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.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Preschool Storytime: Paint

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.

For this storytime, I was totally inspired by Anne's paint storytime at Anne's Library Life!

Here's what I did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello

Book: Little Blue and Little Yellow by Leo Lionni (HarperCollins, 1995). This classic is a great book to talk about color mixing.

Felt: Color Paintbrushes
Source: Anne's Library Life

I put out the color paintbrushes and then had kids close their eyes and took one away. When they opened their eyes, I asked which color was missing. 

“I know the colors of the rainbow.
Do you know them too?
If one color were missing,
Would you know which hue?”

Book: I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont (HMH, 2005). This is not only a fun book about a naughty kid taking advantage of paint, but it's a book that can be sung and a great book to ask kids to predict the next rhyme and practice those phonological awareness skills.

Activity: Paint with Invisible Paint. Source: Mel's Desk. This was the perfect activity to pair with I Ain't Gonna Paint No More. I handed out (clean) paintbrushes and we painted with invisible paint. After we painted various body parts, we had to take a "bath" to clean off, just like in the book.

Book: Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2011). When chicken accidentally tips over the blue paint, it turns the whole farmyard blue! This book is kind of meta, making it a fun read for picture book enthusiasts.

Felt: Mr. Pine's Purple House (based on the book by Leonard Kessler). When Mr. Pine can't tell his house from his neighbors' houses, he tries planting a bush and a tree but his neighbors like it so much that they imitate him and the houses look the same again! Finally, Mr. Pine has the idea to paint his house and ends up with a very colorful neighborhood. This is a great story to reinforce the concept of same and different.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?


I was Very Brave this week and brought out our watercolor sets so we could make painting this week. It was a really fun activity and not nearly as messy as I feared. I made sure we had some spare mess shirts in case anyone wanted to wear them and I put out plenty of towels in case of water spills, but really they handled it very well!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Abby and the Very Busy Day

Some days are a marathon... (Photo by Anna Beswick)
Today was one of those days when I really earned my keep. Of course, I hope I am earning my keep every day, but today was definitely a marathon of a day. One of my staff members needed to be off unexpectedly and it happened to be a day that she had a couple of programs on the schedule.

After doing my regular baby storytime this morning, I took my lunch break and then headed off to booktalk to six K-2nd grade classes at one of our local schools. When I got back, I set up for and ran our weekly beginning readers storytime.

There were a couple of procedures in place that enabled me to step in and help us offer our services uninterrupted, even with an unexpected absence.

First of all, as the department head, I make it my business to know enough about the workings of all of our programs that I could step in and cover should the need arise. Today was one of those days when the need arose! Marge Loch-Wouters recently wrote about the manager's "place in space" and that youth services managers need to be willing to honor the work of our staffers and pitch in to do some of the programming and front-line work that they are doing. Being prepared to step in and cover is a way that I honor my staffers; I want them to know that I have their backs.

I don't necessarily know the inner workings of every program my staffers do or every single activity and song they include, but I know enough to be able to step in, explain that I'm filling in, and run an age-appropriate program. I generally have back-up staffers who fill in for various folks if they're out on a planned day off, but I make sure that I know the basics to help out in an emergency.

And the reason that this really works is that my staffers are generally very prepared for their programs and have everything ready to go. Yes, I could pull together some booktalks or a storytime program at the last minute, but we try to make it a practice to have storytime plans written out (at least a basic outline), have booktalks planned and ready to go (or at least ready enough that they could be emailed to another staffer), have books pulled and craft or play stations prepped.

We're not perfect at this - no one is - but for the most part we are all well-prepared to have someone else take over a program for us.

Days like today are a good reminder that it's a best practice to have everything planned out and written down just in case. Of course, our families and teachers would definitely understand if something needed to be canceled - it happens to everyone from time to time. But if put something on our calendar and we have families coming in or teachers expecting us, I want to make every effort not to cancel.

One area that I personally could stand to improve is my knowledge of our teen programs. Thankfully this has not been an issue - with two teen librarians I have some built-in backup - but days like today remind me that I still have work to do to feel like I really could step in to cover for ANY of my staff if needed.

What procedures do you have in place to cover for staff who are unexpectedly out?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Preschool Storytime: Fall

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.

