Tag Archives: 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)

Virtual Toddler Storytime: Week 15

Toddler Fun! A longer book compared to my normal selections for toddlers, but I really want to use this book, and I can’t keep agonizing over how to turn Baby Goes to Market into a flannel — someday I will make that happen, but I have no ability to make people out of flannel, and I don’t have the patience for trial and error at the moment.

More Toddler Storytime Content:

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

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

Toddler Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Toddlers need to move, so don’t worry if they act out stories or just skip, romp, or tumble as you read to them. They may be moving, but they are listening.

Book Recommendation: Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke

Image result for baby goes to market

Song: Clap Your Hands by The Alana Banana Show

Fingerplay: Snowflakes Snowflakes

Snowflakes snowflakes dance all around
Snowflakes snowflakes touch the ground
Snowflakes snowflakes in the air
Snowflakes snowflakes everywhere!

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Retelling: The Great Big Enormous Turnip (folktale)

— Find more Book Retellings in this post. —

Action Rhyme: Put Your Hands Up High

Put your hands up high,
Put your hands down low,
Put your hands in the middle,
And wiggle just so.

Put your elbows in front,
Put your elbows in back,
Put your elbows to the side and
QUACK, QUACK, QUACK!

Magnet: Five Pigs So Squeaky Clean

Five pigs so squeaky clean
Cleanest pigs you’ve ever seen.
Wanted to go outside and play.
Oink! Oink!

One jumped into the mud.
Landed with a great big THUD
Now there are four pigs so squeaky clean.

— Find more Flannel & Magnet Activities in this post. —

Manipulative: Stuffed Animals
Put Your Baby in the Air by Caspar Babypants

Closing Song: The Popcorn Song by Laura Doherty

Flannel: Buzz Said the Bee

Welcome to guest blogger Youth Librarian Sarah Simpson! Sarah is the flannel queen at my library, and I am so excited to be able to share some of her incredible flannel work on Book Cart Queens. Read on for full adorableness! – Annamarie

Find more Flannel Fun:

Flannel Friday Posts (like this one!)
Flannel & Magnet Activity Videos

Buzz Said the Bee (book)

This is an adaptation of the book Buzz Said the Bee
by Wendy Cheyette Lewison.

Once there was a bee who sat on a duck.
“QUACK” said the duck. “There’s a bee on me.” And the duck said, “Scat,” but the bee just sat.

So the duck quacked again and sat on a hen.
“CLUCK,” said the hen. “There’s a duck on me.” And the hen said, “Scat,” but the duck just sat.

So the hen danced a jig and sat on pig.
“OINK,” said the pig. “There’s a hen on me.” And the pig said, “Scat,” but the hen just sat.

So the pig took a bow and sat on a cow.
“MOO,” said the cow. “There’s a pig on me.” And the cow said, “Scat,” but the pig just sat.

The cow began to weep and sat on a sheep who was fast asleep.
The cow had had enough of all these animals sitting on her so she said “Moo!” (remove cow from pile)
and the pig said “Oink!” (remove pig from pile)
and the hen said “Cluck!” (remove hen from pile)
and the duck said “Quack!” (remove duck from pile)
and the bee flew down to the sheep’s ear and whispered….BUZZ!
He woke up the sheep from a very sound sleep and the sheep left to have fun…and then there were none!




Making Flannels

When making flannels, I use these materials:

  • Stiff Felt (highly recommended!)
  • Puffy Paint
  • Hot Glue
  • Sharp Scissors (Fiskars preferred)

Learn how to use the above photos (or any pictures) as a pattern or template at
Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtime.

And a big shoutout to Mr. Keith’s blog, Felt-tastic Flannelbaord Funtime, for providing inspiration for my feltboard ideas. None of my flannels are direct reproductions of anyone’s work, but I am inspired most often by his style.

Little People Big Dreams Storytime: Muhammad Ali

As part of our virtual programming, I run a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series. In February, this program featured Muhammad Ali.

Each program features 1-2 books on the famous individual (one book being their matching title from the Little People, Big Dreams book series). I also highlight music from a diverse artist and include a link to an at-home packet to continue the fun and learning.

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Ella Fitzgerald
Harriet Tubman
Martin Luther King Jr.
Rosa Parks

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

Watch the full storytime here.

In the event description, I included the link to the printable at home activity packet.

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Muhammad Ali by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People Big Dreams)

Image result for little people big dreams muhammad ali

Movement Break: Banana Banana Meatball by Blazer Fresh (GoNoodle)

Second Book: Muhammad Ali: A Champion Is Born by Gene Baretta

Image result for muhammad ali book picture

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time: Jean-Michel Basquiat

Virtual Toddler Storytime: Week 14

Hello again toddlers! I may be shifting the structure and content of these storytime posts soon–I have a few more weeks with a mixture of old and new content, but in March I will be back to much more repeated content than new. I don’t theme my storytimes except for special occasions (perhaps I will make a post about why that is), but I know many librarians follow themes, and I do like reading and curating storytime book lists. So many of those wonderful storytime blogs I find feel a little dated now, since they were most updated during those prime blogging years 5-10 years ago. So maybe a collection of posts on theme ideas with an eye to recent releases and diversity would be useful? Or just redundant? Let me know in the comments. Meanwhile, I’ll keep brainstorming.

