This week’s storytime was all about rainbows and colors! I have done this theme before. It is  fantastic and can be done again and again because there is no limit on the amount of books available about colors!

We started today with Wow Said the Owl! by Tim Hopgood.

This book was part of the owl storytime last year and I LOVE IT! This book has beautiful, vibrant illustrations and is perfect to share with a group. I have a feeling this won’t be the last time this book shows up in storytime.

Next we read Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd.

Dog's Colorful Day: A Messy Story About Colors and Counting

Emma Dodd’s books are made for storytime. Her books have been featured before in Pets storytime, Dog Storytime and Bugs storytimeDog’s Colorful Day is great because not only is it a book about colors, but it is also a book about counting! I am fortunate enough to work at a library that has flannel boards available. I work with a great group of creative people that make lots of wonderful things like awesome flannel boards. Today, I used a flannel board that a co-worker made to help read this book.

It’s super cute! If you do not have a lot of flannel boards where you work, this one would not be too hard to make. If you want some inspiration check out my friend Katie’s blog: storytime katie. She makes lots of flannel boards in addition to having  good storytimes.

We closed today with a classic: Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? By Bill Martin Jr., illustrated by Eric Carle.

This book was included today because we just got a brand new big book edition at my library. Big books are hard for me to read because they are so big and they make me feel clumsy. Because of that I often have to remind myself to use them. This is a great big book because Carle’s already beautiful illustrations are huge and easy to see. All of the kids were familiar with this book and they enjoyed reading it along with me.

We made beautiful rainbows today for our craft.

The children were given a rainbow on cardstock, pieces of paper and glue. You could probably subsitute tissue paper if you needed to. It’s very easy!

Storytime Contenders IV

Storytime starts again next week! In preparation, I have been looking through lots of picture books to get some inspiration. We just got in a lot of new books and some of theme are so great, I have to share!

Contender Title: Up and Down
Author: Oliver Jeffers 
Publisher/Year: Philomel Books/ 2010
ISBN: 9780399255458                                         
Storytime appeal: This is a great story about a boy and his penguin friend. I picked it up because of the penguin on the cover- I really like penguins in picture books. I think there need to be more! The penguin decides he wants to fly and the rest of the book is about this mission. I think it’s a great story with great illustrations that would be lots of fun to read aloud.
Possible themes: Penguins for very obvious reasons. It’s also a great book about friendship so this would work in a friendship theme as well.

Contender Title: Lots of Dots 
Author: Craig Razier
Publisher/Year: Chronicle Books / 2010
ISBN: 9780811877152
Storytime appeal: Some books are just made for storytime. The message of this book is simple, there are lots of dots! I have found myself on more than one occasion having conversations with preschoolers about issues such as dots. This book’s eye-catching colors rhyming text make it a joy to read aloud. This is just one of those books that is perfect for sharing! Additionally, I can also think of tons of craft ideas off the top of my head. That is really appealing because thinking of great crafts is not my strong suit.
Possible themes: This is a very colorful book so I could see using it with a color theme. I also think it could work with shapes as well.

Contender Title: Little White Rabbit
Author: Kevin Henkes
Publisher/Year: Greenwillow Books/ 2011
ISBN: 9780062006424                                         
Storytime appeal: I will be honest, I really love Kevin Henkes’ books. I think every librarian has a list of authors whose work they always look forward to and he is definitely on my list. I have never been disappointed in anything he’s ever made and his Caldecott winner, Kitten’s First Full Moon, is one of my favorite Caldecott winners- ever. His illustrations are beautiful and they always work well in storytime. There is something so calming and nice about his writing that always adds something special.
Possible themes: Rabbits are an obvious choice. The colors of this book just look so much like spring I think it would be perfect in a spring theme.

The Audrey and Don Wood storytime

This week we read great books by Audrey and Don Wood. The storytime crowd is very familiar with these authors and that made for a great storytime.

We started with The Napping House.

