Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Preschool Storytime: Monsters

One of my #YesWeCrab goals was to write up this fall's storytimes that I never got around to posting. I normally like to write in more detail about the books and activities that I chose, but due to the delay in posting, you're just getting my bare bones outline.

I did this monsters storytime the last week of October as a slightly scary option that wasn't actually HALLOWEEN. But one nice thing about monsters is that you can use this theme any time!

Here's what we did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Big Scary Monster by Thomas Docherty (Templar, 2010). Big Scary Monster loves scaring all the other creatures, but when he heads down the mountain in search of more creatures to scare, he finds himself getting scared and lonely.

Felt: Go Away, Big Green Monster (based on the book by Ed Emberley) Not only does this felt story reinforce body parts vocabulary, it shows kids that they have nothing to fear from monsters.

Book: Go to Bed, Monster by Natasha Wing (HMH, 2007).

Song: If You're a Monster and You Know It

(gnash your teeth, show your claws, stomp your paws, wiggle your tail, give a roar)

Source: Miss Meg's Storytime

Book: Jeremy Draws a Monster by Peter McCarty (Henry Holt BYR, 2009). Jeremy is a lonely little boy but when he attempts to draw himself a friend, he ends up with a rude monster.

Felt: Five Little Monsters Jumping on the Bed. Miss T made me this super cute felt with the template from Falling Flannelboards.

Book: Creepy Monsters, Sleepy Monsters by Jane Yolen (Candlewick Press, 2011).

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

Play Stations:

  • Blocks (we always get the blocks out!)
  • Monster paper bag puppets

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A Bookish Wedding is Coming

I'm getting married on Saturday!

And of course we're integrating books into our wedding in a couple of ways.

My fiance designed these awesome Game-of-Thrones-themed bookmarks with sigils for each of us. We sent them out as save-the-dates and every time I use one to mark my page or see a friend using one, it makes me happy! 

I saw the lovely Rita Meade's book-page bouquet from her wedding and I had to have one, too! Krista from Krista Mae Studios did an awesome job with my bouquet and the bridesmaid bouquets...

...she even made us custom comic book boutonnieres and corsages!

And what better place for a bookish couple to honeymoon but The Wizarding World of Harry Potter?!

Fiance has even read/reread all the Harry Potter books in preparation for our vacation. 

All this is to say that I'll be back in a couple of weeks! See you then! 

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Preschool Storytime: Bugs

This morning, a preschool class visited us for a storytime on bugs. Here's what I did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Lenny in the Garden by Ken Wilson-Max (Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2010). This sweet British import has simple text to introduce a variety of bugs that Lenny finds in his garden. This was a good basic introduction to some of the bugs we'd see throughout our storytime. One thing to note is that the book uses the British word "ladybird" instead of the American "ladybug". Depending on the age of your kids, you can either just substitute the more familiar word or you might explain why the book uses a different word from the one American kids typically hear. 

Felt Rhyme: Five Little Ladybugs. I used our felt ladybugs with a flannel mitt that fits over one hand. As we said the rhyme and I removed ladybugs, we practiced counting. 

Five little ladybugs, ready to explore
One flew away, and then there were four

Four little ladybugs, crawling up a tree
One flew away, and then there were three

Three little ladybugs didn't have a clue
One flew away, and then there were two

Two little ladybugs, looking for some fun
One flew away, and then there was one

One little ladybug, alone in the sun
She flew away and then there were none

(Apologies, but I don't have a source for this!)

Book: Waiting for Wings by Lois Ehlert (HMH, 2001). This is one of my favorite books to share about bugs or spring or flowers! Simple, rhyming text takes you through the life cycle of a butterfly from eggs on a plant to caterpillars to chrysalis to new butterflies. The bright illustrations and varied sizes of the pages hold a group's interest very well, even young children. The pages you turn start out very small and then get bigger as the eggs hatch, caterpillars grow, and new butterflies fly in search of nectar. This is a great book to insert some STEM knowledge with the life cycle of a butterfly. It also shows how a chrysalis looks different as the butterfly inside changes and grows. We flipped back and forth between the two illustrations and talked about what was the same and different. 

Scarf Activities: I passed out the scarves and we warmed up a little bit by waving them high and low, fast and slow, and tossing them in the air. Then we fluttered our scarves like butterflies as I said this rhyme: 

Butterflies, butterflies, flapping around.
Visiting flowers, not making a sound.
Flapping your wings, as you go.
Flapping your wings, up high, then low.
Butterflies, butterflies, flapping around.
Visiting flowers, not making a sound.

