Step Into Storytime, December 10

Stack of books for storytime, spines out

Storytime this morning was incident-free! We had about twelve kids in the target age range to start, with a few more joining throughout, and some younger siblings, for maybe 17 kids altogether.

  • Hello friends song with ASL
  • Name song (“___ is here today, ___ is here today, let’s all clap our hands, ___ is here today”)
  • Want to Play Trucks? by Ann Stott, illustrated by Bob Graham: A librarian friend of mine read this in her storytime for 3- to 5-year-olds, and I thought it could work as a lead-off book for 2- and 3-year olds too – and it did! It’s the perfect example of “find a way to play together”; the kids resolve their differences simply and easily, without much fuss, and it ends with ice cream, which everyone can agree on.
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” to warm up for…
  • …yoga cube! (3 poses)
  • My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall, with flannel board animals. I asked the kids to raise their hands (or wave, or point) when one of the animals in the book matched one of the ones on the flannel board (I have the crab, clam, penguin, owl, and frog).
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex: This one is always fun to read aloud because of the sneezes. This time I stretched the “Achoooo” all the way into the “Oops” (there are two wordless pages in between).
  • Yoga cube (three poses)Blue, yellow, red, and green felt elephants on felt board
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes, with flannel elephants. I had five volunteers to put the elephants on the board (and one to take them down). We also did some marching, parading, stretching, and a related activity later.
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (ending with “If you’re happy and you know it, sit back down…”)
  • Where, Bear? by Sophy Henn: I encouraged them to say the repeated line “Where, Bear?” along with me.
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • The Steves by Morag Hood: This one is so funny.
  • Song cube: “ABCs”
  • Poems by Shel Silverstein (“Hug-O-War,” “Early Bird,” and “Pancake?”): These didn’t seem to go over as well as I remember from the last time I did them, but at least they’re short.
  • Back to elephants! I passed out die-cut paper elephants in red, yellow, green, and blue, and sang “If you’re holding [color] today, [color] today, [color] today, if you’re holding [color] today, jump up and shout hooray!” The kids seemed into the song but not the jumping up; could be that if we repeated it for a few weeks, they’d become more familiar with it and more enthusiastic. The paper elephants aren’t even necessary, as we sit on colored mats, and I made sure we only had red, yellow, green, and blue ones today. I gave the kids the choice to keep their paper elephants or return them, and most of the kids returned them; one tried to stick hers to the flannel board.
  • Goodbye friends song with ASL
  • Asked them to come put mats away in piles according to color. Not totally successful, but they did all bring their mats up front, which is something!

Kirkus has been doing its “best of 2018” lists; here is the list for picture books. Not all of these are right for storytime, or right for two- or three-year-olds, but plenty are. Have a look – and, if you’re like me, you’ll feel the need to place about a dozen requests to the library. Happy reading!

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Step Into Storytime, November 30 and December 3

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11/30/18: I covered an extra storytime this week, for the same age group (2-3 years) and some of the same kids. Because I wasn’t sure who would show up, I chose some of my favorite books that have been successful at storytime before, as well as a craft that has been popular in the past (and that is quick and easy to prepare, especially if you happen to have an extra-large “squeeze punch,” which is a giant hole punch that cuts out circles; ours is made by Fiskars).

  • Welcome, introduction, announcements, putting up early literacy tipsIMG_20181130_093841
  • Hello Friends song with ASL
  • Name song (“____ is here today”)
  • The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury
  • Song cube: “Zoom zoom zoom, we’re going to the moon”
  • Tyrannosaurus Wrecks by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, illustrated by Zacahriah Ohora (I meant to hand out scarves before this book, but forgot until a few pages in, so I paused and handed them out in the middle, so the kids could wave them on the word “wrecks”)
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • There’s A Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
  • Song cube: “I’m a Little Teapot”
  • Hooray for Hat by Brian Won
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood (foreshadowing: asked the kids what shape the peas were)
  • Song cube: “Itsy-bitsy Spider”
  • Lots of Dots by Craig Frazier (“We’ll be doing something with lots of dots later…”) When we looked around the room for dots, one observant kid noticed the round magnets holding up the early literacy tips! One grandpa also had dots on his socks.
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats, set up craft (gluing colored paper dots to butcher paper)

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12/3/18: Monday the weather was beautiful (sunny, spring-like, felt like 50 degrees!) and we had a HUGE group of about 20 kids plus all their grown-ups. There is some overlap between the two groups – plenty of kids come to the Monday and Friday storytimes – so I only repeated one book, There’s A Bear on My Chair. Again we skipped the name song as there were at least twelve kids at the beginning of storytime, and more showed up throughout.