I am so glad I started with this one because I discovered this book is a favorite of many of my storytime kids. I have read it before and the results are always positive.

Next we read Silly Sally.

I had never seen this book before. The Woods have an extensive catalog, which makes them a great candidate for this type of storytime. It was fun to use something completely new. This book is very silly (obviously) and also lots of fun.

Finally, I closed with Piggies.

This is a sweet story about all sorts of different piggies, which live on a child’s fingers. It’s a great book to read to a group because it encourages them to play with their own little piggies. I could also see sharing this one on one with a child and having equally great results.

For our craft, we made our own hand with piggies. I will be honest, this wasn’t the most successful of all crafts. I am not sure that kids really got the tie-in with the piggies and the hand BUT they did really like tracing and cutting out their hand. My group is on the younger side and so sometimes things just don’t go as planned. No big deal.

The “I Love You” Storytime

Happy Valentine’s Day! Storytime falls midweek so we celebrated a bit early at storytime. Generally speaking, I don’t like Valentine’s Day books for storytime because they are long, a bit too sweet and just not great to read to a group. So, instead I went with an “I Love You” theme today. There are TONS of books about love and this is a concept preschoolers are familiar with.

We started with The Cuddle Book by Guido van Genechten.

My group was very active and talkative today. They had a lot to tell me since we missed storytime last week due to the blizzard. I was a bit unsure about how well this book would captivate them and it turns out I had nothing to worry about. This is a very nice book about cuddling. Each spread shows different animals and how they cuddle. “For crabs, cuddling is hard.” Very cute.

Next we read How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague.

I am constantly singing the praises of the dinosaur books by Yolen and Teague. I really love these books and think they are great to share with a crowd. I have read discussed two titles previously: How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? (here) and How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? (here). How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You does not disappoint. What I like about this book is it is very reaffirming about love, even when the dinosaur does something naughty, the parents still love him or her.

We closed with My Heart Is Like A Zoo by Michael Hall.

This is a great rhyming book featuring animals made out of heart shapes. It’s super simple but very nice to read a loud. The kids really enjoyed it and especially enjoyed the frog- everyone spontaneously started hopping like frogs! Moments like these are the best part of storytime. This is a great book and it was the perfect tie-in for our craft.

We made heart animals. This consisted of different sized hearts cut with the die cut machine, crayons and a whole lot of imagination!

I really loved this frog. The yellow individual next to the frog is its friend because according to the young man who made this, “everyone needs a friend.”

How cute is this butterfly? I don’t know if youc an tell, but my favorite part is it’s face! She was very proud of her work.

We haven’t had an interactive flannel board in a while and the kids really love those. It makes them feel special and involved. This time each child was given half a heart and they had to find a mate for their half. It was very cute and surprisingly worked better than I thought it would. Here is what our completed board looked like:

Lots of beautiful hearts! Very nice! I would like to add that they decided to match the colors together, I didn’t think that would happen but they did it on their own.

The storytime that never happened.

My usually scheduled storytime happens Wednesday mornings. This is what I was doing Wednesday morning (well afternoon, but you get the idea):

Not a storytime! Due to the snowpocalypse in the Chicagoland area this week’s storytime did not happen! Usually, I’d just save the theme for a later date and use it then, but the Tuesday kids already heard the books and they deserve something fresh.

So, while I don’t have any cute kid reactions for you, I do have a storytime to share nevertheless.

This week’s theme would have been The Library. There are lots of books about visiting the library out there and this theme was all about finding the right ones. These are the books I would have read if there had been a storytime:

No T.Rex in the Library by Toni Buzzeo, illustrated by Sachiko Yoshikawa.

This is a great book about a girl who visits the library and has some adventures with a T.Rex who gets loose from a book! This is a great book to read aloud it is exciting and has great illustrations and large bold text.

A newer book that I could not wait to read in storytime (looks like I might need to find another place to use it, huh?) is The Library Gingerbread Man by Dotti Enderle, illustrated by Colleen M. Madden.