After our rhyme, I called the scarves up to me by color (check out my post on the ASLC Blog for more about using scarves in storytime). 

Book: The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Richard Egielski (Atheneum, 2012). This pop-up book is a fun book for storytime and it's a book that can be sung. Singing with children helps them hear that words are made up of smaller sounds. I love to use pop-up books in storytime because they really capture the interest of the children. As I sang the words, I invited the kids and teachers to sing with me and do the motions that go with this song. 

Book: I Love Bugs! by Emma Dodd (Holiday House, 2010). This is another great book to share because the large trim size and colorful pictures capture the attention of a group and this book uses lots of really great vocabulary words. Though it doesn't actually name bugs, it uses descriptive words for the myriad types of bugs that this child loves: springy, slimy, spiny, fuzzy, whiny, frilly... this book is full of great words! One reason it's great to read books with children is that books expose kids to lots of different vocabulary words that they might not hear in typical conversation. It's much easier to read a word that you've heard before than one that's brand-new, so vocabulary knowledge is one of the six early literacy skills kids need before they learn to read. 

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Preschool Storytime: Clothes

One of my #YesWeCrab goals was to write up this fall's storytimes that I never got around to posting. I normally like to write in more detail about the books and activities that I chose, but due to the delay in posting, you're just getting my bare bones outline.

I did this clothes storytime in November and it was really fun. I especially liked getting our scarves out with one of our books. Here's what I did!

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed by Mo Willems (Disney-Hyperion, 2009). 

Book with Scarves: What Can You Do with a Rebozo? by Carmen Tafolla (Tricycle Press, 2008). I passed out the scarves and we pretended that our scarves were rebozos and used them for all the things the book mentions. 

Felt: Mittens in Washing Machine. Source: Miss Mary Liberry. This is one of my ALL-TIME favorite storytime props because it is always a hit; the kids have so much fun with it! We adapted it to use mittens, which we use quite often for winter storytimes. 

Usually, what I do is I tell the kids that I need their help to finish my laundry. It's been in the dryer, but I need help matching up my mittens. I pull out a mitten and we talk about what color it is. I put it on the felt board and then pull out another mitten and ask them if it matches. I pretend that I think it matches when it doesn't, etc. and the kids have a blast correcting me. 

Once we've paired up all the mittens, we count - this is a great opportunity to count by two's or you can just count each mitten, depending on your age group. 

This is a great activity for practicing same-and-different and identifying colors. The kids are always on the edge of their seats waiting to see what will come out of the washing machine next!

Book: Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash by Sarah Weeks (HarperCollins, 1997). This silly story is another storytime favorite with its rhyming words and funny imagery. 

Action Song: If You're Wearing Red Today. This is not only a fun, active song, but it helps kids practice listening and following directions (school readiness skills!). 

Book: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback (Viking Books for Young Readers, 1997). 

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is? 


  • Dress up! I put out our dress up boxes, which are full of random things we've collected over the years. 
  • Blocks - I always put the blocks out.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reading Wildly: Survival

This month, our Reading Wildly genre was survival. Whether it's the zombie apocalypse or a natural disaster, kids and teens are fascinated with survival and pick up these books often, so it's a good genre to dip into every now and then. Many survival books are fast-paced with lots of action that keeps readers turning the pages. They may be scary or thrilling. Readers may enjoy learning survival techniques JUST IN CASE and exploring characters' responses when disasters happen can help children feel more secure as they find out what characters do to survive whatever happened. 

Here's what we read this month: 

Oh, man. April is going to be sad books and tearjerkers. That always makes for an emotional discussion! 

Monday, March 28, 2016

Preschool Storytime: Mail

This was SUCH a fun storytime! The kids were into the books, the activities were really fun, and we had a great time. Since our schools are on Spring Break this week, I was not sure how attendance would be, but we ended up with a great crowd and they were just really into everything. Here's what we did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Opening Activity: Mail call! Today, I introduced our topic via some mail. I showed the kids the giant letter they had gotten (addressed to them) and we went over each part of the address (name, library name, street address, city, state, zip code). Then I opened up the envelope and read the letter to them. (Source: Youth Services Shout-Out post by Amanda Struckmeyer)

Book: Delivering Your Mail by Ann Owen (Picture Window Books, 2003). This is a simply and straightforward introduction to mail carriers and it talks about what they do and how they deliver the mail. Several of the kids chimed in that they know their mail carrier or they have seen a mail truck driving around their neighborhood. Children are curious about their world, so I love to read books that explain something that is familiar to them. I bet kids were anxious to help check the mail that evening!