More Toddler Storytime Content:

Find additional storytime content at the links below:

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

Toddler Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme

Early Literacy Tip: Make mistakes on purpose with familiar songs or activities—let your toddler catch you!

Book Recommendation: I Love My Tutu Too!

Song: Hurry, Hurry Drive the Firetruck by Tinsel Town Kids

Fingerplay: The Rain is Falling Down

The rain is falling down splash (clap)
The rain is falling down splash (clap)
Pitter-patter, pitter, patter
The rain is falling down splash (clap)

— Find more Fingerplays in this post. —

Retelling: The Bridge is Up by Babs Bell

— Find more Book Retellings in this post. —

Action Rhyme: Roll Roll Sugar Babies

Roll roll sugar babies
Roll roll sugar babies
Push  
And pull 
And clap clap clap

Roll up high
Roll down low
Roll real fast
Roll real slow

Magnet: Six Little Valentines

Six little Valentines were sent to my house,
The first one said, “I love you, From Mouse.”

Five little Valentines in my mailbox,
The second one said, “Be mine, Love Fox.”

Four little Valentines full of love,
The third one said, “You are sweet, From Dove.”

Three little Valenitnes just for me.
The fourth one said, “Bee my honey, Love Bee.”

Two little Valentines mailed with care.
The fifth one said, “Here’s a hug, From Bear.”

The last little Valentine, from my friend Jay.
This one said, “Happy Valentine’s Day!”

— Find more Flannel & Magnet Activities in this post. —

Manipulative: Shaker
Leap Frog by Jazzy Ash

Closing Song: The Popcorn Song by Laura Doherty

Flannel: Five Little Snails

Welcome to guest blogger Youth Librarian Sarah Simpson! Sarah is the flannel queen at my library, and I am so excited to be able to share some of her incredible flannel work on Book Cart Queens. Read on for full adorableness! – Annamarie

Find more Flannel Fun:

Flannel Friday Posts (like this one!)
Flannel & Magnet Activity Videos

Five Little Snails

Five garden snails sleeping in the sun,
Along comes a bird and scares away one!

Repeat 4, 3, 2, 1

No garden snails sleeping in the sun,
The bird flew away and here they all come!
(bring snails back, whew-snails are safe)




Making Flannels

When making flannels, I use these materials:

  • Stiff Felt (highly recommended!)
  • Puffy Paint
  • Hot Glue
  • Sharp Scissors (Fiskars preferred)

Learn how to use the above photos (or any pictures) as a pattern or template at
Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtime.

And a big shoutout to Mr. Keith’s blog, Felt-tastic Flannelbaord Funtime, for providing inspiration for my feltboard ideas. None of my flannels are direct reproductions of anyone’s work, but I am inspired most often by his style.

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.

Flannel: Wiggleworm, Wiggleworm

Welcome to guest blogger Youth Librarian Sarah Simpson! Sarah is the flannel queen at my library, and I am so excited to be able to share some of her incredible flannel work on Book Cart Queens. Read on for full adorableness! – Annamarie

Find more Flannel Fun:

Flannel Friday Posts (like this one!)
Flannel & Magnet Activity Videos

Wiggleworm, Wiggleworm

Wiggleworm, Wiggleworm, hiding in a book
Wiggleworm, Wiggleworm, where should we look?




Making Flannels

When making flannels, I use these materials:

  • Stiff Felt (highly recommended!)
  • Puffy Paint
  • Hot Glue
  • Sharp Scissors (Fiskars preferred)

Learn how to use the above photos (or any pictures) as a pattern or template at
Felt-tastic Flannelboard Funtime.

And a big shoutout to Mr. Keith’s blog, Felt-tastic Flannelbaord Funtime, for providing inspiration for my feltboard ideas. None of my flannels are direct reproductions of anyone’s work, but I am inspired most often by his style.

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

Little People Big Dreams Storytime: Martin Luther King Jr.

As part of our virtual programming, I run a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series. In January, this program fell on Martin Luther King Day, so it felt like a great time to feature Martin Luther King Jr. in my Little People Big Dreams Storytime.

Each program features 1-2 books on the famous individual (one book being their matching title from the Little People, Big Dreams book series). I also highlight music from a diverse artist and include a link to an at-home packet to continue the fun and learning.

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Ella Fitzgerald
Harriet Tubman
Muhammad Ali
Rosa Parks

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

Watch the full storytime here:

In the event description, I included the link to the printable at home activity packet.

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Martin Luther King Jr. by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara (Little People Big Dreams)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Little People, BIG DREAMS, 33): Sanchez Vegara,  Maria Isabel, Degnan, Mai Ly: 9780711245679: Amazon.com: Books

Second Book & Audio: I Have a Dream illustrated by Kadir Nelson
We listened to a recording of Martin Luther King Jr. reading the part of his speech that corresponded to the pages of this book.

I Have a Dream (Book & CD): King Jr., Martin Luther Dr., Nelson, Kadir:  9780375858871: Amazon.com: Books

Third Book: Let the Children March by Monica Clark-Robinson

Let the Children March: Clark-Robinson, Monica, Morrison, Frank:  9780544704527: Amazon.com: Books

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time: Muhammad Ali

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