Award-winning Nili Yelin has combined her professional theatre career with mommyhood to create The Storybook MomTM.

Using an interactive, educational and highly amusing style, Ms. Yelin likes to call her story-telling, “Sit Down Stand-up.” Founded on the high-minded principle that children like to see a grown-up act silly, Yelin entertains a hard-core audience of two-years olds—and their fatigued moms and dads. She delivers a full performance of the written word, even though the words are few, rhyming, and surrounded by pictures.

Raising her battle-cry, “Let storytime begin!” with intelligence and a striking imagination, Yelin captivates children and parents alike.

Along with her many weekly storytimes, Yelin regularly hosts the annual Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest Children's Stage. She story-tells for the Field Museum and their podcasts for children in association with The Crown Family Play Lab, The Shedd Aquarium, Museum of Science and Industry, and various venues around Chicago and the suburbs. Yelin has expressed the lofty goal of having “every kid in Chicago know their ABC’s backwards before they enter pre-school.”  

Ms. Yelin’s outreach includes after-school programs with the Chicago Mayor's office, homeless shelters and domestic violence centers; The Center for Companies That Care on their corporate literacy initiative, Terrific Tales, performing in schools and libraries on Chicago’s South Side; Bernie's Book Bank, a not-for-profit organization that collects and distributes books to low income schools; and Creatively Caring and Sunrise Homes, storytelling for children with autism and special needs and older people with dementia. 

After graduating in Theatre from Northwestern University, Ms. Yelin wrote and performed for MTV Networks and then for Saturday Night Live. She was also a voice-over talent. Today Yelin is the Chicago Ambassador for World Read Aloud Day presented by, furthering global literacy.

Yelin has appeared on WGN TV News and in numerous magazines, newspapers, websites and blogs. Awarded "Best Storyteller" by Make It Better Magazine and Time Out Chicago Magazine, Yelin is currently working with Storyola (tm) on a storybook app. She is also writing her debut book on techniques of storytelling.

You know how sometimes a book just falls open to just what you were looking for, or even something you didn’t even know you were looking for?

This the the story of The Storybook MomTM.

I was mom to two young children, an actress spending the summer of 2000 walking the picket line of the AFTRA/SAG (actor’s union) commercial strike. I would bring the kids with me that summer and tell them we were marching in a parade.

During the strike I heard about a children’s store that was opening in my neighborhood and that for their grand opening, they wanted a children’s storyteller. I had read stories in my children’ classrooms and armed with my children’s storybooks I was hired. It turned into a weekly story time and word of mouth, mom to mom propelled my story times into a full-time career. I have run it as a mom-to-mom business, keeping it simple and immersing myself in the world of children. I spend most of my time in libraries, bookstores, children’s clothing and toy stores. My own children are my constant advisors and find new and interesting stories for me all the time.

The Storybook MomTM and content ©2017-2022 Nili Yelin. Illustration by Julie Foster