Storytime – You Choose

For the last storytime of the 8-week session, we did something a little extra special. Full disclosure: I totally adapted this idea from something I saw on the Storytime Underground Facebook page (Have I mentioned how much I love librarians for being so willing to share their awesome ideas?)
If you’re feeling not-so-jazzed about doing yet another themed storytime, I highly
recommend trying out a You Choose storytime!

20160224_110114So here’s the basic idea: You have two baskets – one for books and one for songs/fingerplays. In the baskets are a variety of objects that represent different books, songs, and fingerplays. Then you let the kids take turns pulling items from the basket to determine what book, song, or fingerplay you will do next. Super easy and super fun!

20160223_104617We typically start our storytimes with a Letter of the Week, but this week I had a question mark on the board. Verrrrry mysterious…. The question mark added a certain amount of excitement to the storytime before it even started, and it was a great literacy experience too! As the kids and their grown-ups found their seats, I heard several of them talking about the question mark. “What’s that on the board? It’s not a letter today, is it? It’s a punctuation mark! Is it an exclamation mark? No…It’s a question mark!”

For this storytime, instead of having one Letter of the Week, we had lots of letters! In the spirit of “You Choose,” I brought my ABC Exercise cards that I usually bring to my outreach storytimes. You can print your own set of ABC Exercise cards for free on Homeschool Share. Each card has a different action associated with it: B is for Balance on one foot, etc. I let three kids pick letters for us to do the actions to before we started our storytime.


Here is the list of objects and potential books/songs/fingerplays I had.


  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr. (mini teddy bear)
  • Get Out of My Bath! by Britta Teckentrup (rubber ducky)
  • First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (egg shaker)
  • Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. (tree from the train table)
  • I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry (fish toy)
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff (plastic cookie)
  • Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett (ball of yarn)
  • We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems (mini elephant stuffed animal)
  • Where Is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox (sheep toy)


  • The Wheels on the Bus (LEGO wheel)
  • Shake Your Sillies Out by The Wiggles (rattle)
  • Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star (star plush toy)
  • Two Little Blackbirds (black Angry Bird toy)
  • Icky Sticky Bubble Gum (pack of Bubble Tape)
  • The Goldfish Song by Laurie Berkner (Goldfish crackers)
  • The Butterfly Song by David Landau (crocheted butterfly)


It was kind of funny how it worked out. Despite the fact that I did this with two different storytime groups on two different days, both sessions ended up being almost identical. We repeated the book Get Out of My Bath! for both sessions and the two songs we did were the same for both sessions–Shake Your Sillies Out and Icky Sticky Bubble Gum. I guess the kids were just drawn to the same objects (Bright pink pack of bubble gum? No surprise).

To end our storytime, we did a super easy and fun craft, torn paper collages. No muss, no fuss. Can you tell that Miss Katrina was ready for a storytime break? 😉 My favorite thing about the craft–besides the fact that it required little to no prep–was that it gave me a natural way to share an aside with the grown-ups: “Tearing paper is a great way for children to work on those fine motor skills that they need to someday write with a pencil!” Just make sure if you do this at home to make it clear what paper is okay to tear up (junk mail, old magazines, etc.) and what is not okay (library books, for one).

So how did it go? Overall, it went really well! The grown-ups and kids seemed to get a big kick out of the “You Choose” concept, and it brought another level of excitement to our final storytime of the session. The only negative aspect I felt was the fact that not every kid got a chance to pick something. I made sure to tell the kids at the beginning that I would only pick them if they were sitting criss-cross applesauce with their hand in the air quietly and patiently waiting, and I kept to that rule, but some of the kids following the rule still didn’t get a chance. I know that life isn’t fair and storytime is a good place to learn school-readiness behaviors like compromising and turn-taking all that, but I still felt like a meanie. I kept the baskets out after storytime so those who didn’t get a chance to pick still got to peek inside the baskets and explore the objects, though.

Lastly, I have started to write a literacy message on the board each week. I find that it’s an easy way to drop some knowledge on folks without feeling like I’m, well, dropping knowledge on them. Here’s the one I used for this storytime. Quite fitting for the “You Choose” theme, I thought.





3 thoughts on “Storytime – You Choose

  1. Tiffany says:

    I love this idea, thanks for sharing! I think it’s okay if no one everyone gets a chance, that’s part of life. If you do it again next storytime you can pick different kids. I have thought about asking parents to put their kids name in a cup and pulling out names that way its all up to chance, but I have never done that.

    Can you explain how you use the ABC Exercise cards at your outreach preschool storytimes? That’s mostly want I do (I do Baby Time inside the library, preschool storytimes outside the library) and I’m curious about adding those to my toolkit. Thanks again, it’s a great idea!

    • kmdombrowsky says:

      Thanks for the comment, Tiffany! I use the ABC exercise cards in place of a Letter of the Week, since I only visit the daycares once a month. After our hello song, I ask the kids if they know their ABCs and of course they all shout “Yes!” Then we sing them together. Afterwards I tell them I need 3 friends to pick a letter. Once they pick a card, I ask them what letter they got and have them hold it up so everyone can see. Then I ask them what sound that letter makes and we make it together. Then I read them what the card says and we do the action together. Unless it’s P for Push-ups in which case I just let the kids show me how it’s done. 😉

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