  • Welcome and announcements
  • Hello song with ASL
  • Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Cub’s Big World by Sarah L. Thomson, illustrated by Joe Cepeda: I wasn’t sure how this one would go over as it is a fair amount of text and not a lot of humor, but it went fairly well.
  • “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer – always a favorite
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • There’s A Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins
  • Song cube: “ABCs”
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes: I cut out five elephants so we could put them up on the whiteboard with magnets on the counting page, and the kids helped tell me which color elephant came next. Then we marched in place, then marched “round” in a “parade.” There is so much to do with this book! I’m working on felt elephants so kids can put them on the flannel board.
  • Meant to read three Shel Silverstein poems, but forgot
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats, put on music (“The Wheels on the Bus” was specifically requested”) and dance with bubbles!

Colored paper elephants

Toddlers dancing to music with bubbles closely resemble a mosh pit, so it was a small miracle that when one of the littler kids vomited, no one was hit or splattered – the kid found the only clear patch of floor and aimed there. Hurrah! (If you ever want to clear out a storytime room rapidly, this is a surefire way.) The kid had good timing, too, waiting until the very end of the storytime/dance party. Well done, kiddo, and feel better.

So that was an exciting end to the program, but even throughout, it was pretty boisterous. I used as many calming and quieting techniques as I could think of, from singing “Twinkle Twinkle” to doing resting pose from the yoga cube, to anything we could all do together, like stomping our feet during Grumpy Pants; then it’s not exactly quiet, but everyone is making the same kind of noise, so it’s less chaotic. What are your favorite techniques to settle a big group?

Picture books face-out on a chair
Nanette’s Baguette, A Greyhound A Groundhog, Cub’s Big World, Grumpy Pants, There’s A Bear On My Chair, A Parade of Elephants

 

Step Into Storytime, November 26

Post-Thanksgiving, we had a big group again, with more than ten kids (plus baby siblings) at the beginning of our Step Into Storytime program for 2- and 3-year-olds. Given these numbers, we skipped the name song that we often sing after the hello song if there are fewer than ten kids.

I started off with a long-ish book, Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins, because it’s one of my favorites and because we did have snow recently (and our craft was to do with snowflakes). It went okay, but may be better for a preschool group. The favorites today were (I think) Oh No, George! and Monkey and Me.

Picture books piled up for storytime

  • Hello song with ASL
  • Toys Meet Snow by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle”
  • Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • People Don’t Bite People by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Molly Idle
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • Matilda’s Cat by Emily Gravett
  • Yoga cube (three poses)
  • Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake
  • Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Snowflake craft: White butcher paper taped to the floor, die-cut snowflakes in light blue and dark blue, glue sticks, blue/purple/white/silver crayons, blue and gray markers. Nine kids stayed for the craft and a few stayed for a long time!

I had thought about reading Cub’s Big World after Toys Meet Snow, but I think I’ll save that for next week’s lead-off book, especially if we have snow between now and then. They All Saw A Cat and A Greyhound, A Groundhog are on deck too. Often the most successful books are the ones with some humor in them (like The Wonky Donkey and Grumpy Pants from last week). Do you have any favorite funny books for this age group? Please share!

Step Into Storytime, November 19

It was a cold rainy Monday the week of Thanksgiving, so attendance was a little sparse, but we had five kids in our target age range, plus two baby siblings, and we had a great time! I introduced my new creation this week: a yoga cube, made from the illustrations in the endpapers of Yoga Bunny by Brian Russo. I showed the book but didn’t read it, explaining that it’s a little long for two-year-olds. We tried out the yoga cube and it went really well – I brought it out three times during storytime and we did about three poses each time.

Song cube, yoga cube, Carrot and Pea

Storytime books on chair, with donkey puppet and coloring sheets

I also lucked out and found a big donkey puppet in the closet, so I used that to accompany my lead-off book, The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith. Hee haw!

