Blogger Abby Johnson

Plugged In: How Blogs Helped Me Plan Storytime

Last Thursday, I finally returned to work from the fabulous ALA Midwinter meeting in Dallas. And what’s the first thing I had to do? Plan a couple of programs! I had preschool outreach visits scheduled for Friday and Monday and I had to get cracking on planning my baby storytimes, which start next week.

Where did I turn? To the librarian blogosphere!

I knew I wanted to do winter stories for my preschool visits, but I also knew that I was a little sick of the my go-to winter stories. I needed some fresh ideas, so I turned to Storytime Katie by Katie Salo, who was there for me as usual. I knew she had just done a storytime about winter animals, so that’s where I started.

I looked up what books we had in that she had used. I picked out In the Snow by Sharon Phillips Denslow, a beautiful book with large, bright pictures of animals eating seeds put out by a little boy. I love that the book has short, simple text and that it includes great vocabulary words like “chickadee”, “sparrow”, and “cardinal”.

From Katie’s storytime, I also swiped her “Sleepy Bear” song, which I used with our bear puppet. Using a new (to me) song jazzed up one of my winter standards, Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson. I talked to the kids about what bears do in winter and taught them the word “hibernate”. The kids couldn’t get enough of that bear puppet. I saved it for last and invited them all up to give the bear a gentle hug at the end of storytime.

I remembered seeing a Five Little Snowmen rhyme previously posted on Flannel Friday and that inspired me to dig out our own Five Little Snowman flannel set. If you’re not familiar with Flannel Friday, it’s a weekly roundup of posts about flannel board stories, rhymes, and activities. Be sure to check out Flannel Friday on Pinterest for TONS of great flannel ideas.

Once I had my preschool storytimes taken care of, I turned to the Blogosphere for help planning my spring baby storytimes. Again, I needed some new-to-me books to mix in with my old favorites. Since I read all my blogs in Google Reader, finding books was as simple as doing a search for “baby storytime”. Google Reader collects all the posts for blogs I’ve subscribed to and puts them in one place so it’s easy to keep up with new posts. Instead of visiting each of the 100+ blogs I like to read, I just open up my reader and new posts automatically appear there. Another function I love in Google Reader is that I can search all the blog posts that it’s collected.

Two blogs in particular gave me some great ideas for my baby storytimes: Library Noise by Jennie Rothschild and Mel’s Desk by Melissa Depper. Both Jennie and Melissa blog about the baby storytimes they do at their own libraries. Even though I don’t do my baby storytime the same way they do theirs, I got lots of great ideas for books, rhymes, and songs.

Look at the Baby by Kelly Johnson and Busy Toes by C.W. Bowie are two that I’m excited to try this spring. I’m always looking for baby books featuring illustrations of diverse children so that my families can see themselves and they can see babies that are different from themselves.

I also bought a bunch of new books, on recommendation from Julie Jurgens of Hi Miss Julie. She wrote a post about her baby and toddler storytimes and I ordered all of Annie Kubler’s board books that I could get my hands on. They just came in this week and I’m so excited to begin using them and displaying them for my storytime grownups to check out!

Thanks to these great librarians who are posting about their programs, I had a pain-free planning experience and I’m excited to try out some new ideas. Librarians are a sharing people and blogs are just one more way that we can all share and find new ideas to make our programs even better.

What are some of your favorite resources for storytime and program planning?

Books mentioned in this post:

Busy Toes by C.W. Bowie (Whispering Coyote Press, 1998).
In the Snow by Sharon Phillips Denslow (Greenwillow Books, 2005).
Look at the Baby by Kelly Johnson (Henry Holt, 2002).
Various nursery rhyme board books by Annie Kubler (Child’s Play, 2003-2010).
Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2002).

Blogs mentioned in this post:

so tomorrow by Anne (Flannel Friday schedule and info)
Mel’s Desk
by Melissa Depper
Flannel Friday on Pinterest
Hi Miss Julie by Julie Jurgens
Library Noise by Jennie Rothschild
Storytime Katie by Katie Salo

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN


  1. Kim

    I use all of those blogs you mentioned to plan my storytimes, especially Katie’s blog. They give me great ideas for books/rhymes/songs/etc.! I also use the following:

    Storytime Source Page –
    Awesome Storytime –
    Sunflower Storytime –
    Perry Public Library Storytime Themes –

  2. Library Quine

    I loved this post. It’s great to read about your planning process, now not so very different from my own! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Melissa ZD

    Hi Abby! Thanks for the shout-out. I love your point that even though we all do storytimes a little differently, our blogs can still serve as idea resources. On Mel’s Desk I have a page with dozens of storytime blogs, wikis, and sites and I’ve created a Google Custom Search that just searches those sites. It’s a good shortcut tool for folks who don’t have a blogroll or a reader set up for their favorite sites!

  4. Jennie

    Thanks for the mention Abby. I love finding other story time blogs to get new rhymes, songs, flannel boards, and other things. I also love seeing how everyone structures their programs differently. One blog I use a lot that you didn’t mention is Librarian Lisa’s Storytimes

  5. Marge Loch-Wouters

    Those are some of my go-to blogs too. I just did a post a couple of days ago over at our YSS blog for the Wisconsin Library Association with a few more:

  6. Paula Spoo

    I also use the same blogs and resources to plan my story times. It’s a great way to come up with new ideas and jazz up old ones.

  7. Dana Sheridan

    I’m a newbie to the blogosphere, but I blog about the creative story time projects (plus programs, plus general hints) at the Cotsen Children’s Library at Princeton University. Totally non-profit, non-commerical!

Leave a Reply

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