First Nations’ Celebrations

Merry Christmas in Ojibwe, Aleut, Cree, Seneca, and Lakota sign for a library display |

With over 500 federally recognized First Nations in the United States alone, I can honestly say that trying to create a respectful Native American holiday storytime was intimidating. By far, this post required the most research of all the holidays – and even now, I feel incredible pressure to get this “right.” And as I researched, I was keenly aware of my European American ignorance on so many Indigenous Peoples’ traditions, beliefs, and feelings.

I finally hit a point where I realized that my fear of “getting it wrong” was keeping me from moving forward on a post. So I reached out to the wonderful Debbie Reese for help. She pointed me towards several resources, and the one that helped me the greatest was this book:Lessons from Turtle Island by Guy W Jones and Sally Moomaw | hafuboti.comI bought the ebook and read it in a few hours. I’ve had no formal diversity training whether it involves programming or collection development, and I consider this book to be my first class on the topic. One of the biggest lessons that I took away from it is that we must show our children that the First Nation people are incredibly diverse and a part of our current society.

Therefore, what I believe is the best way to include Native Americans in your holiday programming is to reach out to a nearby tribe to request help. Having a tribally enrolled representative come dressed as they normally would (i.e. no regalia) and share their stories? That would have a powerfully positive impact on the kids (and parents) in attendance. After all, they may have only seen stereotypes of Native Americans in books, tv, and movies. Let’s give them a real experience.

Also, be sure to add as many accurate First Nations picture books as possible to both your holiday and regular book displays. You can find great ideas for storytimes and books at both Debbie Reese’s American Indians in Children’s Literature site and books, lesson plans, and other resources on Strong Nations.

Many Native Americans celebrate Winter Solstice and/or Christmas, so be sure to include them in those displays and/or programs. That is why I created the Merry Christmas sign at the top of this post (feel free to download and use it). That’s just a tiny selection of Merry Christmas in Native Languages. I very deliberately chose one of my favorite fonts (and not one that looks “ethnic”). This also reinforces the important fact that the First Nations’ people are diverse and shouldn’t be lumped together in a vague, inaccurate manner.

If you do music in your storytime, then look for traditional carols sung in First Nation languages such as Jana Mashonee’s Winter Wonderland sung in Ojibwe. Again, this reinforces to your attendees that Native Americans exist in today’s society.

I truly hope that I have given you some ideas for incorporating the First Nations into your holiday programming. If you have any further resources, ideas that you’d like to share, or if you want to point out something(s) that I got wrong, then please feel free to comment on this post or email me at

And if you’re a storytime blogger, then please consider creating and sharing some ideas for representing individual First Nations into your storytimes throughout the year – there definitely is a void on the internet when it comes to this. Let’s fix that.

But Rebecca, I thought you were anti-holiday programming?

Let the Sunshine In

The words "Yule Blessings" above a Celtic knot all in gold foil |

All-inclusive holiday programming and displays would not be complete without the roots of modern Christmas celebrations: Yule! The Pagan Yuletide consists of 12 days of celebrating with feasting, gift giving, and special rituals dedicated to each day or night. I honestly fell down a bit of a rabbit hole while researching this holiday because of how interesting it is. I mean, I knew that a lot of Christmas’ symbols and traditions were based on Yule, but I was pretty shocked at how much of it is.

To help focus this holiday into a program that you could have in your library, I decided to focus on one of the days of the Yule Season: Winter Solstice. I have seen some children’s programming pop up now and then, but they generally focus on the scientific aspects of the day/night, and leave out the pagan connection. Some day we’ll find it – the pagan connection – the lovers, the dreamers, and meeeee…


I have created two flyer templates for potential Winter Solstice programs. There are two because I had two ideas, and I liked them both. I stayed away from the Yule season colors of red, green, white, and gold because I was concerned that patrons might get confused and expect it to be what they thought that a Christmas program should be.

The words "Winter Solstice Celebration" above a sabbat wheel all in sunrise colors |

The words "Winter Solstice Storytime" above a sabbat wheel with holly imagery |

The imagery I chose were a sunrise, holly, and the Wheel of the Year – all important parts of this winter celebration. I used this font. Click on either image above for a bigger letter-sized image that you can download and use.


I read lots of reviews for picture books that would pop-up when doing a Winter Solstice search. From a pagan perspective, it seems like most were lacking, or were thinly-veiled Christmas books. There were two, though, that stood out and look like potentially good storytime reads:

Elsie & Pooka Stories of the Sabbats and Seasons: Yule & Imbolc (978-1941175903) by Lora Craig-Gaddis

Rupert’s Tales: The Wheel of the Year – Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, and Ostara (978-0764339875) by Kyrja
(You should also get the companion book of this series that’s about the other four celebrations in the year)

Also, here’s a wonderful Goodreads list created by the even more wonderful Catherine Bellamy full of other options!