  • Hello song with ASL
  • Name song (including the grown-ups, as we only had six total bodies in the room at the beginning)
  • The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith, with puppet. Definitely made at least one parent giggle.
  • Introduced the yoga cube and did three poses together
  • Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer: this one is a hit every time. It is just the right length for a group of 2-3-year-olds, and just the right concept too – sometimes you can be grumpy for no reason and just need a bath to cheer you up. (A nice cold bath, in Penguin’s case.)
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands”
  • Carrot and Pea by Morag Hood: Another perfect book for this group, and a nice friendship story that emphasizes how difference can be good.
  • Yoga cube
  • I Feel Teal by Lauren Rille: I love this book, and it seemed to go over okay, but it may be that this age group doesn’t quite get linking colors and moods, they are still too literal (“I’m wearing green!”)
  • Song cube: ABC songMy Heart Is Like A Zoo flannelboard
  • 88 Instruments by Chris Barton: I hadn’t planned to include this one, it was one of my backup books, but the kids in I Feel Teal play musical instruments on one page of that story so my storytime kids got excited about that too. I pulled the jingly things out of the closet and we made some noise! The jinglers aren’t especially loud, which is good, because there aren’t good prompts built into the book to tell you when to make noise (you could jingle at every page turn, though).
  • Song cube: “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon”
  • My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall, with flannel board. I pointed to the flannel animals before starting the book and asked the kids to point or raise their hands when one of our flannel friends showed up in the book. It worked – with help from grown-ups.
  • Yoga cubepangolin coloring sheet
  • Roly Poly Pangolin by Anna Dewdney: This is a cute story about an unusual animal overcoming his shyness and making friends, plus it comes with a coloring sheet, so that’s what we did for our activity.
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats, pass out coloring sheets, set out bowls of crayons

And that’s it for this week. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Looking back before looking ahead: 2018 reading wrap-up

Toward the end of last year (November 17, 2017, to be exact), I posted my Top Ten list of books I had been looking forward to earlier in the year, and books I was looking forward to in 2018. Now we’re nearing the end of 2018, and it’s time to see how things went. Those who are familiar with Nick Hornby’s “Stuff I’ve Been Reading” column – or really anyone who always has a to-read list going – know that some books never quite rise to the top of the list, even if you really meant to read them, while others jump the queue. Here are the ones I was planning to read:

  • I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman (YA/new adult)
  • I Am, I Am, I Am by Maggie O’Farrell (memoir)
  • Starlings by Jo Walton (short fiction and poetry)
  • Fun Home by Alison Bechdel (graphic novel/memoir)
  • Far from the Tree by Robin Benway (YA)
  • Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn (fiction)
  • The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin (sci-fi/fantasy)
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (YA)
  • Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (gothic romance)
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (nonfiction)
  • Hunger by Roxane Gay (memoir)
  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden (fantasy)
  • Walking Home by Simon Armitage (nonfiction/memoir/poetry)
  • Transcription by Kate Atkinson

I’ve done pretty well with this list, even with queue-jumpers; the only ones I haven’t read (yet!) are Mrs. Queen, Daniel Kahneman, Roxane Gay, and Walking Home. Of the rest, I really enjoyed them all, but Jemisin’s trilogy was particularly outstanding for its world-building, character development, and storytelling structure/perspective, and Transcription was incredible as well; when Kate Atkinson observes that “The mark of a good agent is when you have no idea which side they’re on,” file that away for later. And Maggie O’Farrell continues to amaze me; I’ll read anything she writes.

Cover image of The Princess Bride 25th anniversary editionRe-reading: I used to love re-reading, but when I started working in publishing and then in libraries, there were always so many enticing new books I didn’t re-read the ones I liked nearly as often as I used to. This fall I’ve made more time for re-reading, including the Harry Potter series (I’ve re-read the first six since the end of August). I plan to re-read the seventh, and maybe The Cursed Child as well. I’m also planning to re-read The Princess Bride (that was on my mental list for November/December even before the sad news that Bill Goldman passed away). And December wouldn’t be quite complete without re-reading Greenglass House by Kate Milford, though maybe this year I’ll re-read Ghosts of Greenglass House or Bluecrowne by her instead.

Community Reads: In addition to continuing to serve on the Arlington Reads Together committee, I’ve been drafted to be on the Winchester Reads committee, which means I have a nice new stack of books to read before our next meeting in February; I’m not sure if our shortlist is public knowledge yet so I won’t say what those titles are, but there are some strong candidates and I’m looking forward to starting them…after I finish S. Morgenstern’s classic tale of true love and high adventure.

2019: It looks like Nick Laird’s new poetry collection will be out next summer. I’m also hoping for the next Book of Dust by Philip Pullman, and Audrey Niffenegger’s sequel to The Time Traveler’s Wife. I’m sure there are plenty of other books to look forward to – what’s on your radar for next year?

I’m planning to post the actual 2018 wrap-up in early January. Here’s the 2017 wrap-up, and here’s the 2018 mid-year reading wrap-up.

Step Into Storytime, November 5

It was a rather dreary 50-degree morning and storytime was packed! There were at least 15 kids in the 2-3-year range, plus several younger siblings, including babies. We skipped the name song, but along with announcements, I pointed out the five early literacy practices that I always put up on the board – Read, Talk, Sing, Play, Write – and reminded caregivers and parents that doing those five things every day build the skills that will help kids learn to read.

