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.


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.

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.

tuck-in-timeBaby Storytime Pick: Tuck-In-Time by Carole Gerber. Books like this are a great choice for baby storytime. There’s a lot of rhyming, and it allows for parent and baby participation. This book lists lots of different body parts on baby, so caregivers can identify the parts on baby as you read together. It also depicts the common scene of bedtime, which makes it identifiable to all the babies in storytime. The cadence makes it a great read aloud. I had never read this book before, and it will definitely go in my rotation for good books to use in baby storytime.

monkey see look at meToddler Storytime Pick: Monkey See, Look at Me! by Lorena Siminovich. This month, I made it a point to only use new books in my baby and toddler storytimes. It’s so important to keep it fresh and try new books. I’m so glad I tried this one! The bright illustrations and fun story made this a perfect story for toddlers. My toddlers are usually pretty quiet while I’m reading the books, even when I ask them questions while reading. But they LOVED responding to the question: “Is he a rabbit? Is he a lion?” I got a resounding “No!” and a lot of giggles every time. There’s also a lot of opportunity to have your kiddos do animal noises and participate as you read the story. This was just a really fun crowd pleaser.

snip snapPreschool Storytime Pick: Snip Snap!: What’s That? by Mara Bergman. This was another book I had never read in storytime before, and my kids LOVED it! It’s also a great book for many different themes, as my coworker who introduced it to me pointed out. It can work for a noisy storytime (the theme of the storytime I read this in this month), a reptile storytime, a scary storytime, and more. It’s just fabulous. You can ramp up the scary factor and the kids love it. While it is suspenseful, and my kids were on the edges of their seats throughout, it never crossed the line into too spooky. They all had big grins on their faces and couldn’t wait to see what was going to happen. This was definitely a winner!

Storytime Picks of the Month: December

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.

Peek-a-mooBaby Storytime Pick: Peek-a-Moo by Marie Torres Cimarusti. Something I love for baby storytime: books that encourage participation with the babies and parents! And this book did just that–parents could play peek-a-boo along with their babies as we read, could make animal sounds, and could guess what the animals were going to be. Plus, this is a lift-the-flap book which is always very exciting for the babies. As are animal noises. And it’s nice and short, with very few words on the page, and would be easy to make even shorter if you need to, which again makes it a great baby storytime pick.

Can you cuddleToddler Storytime Pick: Can You Cuddle Like a Koala? by John Butler. John Butler’s books are pretty perfect for toddler storytime, and I’ve been using them a lot lately. This one was no exception and was also an excellent example of a great “middle of storytime” book. It allows a lot of participation for the toddlers, so we stand up during it and try all of the actions along with the book. A great way to get wiggles out, and model to parents how they can read a book with a very active child who never wants to sit still–with this book, they don’t have to! Also, while I feel like normally I would find Butler’s illustration style a bit too sweet, for some reason his adorable animals just work for me. And the parents and kids seem to love them as well.

Storytime Picks of the Month: DecemberPreschool Storytime Pick: All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle. I picked this one because it might have been my biggest surprise of the month. This was part of a winter storytime theme. I enjoyed it when I read it, but wasn’t sure how it would work in storytime. It was a hit! the kids loved guessing what would come next and what else you might need for a snowman, and they loved seeing the snowman grow. At the end, they all couldn’t wait to tell me about what kinds of snowmen they would build when it snowed enough (we’ve been having a mild winter in Colorado, but got a lot of snow over the past few days, so I’m hoping my kiddos got to go out and make their own snowmen). This book just has a lovely rhythm and use of the word EXCEPT that makes it a fun, participatory story. Perfect for preschoolers!

Storytime Picks of the Month: November

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.

