It’s the craziest time of year to be a children’s librarian! Summer reading is almost here! In the past few weeks, I’ve spent a significant amount of time on school visits, promoting our library’s summer reading program and getting kids excited about reading over the summer. I love school visits, and it has been great to meet with kids, and have them come into the library later and say, “You were at my school!”
We have been lucky enough this year to meet individually with different grade levels at most of the schools we visited. This makes for a long day (at least 3 hours at the school, sometimes most of the day), but means we can tailor our presentations to each grade level. For grades K-2, we read a story and talk about the summer reading program. For grades 3-5, we talk about the summer reading program and bring a bunch of books to booktalk. I’m planning on posting our booktalk books next week, but wanted to share the books we chose to read aloud this year.
A question that comes up a lot on Facebook groups of children’s librarians is: “What picture books can I read to school age children?” I’m going to make a list sometime soon with all my favorite school age readalouds, but here’s a short one with what worked this year:
Snip Snap, What’s That? by Mara Bergman. We read this to kindergarteners on most of our visits. They loved it! It’s the perfect amount of suspense for kindies. All the classes picked up on the “You bet they were” refrain very quickly and loved yelling it with me. I also love reading this book in storytime with preschoolers, and it was fun to see that it worked with a slightly older age, as well.
I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black. This was a great pick for 1st grade classes. They thought it was hilarious. There were so many giggles during most of this book. This is another book that I’ve read with preschoolers before (and they’ve liked it), but I think the ending works better with the older kiddos. Preschoolers are sometimes a little confused by the ending, but on the school visits, they thought it was so funny.
Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett. I love this book. I love the gentle fairy tale feel of it. This was another great 1st grade book. They were entranced by the story, loved watching the colors change, and loved predicting what was going to happen. I always like to ask if they would sell the yarn to the archduke, and it’s wonderful how many kids yell, “NO!!!!” There’s just something magical and timeless and lovely about this story.
The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak. Anyone who enjoys reading silly stories with kids and has read this to kids knows that it is, without question, a slam dunk. It has everyone in hysterics. I didn’t actually read this story this year–my lovely coworker Miss Katie read it to 1st and 2nd graders. It’s even more fun to watch someone read this book than it is to read it yourself. I was giggling as hard as the kids were. It’s just a wonderful, hilarious book that works.
Sam and Dave Dig a Hole by Mac Barnett. Until I wrote this list, I didn’t realize that we brought two Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen books with us. I really love it when those two work together, obviously, and this was no exception. We read this one to 2nd graders. I love the looks of complete exasperation on their faces when the boys miss yet another diamond. Like Extra Yarn, this is a book that completely engrosses the kids. It’s also a great discussion book–where did they go? What happened? Why did everything change? Wonderful, and a great way to build visual literacy.
Books we brought, but didn’t read:
Count the Monkeys by Mac Barnett. Okay, clearly I need to branch out from my Mac Barnett obsession, but I think this book works really well with school age kids. Much like Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, this takes a well known type of book (in this case a counting book) and turns the conventions of that type of book on its head. It can seem “baby-ish” at first, but then is hilarious and interactive. We brought this for 1st graders, but ended up wanting to read other books to them instead, so never actually read this one.
Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas by Lynne Cox. I grabbed this for second graders, but with the end of the year so close, I felt that this book might be too quiet and a bit too long to keep everyone’s attention. But I have read this with second graders before, and they loved it. Nonfiction stories are a great choice for that age, and they loved the pictures of that adorable elephant seal. Last year one of the hits of our school visits was reading The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein, and I think that if the energy had been a bit different and I had read this one, the kids would have loved it, as well.
So those were my successful school visit reads this year! If you went on school visits, what did you read to the kids? What are your favorite school age readalouds?