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Song cube atop today’s stack of books
  • Hello song with ASL
  • Sam and Dave Dig A Hole by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen: This went over okay, but I think it’s a better one-on-one book, or maybe a better read-aloud for the preschool group. The illustrations are a bit subtle from a distance.
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle” – We had a lot of littler ones this time, and grown-ups were great about chiming in and singing.IMG_20181105_102722
  • Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough: This was a bit better, and I had a prop, thanks to a toddler who dragged in one of our larger stuffed bears.
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” – Very good! Every kid knew the song and did the motions as best they could.
  • Handed out scarves for Have You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow, which has a hide-and-seek element. Again, this one might have been better for a slightly older group; it’s very good one-on-one, as the elephant is usually pretty obvious and the kids have fun pointing it out in each picture. Collected scarves.
  • Song cube: “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon” – at least one kid was super excited about this song. I do it twice, in case it’s unfamiliar to anyone and they miss the countdown/blastoff bit at the end the first time through.
  • Thank You Bear by Greg Foley: Simple, sweet, and just right for this group today. Bear finds a box that he wants to give to his friend Mouse, which makes it a great segue into…
  • Not A Box by Antoinette Portis: Also just right for this group! Someone checked it out after storytime. (I always put all the books I read to the side so people can check them out afterward.)
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • One Pup’s Up by Marsha Wilson Chall and Henry Cole
  • Wow! Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood: This one is short and lends itself to being read with plenty of expression; it was pretty well received and a good one to end on.
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Clean up mats, put on music, dance in bubbles!
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Sam and Dave, Where’s My Teddy?, Have You Seen Elephant?, Thank You Bear, Not A Box, One Pup’s Up, Wow! Said the Owl

Next week we’re closed on Monday for Veterans’ Day, and I’m hoping that by the week after that I’ll have my yoga cube ready to go so we can do some yoga poses in storytime. I also want to make sure I have a more diverse batch of books next time; I try to keep a 50/50 gender balance but today’s books were more by male authors.

 

 

Step Into Storytime, October 29

Last week I was at the NELA annual conference and missed storytime, so I was happy to be back to it this morning, and we had a full house even on a very rainy day!

I’ve had Mem Fox’s Where Is The Green Sheep? as an alternate for a few weeks now, and this morning I quickly made a few flannel sheep to go with it. I also found a big stuffed sheep in one of our storage closets, and that generated a lot of excitement right away, so even before we sang the hello song I let any kid who wanted to come up and pet the sheep.

Book spines
Hello Hello, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, A Parade of Elephants, Wow! Said the Owl, Monkey and Me, One Little Blueberry (not pictured: Where is the Green Sheep?)

Stuffed sheep and Where is the Green Sheep? book

Flannel sheep
Felt sheep for the flannel board. I just put the pink, yellow, and blue ones out first, and stuck the green one on at the end of the book.

After our welcome announcements (keep the door clear, feel free to come and go as needed), we sang our hello song with ASL. Then we sang the name song; there were about ten kids at the beginning of our storytime (plus a brand-new baby, sibling to one of the kids), and a few went out but more came in throughout.

  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel: I cannot overstate what a great first book this is. The text is so minimal, the pictures so bright and interesting, and so many opportunities for interactivity (e.g. waving arms like an octopus for “Hello bend”)
  • Song cube: “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon”
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle: I used the flannel board for this one, and had plenty of volunteers to remove the fruit as the caterpillar ate it. It was surprisingly orderly.
  • Song cube: “ABCs”
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes: Also such a great book for this age, with simple text but lots of opportunities for counting and movement; in the middle of the book we marched around in a circle (well, a circle-ish shape). Tie-in craft at the end!
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • Where is the Green Sheep? by Mem Fox, illustrated by Judy Horacek: I used the flannel board again, with four sheep I’d whipped up this morning before storytime started.
  • One Little Blueberry by Tammi Salzano, illustrated by Kat Whelan: I hadn’t set out to do a counting-theme storytime, but lots of today’s books were counting books. Another simple book with a surprise at the end.
  • Monkey and Me by Emily Gravett: This one has been a hit every time. I invite kids to stand up if they want to so they can do the animal imitations (waddle like a penguin, hop like a kangaroo), and when the girl and her monkey fall asleep at the end of the story, that quiets everyone back down again. Perfect.
  • Goodbye song with ASL
  • Cleaned up sitting mats
  • Taped purple butcher paper to the floor and put out glue sticks and paper elephants (also made this morning – thank you, die-cut machine!). I just let them glue the elephants down wherever they wanted on the paper, but with an older group, we could have made patterns with the colors, or drawn a line and had the elephants “march” along a parade route.
Purple paper with multicolored elephants
Our activity was gluing colored paper elephants onto a big piece of paper taped to the floor.