Introducing CLEL Member Meet-ups

Updated: May 4

by Allison Presley, CLEL Steering Sub-Committee Chair


The Steering Subcommittee of CLEL hosted their first open networking Member Meetup on April 20th. We heard you loud and clear in our recent member survey: you don’t know your fellow CLEL members . . . and you want to!

With the CLEL conference only once a year and the pandemic leaving us feeling more disconnected from each other than ever, we may all feel a little like islands

right now. So, let’s build some bridges. Our intention is to bring you casual, low pressure, and fun sessions where you can simply get to know your colleagues and allies in early literacy.


In our first networking session, the hot topic was . . . storytime. Are you indoor, outdoor, or virtual at your library? For those getting back into in-person storytime, here were some great suggestions that came out of our conversation:

  • Make props to help tell your stories visually

  • Act out a story with a coworker

  • Let’s all be gracious with ourselves as we reacquaint ourselves with these activities

  • Adjust and go with the flow!

What else has changed in library land? On the topic of rethinking programming, here are some suggestions for storytime in a COVID world.

  • Reinterpret the actions of a popular story to remove any coughing, raspberries, or... huffing and puffing. Focus on other actions that everyone can participate in.

  • Instead of touching our faces in our favorite rhymes and songs, suggest unique movements of those body parts instead. For example, you can still sing Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes but instead prompt children to blink their eyes, hear with their ears, kiss with their lips, and wiggle their noses as they sing!

  • Similarly on Kimbo Education’s album Teach a Toddler: Playful Songs for Learning, you can adapt the lyrics to Body Awareness and Rhythms, which is to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It from “you see with your eyes, touch your eyes” to “you see with your eyes, blink your eyes.”

  • Encourage your families to bring their own stuffy to outdoor storytimes to act out the songs and rhymes on. Attendees were also asked ahead of time to bring a new (or new to you) picture book. They are worth sharing:

What Should Darla Do? And What Should Danny Do? By Adir Levy and Ganit Levy

These books make great conversation starters about social emotional learning!


My First Day by Phung Nguyen Quang

A beautiful book about a boy making his way down the Mekong River in a poetic metaphorical and literal telling of the first day of school experience.


Scare a Bear by Kathy-Jo Wargin

This was a successful outdoor storytime read full of camping, outdoor imagery, big bold words, silly illustrations and a fun story.


Oso no para de roncar (Bear Snores On) by Karma Wilson (Spanish)

Another successful outdoor storytime read with a loud sneeze at the end.

The Lenny books by Ken Wilson Max

Titles that are not new but recently back in print including Lenny and Wilbur, Where’s Lenny?, Lenny in the Garden, and Lenny Goes to School. These are go-to books for Baby Time and great to help build spatial vocabulary.


Our Skin by Jessica Ralli and Megan Madison

A great book to share in smaller storytime groups or with parents to start those early, necessary conversations with young ones about racism. Extra resources included at the end!


Julian at the Wedding by Jessica Love

An enchanting story that is just as beautiful as its predecessor, Julian Is a Mermaid.


And last but certainly not least, here’s a recommended storytime all about boogers and farts for your silliest readers.


Let us know if you have other networking ideas you’d like to try with your fellow CLEL members. We did have a great networking session idea pop up during our icebreaker conversation: who else wants to chat over LEGOs and wine?


Our next CLEL Member Meetup is scheduled for June 1 at 5 PM MT. Watch for an email from CLEL with the Zoom link, or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get updates. If you're not a member yet, join for free today. Let’s build networks, friendships, and share ideas across library land!


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