Blogger Katie Salo

Unusual Storytime Themes

I hate to admit it, but I sometimes get bored of the same old storytime themes. There are points in each of my storytime sessions that I cannot even think of giving the traditional seasonal storytime. Where if I look at one more book about birds or bears, I will throw my hands up in the air.

That’s when I decide to pull out the unusual storytime ideas; the ones that I’m not sure are really going to work.

Some themes make me work harder; especially last fall when I began planning opposites storytime. Books were the easiest part and, for me, always are. But finding extension activities and a craft led to some creative solutions:

Opposites Storytime Craft — a coloring book pre-made by volunteers for my preschoolers to color in.

I keep trying to push the envelope by working with new themes as often as I can: shapes, hello/goodbye, and playtime to name a few.

And some of my unusual themes have actually made planning storytimes easier. This past month, I’ve been doing a weekly storytime for a local daycare and I choose to do a different color each week instead of rehashing my weekly storytimes. For the color red I had stories about apples, pizzas, the little red hen, and firetrucks. This made planning a breeze!

I’m always on the look-out for a fun and original storytime theme. Do you have any ideas to pass on? What storytimes have you done at your library that are unusual?

— Katie Salo, Youth Services Manager
Melrose Park Public Library
Melrose Park, IL


  1. Lisa

    This time of year, I love to do a baseball-themed storytime and a jazz-themed storytime. I also had a lot of fun with the Olympics – we played the Chariots of Fire theme song and passed the torch, and after several stories, we had a toddler triathlon!

    1. Sarah Mattingly

      Do you have any recommended baseball stories for toddlers?

      1. Sheri

        Hit the ball duck is a fun rhyming short book that I use a lot for toddlers

  2. Abby

    I did a Twinkletoes storytime last year with books about dancing and lots of movement/dance activities. It was perfect for my very active crowd!

    And for next year I’m already planning a storytime on fruit because I’ve come across several books I want to use.

    I totally agree with you that it gets to a certain point in the season where I just can’t even look at another book about snow or falling leaves, etc. 🙂

    1. Clair

      What flannel board did you use?

  3. Bridget R. Wilson

    I get tired of seasonal themes, too, Katie. After summer reading, I’m looking forward to doing storytimes that I like as opposed to ones that are expected. Some of the themes I’ll be using include Michael Ian Black books, Imagination, Baby Animals (I can’t wait to use Aaron Zenz’s Chuckling Ducklings!), Endangered Animals, and Mountain Heritage (We’re in Western NC, so I’ll be using Appalachian picture books for that.

  4. Tess

    We’re all about unique story time themes at my library, but occasionally they backfire, to somewhat hilarious results. For instance, we had “Presidential Story Time” and we asked the kids who the President was: “Barack Obama!” they cried! Nicely done! Now, who is the Vice President? *silence* then, “Santa Claus?”
    Another time we tried “Fairytale Story Time” which suprisingly was a flop, as many children in our community were unfamiliar with a lot of the old favorites. We sang “The Grand Old Duke of York” and asked if the kids knew what a duke was, to which one little girl replied: “I watch the Dukes of Hazzard!”
    So… we won’t be doing those themes again. But you never know until you try! We did “Story Time Down Under” all about Australian Animals, and that went really well! You should never be afraid to “experiment” with story time themes. Great blog! Thanks for sharing!

  5. Mollie

    This is the reason why I will not be doing a July 4th theme again this year. Maybe next Summer.

    I had fun doing a 1920s theme during our Big Read a few years ago (we did The Great Gatsby). I taught the kids how to do the Charleston. They were so cute!

  6. Melissa ZD

    I think anything that gives us a chance to look at our storytimes with fresh eyes is good! Whether it’s deciding to try new songs, or try a different type of activity between books, or working on a new theme for storytimes. I have just been through two years of pretty much using the same themes twice a year for my babies, and am really ready to shake it up a bit. I’m thinking of working on opposites pairs: Big & Little, Noisy & Quiet, Fast & Slow, Yes & No, so I like your Hello & Goodbye! I also love the color idea–I wonder if I could do 8 weeks of colors for the babies this summer? And I love, love, love Sarah’s mustache storytime:, which I think is a great use of a unusual theme!