I was excited to read this because I sort of wanted to see how it would work in a storytime. It’s about the gingerbread man who escapes in a library and is chases by lots of other characters from books. Enderle uses the Dewey Decimal System to come up with the characters that are chasing him: “When he came to 629.892, a cranking, grinding robot droned, ‘Stop. Stop. You. Are. Misplaced.’ The Gingerbread Man just whizzed on by.” As a librarian, I found this very clever and funny. I am not so sure what the kids would have thought. I love a good Gingerbread Man story- they are SO FUN to read- so I think that might have been enough for the kids.

Another great book is I Took My Frog To the Library by Eric A. Kimmel, pictures by Blanche Sims.

Most of the books in this storytime are newer, having been published in the last year or so. This book is not new, it was first published in 1990, but it is a great book for this theme. It’s a simple story, a girl takes her menagerie to the library with predictably disastrous results. Even though it’s predictable, it is very funny and a good standby.

Finally, Lola Loves Stories by Anna McQuinn, illustrated by Rosalind Beardshaw is a great addition to this storytime and the reason I wanted to do this theme in the first place.

I mentioned this book in one of my Storytime Contenders posts. It’s a great story about a girl who visits the library and uses her imagination to act out what she’s read about with her father. There is another book by this author, Lola at the Library that would also be great for this theme.

I had the craft planned, we were going to make our own books.

When you fold the paper, it makes a little book.

I gave them crayons and stickers to decorate. At our storytimes, craft time is a time for parents and children to work together so they came up with lots of great stories to take home.

Snowy Storytime

I left my house this morning and thought “It’s kind of warm out here, almost balmy…. I am over dressed with this scarf and hat. Spring must be just around the corner!” Friends, it was 29 degress. Yes, that’s right, we have reached the point in the Chicago winter where anything above 25 degrees feels like springtime. Ten more degrees and people will start breaking out their shorts and tank tops.

Obviously by now everyone around these parts is well acquainted with winter. Today in storytime our theme was snow. I asked the kids if they knew about snow and they replied affirmatively and let me know that it snows if it is winter, at which point one of my regulars told me he “is sick of snow and hates winter!” I really had to laugh and apologize for devoting a whole storytime to something he is completely over.

Enough of my babbling, on to the storytime. We only had time for two books this week, I had a lot of other things going on that took up a lot of time.

We read Chaucer’s First Winter by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Henry Cole.

I liked this book because it was your run-of-the-mill bear hibernates in winter story. (Don’t get me wrong I love those I did a whole storytime about them, but it was nice to have something different.) Chaucer is a curious bear and decides to stay up for winter. It’s a very sweet story and he luckily has two friends to pal around with as his parents sleep.

We also read I Know A Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow by Lucille Colando, illustrated by Jared Lee.

I am pretty sure that everyone who reads this blog is familiar with these stories. The old lady keeps swallowing crazy things and a huge surprise happens at the end (in this one she hiccups up a Snowman, which the kids loved.) When I was previewing this book prior to storytime, my main concern was whether or not she dies in the end. That crazy lady who swallowed a fly sometimes dies, which can be an awkward moment in storytime. However, I somehow missed the fact that when she swallows a scarf she doesn’t barf. I know that barf is not exactly a bad word BUT it is one of those words that some parents might be uncomfortable with. What did I do? Well, I will be honest, I said it and then told them I didn’t realize the word was in the book and moved on. Was that the best thing to do in the situation? Probably not. But it is my fault for missing it in the first place. Did the kids notice? Nope. Actually, when I finished one of them proclaimed “I LOVED THAT BOOK!”

I used a great flannel board today that I found on DLTK. This is a very easy flannel board to make, basically all you need is five snowflakes and a sun. You can be as creative as you want with these. I used our die-cut machine to cut out the shapes. I also made a sun to pull out at the end. If I had some sort of sun looking puppet, I would have maybe used that. Easy peasy and lots of fun.

