Step Into Storytime, September 23

It’s officially the first day of fall, and yet today is particularly summery, and the storytime room gets HOT when it is full of people. But, I’m always happy to have lots of kiddos to read to and sing with! Today we started out with about 15, grew to 20, and ended with about 12.

Picture books cover out on chair with greyhound stuffed animal

  • Welcome, announcements
  • “Hello Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Still Stuck by Shinsuke Yoshitake: I love this book, though it doesn’t usually get much reaction at storytime (at least, not from the kids; the parents like it). I used it as a lead-off book to take advantage of the relatively fresh attention span, and I made it more interactive by encouraging kids to mime taking off a shirt, as well as the scrub-a-dub-dub part. It’s not pictured in today’s photos because a parent took it home – yay!Greyhound stuffed animal on stack of picture books
  • “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”
  • Oh No, George! by Chris Haughton
  • Song cube: “Wheels on the Bus”
  • A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans: I brought my stuffed greyhound as a prop.
  • “Kookaburra” – at least one parent was singing along this time! The second verse is better than the first, because (a) they’ve all heard the tune once already, and (b) there are motions (picking gumdrops, “stop” hands)
  • Handed out scarves
  • How Do You Dance? by Thyra Heder: This is a new book so today was the first time I used it at storytime, and it’s phenomenal. Lots of opportunities to move bodies and wave scarves!
  • Pirate Jack Gets Dressed by Nancy Raines Day and Allison Black: We paid a lot of attention to color in the book and in the room – the color of our clothes, of our mats, of our scarves.
  • Give the scarves one more wave, then collect them.
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot,” “ABCs,” “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon”
  • Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak: This is a quieter book and I was on the fence about it, especially as the last book of the day with a squirrelly group, but one grown-up with twins said they’d read it just last night, so I went ahead. It is the first day of fall, after all.
  • “Goodbye Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Clean up mats
  • Craft: Gluing colored shapes

Craft: gluing colored paper shapes to butcher paper

Step Into Storytime, September 16

It was another large group for Step Into Storytime this morning! Again, the group skewed toward the younger end of the age range (2-3 years, with siblings welcome), and we had a mix of new families and regulars, including a couple older regulars who were very helpful during Not A Box.

Books, shaker eggs, greyhound and panda stuffed animals

Books for storytime

  • Welcome and announcements: Keep the doorways clear, feel free to come and go (wiggliness, noise, bathroom, snack breaks), calendar of events available at desk and on website, etc.)
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Stretch: a seated stretch toward the ceiling, to toes, to ceiling, to toes
  • Chu’s Day by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex, with enormous panda bear and fake sneezes.
  • Song cube: “I Had A Little Turtle” (seemed unfamiliar to most) and “If You’re Happy and You Know It” (familiar to everyone!)
  • I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry: this giant squid knows how to make the best of things.
  • Passed out shaker eggs, tested them to make sure they worked (they did), instructed them to shake them every time they heard the word “glitter” in Just Add Glitter by Angela DiTerlizzi and Samantha Cotterill. (One of my favorite storytime tips is to recognize that little kids are going to make noise – so get them making the same noise at the same time.). Collected eggs.
  • Yoga cube: Downward dog is a little crowded when the storytime room is that full, but some kids made it work!
  • Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi and Brendan Wenzel
  • “The Kookaburra Song”
  • Not A Box by Antoinette Portis (we read Not A Stick last week): This is where my older kids came in handy, especially because one of them was already familiar with the book. If it’s not a box, what is it?
  • Songs/rhymes: “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” and “Where is Thumbkin?” (twice, replacing “sir” with “friend”)
  • The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, with flannel board: I always have volunteers to help put the different fruits on the board.
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Clean up mats, invite questions (and someone did ask about chapter books with pictures for her 3-year-old!), tape down paper and put out crayons for coloring.