All things sunshiny would work for songs and rhymes in this storytime. Here are some special things that I’ve come across while planning this program:

Morning Verse words in red for a Solstice program at your library |

Here’s a neat Snow King poem.

Here’s Silent Night (Solstice Night) by Karina Skye.

Did you know that Deck the Halls was a more Yule-centric song? Someone decided to censor the verses that mentioned drinking. Heh.


I’d recommend trying to find a local pagan group and inviting them to the event to share stories and talk about how they choose to celebrate. They could also do a variation of a Yule Candle Ritual (you can use electric candles for safety).

And if you’re in an area that allows it, then having a special bonfire would be amazing and I want to go there.

You can have the kids jingle bells to help chase away the night (and any scary things that may lurk in it). And you can have them shout for the sun to return. A variation on this would be to have the kids create cards for the sun, asking for it to please return.

One of the most popular events we’ve done in recent memory was creating gift candles. We did the “use clip art for kids to use markers and trace the images onto tissue paper” version. I LOVE THIS VERSION MORE. I can imagine a family gathering around their sheet of tissue paper while using their fingers to paint suns and sunbeams.  This would truly be a special memento that they will cherish for years.

One of the things we learned when doing this was to have dish towels to cover your hand that’s holding the candle because it gets HOT. The other thing was that we should have at minimum four people with hair dryers helping in the program. It takes some time for the wax to melt, and during that time a line of kids can form.

If you’re not comfortable with, or don’t have the budget for that particular craft, then this paper art would be lovely. As well as these sun faces. I can imagine a bunch of shiny sun faces in our library’s windows which would cheer everyone up during this time of year. This would be both a beautiful craft or an addition to an inclusive holiday display.

And there you have it: a good foundation for a more Pagan Winter Solstice program for your library. And as always, if you’re a practicing Pagan and feel that I have made any sort of error in this post, or if you have extra ideas to add to this post, then please share! Either in the comments or send me an email at

Want to know why I wrote this post? Here ya go.

Let the Sunshine In! Add Winter Solstice celebrations to your inclusive holiday storytimes |

Happy Holiday!

An illustrated depiction of the Flying Spaghetti Monster giving the Pirate Captain Mosey the Eight I'd Really Rather You Didn'ts

You may have heard of Pastafarianism a.k.a the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but did you know that they have a very special holiday in December? It’s called…wait for it…Holiday. Therefore, they are thrilled to hear people say “Happy Holidays” since they just assume that you’re inaccurately pluralizing the name.

One of the great things about Holiday, is that you can choose the date(s) that you’d like to celebrate it which makes planning so much easier. I’d suggest trying to make your celebration be on the most sacred day of the week for Pastafarians: Friday. AND because pirates are very important to Pastafarians, you can add piratey fun to the celebration.

Many Pastafarians have their Holiday on Christmas Day, which is then called FSMas. You can see what Pastafarians around the world do for their Holiday and other craft ideas on their site. I’ll be sharing some of those ideas in this post – they’ll be the ones that I thought would work best for a range of ages.

Now let’s get to it!


Flying Spaghetti Monster Holiday event flyer template for a special library celebration |

Please use the above flyer template for your FSM-filled event.

I should add that the wonderful Kaddywhak on Deviant Art made the FSM that I’m using the most in this post. It’s labeled for non-commercial reuse with modification which is awesome. So go ahead and use that great FSM image for your displays or marketing.

Here are the words Happy Holiday! written with pasta:

The word HAPPY spelled using a green, yellow, and red pasta-filled letters for FSM's Holiday |

The word HOLIDAY spelled out using green, yellow, and red pasta-filled letters for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster's Holiday |

Download and print off each of these files onto a ledger-sized paper and then cut them out to assemble a bigger banner that can be sticky-tacked to a wall, or be a bunting on a table, etc.

And if you’re wondering, I used the meme-riffic font Impact for both this and the flyer.

You can fill your display with books, movies, and more about pasta, pirates, or both! You can even get some cheap pasta strainers as a fun way to add levels to your display.