Baby Storytime Pick: the-babies-on-the-bus-coverThe Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz. This is one of my favorites to use in baby storytime. I love Katz’s illustrations for babies–they are big, clear, bright, and colorful. I also love that it’s a diverse group of babies. And I love to use a book I can sing. This one has some silly changes the the original song which makes it fun, but there are still the old standbys that keep it familiar. If I had any quibble with this book in the context of baby storytime, it would be that it is a little long. I’ve actually not had to shorten it too much, although occasionally I just end on the page where the babies fall fast asleep. But because it’s a song, it usually holds my babies’ attention all the way through.

Toddler Storytime Pick: oh noOh, No! by Candace Fleming. Speaking of books that are longer than I would usually pick for a specific age range, this book might be just a touch too long for a lot of toddler groups. But I love it and use it anyway. I find that the rhythmic language and beautiful illustrations keep my toddlers engaged, and it’s fun to make all of the animal noises and yell, “Oh, no!” together. I’m not sure why, but I’ve actually never used this book with preschoolers–I need to change that posthaste. It’s just a really great picture book with really wonderful illustrations that work. A couple of things: I usually have a backup for this book when I’m reading it in toddler time. If the energy is too high for a longer read, I will put it away to use next time. And I always read this one first, to keep everyone’s attention. But it really is one of my favorites, and one that I come back to again and again.

Preschool Storytime Pick: little mouseThe Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood. I had so many great books to choose from for preschool storytime this month, but this pick (from a food themed storytime) was my favorite, mostly because of the reaction from my kiddos. When I was holding it up, a boy who’d obviously read it at home many times was telling everyone about how they eat the strawberry before the bear comes. And one little girl interjected: “And then the bear comes and eats the mouse! There will be blood!” This gruesomeness injected into such a sweet book made me laugh and made all of the kids very curious about what was actually going to happen. I’m pretty sure the little girl was sad that there wasn’t any blood in this one. Also, our storytime collection version of this is a big book, which is always fun to use in storytime–the kids are always a bit dazzled by big books. Those were my picks from the month of November! I’m starting to wonder if I should change this feature to a weekly one–there are so many great books that I’d like to talk about that I don’t get to when only picking once a month.

Things I Wish I’d Known: Baby Storytime

Welcome to Things I Wish I’d Known, a semi-regular feature in which I talk about things I wish I’d known when I started my job as a children’s librarian.

Originally, I was going to do a “Things I Wish I’d Known” feature on all storytimes, but then I realized that was too much to cram into a single post. So I will break down the three storytimes I do weekly–baby, toddler, and preschool–over the next few weeks. If you want to see how my baby storytime works, I talked about it here.

Baby storytime was probably the storytime that scared me the most when I started my job. What can I do with a room full of babies? I wondered. I was sure it was going to be a disaster. Imagine my surprise when I started baby storytimes and realized that they would actually be my weekly therapy. Baby storytime is easy to plan, fun, and makes my whole day better. Here are some things I have learned over the couple of years:

What I Wish I'd Known: Baby Storytime

photo credit: Harald Groven via photopin cc

1. It’s more about the parents/caregivers than the babies. Babies learn a lot from baby storytime. I’ve watched lots of babies blossom. But at the end of the day, I consider my baby storytimes to be about supporting the new parents and caregivers in my community. We have lots of stay-at-home parents who come to baby storytime, as well as grandparents and nannies who spend their whole day with a child. They need some time out of the house, time to see other adults, and something that reinforces all of the awesome things they are doing with their babies day in and out. In storytime I get to model ways to read a book to a baby, hopefully teach my caregivers some new rhymes to use at home with their babies, and give them some time to connect with other adults. I also get to pass on a few tips about what research tells us about baby brains and brain development.

2. Flexibility is key. Sometimes something just isn’t working. If all the babies are crawling or walking around, it’s not the time to try a lap bounce. If there’s a lot of chatter and activity in the room, I find it best to stop what I’m doing and sing “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.” If I really can’t get the room’s attention, I’ll pass out shaky eggs and and sing together for the rest of the storytime. Baby storytime requires a lot of reading the room and adapting to the needs of the room as things come up.

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