Where Have All the Bloggers Gone?

Why hello there. It’s been a minute.  I decided mid-way through the summer to give myself a break from blogging.  Mostly so I could soak up the sun that makes a rare appearance in Vancouver and partly because my brain needed a break from writing and planning.  It’s been a struggle to get back into blogging if I’m honest.  Partly because I’m still trying to be outside as much as possible before the weather turns and partly because my brain feels overloaded with other things.

I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling.  When I first started blogging in 2013 there were tons of children’s librarians blogging regularly about storytime and beyond. I mean just look at our blogroll. Nowadays the number of people who post regularly are few and far between (major fist pumps to you all who do it!).  And I get it.  There is a lot happening in the world that demands our energy and attention, and the platform of blogging has been replaced in part by Facebook groups where you can ask a question or share an idea easily and get instant responses. Which is great! But I’d be sad if blogging went away entirely.

One of the main reasons I still prefer blogging is that the posts are findable and searchable on search engines like Google.  If someone doesn’t know about groups embedded in social media platforms or how to effectively search those groups, they don’t have access to the information shared there.  Blog posts are also easy to organize which is helpful when referring people with questions about services to the early years.  All this to say I still value blogging as a way to share, connect, and help others who serve children and I’m going to try my best to consistently post throughout the fall.

Which brings me to my next question. What should I blog about?  I’ve got lots of ideas floating around in my mind, but I would love to hear from you about what types of posts you enjoy.  Here’s what I’m considering:

  • New to Storytime Series: My toddler storytime series are among our most popular blog posts and we get a lot of email questions from people who have never done storytime before. I’d like to do another series where I get even more basic. Things like how to choose books for storytime, choosing rhymes and songs, preparing your storytime space, using a simple outline to plan effectively, etc. I might even create a landing page of some sort with external resources as well for storytime beginners.
  • Storytime Booklists: I want to continue doing my yearly favourites list but I’ve also got a non-fiction storytime booklist in the works. And I really need to update my favourite babytime read alouds.
  • Cool New Resources: I feel like I’m always bookmarking journal articles, blog posts, websites, webinars, etc. that have caught my eye. I’d like to start occasionally posting round-ups of these resources for others to learn from too.
  • Round-Ups: Okay what I mean by this is when I dig up a whole bunch of resources around a certain topic and share it in list form. Examples are my babytime beginner’s guide and my book character parties blog post. I definitely want to do one multilingual storytimes as I get emails about that one a lot.
  • Community Work Strategies: I would love to write about how I do community work and the different tools that support me. I’m big into Google maps.
  • School-Age Programming: I run an Early Readers Book Club program and a Creative Writing program right now. I’m considering sharing the activities we do in each.
  • Reflection Pieces: The way I do my work and the way I program has evolved over the past five years. I would like to spend some time writing about what’s changed and why. Where do I place the most value and importance nowadays? I love reading these sort of posts by other children’s librarians.
  • Guest Posts: We are still accepting guest posts! In fact, I have an awesome one coming your way very soon about how to use mirrors in babytime. If you’d ever like to submit a guest post for publication here, just shoot us an email.

Welcome back, friends.

Flannel Friday Round Up: February 9th

Hey, hey, it’s the Flannel Friday round-up!  Thanks to everyone who contributed their ideas this week. I am always impressed with your felt skills.  Need some felt story inspiration? Check out these lovelies.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, Lauren and Christy from Storytime Out Loud shared a set of heart shaped riddles that are absolutely adorable! You can see their entire set on Instagram or Twitter. What’s even better? These two started a podcast all about storytime!

Kathryn at Fun With Friends at Storytime shared a collection sea creatures that comes with a guessing game! Check out her post to see all five. I love the way she used the blue background to make them pop.

Peter, also known as The Lego Librarian, shared a fantastic version of Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani as part of his numbers storytime. Also, his library hack on how to make flannels is going to save me A LOT of time in the future.

Jessica at Storytime in the Stacks made a version of I Lost My Sock! A Matching Mystery by P.J. Roberts; illustrated by Elio. I had never heard of this book before and am excited to check it out!