Five Little Snowflakes!
One little snowflake with nothing to do.
Along came another and
Then there were two.

Two little snowflakes laughing with me.
Along came another, and
Then there were three.

Three little snowflakes looking for some more.
Along came another, and
Then there were four.

Four little snowflakes dancing a jive.
Along came another, and
Then there were five.

Five little snowflakes having so much fun.
Out came the sun, and
Then there were none!

We also sang a cute song that I found on Perfectly Preschool. This song was a great opportunity to get up and get moving.

Snow Pal Song (Sung to: “Feres Jacques”)
Great big ball, great big ball, made of snow, made of snow.
Rolling down the street, landing at my feet, great big ball, great big ball.
Medium-size ball, medium-size ball, Made of snow, made of snow.
Rolling down the street, landing At my feet,
Medium-size ball, medium-size ball.
Teeny tiny ball, teeny tiny ball, Made of snow, made of snow.
Rolling down the street, landing At my feet,
Teeny tiny ball, teeny tiny ball.
Watch my snow pal grow as up the Balls they go… 1 2 3, 1 2 3!

For our craft today we made hats. I have said before my favorite crafts are the ones they wear out of the storytime room. It is just so cute. All this consists of is a hat pattern a piece of cardstock and some bands cut out of cardstock.

Since I was so terrible about getting pictures last week I tried really hard to remember to snap a few shots this week. I had a really huge group (almost 30 kids!! Throw in their parents/caregivers and younger siblings and there were a lot of people in the room) so I was running around during craft making sure everyone was doing OK.

The next picture is a little blurry and not the best picture of the craft, but it is an awesome picture of one of my little friends enjoying himself.

Tiny Dancers

Storytime is finally back! It has been so long and I was really starting to miss all of my little friends. It’s the start of a new session (and new year) so I had a lot of newbies to storytime this week, which was great. I really hope they keep coming and having fun with all of us each week.


Since it was our first week back, I wanted to do something super fun and I came up with dancing (who doesn’t love to dance??) This gave us a lot of opportunities to get moving. Since it’s winter and everyone has been stuck inside for so long, I thought this might be the perfect cure for some cabin fever. I must say, this was one of those storytime where everything fit together perfectly. The kids were all very attentive and into the storytime (always a blessing), the books were great and the craft was fun. A nice way to start out the session!

We began with Brontorina by James Howe first.

Little known fact about me: I took ballet for 10 years, ages 5-15. Because of this, I think I am always drawn to ballet stories. Regardless of why I initially picked up this book, it is super great! I read first because it is a bit long and had more going on than the other books. But, it was a hit with the kids. One boy liked it so much he checked it out right after storytime!

Next we read Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig.

Funny thing, this was on my pile of storytime contenders and I never got around to talking about it. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this book. It’s really the type of book that begs to be read aloud to a group of excited and happy children. I like that it has a guessing element to it, that is always a crowd pleaser. I also cannot state enough how much I love the illustrations in this book. On a personal note, it’s been added to the short list of books I will be giving my nephew for his 3rd birthday this year. Yes, I like it that much.

Finally, we closed with Hop Jumpy by Ellen Stoll Walsh.

I love Ellen Stoll Walsh’s books. I think they could all be read in storytime. I really liked this one because of the beautiful illustrations of frogs. Sadly, my library doesn’t own it and it is out of print. I was so happy I could share it with my little friends, but it was a bummer to not be able to get it for our collection.

Obviously, this is a great theme for lots of movement. We did The Hokey Pokey and I made sure to do other fingerplays that got them up and about. There is really no limit of songs and movement that can be used for this theme. It’s awesome because anything can basically fit in it.

Our craft worked out wonderfully. We made dancing sticks. Ok, so a dancing stick isn’t really a real thing, but it is an awesome thing that is very fun to play with.I gave the kids tongue depressors (or craft stick depending on what you would like to call it)and crate paper and they glued (or taped) the paper on the sticks. Super easy and super fun.