Again, raid your collection for pirate and pasta books. Here are some that I think would work very well:

  • Noodle Kids by Jonathon Sawyer (978-1592539635)
  • Let’s Cook with Noodles! by Nancy Tuminelly (978-1617834226)
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett (978-0689306471)
  • ABC Pasta by Juana Medina Rosas (978-1101999783)
    *This title comes out in February 2017
  • Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola (978-1442433557)
  • Spaghetti with the Yeti by Adam and Charlotte Guillain (978-1405263511)
  • Pirates Love Underpants by Claire Freedman (978-1442485129)
  • There Was an Old Pirate Who Swallowed a Fish by Jennifer Ward (978-0761461968)

And these two books would be PERFECT for FSMas:

  • A Pirate’s Night Before Christmas by Philip Yates (978-1454913573)
  • A Pirate’s Twelve Days of Christmas by Philip Yates (978-1454916826)


On Top of Spaghetti! ON THE UKULELE!!!
 The Librarian Is on the Loose has a cute Noodle Song.

Let’s Play Music has 4 Pirate Song for Kids.


Make something using PIRATE PASTA!!!
Bonus: they also have Christmas Tree shaped pasta.

The ladies at Library Village show you how easy it is to make colorful dry pasta.

Miss Meg’s Storytime has some awesome dyed sensory noodles.

The possibilities are endless!

Storytime Katie shares lots of ideas in her Pirates! storytime.

Lots of wonderful pirate storytime ideas on Sturdy for Common Things.

Oh wait! My library had a pirate-themed month: Septembarrr.

Again, the possibilities are also endless!

Here’s a coloring sheet that I made from Kaddywak’s art:

Black and white Flying Spaghetti Monster by Kaddywak on Deviant Art for use as a coloring sheet or clip art |

And here are two ideas from the FSM’s official site:

  • Let a balloon artist, and have them make balloon FSMs for some of the lucky participants.
  • Upcycle your office’s shredded paper (you might need to get some pink or red paper to crumple into meatballs – googly eyes would send this craft over-the-top).

There you have it: a foundation for an epic Holiday program!

Worth noting: 
As I have learned more about Pastafarianism (such as The Eight I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts), I realized that it does have some issues. Mainly that the first human being was a little person which is great (but they use the “M” word), and that women are encouraged to dress like pirate wenches. ::sigh::

But if we can overlook explaining immaculate conception or the fact that Santa isn’t real to kids at storytime, then I think that we can gloss over the less-than-ideal aspects of this religion.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts or ideas on this (or if you’re a Pastafarian and think that I’ve gotten something wrong, then please let me know!). Or, ya know…a penne for your thoughts. ::snort::

Why did I create this storytime? Find out here.

This Isn’t Your Grandma’s Krampusnacht

Copyright-free PNG image of Krampus leading a group of naughty children to hell |


Over the past few years, Krampusnacht has become more acknowledged and celebrated in the United States. This celebration takes place on December 5, the day before Saint Nicholas (who approves of the Krampus’ work) rewards the good children on Nikolaustag. Read more about it here since I’d rather get to the storytime resources for planning an children’s library event around this holiday than break down the holiday and its history.


Here is a flyer template that I made for you to download and use. It includes the image at the top of this post which I wanted posted as a separate png in case you’d like to use it for anything else. I basically erased the bright red background from the original.

Blank flyer template for a children's Krampusnacht storytime at a library |

The free fonts that I used for this flyer and other literature for this program are graphik_text, st_nicholas, and gotenborgfraktur.

For a display, you could use the top image from this post and then print out the images below onto card stock, cut them out, punch a hole, and hang them from the ceiling using fishing wire. That would add some movement to the display and make it more eye catching.

The silhouette of three children praying and screaming in Krampus' bag | hafuboti.comThe silhouette of one child screaming in terror after being stuffed in Krampus' bag | hafuboti.comThe black silhouette of two terrified children in Krampus' sack |


This was one of the trickier aspects of creating this storytime. However, if you expand the theme of good vs. bad, antiheroes, or children behaving badly then your book options are much more varied. Here are just a few:

  • Matt Lake’s Night of the Krampus which includes some Krampusfied Christmas Carols (978-0692495223)
  • Bailey Quillen Cooper’s Kris & Krampus Kringle (978-1483585017)
  • The No, David! series by David Shannon (No, David! 978-0439129657)
  • Quite a few of Shel Silverstein’s poems such as Sick and Listen to the Mustn’ts (Where the Sidewalk Ends 978-0060256685)
  • The Berenstain Bears and the Bully by Stan & Jan Berenstain (978-0679848059). This one will need discussion such as “who in this story would the Krampus want to grab?”
  • Ellen Javernick & Colleen M. Madden’s What if Everybody Did That? (978-0761456865)
  • Lots of Eilleen Cook’s books such as But It’s Not My Fault! (978-1934490808) show kids behaving badly.


Here are several classic children’s songs that I’ve modified to be more festive. There are lots of opportunities for acting out the words. It would also be fun to get some cheap pillowcases and have each child stand inside one like it’s a potato sack race. Then they can jump to the rhythm while pretending that the pillowcase are Krampus’ bags.