In anticipation for spring, Jennifer at Adventures in Storytime made a set of “Five Little Robins” to accompany her rhyme. I like how something one person thinks looks “rushed” looks to me like something that would have taken me weeks to make! You rock, Jennifer.

I was on the bird train this week too and shared my felt pieces for the extra verses of “Two Little Blackbirds.” Great for learning opposites with a touch of silliness. And yes I realize the birds are actually blue (I have a black felt board!).








Wendy at Flannel Board Fun shared a St. Patrick’s Day themed version of the classic Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? I love how big and bright her pieces are!

Thanks to everyone who participated this week! As always:

  • Check out the official Flannel Friday blog that includes schedules and other important information.  This is changing though! Soon Flannel Friday will convert to a Tumblr account where anyone can submit an idea anytime!
  • Search for images and links on our Pinterest page.
  • Discuss story time stuff (and other ys stuff) on the Flannel Friday Facebook page.
  • Follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter.

Flannel Friday Placeholder: February 9th

Hello fellow flannel and felt story enthusiasts!  I am hosting the Flannel Friday round-up this week! Please leave a comment with a link to your post by Thursday night and I will gather them all together to showcase on Friday.

New to Flannel Friday?

  • Check out the official Flannel Friday blog that includes schedules and other important information.  This is changing though! Soon Flannel Friday will convert to a Tumblr account where anyone can submit an idea anytime!
  • Search for images and links on our Pinterest page.
  • Discuss story time stuff (and other ys stuff) on the Flannel Friday Facebook page.
  • Follow #flannelstorytime on Twitter.

Want to share a flannel or felt story and don’t have a blog? Let me know and I’d be happy to host you here!

An Open Call for Guest Posts

Fellow people who serve children in libraries:  We are an amazing group, you know that?  The willingness to share ideas and resources is one of our best features.  You can go on Facebook or Twitter, ask a question, and hundreds of people are there to engage.

You can also check out the many youth services blogs!  Maybe you’ve thought about starting a blog before.  Maybe you’ve quickly decided against it because it looks like a lot of work. Or because you think you’re not tech savvy enough. Or because you’re not sure what to say. Or because you simply have too much on your plate right now.

I totally feel you.  But I also know that so many of you out there have these absolutely outstanding ideas! I see them on Twitter. I see them on Facebook. And I would absolutely love to feature them here on Jbrary.  Writing up these ideas in a blog post is good for many reasons, such as:

  • It lets you try out blogging without having to create your own blog
  • It allows us to categorize and store your ideas for easy access in the future. A link to your post will appear on one of our programming pages.
  • It shines a light on the creative work your library is doing to serve children. Your library and staff get a virtual fist bump.
  • It helps other people! Many people use our blog and other blogs to do research for programs they are considering running.

So this is an open call for guest posts of any nature related to youth services work in libraries.  Have an idea for a post?  Shoot me an email at jbrary@gmail.com.

Give blogging a chance. You might just discover you love it.

New Songs & Rhymes

We are almost there people, ALMOST THERE.  At least for those of us in Vancouver, kids go back to school in about two weeks and the Summer Reading Club is finally starting to wrap up.  And you know what that means – fall storytimes!  I’ve been browsing our Fall Pinterest board for books, songs, rhymes, and felt stories for ideas.  Last year Dana picked out some of our fall favourites that I’m itching to bust out again.

But I also wanted to share some of our recent uploads that I’m also excited to share in storytime this autumn.  Here’s 5 new-to-me songs and how I plan to use them over the next few months.

I have a few moms in my babytime who are teaching their babies sign language and I am so excited to incorporate these common signs into storytime.  Before we sing the song, I plan on going over each sign and practicing them as a group. This will be one we do every week to help us all memorize the signs.  I’d love to bring in some props too to help babies make the connection between the sign and the object, but I can encourage caregivers to do that at home too.

