Blogger Angela Reynolds

Storytime Emergency Kits

If you’ve ever had a surprise class visit, an unannounced child care group show up, or a staff member who regularly does storytime call in sick half an hour before showtime, you’ll know why I created the Storytime Emergency Kits. They are useful in situations other than emergencies, as well. Our library system is small, with 11 branches serving a mainly rural population of around 100,000. We have many single-staffed branches; our largest branch has 5 employees. As Head of Youth Services, I try to make storytime planning and implementation as easy as possible. We have several resources based at Headquarters for library staff to use, including planning books, a puppet collection, and theme-based storykits. I’ve recently been working on Storytime Emergency Kits to be stored at each branch. Each kit has at least 10 storytime books, a resource notebook filled with early literacy ideas & checklists, fingerplays and rhymes, and 2 flannel-board stories. The books were chosen by polling some of my favorite librarians, and those that, from my own experience, have always worked well. Some of those favorites (like Virginia Walters’ Hi Pizza Man!) are unfortunately out of print or impossible to get. I’ll not include the whole list here (it is long, though if you really want the whole list, contact me and I’ll email it), but here are a few of my favs:
There are Cats in this book by Viviane Schwartz – fun to read, with cut pages and lots of possibility for audience participation!
Let’s count goats by Mem Fox — a new book from the Mistress of Read-alouds. Silly illustrations engage the kids, and you can be quite silly with the reading.
Ugly Pie by Lisa Wheeler – another new title that I really enjoy reading. Bear’s refrain about Ugly Pie is just delicious.
Tanka Tanka Skunk! By Steve Webb — This is one of my favorites to read, and a great way to demonstrate phonological awareness.
Higher! Higher! By Leslie Patricelli — This one is all in the reading, as there are only a few words. You’ll have your audience chanting Higher! Higher! in no time.


  1. Shelf-employed

    Great idea, Angela; and I share your love for Hi, Pizza Man! Our system still has a few copies left, but they’re definitely looking their age.

  2. Sharon

    We have an emergency storytime kit as well. During storytime training, new staff present their first on-their-own storytime using the emergency kit so they’ll be ready to go should the need arise.

  3. Angela Reynolds

    Sharon, I love that idea– next time I do training, I’m using those kits for just that purpose! Do you have anything different in yours?

  4. Kristin

    Tanka, Tanka Skunk was hugely popular with my kindergarteners! I haven’t thought of that book in a long time. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Elizabeth Davis

    I would love a copy of your list. We don’t have emergency kits but I think it would be a great idea to have a few.

  6. Abby

    We’re in the process of beefing up our professional collection of storytime books and my staff are creating a binder of “Grab and Go” storytime plans for use with this collection! Great idea!

  7. Kendra

    I know it’s been awhile since this was posted, but I was wondering if I could get a copy of the booklist. Also, do you have a copy of the rhymes & fingerplays to share? Thanks.

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