Feel free to download and use:

Alternative lyrics for Baa Baa Black Sheep to make it Krampunacht-appropriate |

Alternate lyrics for London Bridge Is Falling Down to make the tune more appropriate for Krampusnacht celebrations |

A doom-filled Krampus-approved version of Zoom Zoom Zoom (wer're going to the moon) song for Krampusnacht storytimes |


Make Krampuskarten: Think “Christmas Cards,” but featuring Krampus.

Masks: Have the kids make scary Krampus masks to wear (or for their parents to wear). Bonus level – cutting out a slot for a tongue to stick through.

Stickers: Give these out for either attending the program, or for completing a passive program such as a scavenger hunt. Here’s one set and another.

Photos: Either create a face-cutout photo op stand where the child (or parent) can be the hapless victim in Krampus’ bag, or if your library has a green screen, add them to a vintage krampuskarten.

A Surprise Krampus visit: Purchase this mask and have a staff member come charging into the storytime yelling. Please keep safety in mind! You might want to advertise that Krampus will be visiting depending on the age group.

Download and print out this drawing/writing prompt:

My Krampus passive program worksheet or worksheet for a Krampusnacht storytime |

Now, I can imagine some knee-jerk reaction that this is all too scary for children. For sure it would be too intense for some, but others will revel in the scariness and monstrous aspect of this. You could do a version of Tickle Monster with flannel pieces and board where kids can see the monster changed into not being scary.

And there you have it: a good foundation to build a storytime around Krampusnacht and/or to add to your all-inclusive celebrations! As always, I’d love to hear what you think – especially if you have ideas and/or resources that I left out (or if I need to adjust anything here if I was unintentionally insensitive to those who celebrate this).

Find out why I’m doing this.

Decor and program inspirations for a library's Krampusacht celebration |

Food for Thought

I was going to make this a simple post showing off what we do at our library in terms of treat giveaways (such as during Nat’l Library Week, or Valentine’s Day), but then it took on a life of its own. So, to save you the time if you’re not interested in me going into why I changed our library’s food policy for programs, I’m putting the “what we do now” up here at the top as Part 1. Part 2 will be the why’s behind what we do now in case you’re interested. Okay, on with the post!

Part 1

Any time we want to mark a day as special by giving out food treats to the kids, we do this:

We get a fruit snack and tape a blurb about the library on it. Boom: healthiness and marketing. The only thing about these particular “library blurbs” is that they’re not in our official font. But the lady who made them is no longer with us, and I don’t think she truly understood the concept of branding too well. However, I will not waste all of the cutouts she made to make new ones – they’re gonna get used. Also, even kids with most allergies (or are on a gluten diet) can have these. Woot!

Part 2

Back when I started at my library, I had the honor of being allowed to start running the 3rd-5th grade storytimes. There were some exceptions where I was basically told in so many words by my supervisor that I had to do certain storytimes and/or activities. And those usually involved food.

During that time I still had my Food Handler’s card for the state of Nebraska (I’ve had many others from other states since I would work in bookstore cafes), and I was very aware of how poorly things were handled at the library. Such as, when putting out frosting for cookies, you don’t lick your fingers and continue on with adding more food-related items (and that’s just for the set-up, folks – I witnessed other things that would churn your stomachs).

The other thing that absolutely broke my heart is that there was a really shy girl who never participated in these activities. I gently asked her one time why she didn’t want to make a special cookie and she informed me that she has a gluten allergy. I immediately notified my supervisor (since I was already wary of doing food-related activities for the mentioned reasons – and the myriad of others such as terrifying peanut allergies). She blew off my concern, and did nothing. That really bothered me to my core.

Eventually I became my supervisor’s supervisor, and one of the first changes in policy was no more food activities as the storytime craft. It opens up the library to a lawsuit, making children sick, and/or alienating children with allergies or special diets.

I’m in no way saying that if you have a special food-related program that you should stop. We still provide popcorn at movie events, but always encourage attendees to bring their own food if they’d like. Otherwise, unless it’s a clearly-advertised food program (like the successful cooking basics for 6-12th graders that we had), then we don’t add food to a normal storytime. It’s the whole thing of having food be the craft where the child and parent goes into it not knowing that food will be involved that I don’t like.

I also don’t like to give out candy for holidays since I’d rather promote kids being healthy. Plus, it keeps us from having candy lying around tempting us to eat it (when it should be going to the kids).

It’s worth thinking about these things (thus the title of the post – see what I did there? Heh), especially if you’ve never considered them before. Also, if you regularly do food activities, then it would be worth having your supervisor (or yourself if you’re in charge of the events) get a food handler’s card for your state. Just learning the how’s and why’s of food handling can be a real eye-opener.