New favourite action song for toddlers and preschoolers! My storytimers love An Orca Whale, so I feel confident this one will be a hit. I’d love to hear any versions you create with animals and plants specific to your region.  My legs are sure to get a workout from the up and down movements involved in transforming from a tree to a mushroom!

I’d only ever heard the extra alligator verse before filming this video.  I think this bounce or action song would work great with a mixed age group or in a babytime. Have older kids act out the rowing with you and have caregivers bounce little ones. I love sharing ways to modify old favourites, especially ones caregivers may get a bit tired of hearing.

We don’t offer snacks after storytime, but I visit a lot of daycares and Strong Starts that do offer a snack.  I’m going to sing this one when I visit them this fall not only because it’s easy to learn, but also because it teaches proper handwashing techniques.

All hail the lyrical genius of Brytani!  I can’t wait to use this one with scarves and shakers. I’m going to write the lyrics up on a poster so it’s easier for families to learn.  This one gets stuck in my head every single time I sing it!

What are you looking forward to sharing in storytime this fall?  Let me know in the comments!

That Time of the Year

It’s that time of the year.  The time when my voice is on its last leg after speaking to over 2,000 kids in 4 days.  The time when I have an ever expanding list of things to do and not enough hours at work to get them done. The time when I eat a piece of dark chocolate every day at lunch.

Summer Reading time. My library’s Summer Reading Club starts tomorrow. I’m both excited and exhausted.  My mind and body don’t have the energy this week for a substantial blog post, so I thought I’d share my favourite moment from my Summer Reading school visits this week. To give you some context, our theme this year is Book a Trip! To introduce the theme I show them a bunch of suitcases with different items inside (all belonging to book characters) until I get to the last suitcase which is mine.  I always ask the kids what they think is inside.  Here’s what happened when I visited a Grade 2 class.

Me: Can you guess what I brought with me?

Kids: Books!

Me: It’s better than a book.

7-year-old boy: *gasps* An avocado??

I could adopt that kid.  It was actually a library card, but he’s got my vote for best answer.

Happy Summer Reading!

Call for Canadian Youth Services Library Content!

As the new year rolls around, Dana and I have been thinking a lot about the direction we want to take Jbrary. Since the beginning, one of our goals with this blog and our YouTube channel is to highlight the youth services work taking place in Canadian libraries.

When we first debuted the maple leaf tag on our blogroll to draw attention to Canadian bloggers and YouTubers, our dear friend Angela said, “We need more maple leaves!”  And we couldn’t agree more.

Over the past few months I’ve been mining Twitter for Canadian library staff who serve children, trying to make connections with as many people as possible.  And it’s been a good start. But we’d like to do more here on the blog.

Are you working in a Canadian library and serving children and families in some capacity?


We would love to highlight the work you are doing!  Our goal is to feature a monthly guest post written by children’s librarians, library technicians, or any other staff who answer yes to this question. We have no rules or guidelines for the guest posts –  just tell us what’s going on in your part of Canada! You could describe a recent program, share some favourite storytime books, or even talk about your community. The options are endless.

Interested? Send us an email at jbrary@gmail.com!

Please share this call for Canadian library content with anyone you think might be interested in contributing. As we slowly build our network, we rely a lot on word of mouth and the reach of social media.  Thanks so much!

Help Us Celebrate 1,000,000 Views!

We’ve been counting our zeros and we’re almost at 1,000,000 views! To celebrate this momentous occasion we’re asking for your help.

We’re asking you to send us a short video featuring you, your storytime crowd or your little one singing a song you learned on our channel. It doesn’t have to be the whole song – a small clip is fine! We plan on compiling all the clips and making a celebration video to show off all the amazing faces that have been part of our journey thus far.

To submit a video please upload your video file to Google Drive. Then “Share” the video with Jbrary (jbrary@gmail.com) by our January 31st, 2015 deadline. Google Drive accepts most formats including .WebM files, .MPEG4, 3GPP and MOV files, .AVI, .MPEGPS, .WMV, .FLV and .MTS. If you have any questions or need any help, please don’t hesitate to ask us.