Book: Mule Train Mail by Craig Brown (Charlesbridge, 2009). Expanding on what we had just talked about, this book tells the true story of Anthony Paya, the mail carrier to the village of Supai on the Havasupai Indian Reservation in Arizona. This village at the bottom of the Grand Canyon is the only place still getting mail delivered by mule train. The text is too long for preschoolers, so I paraphrased some pages and skipped a few pages to make it shorter. Before I started reading the text of the book, I read a little bit from the author's note in the back to introduce it and so that kids and parents would know that this is a true story.

Felt: Six Little Valentines. We got this one from Storytime Katie, of course. The kids loved it! We talked about rhyming words as we read the Valentines and it's a great introduction to the parts of a letter (stamp, address, opening up an envelope).

Stretch: We had been sitting for a long time at this point, so we got up and did one of my favorite wiggle songs: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. I like to stretch this song out by first asking kids to find some of the body parts mentioned in the song to "test" them ("Where are your... knees? Where are your... toes?" etc.). Then we sing the song at a normal/slow speed. Then we sing it again faster. Then we sing it SUPERFAST, which always ends in lots of giggling.

Book: Hi! by Ann Scott (Puffin, 1994). In this book, little Margarita and her mother visit the post office to mail a package and Margarita wants to wave hi to everyone, but no one pays her any attention. This book not only introduces kids to what a post office looks like and what people go there to do (mail letters, post cards, packages, etc.), but we talked about Margarita's expressions and feelings. How does she feel when no one will wave back to her? How does she feel at the end when the lady at the post office counter is friendly to her? Talking about feelings helps children expand their vocabulary and prepares them to feel and express empathy.

Activity: Mail carrier letter game. I took this one from Ms. A who does our Reading Rockstars storytime for beginning readers. Each week, she puts letters into envelopes and passes them out and then the kids do a song with them and a game identifying words that start with that letter. First, the kids hold up the letters and we sing our song:

(Tune: Do You Know the Muffin Man?)
Oh, have you seen the letter M
The letter M, the letter M
Oh, have you seen the letter M?
It makes the sound muh-muh-muh

Oh, yes I've seen the letter M
The letter M, the letter M
Oh, yes I've seen the letter M
It makes the sound muh-muh-muh

Then I say words and if they start with "M", kids hold their Ms up in the air. If the word does NOT start with "M', kids put their Ms down on their lap. This can go as long or as short as you want, but I did about 6-7 words, really emphasizing the starting letter sounds.

After we were done, I asked the kids to put their letters back in the envelopes and bring their envelope up to put it in the mail basket.

This is a great activity for practicing making and listening for letter sounds. It's a game, which makes it fun for the kids, but it's also a great way to insert some new vocabulary and to help children hear the smaller sounds in words.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

Activity Stations: 

  • Write a letter! I put out paper (plain and I found some graph paper that I thought would be fun), pencils, crayons, and envelopes (I found these rainbow ones in a cabinet, but plain would also be fine!) so kids could draw a picture or write a letter and send their own mail. This is a great activity to insert some writing into your storytime. 
  • Blocks
  • Alphabet puzzle 
  • Alphabet letter matching games 
Additional resources:

Reading Wildly: Sports

So, we got snowed out for our February Reading Wildly meeting, which was discussing sports books. When we have to cancel our meeting, my first choice would be to reschedule it; I do think it's important to devote time to our readers' advisory discussions. However, because I have to schedule everyone on staff to be here and arrange for desk coverage, that is almost never feasible. Usually what we do is combine our RW meeting with our next department meeting or, like we did this time, combine our RW meetings and briefly discuss two genres. It's not ideal, but we have to be flexible to make it work!

Because we had so many books to share, I asked everyone to do a quick round of sports books and then we moved on to survival books. Today I'll round up our sports books.

This is a topic that seems to come up every year, I think because none of us in my department truly gravitate towards sports books on our own, so we make sure to include sports books when we're planning our reading year. This is definitely one of those genres that stretch us as readers, and it's a subject that LOTS of kids LOVE, so it's definitely important for us to be aware of key authors and titles to suggest.

Here's what we read for sports:

You can see our previous sports reading here:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I Love My Library Display

In February, we welcomed our new library director (hurrah!!!!) and to celebrate that and also to tie in with the theme of love and Library Lover's Month, I asked our amazing marketing department to design a display where we could show off what patrons love about their library.