Kookaburra picture, yoga cube, song cube

Step Into Storytime, September 9

It’s a new season of Step Into Storytime, our library’s twice-weekly storytime for two- and three-year-olds (and siblings of various ages). I run our Monday storytime, and I’m excited to get back into a weekly rhythm!

Storytime room

Room setup:

  • Step Into Storytime laminated poster and early literacy tips (Talk, Sing, Read, Write, Play) on the board with magnets
  • Colored mats in a stack
  • Storytime box (contains magnets, posters, bubbles, scissors, tape, scarves, shaker eggs, stickers, ipod with music, etc.)
  • Additional props (flannel board and shapes, puppets or stuffed animals)
  • Song cube(s) and yoga cube(s)
  • Books! (Usually 4-6 I plan to read, plus several alternates in case the crowd skews younger, older, wiggly, etc.)

Books, donkey, song cubes, scarves, yoga cubes

Storytime:

  • Welcome everyone and announcements (keep the doorways clear, location of bathrooms and where to have snacks, upcoming program info)
  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Name song (“____ is here today”) and early literacy tip: we do a lot of singing in storytime, in addition to reading, because the rhythm of songs helps with language development and lays the groundwork for reading and writing later on.
  • Hello Hello by Brendan Wenzel: This is one of my all-time favorite openers. There’s not a lot of text, but there are so many opportunities for interaction (who’s wearing dots/stripes? Can you move like an octopus? Show/touch your tongue, ears, hands, and nose, etc.). In today’s group, we had a few returning families but plenty of new kids and they were a little younger than last spring’s group. Storytime for younger groups is always going to be noisy and wiggly, so if you can get them making the same sounds/movements as each other, that’s a win.
  • Want to Play Trucks? by Ann Stott and Bob Graham: Even with a younger crowd, I like to have at least a couple books with some kind of narrative arc or story, and this one is perfectly simple, in a familiar scenario for most kids – a playground, toys, ice cream.
  • Song cube: “I’m A Little Teapot” and “ABCs”
  • Not A Stick by Antoinette Portis: An off-page voice asks the little piglet about its stick – but it’s not not not a stick! This is a brilliant representation of the way grown-ups misunderstand kids’ imaginative play, or simply don’t see the same things. (I’m planning to read Not A Box next week.)
  • Handed out scarves for Huff and Puff by Claudia Rueda. “Does anyone know the story of the three little pigs? Okay, this is different!” The scarves are fun in themselves, give the kids something to do with their hands, and help illustrate the wind created by the wolf’s huffing and puffing.
  • Yoga cube (“Yoga is a way of moving our bodies”): Warrior poses and chair pose (“Everyone pull up an invisible chair…and sit in it!”)
  • Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley: Change is hard. Even young kids are familiar with the changing of seasons, and they can tell that there’s something funny about this tree’s fall leaves.A Parade of Elephants book and flannel board
  • The Wonky Donkey by Craig Smith and Katz Cowley, with donkey puppet. This one is funny, repetitive, and not as much of a tongue twister as it seems.
  • Flannel board: elephants
  • A Parade of Elephants by Kevin Henkes: Like Hello Hello, this one has so many opportunities for interaction and engagement: We identified the colors of the elephants, counted them, marched, stretched, yawned, and trumpeted.
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL (Jbrary)
  • Clean up mats
  • Music (“Watch Petunia Dance” by Caspar Babypants) and bubbles (and no one got trampled or threw up!)

Bonus: Lots of high fives and hugs at the end, plus a huge hug from a kiddo who’s been coming for at least a year with her older brother! The storytime love was strong today.

 

Summer Storytime: Inclusion and Acceptance

Storytime books on chair

Again, I didn’t plan around a theme, but as I looked at the books I’d chosen, a theme emerged: inclusion and acceptance. Whether it’s solving world hunger through pizza, allowing every kind of pet into the pet club, or trying on new identities (penguin, mermaid), the kind thing to do is always to accept those who look or act differently.

