Storytime Brain Trust

I had an interesting conversation with my colleague Brooke the other day. We were discussing the surprise she felt when, after co-presenting a system SLP workshop, one of the comments was "How do you know/where do you find all these early literacy and child development tips?" It led to a larger discussion of training for folks who are new to doing storyimes, have little training or don't know how to climb out of the old, pre-ECRR "storytime-as-entertainment" paradigm.

Are there certain books everyone should read that hold the secrets to great storyimes that weave early literacy into warp and weave of the storytime? Hmmm, maybe. And while there are great books out there and I bow down to my talented colleagues who share through print their amazing skills and programs, there is a small problem. The  book may share theory and tips but as soon as it is published (often with a lag time of 18-24 months from final written sentence to publication) any booklists that are in the book are already starting to be dated.

After listening to Steve Thomas' latest Circulating Ideas podcast on storytime, I have my new Storytime bible - an hour and 14 minutes of passionate, savvy, intellectual, down to earth and amazing exploration of why we do storytimes, how we do storytimes and power of story and our role in bringing vital early literacy messages to adults who live with and care for kids. This is my new "book" of storytime how-to, why-to. Colleagues Anna, Anne, Cory, Lindsay, Amy, Julie, Kendra, and Dana talk deep and abiding smack on the rich work and thought that goes into storytime.  They are a passionate braintrust that makes this podcast a primer of theoretical and practical points of storytime. Old dog that I am, I learned a TON. If you haven't heard it, don't have Circulating Ideas on your RSS feeds, please spend some time doing both now. Really, I can wait....

Although not on the podcast, I want to give a huge shout-out to Melissa Depper in the brain trust. She is the founder of Flannel Friday and the nurturer of storytime folks everywhere. I consider her thoughtful blog Mel's Desk (on momentary hiatus- but no worries, the archive of her posts is a storyime primer) to be the go-to mother-source for storytimes. Rich in practical tips on creating meaningful storytimes it is also has a wonderful storytime resource page. Stop by  for what I consider to be the uber-resource of blog links.

The podcast group talks about two vital resources that have transformed the storytime landscape: Flannel Friday and most recently Storytime Underground. Both of these efforts, birthed and nurtured by many of the above movers and shakers, have taken collaboration, support and crowd-sourcing to whole new levels for storytime.  When I need to sub for a storytime colleague the rich content, ready to sift through at my fingertips, makes me mighty and serves my families. And when I have a question these colleagues - and hundreds more - in Facebook groups of the same name are there to help me - or talk me down!

With all of the crowdsourcing above, we have the resources to do continually evolving, rich, deep early literacy storytimes. I am so glad for this brain trust of passionate, smart youth librarians who are generous with their leadership. And I am also so glad that the many, many FF and SU frontline-librarian contributors share their know-how.

We can no longer say we don't know.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay


  1. Marge, thank you so much for your tireless support for the rest of us toiling away in youth services. Even when we don't work in your department, or even your state, you've always got our backs. It's awesome!

  2. I tell you it's easy when I get to go to school with you all day after day. It makes my job - and job of countless other youth librarians - so much more fun and meaningful.

  3. Storytime Brain Trust - love it. Another take on professional development. Great minds....