Baby Storytime: A Beginner’s Guide

Recently on the Storytime Underground Facebook group, people have been asking questions about how to run a baby storytime.  Baby storytime is also known as simply babytime or lapsit.  Yes you get to be surrounded by super cute babies, but I find interacting with caregivers, especially with regards to providing early literacy training, a key component to a successful babytime.  I thought I’d create a resource guide for anyone new to the field or just starting a baby storytime at their library.

As always, please leave a comment with your ideas or links to resources I can add to this list.

Our Babytime Series:

Our Other Resources:

Blogs with Baby Storytime Outlines and Ideas:

Please note, these links will take you directly to their baby storytime pages or blog posts.

Other Helpful Websites


  • Baby Storytime Magic (2014) by Kathy MacMillan
  • What’ll I Do With Baby-O (2006) by Jane Cobb
  • Storytimes for Everyone: Developing Young Children’s Language and Literacy (2013) by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting
  • Lapsit Services for the Very Young II (2001) by Linda L. Ernst
  • Baby Rhyming Time (2008) by Linda L. Ernst
  • Babies in the Library (2003) by Jane Marino
  • Mother Goose on the Loose : A Handbook and CD-ROM Kit with Sripts, Rhymes, Songs, Flannel-board Patterns, and Activities for Promoting Early Childhood Development (2006) by Betsy Diamant-Cohen
  • Early Literacy Programming en Español: Mother Goose on the Loose Programs for Bilingual Learners (2010) by Betsy Diamant-Cohen
  • The Early Literacy Kit: A Handbook and Tip Cards (2009) by Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting

Storytiming in the Wild: Mall Storytime

While storytiming within my own four library walls can often feel chaotic, I’ll admit it is indeed my natural habitat. I can set up the room the way I want, the room can only hold so many people and I’M IN CONTROL. My library was recently approached by the mall we are connected with, aka “The People Upstairs” and asked to do a Mall Storytime. What joy, what glee and what an opportunity to get out of our library box and bring storytime to a wider audience! Here’s a little bit about my process as well as some other folks who have also braved the wilds.

Mall Storytime Mall Storytime

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Building Your Storytime Confidence

Last week we got an email asking how to build confidence in delivering a storytime, especially if you’re new to the field or not used to working with young children.  I wrote up these tips, and rather than having them disappear into the interwebs, I decided to share them here in case other people are looking for some ideas on how to become more confident in providing storytimes to children ages 0-5.

1. Find Songs You are Comfortable Singing

It takes some time to figure out what works for you.   It may be worth spending an afternoon just listening to songs and picking out the ones you enjoy and that you think you’ll remember (don’t forget to factor in the nerves – I always forget things when I’m nervous).  Other things I look for are the vocal range – it’s harder for me to sing lower pitched songs – and repetition of lyrics. Some of my favourites that kids and parents LOVE are Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, The Elevator Song, Roly Poly, and Open Shut Them. But everyone has their favourites. Our most popular video is Mmm, Ahh Went the Little Green Frog but I honestly hardly ever sing it in storytime!  Having about 5-6 songs that you are really comfortable singing was very helpful to me when I first started.  It’s also okay to rely on the classics – ABCs, Twinkle, Twinkle, etc. I also made a song cube and we roll it every week to determine a few songs.


2. Use the Same Hello and Goodbye Song Each Week

One of the things that keeps families coming back to my storytimes is the right mix of repetition and new material.  One of the things they love is our hello and goodbye routine.  I do Hello, Friends using sign language and the parents get so excited when their toddlers start signing.  Having a set start and end to my storytime outline also made me feel more comfortable with storytime in general.  On the same vein, I only introduce a one or two new songs a week – the kids need the repetition.

3. Choose Age Appropriate Materials

When you’re first getting to know a group of kids, it’s common to choose too long or too complicated books for storytime.  I am a big fan of books you can sing or books that encourage participation.  And I always, always practice reading the books out loud before storytime so that I know the plot, the words, and can think about any early literacy messages I want to sneak in.  In terms of songs, we’ve got playlists for different ages: babies, toddlers, preschoolers.

4. Ask a Co-worker to Observe You (and Vice Versa)

This can be nerve wracking but getting someone to give you feedback can be a big confidence booster!  They’ll let you know all the things you did awesome and things you can improve.  If you’re not sure where you’re going wrong, having another set of eyes can shed some light (or simply let you know you already rock!).  Ideally, this person would be someone who also does storytime and can look for things like book selection, pacing, interaction with kids, early literacy message, etc. On the flip side, try to observe as many other storytimers as possible. I’ve gotten so many good ideas from watching my colleagues, and it’s perfectly acceptable to take the things you like about their style and adapt it to yours.

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Celebrating Summer Reading: A Visual Guide

Whether you prefer the hashtag #SRC or #SRP, children’s librarians across the world have been sweating over how to make reading over the summer fun for everyone. We wanted to throw together a quick post to show off some of the awesome we’re surrounded by and to say a huge congratulations to everyone for all the hard work! Our summer was full of Funny Business like An Afternoon of Disguise, Battle of the Funny Books and Silly Songs Dance Party and we’ve been reading all about the Fizzing, Booming and Reading going on from our neighbours down south.

During a presentation at ALA Annual in Vegas called What No Tchotskes? Creating an Experience Based Summer Program I was captured by Amber Creger’s images of ways in which she helped make the reading her young patrons did VISIBLE! As Arlington Heights Memorial Library (where Amber runs the Kids’ World!) moves away from incentive based Summer Reading, these hands-on displays celebrate reading or challenges completed and contribute to the larger community of library users. Check out the old school Reading Brick Road she shared too!

Luggage ties equal each challenge completed.
Luggage ties equal each challenge completed!
Behold, a reading forest!
Behold: a reading forest!
The Reading Brick Road!
The Reading Brick Road!
Finally, the super cool teen light board!
Finally, the super cool teen light board!

Continue reading “Celebrating Summer Reading: A Visual Guide”