  • “Hello Friends” with ASL (Jbrary)
  • World Pizza by Cece Meng
  • Stretching, “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes”
  • Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
  • Julian Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love
  • “Shake Your Sillies Out” (Raffi music, scarves to shake)
  • I Am Actually A Penguin by Sean Taylor
  • Song cube: “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” “I Had A Tiny Turtle”
  • Pete’s A Pizza by William Steig
  • “Goodbye Friends” w/ ASL (Jbrary)
  • Decorate a pizza slice

Most of the kids seemed engaged throughout, and the pizza slice decoration was a hit. I told them they could take their slice home or add it to our pizza on the wall, and almost everyone chose to add theirs, so we made a whole pizza (with lots of interesting toppings).

I’ve gotten out of the habit of checking the blogs I follow via Feedly (and I can’t blame it all on the demise of Google Reader, either), but I dipped in recently to see what I’d missed and found these great posts:

  • From Tiny Tips for Library Fun, an examination of the Diversity in Children’s Books infographic, comparing 2015 to 2018. We have made a little progress but still have a ways to go – especially since the percentage of books featuring white characters dropped, but the percentage of books featuring non-human characters went up.
  • From Story Time Secrets, a new storytime complete with books, songs, and activities. The Giant Jumperee is one of my favorites to read aloud for toddlers, and I might use her “Story time is starting, clap your hands”/”Story time is over, clap your hands” sometime, although I really like “Hello Friends” and “Goodbye Friends.” I also think the “elevator” movement could work as a variation on “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” while standing up.
  • Betsy Bird’s Newbery/Cadecott 2020: Summer Prediction Edition. My reading list just got so much longer, but fortunately, lots of the titles are picture books. I’m looking forward to new Brendan Wenzel and a Bob Shea/Zachariah Ohora collaboration, and I’ve already enjoyed Antoinette Portis’ Hey, Water! I love middle grade too: New Kid and Other Words For Home were amazing, and I can’t wait for Corey Haydu’s newest, Eventown. Queen of the Sea looks interesting too.

Happy birthday, Harry Potter! More HP trivia at the library

Last January’s Harry Potter trivia was so successful that we decided to do it again on the last Saturday of July, as close to Harry’s birthday (7/31) as possible. Once again, registration filled up and we had a few on the waitlist (not as many as last time, but I suspect that has to do with it being summer and lots of people being away on vacation).

The program still required plenty of (team)work to run, but it was easier and smoother the second time around.

Ahead of time

  • Make up new questions and print two copies (one for MC and one for scorer)
  • Set up a new spreadsheet for scoring
  • Create calendar event (registration opened three weeks before the program)
  • Promote on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Order prizes
  • Plan music (we used a library laptop streaming Harry Potter music from the London Studio Orchestra via hoopla)
  • Make refreshments
  • Gather decorations (re-used from last time: stuffed owls, Golden Snitches)
  • Gather supplies (“quills” from last time, pads of post-its, raffle tickets)

LEGO Hogwarts

Another added element to the program this time around was the display of LEGO Hogwarts, which had been build in the preceding weeks by kids (10+), teens, and adults in eight separate weekend and evening sessions. They did an incredible job and finished just in time! (Now, we’ll have to see if anyone wants to take it apart in such a way that it can be built again.)

Registration table with door prize raffle, quills, and post-its; owls; Golden Snitches

Day of trivia

Despite opening the doors and starting registration before our 2pm start time, the program did run past 4pm. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it was in part due to some younger teams taking longer to turn in answers, and partly me adding short breaks between most question rounds. Next time, just one break about halfway through, and full steam ahead (from Platform 9 3/4, naturally) the rest of the time.

Like last time, we had seven rounds of five questions each, one round per book in the series. We started with a practice question (for no points) and had some between-rounds questions for no points too – teams would just raise their hands, and I tried to let everyone who wanted a turn get to answer.