We have a bulletin board in the back hallway that many people see as they enter the library from our back parking lot. Marketing designed these awesome pastel hearts to look like the candy hearts you often see in February. 

We put out pastel hearts at each of our public service desks and allowed patrons to fill them out. Staff added them to the display throughout the month. We utilized volunteers to cut out the hearts as much as possible, although our marketing folks definitely cut out a bunch. I think it would have looked just as nice to have the heart outlines on half sheets of paper and skip the cutting, or of course you could use a die cut if you have a large shape die.

This was not only a fun way to have an interactive display, it was a great way to show our new director some of the reasons our patrons use our library. 

I am particularly proud of this one; this is something we work on constantly.

It was also a great way to give staff a pat on the back and show them that patrons appreciate what they are doing. It definitely made me feel great to walk in every morning and see cheery notes from our patrons. 

And this one was my favorite because it is so, so true: 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Preschool Storytime: Things That Go

This week's storytime was a really fun one because with a popular theme like "Things That Go", you can really choose your favorite favorites to share. This theme gives you tons of choices and there are thousands of ideas on the internet. Here's what I chose to do:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello - this is our traditional opener and since the kids are used to it, it's a signal that we're ready to begin storytime.

Book: Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2005). Before we read this one, we talked about red lights, green lights, and yellow lights and identified what they mean. This book's rhythmic, rhyming text lends itself to being sung and I sing it to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star".

Felt: Toot Toot Beep Beep by Emma Garcia (Boxer Books, 2008). At one point we had a damaged copy of this book, which we cut up and turned into a felt story. To tell the story, I start with all the vehicles on the board and we make the sound of each vehicle as it drives off. When there are no vehicles left, I remark about how quiet it has become and ask where the cars have gone before showing them the spread of the cars "sleeping" in the parking garage. This is a great book to read in storytime, too, and the kids love the colorful illustrations with their cartoony eyes.

Book: Who is Driving? by Leo Timmers (Bloomsbury, 2007). This guessing game asks kids to guess which animal is driving each vehicle. If you look closely at the animals' outfits, you will be able to tell! (Although many kids just want to shout out whatever the largest animal on the page is...) This is a really fun book and our copies have been well-loved.

Action Song: Dump Truck
(Tune: Ten Little Indians)

Bumpity-bumpity comes the dump truck,
Bumpity-bumpity comes the dump truck,
Bumpity-bumpity comes the dump truck,
Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuump out the load.

Source: Pre-K Fun, via Storytime Katie

I have the kids stand up and bounce as we sing (for babies, you could just bounce them on laps) and then we tilt over to dump out our loads. I always repeat this one and ask the kids to act like they're carrying a REALLY HEAVY load (slower, bouncing lower) and then we repeat like they're carrying a REALLY LIGHT load (faster, higher bouncing). This not only stretches out the song a little bit, but it's a good opportunity to insert some STEM knowledge: when we're carrying a heavy load, the work is harder so we move slower. 

Book: A Plane Goes Ka-ZOOM! by Jonathan London, illustrated by Denis Roche (Henry Holt, 2010). This rhyming book has bright, colorful illustrations. As I read it, we looked for rhyming words, which are great to recognize with children since it helps children learn that words are made up of smaller sounds. Jonathan London has a number of transportation-themed books along the same ilk: A Train Goes Clickety Clack and A Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa.

Felt Rhyme: Engine on the Track

Here is the engine on the track.
Here is the coal car, just in back.
Here is the box car to carry freight.
Here is the mail car. Don't be late. 
Way back here at the end of the train
Rides the caboose through the sun and rain. 

I just said the rhyme as I put the engine and train cars on the board. Children can chime in, holding up a finger for each car. 

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is? 

  • Felt board: I put out our two felt story pieces for children to play with. They enjoyed playing with the colorful pieces. 
  • Blocks and toy cars. I dug out some toy cars that we had stashed away, leftover from another program, and added them to the carpet for block play. Children designed roads, bridges, and garages in addition to their other structures. 
  • Name trains. I pre-made the strips with die-cut train engines (a great volunteer project!) and then cut scrap construction paper into squares and rectangles for the train cars. Source: Prekinders

Additional resources: 
There are tons more resources available online. Search for "Things That Go" or transportation or any of the following: trains, trucks, cars, planes, bikes, boats, etc. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

2017 Newbery Committee Candidate Sarah Wethern

ALA (including ALSC and YALSA) elections are happening NOW! I urge you to go forth and VOTE! This is your chance to make your voice heard in your organization, so do it!