Clearly, you want a fall storytime outline just as we're heading into spring. Maybe our Southern Hemisphere friends will find this useful. ;)

I did this fall storytime in September and, although I know I have done lots of fall storytimes for various groups, I realized I had never posted one on my blog! I got lots of help from Twitter friends for this one and used resources I had compiled for an ALSC Blog post about fall storytime (so click through and check it out for more resources!)

Here's what I did:

Book: Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri (Simon & Schuster, 2007). Here's a little STEM connection for you: as I read this book, we talked about what squirrels do to get ready for winter and we identified the different foods that squirrel collected and stored.

Book: That Pup! by Lindsay Barrett George (Greenwillow, 2011). This book is a natural follow-up to Busy Little Squirrel as a puppy runs around digging up acorns that he keeps finding in his yard. At the end, he realizes that the squirrel hid them on purpose and he helps put them back. 

Song with Scarves: Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves (Tune: Mary Had a Little Lamb)
Autumn leaves are falling down, (Flutter fingers down)
Falling down, falling down.
Autumn leaves are falling down,
Falling on the ground.
Autumn leaves are whirling round, (Twirl in a circle)
Whirling round, whirling round.
Autumn leaves are whirling round,
All over town.

Book: Leaves by David Ezra Stein (GP Putnam's Sons, 2007). Poor bear panics when the leaves start to fall off the trees because he doesn't realize that they will be coming back in spring time. This is a great book to talk about seasons.

Felt Leaves and part of Fall is Not Easy

Felt: Fall is Not Easy (based on the book by Marty Kelley). This is one of my very favorite felt stories and fall storytime books because it always gets the kids and parents laughing!

Book/Felt Activity: We're Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger (Cartwheel Books, 2005). I passed out felt leaves in different colors and as we read the book, I had kids bring up their leaves when we got to their color (i.e. red maple leaves, yellow birch leaves, etc.). 

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?


  • Leaf exploration - Fall is a GREAT time to bring in some leaves and explore them. Since we were still pretty early in the fall, I had mostly green leaves for the kids to explore, but they still loved looking at different shapes and examining them under magnifying glasses. 
  • Leaf rubbings - This is a little hard for preschoolers to do, but with help from parents (which we had in this storytime), it went pretty well. 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

What to Read at Baby Storytime #7

It is definitely time for another round-up of what I have been reading and loving in baby storytime! Don't miss the links at the end of this post to previous What to Read at Baby Storytime lists. And I would LOVE to know what your recent new (or new-to-you!) favorites for baby storytime have been, so please leave suggestions in the comments.

When I look for books for baby storytime, I try to find books that have some element that I can make interactive, as that helps keeps parents and kids engaged in what we're doing. Maybe it has a repeated refrain that caregivers can say along with me, maybe there are actions that can be suited to the words as we're reading, maybe it's a book that can be sung.

All Fall Down by Mary Brigid Barrett, illustrated by LeUyen Pham (Candlewick Press, 2014). I love, love, love LeUyen Pham's illustrations, which is why I wanted to give this book a try. With the babies, I encourage caregivers to lift baby up and then bring baby down quickly on the repeated chorus of "All Fall Down!" You could also have caregivers drop baby between their knees or fall over to the side. All that movement is not only a fun way to connect baby to what we're reading, but helps develop baby's sense of balance.

Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli (Candlewick Press, 2009). As a child swings, she begs her father to push her higher and higher. This is another great book for encouraging movement - lift baby on the chorus of "Higher! Higher!"

Hush Little Baby by Brian Pinkney (Amistad Press, 2005). This traditional nursery rhyme is illustrated with depictions of an early 1900s African American family. This is a great book to sing and caregivers familiar with the song will sing along with you. The large trim size of this book makes it a great choice for sharing with a group.

I Can Do It Too by Karen Baicker, illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max (Chronicle, 2003). This book depicts an African-American family doing everyday things like pouring juice, baking a cake, and reading a book, with the young protagonist showing that she can do it, too. The companion book You Can Do It, Too (Chronicle, 2005) shows a baby brother following in her footsteps and doing the things she is doing. Books that show everyday situations are easy for young children to relate to and you can make this one interactive by asking "Can you do it?" and suiting actions to words (mixing a cake, sipping  tea, etc.).

Jamberry by Bruce Degen (HarperFestival 1982). I love the sounds and rhythm of this book, which make it a great book to share with little ones. This is a great book to sing - I usually sing it to the tune of "London Bridge is Falling Down", as suggested by Melissa Depper at Mel's Desk.

