for you, a Thanksgiving Casserole of Randomness

So, here’s a bunch of disjointed notes with very little context from a small notebook I found again recently. I think most of them are from the Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough that I attended in 2008? or 2009? Enjoy!


Kids doing rubic’s cubes

Makes me a Leprecano

Y’all hush now, it’s Doug Elliot’s turn

(Choich) Foist Church birthday

Snake eating an egg out of his hand


hide the switch–
and whatever kid found it could switch the other kids
“Happy birdy doo doo” [with drawing of bird singing “doo doo”]
Sat up in bed–“I can play the comb!” And you can do it, too. It’s healthy!

Francis would eat all the cookie dough– she toined out real well.

Comb & wax paper played right through the Methodist hymn

Even when I was seven I thought the plagues were… Wagnerian.

a humorless masoleum of a woman

Feel like 40 miles of bad road

There’s a man at the door-I think he’s here to rape us.

I just wanted her to enjoy the snake!

It was time to go see if my Grandmother was dead.

“The Narrows”

Wide mouthed like the bass we just ate for supper.

“He told me, ‘Question everything.’


“‘Good, you’ve got it.'”

The old lady committee for being angry about stuff.

Ben Haggarty–frock coat–HAWT!

at the same moment her two sisters realized the same thing–that’s called morphic resonance

When I was scared by scary stories–my grandmama told me not to worry, vampires don’t bite Black people.

A trick or a marvel. 3 lies that are not lies. They made a journey–it wasn’t long and it wasn’t short.

I prayed to God to tell Jesus to ask Santa to get me the squirrel monkey. -Kevin Kling

Uh huh. We call it a thunder bucket.

story hacker

So this week on of the books I was using for my outreach storytimes wasn’t quite working for my groups for some reason. It seemed to be missing a crucial action in the text, which made it not quite pop for the children. It was as though there was a three step action sequence missing step two. So the second time I went out with it, I added the text I thought it needed (“and they pulled, and they pulled, and they pulled, but!”), replete with action, and read the rest of the text verbatim, and the kids seemed much more engaged with the story and seemed to understand it more.

I’m always a little conflicted when I do this. Part of me is a text purist, and I try to not abridge or omit if I can help it, because it seems a little bit like censoring to me. But when I’m performing a storytime–and I am performing in the belt it out, jazz hands, shuffle ball step sense of the word–I sometimes feel that to deliver the material well, a bit of improvisation is in order.

So, storytimers, do you do this? How often? And how do you feel about it?

how to become the best, most versatile baby & toddler programmer ever

1. Buy all of John M. Feierabend‘s* books. Pay special attention to The Book of Tapping & Clapping, The Book of Bounces, and The Book of Wiggles & Tickles.Read them. Find the taps, bounces and wiggles that you like and can perform without feeling too self-conscious. Memorize them.

2. Buy all of Hugh Hanley’s Circle of Songs CDs, which come with photo-illustrated books. Repeat the same process as with the Feierabend books.

3. Buy all of Annie Kubler‘s board books. Revel in the simplicity of the drawings, the diversity of the babies, and the clarity of the nursery rhymes and classic children’s songs such as “I’m A Dingle Dangle Scarecrow” and “Row Your Boat”.

4. Buy all of Helen Oxenbury‘s board books. Enjoy the adorable babies and simple actions that are easy for parents to do with their child during storytime.

5. Buy some simple toys. Baby and toddler storytimes should be half program, half playtime. After all, children learn through play! Play time is also a great time for parents and caregivers to talk, share information, and make friends. Building community is just as important as building emergent literacy skills.

6. Build on the first five steps as needed. This is a solid foundation for baby and toddler program, and a great place to begin if you’ve never presented a laptime or toddler story time before. With these materials in your arsenal, you should be able to present a wonderful program at the drop of a hat, while continually adding new books, rhymes and toys to keep things fresh.

As for the actual storytime, I have my regular opening routine. For babies, I’ll read one book, then go through a sequence of bounces, tickles, wiggles, and songs (I play songs on the guitar, but you can easily sing songs without accompaniment). The order of these doesn’t matter too much. I try to read the babies as much as I can. Some babies love bounces, so I’ll do more bounces. Other babies love singing, so we’ll sing more. I’m happy to cater to their preferences.

For toddlers, I add one more book in the mix, sometimes two more if they’re particularly attentive.

*I just realized he has music CDs as well. You should probably go ahead and get those, too.

In case you’re wondering, at my library, the ages for baby times are 4-18 months, and toddler times are 19-47 months.

P.S. Do your baby and toddler times need revamping or freshening up? I’d be happy to come talk to your staff in person or via skype about programming for these ages. If you like, I’ll also throw in a 30 minute musical storytime for your patrons! Drop meĀ  a line if you’re interested!