I have to apologize, I took pictures and then accidentally deleted them. So, no picture of the craft. Luckily it is really easy to imagine. While you are at it, imagine a group of four three-year-olds dancing and waving their sticks as they dance together. That is what happened at the end of this storytime and it was fantastic.

Storytime Contenders I

At my library, we have a huge break between the end of the fall storytime session and the start of the winter storytime session.  Right now, I have about six weeks until the start of the next session. That’s a long time! I know this may seem a bit extreme but the reasoning is all based on numbers. We don’t get a lot of participation after Thanksgiving most people have other things going on. We do offer other programming and events but just not storytimes.

Anyway, that left me with a bit of a predicament, what to do about this blog? In the past I have just sort of disappeared and then magically reappeared when storytime starts up again. As a blog reader, this sort of thing really irks me. I tend to lose interest and forget about the blog so, I decided to *really try* not to do that this time. It is sort of working.

The question became, what should I fill this space up with? I don’t really want to review books. It’s just not my thing. There are lots of fantastic review blogs out there and I don’t think that Awesome Storytime could ever really be one of them. But, I do really want to still share books. So, I came up with Storytime Contenders!

What is a Storytime Contender? Basically, I often find myself reading picture books and thinking “this would be great for storytime!” but don’t always use them. Sometimes it’s because I don’t have a good theme for these books and sometimes I just plain forget. Maybe YOU, the invisible but very friendly readers, could find a use for them in your storytimes.

For the sake of this blog, I am going to try to discuss new books, which I define as published within the last twelve months. I also really want to stay positive and will only discuss books I have considered using for storytime.

So, let’s get started:

Contender title: A Sick Day for Amos McGee
Author: Philip C. Stead
Illustrator: Erin E. Stead
Publisher/year: Roaring Brook Press/2010
ISBN: 9781596434028
Storytime appeal: Let me start by saying I adore these illustrations and I think that is why I am SO drawn to this book. They were done by hand using woodblock printing techniques and pencil. They are exactly the type of illustrations I wish in my heart of hearts I could create. (I can’t so I am really glad that Erin E. Stead has!) The story is about a zoo keeper who excels at his job and always finds away to spend time with each animal. When he gets sick one day, the animals go to see him. It’s simple and also very comforting.
I can see myself using this for my 3-5 storytime. It’s a great book and maybe a bit long for younger kids.
Possible themes: This is a clear choice for a zoo theme. It reminds me a lot of Sam Who Never Forgets  by Eve Rice- I think it’s the relationship between the zookeeper and the elephant. I would also like to use this in a sick day theme or even a friendship theme.

Contender Title: Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy
Author: Denise Fleming
Publisher/year: Henry Holt/2010
ISBN: 9780805081268
Storytime appeal: This is a beautiful picture book about sleepy baby animals. The illustrations are done in Fleming’s pulp printmaking technique and add a great hazy effect. Each spread focuses on a sleepy baby animal and the book finishes with a sleepy (and very cute!) baby. I would like to use this for a baby or two-year-old storytime. There isn’t a lot of text, just about two lines per page so that paired with the big, beautiful illustrations would be a nice fit for the babies. It might work with older kids, it’s quite sleepy and the yawning baby makes me want to yawn too. It could be a great way to settle a group down.
Possible themes: Obviously a bedtime or sleepy theme would be great for this book. I also think maybe a storytime about baby animals or animals in general.

What do you think? Have you read either of these books? What themes would you like to see these books in?

I’m thankful for storytime!

Since Thanksgiving is next week, I decided to do a turkey themed storytime this week. It’s a bit early, but we don’t have storytime next week and I figured most of the kids would know it’s coming. I was right! I will be honest, I planned this way back in August and then when it came time to pull the books they were all gone! It was totally my fault and I felt silly. What ended up happening was me putting books on hold and hoping for the best. Luckily, everything worked out and we had a good time today!