My Nose, Your Nose by Melanie Walsh (HMH, 2002). Books that name body parts are always fun to incorporate in baby storytime because you can make them interactive by encouraging parents to touch or tickle the body parts on their own child. That's not only fun but helps young kids learn that body part vocabulary.

On the Farm by David Elliott, illustrated by Holly Meade (Candlewick Press, 2008). This beautiful book of farm poetry is a little long for babies in its entirety, so I choose two or three or four poems to read and then we make the animal sounds that those animals make.

Say Hello Like This by Mary Murphy (Candlewick Press, 2014). Here's another great book for incorporating animal sounds into your storytime. I love the bright, colorful illustrations of this one. As you read each spread, have caregivers join in with you on the animal sounds or ask caregivers and children what sound the animal makes.

Ten Tiny Tickles by Karen Katz (Margaret K. McElderry, 2005). Karen Katz is always a hit - something about her round-faced illustrations is super appealing to young children. This is a fun one because you can encourage lots of tickling as you read through.

Yawn by Sally Symes, illustrated by Nick Sharratt (Candlewick Press, 2011). This is a cute little book with a great rhythm. You can encourage caregivers to join in on the "gave a yawn" chorus or to help you identify the next animal in each spread.

I would love to hear what books you've added to your baby storytime roster! Please suggest titles in the comments below!

Looking for more suggestions for baby storytime? Check out my other lists below:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Preschool Storytime: Leap Day!

Oh man, I have been waiting four years for this storytime! Four years ago, I posted on the ALSC Blog some storytime resources for Leap Day and - huzzah! - this year, Leap Day coincided with one of our storytime days, so I snagged it and did this super fun storytime! Here's what I did:

Opening Song: My Hands Say Hello (our standard opener)

Book: Jump, Frog, Jump! by Robert Kalan, illustrated by Byron Barton (Greenwillow Books, 1986). This cumulative story has the repeated refrain "Jump, frog, jump!", which I asked all the kids to say along with me. There's a definite opportunity for STEM connections here - you could talk about pond life or the food web.

Song with Prop: Five Green and Speckled Frogs. I am pretty sure that this prop idea came from Susan Dailey. The frogs are on thin strings and as each frog "jumps into the pool", I pull its string and it hides behind the board.

Words & tune compliments of Jbrary:

Book: If You're Hoppy by April Pulley Sayre, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic (Greenwillow Books, 2011). Since I had a little bit of a squirrelly group, I had everyone stand up and we did actions to this book. We hopped like bunnies and frogs (and crickets), growled like dogs and bears, etc. This is a fun action book, but you could also use it to practice some brainstorming - think of more animals that hop or growl, etc. I had a kind of young crowd, so I just did the actions with the book.

Book: The Grasshopper Hopped by Elizabeth Alexander, illustrated by Joung Kim (Golden Books, 2010). This book has some fun rhymes and a really strong rhythm. Tabs move the grasshopper as he hops from place to place, keeping the kids' interest. I like to read this one very rhythmically.

Song with Scarves: Popcorn Kernels. I know that popcorn kernels don't exactly LEAP, but I figured it was close enough and this is one of my favorite scarf songs (you know I love me some scarves in storytime!) This is another one I learned from the lovely ladies at Jbrary:

Whenever I pass out the scarves, we start with a few little "warm ups" and wave our scarves high and low, fast and slow, and toss them in the air. When we finished our song, I asked the kids to bring them up to me by color.

Song: Jumping and Counting by Jim Gill, from the album Irrational Anthem. I don't use a ton of recorded music in my storytimes, but I love, love, love Jim Gill and this one fit in perfectly with our theme and it was super fun. Kids dancing along to this song are practicing listening and following directions as well as tons of counting.

Closing Song: Do You Know What Time It Is?

Additional resources: 

I had planned some more stories and songs, but we ran out of time! Other books and activities you could include are:

  • Jump! by Scott Fischer (Simon & Schuster, 2010)
  • Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed
  • Jack Be Nimble (children take turns jumping over a candlestick)
  • Sleeping Bunnies
  • Any books, songs, or activities having to do with animals that jump, hop, or leap: frogs, rabbits, kangaroos, crickets, fleas, etc. etc.! 

I had thought about putting masking tape down on the floor for hopscotch boards, but I couldn't find any masking tape and I was working the weekend and didn't have time to go get any. So I ended up just putting out some random play stations: 

Did anyone else do a storytime or program for Leap Day? Please share what you did!