by Ellen Mayer and illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu
Mama changes baby’s diaper in this simple board book. While the action is straightforward, the book excels in modeling ways a caregiver can turn a small exchange, like changing a diaper, into an early literacy experience by singing a modified version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, practicing animal sounds, identifying body parts, and more. A great board book to highlight in a virtual storytime.


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Unicorns Are the Worst! by Alex Willan
Unicorns are the worst! Goblin is not happy when unicorns move in next door with their glitter and tea parties. Why are unicorns so well loved while goblins are so underappreciated? Funny story perfect for fans of unicorns, magic, humor, and new friendships. Bright illustrations will draw in young readers and also make this a good book to share virtually.


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We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is one of my favorite storytime books–and I am so glad Penelope is back for more fun! She is excited to play her guitar at the school talent show until she hears a classmate say that dinosaurs can’t rock and roll. Her classmates have a lot of opinions about what dinosaurs can be…does Penelope have the courage to show off everything she is capable of? A great elementary read, especially to start a conversation about bullying and microaggressions with kindergarteners and first graders.


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Welcome to the Party
by Gabrielle Union and illustrated by Ashley Evans
This is a baby storytime win! Beautiful illustrations, wonderful rhymes, and perfect actions for a group of babies or toddlers.


What Color Is My Hijab?: Hudda Ibrahim, Meenal Patel, Meenal Patel:  9781643439204: Amazon.com: Books

What Color Is My Hijab?
by Hudda Ibrahim and illustrated by Meenal Patel
A simple book that highlights both colors and diversity as a little girl chooses what color hijab she will wear today. Great choice for toddlers or preschoolers.


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What Will Fit? by Grace Lin
Grace Lin’s new series of math board books are perfect for introducing simple math concepts for toddlers. Make sure to check out the whole series!


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When We Are Kind
by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt
Celebrate kindness with this beautiful book by a Native author and illustrator. Perfect for talking to preschoolers and kindergarteners about being kind and helping others.


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Your Name Is a Song
by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Luisa Uribe
A girl tells her mother how frustrated she was after her teacher and classmates couldn’t pronounce her name. Her mother teaches her that her name is a song as well as how to embrace your name and identity. A beautiful book perfect for elementary school conversations about the importance of pronouncing names correctly.

Llama Llama Red Pajama Storytime

Another themed Saturday storytime special! So much Llama Llama Red Pajama fun! This outline has a lot of extra content because I couldn’t decide what to use in the storytime, so I filmed a bunch of videos and picked through more carefully closer to the program.

No preview video this time because it was Election Week 2020 and my productivity was focused on concrete tasks more than creative tasks. We still had a fairly strong audience (about 75) without the preview video, which makes me happy, especially with our lower numbers at regular virtual storytimes lately. I’m definitely missing our print event guides now that we are open to the public again, as 90% of the people who walk in the children’s department don’t have any idea that we are doing (or have been doing) any virtual programs.

To help continue the Llama Llama fun at home, I curated a PDF packet that we shared with event participants. Download it here.

The general storytime layout–in order of what I presented–is below, with videos where applicable. All the extra videos I dropped from the program are below.

Llama Llama Storytime Outline

Backdrop Setup: Llama Llama pennant banners, book covers, and images. I’m happy to share these printable files if anyone is interested–just let me know in those comments or send us an email.

Intro Song: Shake Your Sillies Out by Rainbow Songs

Book: Llama Llama Red Pajama be Anna Dewdney

Llama Llama Red Pajama: Dewdney, Anna, Dewdney, Anna: 9780451474575:  Amazon.com: Books

Song: The Monkey Dance by The Wiggles
Have you looked for llama songs for kids? I have. A lot. And they are all odd or annoying or emphasize “big fat mama llama” or things I don’t want to include in a storytime. So I used The Monkey Dance as our get-the-wiggles out song instead.

Fingerplay: Two Little Llamas

Song: L-L-A-M-A

Download your own LLAMA BINGO printable letters here:

Book: Llama Llama Learns to Share by Anna Dewdney

Amazon.com: Llama Llama Time to Share (9780670012336): Anna Dewdney, Anna  Dewdney: Books

Action Rhyme: Five in the Bed

Closing Song: Llama Llama Theme Song

Llama Llama Storytime Extra Videos

I made a lot of extra content that I was sure I was going to use until I was practicing. A lot of my materials were completely swapped around the day before the storytime when I practiced and didn’t like the storytime with the content below.

Is Your Mama a Llama? Book Retelling, Llama Llama Edition

Llama Llama Playing Hide and Seek

Here’s a Llama Fingerplay