First we read, I’m A Turkey by Jim Arnosky.

This is a cute book about a turkey named Tom. The kids thought this book was so funny. One interesting point in the book is when Tom points out that the next turkey the reader meets could be one of his flock or even Tom, himself! As a vegetarian, I have no problem with what this sort of insinuates. I don’t think any of the kids noticed since the book ends with gobbling and so we all gobbled like crazy.

Next we read Five Silly Turkeys by Salina Yoon.

This is a super short book about 5 very silly turkeys. Basically, it is a fingerplay that has been turned into a book. It could easily be made into a flannelboard or just be told by using your fingers.

We also read Charlie Chick by Nich Denchfield.

I have read this book before in storytime. It is definitely one of my favorite books for toddlers ( I just added to my shopping list for my 2 1/2-year-old nephew ) and fit well with this theme.  Charlie may not be a turkey but he does like to eat- and so do we on Thanksgiving!

I also read Who Hops by Katie Davis.

This is a great go-to book for storytime. It’s very funny and interactive. Books like this beg to be read in storytime.

There are lots of fingerplays and songs that are appropriate for a Thanksgiving or turkey theme. We changed our usual If You’re Happy And You Know It to If You’re Thankful and You Know It.

We played a game of “Turkey Says” and I used a turkey puppet to give directions. Basically this was a waterdowned version of Simon Says. We also discussed being thankful. Everyone got a chance to say what they are thankful for. This was my favorite part of storytime today. Lots of cute answers such as ponies, kittens, themselves, snacks at preschool (specifically fruit snacks) and family. What am I thankful for? My awesome job (the best in the world!) that allows me to spend time with my sweet, hilarious, cute and very awesome storytime kids.

For our craft this week, we put feathers on a turkey.

As usual, everyone was very creative with their turkeys. There was lots of good coloring going on, I just didn’t get any pictures. One turkey made me smile:

She told me it was the back of the turkey. Too cute!

Happy Birthday to you!

It’s true, Halloween is my favorite holiday but there is one thing I might love even more… birthdays! I love my birthday, of course, but I really do love everyone’s birthdays. This was a very popular theme because of course EVERYONE enjoyed sharing stories about their birthday.

We started with Don’t Spill the Beans! by Ian Schoenherr.

This is a very cute book about a bear who has quite a surprise a birthday party! The kids really enjoyed this book, everyone was excited to find out what the secret was.

Next we read Happy Birthday, Monster! by Scott Beck.

This is a really great birthday book and everyone really enjoyed it but I think it is better suited for a one on one reading situation. There were lots of extras (the characters talking to each other etc) and I had thought it would have been no problem, but it ended up being a little distracting. However, this is a really sweet story about a birthday and also really fun.

I closed with My Birthday Cake by Olivia George.

This book features a little girl after my own heart. She creates quite a cake with lots of sweet treats. Unfortunately, she discovers that it is a bit TOO sweet and she really prefers the cake her mother makes her. This was the perfect book to close with because for our craft we made our own birthday cakes!

This was very easy. My kids really enjoy coloring and I also provided foam sticky shapes for them to stick on their cakes. Everyone got very creative.

There are lots of great fingerplays and songs out there that go with this theme. Obviously good old “Happy Birthday” works well. We also sang another of one of my favorite ones.

Jelly in the Bowl
Jelly  in  the  bowl, (cup hands and wabble around)
Jelly  in  the  bowl.
Wiggy  waggy, 
Wiggy  waggy,
Jelly  in  the  bowl.

Cookies in the jar, (creat jar with hands and shake)
Cookies in the jar,
Shake ’em up,
Shake ’em up,
Cookies in the jar,

Candles on the cake, (display all ten fingers)
Candles on the cake,
Blow them out, (“blow out” fingers)
Blow them out,
Candles on the cake.

As an unrelated note, today in storytime one of my kids said “I love your shirt!”, which made the rest of the kids comment on what they love. It was fantastic and a great way to start the day!