Snack table with pretzel wands, lightning bolt sugar cookies, jelly beans, and butterbeerThere were some really clever team names (Granger Danger was my favorite), and I was so happy to hear that at least one team at the event had been waitlisted for trivia in January, and were able to come to this one. There was also a team that left after round four because the kid on the team hadn’t read books five through seven yet, but said they’d had a wonderful time.

The questions were just about right, with most teams being very successful but not perfect (we didn’t want a fourteen-way tie for first!). Most of the snacks got eaten; we had pretzel wands, lightning bolt sugar cookies, jelly beans, and butterbeer. Some people used the Daily Prophet photo frame to take pictures.

Our door prizes were House-themed socks (Gryffindor socks for the Gryffindor winner, etc.), first prizes were Harry Potter postcard coloring books, and two teams tied for second place. One of the “teams” was a girl playing on her own, so I let her have first choice between Harry Potter themed socks (“Mischief managed,” etc.) and a vial of Felix Felicis (not edible! but good for putting on a necklace). The other second place team also chose between socks and Liquid Luck and everyone seemed pretty happy.

What to do differently next time

Other than running slightly over time, which no one seemed to mind, everything went smoothly, but there are always small improvements to be made – mostly to do with making the scorekeeper’s job easier.

  • Our participants got very sugared up on the snacks, so next time we might replace “Every Flavour Beans” (jelly beans) with popcorn. And maybe have pumpkin juice instead of Butterbeer.
  • Have teams bring their team names to the scorekeeper as soon as they decide on them – before the practice question.
  • Add a question for no points between each round, to give the scorekeeper time to catch up.
  • Multi-part questions are fine, but space them out – don’t do two in a row.
  • Design questions so the answers can be as short as possible (a few words, not a sentence or a paragraph!).
  • Calculate the total possible score in the spreadsheet (i.e. a perfect score), in case teams want to know how many they missed.

LEGO Hogwarts on display; a happy team on the front page of the Daily Prophet; a pile of answers on post-it notes

 

 

Summer Storytime: Being brave

Pile of picture books, spines showing

I have missed my weekly storytimes and was so happy to return to the storytime room this morning for an all-ages summer storytime! I chose some of my favorite summery (or anytime) books, and there’s definitely a theme about facing new situations with courage, though I didn’t set out with that intention. Sometimes it just works out!

Stuffed toy lobster on computer keyboard

  • “Hello Friends” song with ASL, via Jbrary
  • The Angry Little Puffin by Timothy Young
  • Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
  • Song cube: “Zoom Zoom Zoom, We’re Going to the Moon” and “I’m A Little Teapot”
  • There Might Be Lobsters by Carolyn Crimi and Laurel Molk, with stuffed lobster (every time I held it up, the kids shouted “lobsters!” along with the word in the story)
  • Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
  • Song cube: “ABCs,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It”
  • The Little Taco Truck by Tanya Valentine and Jorge Martin
  • “Goodbye Friends” song with ASL, via Jbrary
  • Clean up mats
  • Activity: Use crayons to color on a food truck on butcher paper

Favorite interactive moments:

  • Before Jabari Jumps, asking who’s been swimming, who’s jumped off the side into a pool, who’s jumped off a diving board (two had!)
  • Before Roller Coaster, asking if anyone has been on a roller coaster before (yes, and it was blue!)
  • A younger kid about halfway through said “I’m done” and started toddling out. It’s good to know when to call it!
  • Asking for suggestions during “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” one kid raised their hand but then didn’t have a suggestion, so we sang, “If you’re happy and you know it, raise your hand.”

Five basic practices for early literacy: talk, sing, read, write, play

There were about fifteen kids at today’s storytime. I have one more summer storytime in August, and then in the fall our weekly storytimes will start up again. What are your favorite read-alouds for summer?

