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.


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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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!

Things I Wish I’d Known: Toddler 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.

It has been a long time since I last posted! I got sick, the holidays happened, life happened, and suddenly I realized that a post I wanted to post weeks ago hadn’t even been written yet. So, finally, I’m coming back to blogging and talking about what I wish I’d known when I started toddler storytimes. I also wrote about my toddler storytimes and what they look like here if you’re new to doing a toddler storytime or are just curious to see how different librarians run theirs.

I absolutely adore toddler storytime. It’s a great storytime to let loose and be as silly as you like, it always ends with a ton of toddler hugs that make my week, and it’s just filled with movement and singing and giggling. That being said, it took a while before I felt like I had a handle on toddler storytime. Toddlers are full of emotions, ups and downs, and a need to be moving all the time. This can make storytimes a roller coaster of an experience for everyone involved! Here’s what I wish I’d known when I started doing toddler storytimes:

photo credit: jessicafm via photopin cc

photo credit: jessicafm via photopin cc

1. Perfect behavior is never going to happen with toddlers–and that’s completely okay. Toddlers like to move. They are constantly exploring the world around them and like being up, touching things, looking at things, etc. all the time. This is what they are wired to do. Expecting toddlers to sit and listen quietly to a bunch of books is completely unrealistic and won’t make your storytimes fun for you, the parents, and the kiddos. That being said, it’s completely okay for you, the librarian, to set behavior expectations (a bit more on that later). As part of my opening spiel, I say “I know that toddlers need to move and we incorporate lots of movement during toddler storytime. We try to sit on our bottoms during the books. If that’s not happening today, that’s okay, just try to redirect toward the back of the room so that everyone can see the books.” This does a couple of things–it shows caregivers that I don’t expect that all kids in the storytime will be able to sit through the books. It lets caregivers of active toddlers know how they can help their kiddo have fun in storytime. And it lets my older toddlers, who can sit and listen throughout the stories, to be able to see and enjoy the books. I know everyone is soaking it up just by being in the room–this seems to work for me and help everyone have the best experience possible.

2. Toddlers need time to get used to new rhymes/songs. With babies, I mentioned that I try to keep my baby storytimes about 80% similar from week to week. With toddlers, I aim for more like 40-50%. I can do a lot more variety with toddlers, and try new songs and rhymes more often. But I do try to keep in mind that it can take a while for toddlers to catch on and get excited about new songs/rhymes. When I was a newbie at toddler storytime, I tried a fingerplay I found on a storytime blog called “Here’s a Cup.” The toddlers looked at me like I was crazy and did not seem to be into it at all. I thought it was a rhyme that just didn’t work for me. But then I tried it again. And again. And now it’s a favorite rhyme that we do often in toddler storytime and it always ends with lots of giggles. Toddlers like repetition just as much as babies do. They like singing songs they know and reciting rhymes they know. So if you think something looks like a fun thing to try in toddler storytime, but it doesn’t work the first time, I’d encourage you to try it for a couple of weeks in a row. Generally, that gives everyone time to learn it and you can better gauge if something will truly work for you or not.

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