I know that the ballots can be a little overwhelming, so allow me to introduce a fabulous candidate for the 2017 Newbery Committee: Sarah Wethern. Sarah was kind enough to stop by and answer a few questions for me and you will see her on your ALSC ballot, so please give her your vote!

Sarah Wethern is the Youth Librarian at the Douglas County Library in Minnesota. She has been there five years. Previous positions include being a teen librarian in Colorado. She is currently serving on ALCS's Quicklists Consulting Committee and recently finished up a term on YALSA's Morris award committee. Sarah has three cats, one dog, and loves to read, watch TV, and bake in her spare time.

Abby: Sarah, recently you were accepted for and attended ALSC's Morris Seminar. Tell us a little bit about your experiences there. 

Sarah: The Morris Seminar was a really positive experience for me. I was nervous because I felt like I was among the “elite” of the kidlit reviewing world but I did not have to worry. Everyone was gracious and more than willing to answer questions AND help us better explore how to talk about books, particularly with removing personal feelings from the equation. This is so very difficult to do and even after a few different committee experiences; when you love books, you want to tell people why and of course, feelings come into that. The Morris Seminar was really helpful in getting me to better articulate the positives and challenges about books. And perhaps the best thing of all, it was so great meeting librarians from across the country and getting the chance to learn and be inspired by them.

The past couple of years have been particularly exciting for the Newbery Award as books in different formats (graphic novels and a picture book) have won Newbery Honors and the 2016 Newbery Medal. What do you think about these different formats being recognized?

I am so excited that the Newbery Committee has been looking beyond the traditional chapter book format for its medalist and honor titles. It seems a natural extension of the different way kids are reading and learning now. The Newbery guidelines are just that, guidelines. The committees in recent years are clearly finding the guidelines open to interpretation and I think that will benefit this award now and in years to come. It opens the door for a wider array of authors and formats to be honored and put into the hands of kids.

You served as a member of the 2014 Printz Committee; how do you feel that this experience has prepared you to serve on the Newbery Committee? 

YALSA’s Printz committee was my first professional committee work and it was daunting. It proved to be such a positive experience which I feel lucky to have had. I learned how to work within a committee to discuss books in a professional setting. It can be difficult to listen to that book you just love SO MUCH being put in a more negative light. But this is a necessary and important part of committee work. There is no hiding the challenges a book may present and if you ignore that, you are not fulfilling the work of the committee. I also feel like my Printz experience helped me better see the positives in books that I personally was not enjoying. And the fact is, whether I “like” a book or not plays no role in the committee process and figuring that out was quite the learning curve.

What are some of your very favorite Newbery-winning books? Tell us why you like them. 

I have three Newbery books that are unforgettable to me. These are in no particular order because well, I just can’t choose a true number one.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is one of my favorite honor titles. I love the science and nature aspects combined with the growth of Calpurnia. Her mind is alive on every page of the book and her questioning nature is exactly what I was like as a kid. This book breaks stereotypes and is just so well-written and lovely.

I love historical fiction and Al Capone Does my Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko (Puffin, 2004) is just amazing. I love handseling this series to kids. The setting drew me into the story. I’ve always been curious about Alcatraz and Choldenko does such a fabulous job of combining historical fact with an interesting plot and great characters. Every scene played out in my head like a movie (in fact, I’d love to see this book as a movie!). This is a fabulous honor book that truly embraces everything Newbery stands for.

Lois Lowry’s The Giver (Dell Laurel-Leaf, 1994) is one of my most memorable reading experiences. I remember the first time I read the book, back in fifth grade, and being absolutely blown away by everything about it. It was so, so different than anything I had read at that point in my life. It felt revolutionary and to this day, I attach those feelings to The Giver. The decisions Jonas made and how it played out, and THE ENDING and how open it was. That was breathtaking for me as a young reader. And while nostalgia plays a large part in how much I love this book, it is still one I re-read every year. Reading experiences like The Giver do not come along all that often in life!

Some of my other favorite Newbery titles include From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg, Bomb: the Race to Build--and Steal--the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin, and The Cricket in Times Square by George Selden.

Sarah, thanks so much for stopping by today and sharing with us!

Many thanks to Abby for hosting me on her blog! I hope you will consider voting for me in the upcoming ALA elections.