 

Top Ten Books to Read in the Second Half of 2019

About halfway through 2019, I’ve already read most of the books on my Top Ten Books to Read in 2019 list. The exceptions are Karen Thompson Walkers The Dreamers, which I heard mixed reviews about from friends and may not read; The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, which I’m still incredibly excited about but which won’t be published till November; and The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater. (City of Girls just came out and is at the top of my pile at the moment.)

  • Bowlaway I liked, but didn’t love as much as McCracken’s last collection of stories, Thunderstruck. I still went to her reading and Q&A at Porter Square Books, though (the write-up to that is still sitting in my drafts folder from February).
  • Feel Free by Nick Laird I picked up ahead of the US pub date, at No Alibis in Belfast, Northern Ireland, which felt like a sneaky victory (one that only book nerds would care about).
  • Kid Gloves by Lucy Knisley was excellent. She tells the story of her two miscarriages and traumatic delivery, and woven into her personal story are equally enlightening/horrifying facts about the history of childbirth and the current state of maternal health in the US.
  • On the Come Up by Angie Thomas neatly sidestepped the “sophomore slump” (after The Hate U Give) and was excellent. “Unarmed and dangerous, but America, you made us, only time we famous is when we die and you blame us.”
  • Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram was good, and it’s a rare YA novel (a rare English language novel, really) that takes place even partly in modern-day Iran and addresses depression and friendship between boys.
  • The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo: I listened to the audiobook (the author reads it) and it was incredible. Absolute, top-quality novel in verse. I read her With the Fire On High also (in print) and loved how it showed Emoni balancing everything in her life and making decisions about her future.
  • Walking Home by Simon Armitage: Enjoyed this, but glad I didn’t foist it on my book club. Would definitely recommend to fans of Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods. “Distance, I’ve come to realise, is not the determining factor in terms of travelling time – it’s all about terrain.
  • Get in Trouble by Kelly Link: Can’t believe I didn’t read this as soon as it was published. I love her particular brand of speculative weird. “It’s a small world, after all. Bigger on the inside.”
  • Tenth of December by George Saunders: Many of these stories were speculative as well, and dealt with themes of extreme inequality, and were kind of depressing.

So what about the second half of the year? There’s still plenty to look forward to!

  1. Confessions of the Fox by Jordy Rosenberg: I’m going to try to get my book club to read this one so we can discuss.
  2. The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon: Nominated for the Coretta Scott King award and an ALA Notable Book for Children, I’m thinking of trying this as an audiobook.
  3. The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater: Still on the list.
  4. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert: I know it’s not going to be cheerful, but a fellow reader recommended it, and I’m interested. Also an ALA Notable Book.
  5. Big Sky by Kate Atkinson: I loved Case Histories, but felt like each successive Jackson Brodie novel dropped off a bit in quality; however, I love her stand-alones and I’m willing to give Brodie another go. Reviews are pretty good. (June)
  6. Time After Time by Lisa Gruenwald (June): I am a sucker for time travel and I got a galley of this through LibraryThing.
  7. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (June): Adored her two previous novels, Fever and The Walking People.
  8. The Dutch House by Ann Patchett (September): Ann Patchett! (Her first picture book, Lambslide, is excellent also. Just in case anyone was under the drastically mistaken impression that she was a one-trick pony.)
  9. The Secret Commonwealth (Book of Dust, Volume 2) by Philip Pullman (October): Beyond excited for this; I’m taking a vacation day the day it’s published.
  10. Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy: The author of Dumplin’ and Puddin’ goes into middle grade, and I follow. (October)
  11. Roll With It by Jamie Sumner: This isn’t even in my library’s catalog yet, but I read about it via Abby the Librarian and it looks like the kind of middle grade graphic novel I love. (October)
  12. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (November): Can’t wait, can’t wait. I know it will be different from The Night Circus but I read a tiny snippet from the publisher and I feel confident the magic is there.

What have you read this year? What are you looking forward to?