  7. Alicia

    Last spring I did a worm storytime. We read some books about worms and painted with worms. Sorry to any animal right people, but there were plenty to spare from my garden. Dip the worms in paint, drop them on paper, and watch them move. The kids (2 different storytimes) from ages 2-9 LOVED it! It was super fun! I can hardly wait to do it again!

    1. Laura

      That is just wrong! I can’t believe you would teach children to treat other living things so horribly!!! Shame on you!

    2. Sheri Mantei

      I did a storytime with the worms and did the painting with worms but I used fishing worms. The kids just loved it. Then you don’t have to worry about the ones that might not like you using real worms.

  8. Angie

    Katie, you always have the BEST story time ideas. I love the idea of using colors in the non-traditional sense you mentioned here. It really opens up the field of books you can choose from. I am totally stealing that! 🙂

  9. Peggy Reid

    Hi Katie,
    There are some interesting ideas on your blog. I read to toddlers also, but I find that inviting co-workers and their unusal pets (ferets, lizards, rats, birds) to story time seems to thwart the monotony. Throw in some bunnies from your local animal rescue and things can be quite interesting…inviting them all at the same time makes for a wonderful petting zoo!

  10. Peggy Reid

    Hi Katie,
    There are some interesting ideas on your blog, I read to toddlers also, but I find that inviting co-workers and their pets (ferets, lizards, birds and a rat) to story time seems to break the monotony. Throw in some bunnies and guinea pigs from your local animal rescue and things can be quite fun…invite them all at the same time and you’ll have a wonderful petting zoo!

  11. Pingback: To Theme Or Not to Theme? | ALSC Blog

  12. Jen

    Most unusual storytime I’ve done is prepositions using “Around the House the Fox Chased the Mouse” and “Piggies in the Pumpkin Patch” and instead of crafts do prepositional follow the leader.

  13. Clair

    I live in Louisiana, and during Mardi GRas week for next year, I’m planning a Bayou Storytime… crawfish stories, gators, gumbo, armadillos (no they don’t just live in the desert). For my storytimers it will let them have pride in their home, but for nonLouisianaians it could be a cool way to learn about a new place and ecosystem. If you do this, I want to suggest the book Swamper, for the school aged kids!

  14. Jormungandr

    The most unusual storyline I’ve ever done was based on a saying. “I am you. You are me”.

  15. Anna

    I’m a New Orleans transplant in Illinois, so I do a Jazz themed storytime at least once a year. I’ll often try to time it for February since it ties in well with both Black History Month and Mardi Gras (depending on when it falls). I teach them the traditional version of a-tisket a-tasket, and then i play them the Ella Fitzgerald version. We usually make some sort of simple instrument as a craft.

  16. Janice

    Some ideas that we’ve had fun with in my Read-A-Jig-Jig pre-literacy program in Nova Scotia are: POP!, Light and Shadow (the Shine A Light series is wonderful for this, as is a shadow puppet guessing game), Hide and Seek, Guess What?, Fun and Games, Let’s Move, Sweet and Sour (complete with a Fox and Grapes puppet story) and various STEM-related programs.

    Thank you, Katie, for being such a terrific resource for programmers! Sites like yours and Jbrary’s inspire me all the time. I hope to pay it forward soon, by adding pre-lit program plans to my new site Thanks again!

  17. Annie

    Some of mine included Car Wash, Hair, Robots, Goldfish, Spaghetti, Hats…

  18. Yup

    I had a kid who LOVED The Ghostbusters movie and repeatedly asked for a Ghostbuster Storytime. So I did!

    We read a couple of ghost books and made a ghost craft which is pretty typical. But I also I bought The Ghostbusters from Little Golden Books and paraphrased it (very long). The highlight was playing the theme song while I tossed scarves into the air and they caught the “ghosts.” So much fun to totally lean into a 5 years old’s obsession.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *