Storytime Picks of the Month: January

In this monthly feature, I pick my favorite storytime reads of the month–one from my baby storytime, one from toddler storytime, and one from preschool storytime.

Oh, I’ve been so behind on blogging lately. Nothing shows that more than this “monthly” feature, which I haven’t updated in almost a year! But, back to it now. This month I was super inspired by Jbrary’s list of favorite storytime books for 2015. My baby and toddler choices are ones I discovered from that list, and if you haven’t checked it out yet, I urge you to! (Also, check out their 2014 & 2013 lists, as well. Great stuff!)

This month, I really tried to focus on trying new books for all of my storytimes. I’ve been doing storytimes for over 3 years now, and it’s easy to fall back on old favorites and standbys you know work. But I really wanted to push myself this year, to expand my favorites, and to try new things in storytime. So, without further ado, here are my favorite books from storytime this month:

baby loveBaby Storytime Pick: Baby Love by Angela DiTerlizzi; illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes. The caregivers in storytime LOVED this one. There were so many ooohs and aaahs at the end. I got a little chocked up myself, to be honest. It’s a simple, sweet book, with interactive elements–caregivers can touch the body parts on baby as the book identifies them–which makes it perfect for baby storytime. This will definitely go into my baby storytime rotation!

supertruckToddler Storytime Pick: Supertruck by Stephen Savage. Trucks are always a big hit with toddlers, and this was no exception. They were riveted by the pictures and the story. The parents all loved the disguise that supertruck wears at the end–while the toddlers didn’t really get that part of the book, they were enthralled by the overall story. Another book that I see myself going back to again and again.

white rabbits color bookPreschool Storytime Pick: White Rabbit’s Color Book by Alan Baker. My coworker and I share storytime planning, and this is one that she discovered for a colors themed storytime. There are lots of books like this: Color Dance, Mouse Paint, and Blue Goose are three I can think of right off the top of my head, but I’d never read this one before and it absolutely delighted the kids. They loved the rabbit, and the fact that colors blended to make other colors was just magical to all of them. This is one of those simple concept books that works really well with preschoolers.

 

Fall 2015 School Visit Booktalks

We’ve been lucky enough to dramatically expand our school outreach at my library this year. I’ve been behind on blogging everything, but here’s a list of the books I booktalked to 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders in the fall (if you click on the book’s title, it will take you to my full Goodreads review). Coming soon: a blog post talking about how we set up these outreach trips, and how great they’ve been for us!

Nest, by Esther Ehrlich (5th). This was also a This Book is My Jam pick, because I absolutely loved this book. I was happy the kids asked about this, and I hope they loved it as much as I did.

Smek

Smek for President, by Adam Rex (4th & 5th). A lot of the kids didn’t realize the movie Home was based on a book, so they were excited to learn that this was the sequel.

One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia (5th). I always feel like historical fiction is a tough sell for kids, but the combination of funny sisters, the Black Panther Party, and a complex relationship with the girls’ mother make this an irresistible choice to booktalk.

starry river

Starry River of the Sky, by Grace Lin (5th). This one was recommended to me by a patron and her daughter, who listened to it on audio and loved it. I loved it too, and sold it to the kids as a magical, mythical book. They were definitely excited.

Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan (5th). Another beautiful, magical book, and while some of the kids seemed a little intimidated by the length, they loved the plot summary and seemed really intrigued.

terrible two

The Terrible Two, by Mac Barnett & Jory John (4th & 5th). Not surprisingly, this was a hugely popular book. The kids loved the cover, loved the description, and were clamoring to get their hands on it.

The Imaginary, by A. F. Harrold (4th and 5th). Creepy books are always a big sell. I opened the book to a particularly creepy picture which made a lot of the kids shriek with horror and delight. Definitely a book the kids wanted to read!

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Throw a Noon Year’s Eve Party!

I’ve been thinking about a Noon Year’s Eve party for the last year or so. I’ve heard librarians talk about them, and I’ve thought, “That would be fun!” (I got some great ideas for mine from this Facebook post on Storytime Underground.) And let me tell you, IT IS! We did one this year at my library and it was fabulous. We had a great time, a GREAT turnout (125 people!), and if you are like me and have been thinking of throwing one, I think you should mark your calendar for next year and do it.

What We Did:

1. Explained New Year’s Eve. Our party was aimed at ages 2-5, and for a lot of those kiddos, this might be the first time they are really aware of the new year. So I talked about how we were in 2015, but soon it would be 2016, and that lots of people like to celebrate that. Mostly, I tried to set the tone that this was a party!

Hooray for Hat2. Read a Book. To span the age group for our party, I read Hooray for Hat by Brian Won, and it was the perfect book! All of the kids loved yelling “HOORAY FOR HAT!” with me, and it was a fun book to set the tone.

Party Hat

photo credit: new year’s hat via photopin (license)

3. Make a Craft. To go along with our book, we made party hats. A coworker and a volunteer manned this station. Our hats were really easy: we put out paper bowls (the hats), a bunch of craft supplies (tiny cut out hearts and stars, sticky jewels, pompoms, and feathers), glue, a hole punch (to punch holes in the hats), and yarn (to tie the hats onto heads, if people wanted to). The amazing creativity we saw from the kids was wonderful. There were lots of beautiful hats. Since we had such a big group, this took a lot longer than I anticipated, and meant I had to shuffle around the rest of the party plan, but it worked out just fine.

Balloon Drop

photo credit: IMG_7218 via photopin (license)

4. BALLOON DROP AT NOON! To me, this is the essential part of the party. It was so magical! I made the balloon drop using the instructions on this site. I actually had to make two of them to accommodate all of the balloons. It was amazing to see the looks on the kiddos faces when the balloons dropped. The countdown, the balloons, the joy–it was amazing to watch! One thing to be aware of: it’s super cheap to make the balloon drop using the site I did, but it is time consuming to make and to set up. Next year, I’m going to look into buying a balloon drop kit. If you want to see pictures of the event, my library has some on its Facebook page.

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School Visits and Books We Booktalked

I previously blogged about how our summer reading promotion school visits work, and the books we brought to read to K-2nd graders. For grades 3-5, we bring books to booktalk. We brought a lot of books this year, and most were successful. Here are the books we talked about, and the reactions to them:

snicker of magicA Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. This was asked about by pretty much every class, and was one of the most popular books we bought. And obviously the booktalk worked–I just had to buy another copy of this for the library because we had so many holds on it! A fun cover, a magical town, and a girl who moves super often were all elements that intrigued the kids.

drizzleDrizzle by Kathleen Van Cleeve. This was also asked about by every class, which surprised me. I didn’t realize how compelling that cover was! And even though booktalking this book shows how strange it is (a magical rhubarb farm?!?!), it’s another one that has so many holds on it I just bought another copy for the library. So obviously a successful booktalk!

treatires trenchesTreaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale. Another very popular cover–it was asked about in every class we had it out for. This series continues to be popular in our library (our graphic novel collection is generally just insanely popular, as I assume it is everywhere), and this was no exception. It was the only book where after our presentation, a child actually asked me to write down the title so he wouldn’t forget it.

Tricky Vic by Greg Pizzoli. I think what always surprises me the most about booktalking to classrooms is which covers the kids are interested in hearing more about. This one got asked about a lot, and I have had a few kids come in the library since and ask “what was that book about the conman, again?” This is a great picture book nonfiction, that I loved, but I didn’t expect it to be as popular with the kids as it was.

absolutely almostAbsolutely Almost by Lisa Graff. Another cover that surprised me–it was asked about a lot. I LOVED this book, but realized it’s actually kind of tricky to booktalk. I think my booktalk rambled on a bit the first time I tried to booktalk it, so I ended up just reading a chapter from the book, which seemed to work better.

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick. This book reminded me that I can’t wait for The Marvels to come out soon. I love Selznick! A lot of the kids had already read this one, and they loved sharing with us that it was a great book. It is 🙂

greenglass houseGreenglass House by Kate Milford. I love the cover of this, but it always seemed a little adult to me, and I wasn’t sure it would appeal to kids. I was TOTALLY wrong about this. This one got asked about a lot, and I still have kids coming into the library wanting to put holds on it.

Waiting for the Magic by Patricia MacLachlan. The animals on the cover of this made it a big draw. And the kids all liked the fact that this was about a family that owned a lot of animals.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. Another book that both my coworker and I loved, but found somewhat difficult to booktalk without rambling. We brought the audiobook, rather than the physical book, which meant we couldn’t just read from it. But it was asked about a lot, and the kids definitely seemed intrigued by it, and our copies aren’t staying on the shelf, so I think this will be a summer hit! Continue reading

School Visits and What We Read This Year

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 snapSnip 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 boredI’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 yarnExtra 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. Continue reading

Storytime Picks of the Month: March

In this monthly feature, I pick my favorite storytime reads of the month–one from my baby storytime, one from toddler storytime, and one from preschool storytime.

we've all got bellybuttonsBaby Storytime Pick: We’ve All Got Bellybuttons by David Martin. I love this book, for both babies and toddlers. Our copy is falling apart and it’s out of print, which is always so sad. This is a great, interactive book to read in baby storytime, and it rhymes! What I like most about it is that this book encourages parents and babies to identify different body parts (hands, necks, etc.) and move them along with the book. For wiggly babies with short attention spans, this book is an excellent choice! Plus, the illustrations are adorable.

sheep in a jeepToddler Storytime Pick: Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy Shaw. Another favorite that I use quite often in toddler storytime. The rhyming makes for a good read aloud, and the kiddos like the illustrations. There’s always a toddler that says, “Uh oh!” when the jeep gets stuck. And parents love the joke in the last line, “Jeep for sale–cheap!” so it’s a good parent pleasing book, as well. Just a fun read aloud that combines animals and vehicles–always favorites for toddlers!

hungry henPreschool Storytime Pick: Hungry Hen by Richard Waring. I just love this book. It’s short enough to read with toddlers, which I’ve done before, but preschoolers really get the joke at the end. I read it as part of a bird themed storytime, and it was fun to watch the tension build with the kiddos until they couldn’t wait to know what was going to happen with the hen. They were so worried about her! And then when (spoiler alert) she just gobbled the fox right up–they loved it. So many giggles. This is a fun book to read with preschoolers that is always a hit (as a bonus, parents always find it funny, too!).

Storytime Picks of the Month: February

In this monthly feature, I pick my favorite storytime reads of the month–one from my baby storytime, one from toddler storytime, and one from preschool storytime.

This is an extremely late Storytime Picks of the Month! So without further ado, here are my favorite storytime books from February:

brown bearBaby Storytime Pick: Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. This is a classic for a reason. It just works! Whenever I read this in storytime, I know that a bunch of babies are going to run up to see the book, point things out, and just generally get really excited about it. It’s also a great book for encouraging parental and baby participation. We can all say together what the different animals and their colors are. It’s just a book that works, and one that my babies always love. Definitely a go-to for baby storytime.

spots feathersToddler Storytime Pick: Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails by Nancy Tafuri. This book hits all of the fun notes for toddler storytime. There are animal noises and guessing the animals, and just a bunch of fun. Toddlers love to guess which animal is coming next. Basically, this is at the perfect level for toddlers and their development–it seems like all toddlers love farm animals and it’s a participatory book that all my toddlers are able to participate in. Another go-to for me for my toddler storytime.

where's my teddyPreschool Storytime Pick: Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough. This book has the benefit of being both adorable and allowing you to read it in a crazy, over-the-top way which is always fun. I love yelling “Where’s my TEDDY?!?!?!” dramatically. Also, we have a big book of this book in our storytime collection, which also always makes for a fun experience for everyone. We used this as part of an opposites storytime this month (which was a really fun theme if you’ve never done it), and it was a great choice for preschoolers.