Storytime Contenders V

Oh look who’s back! It’s me! I know it’s been a while since I have been updating. I promise I have very good intentions, it just doesn’t always work out that well. Anyway, summer storytime soon there will be some more of those popping up and I really hope do some more of these storytime contender posts.

Contender Title: Rain Brings Frogs: A Little Book of Hope   
Author: Maryann Coca-Leffler            
Publisher/Year: HarperCollins/ 2011
ISBN: 9780061961069
Storytime appeal: This is a nice, quick story about a boy who can find the bright side of every bad situation. I really think it could work in storytime because of its clear, distinct text and easy to follow layout. I like having a few short books in my storytime stack because they are great fillers and a good way to recapture a group’s attention.
Possible themes: This would be good for a rainy day theme, or even one about emotions.  

Contender Title: My Cold Went On Vacation
Author:  Molly Rausch and Nora Krug
Publisher/Year: G.P. Putnam’s Sons/ 2010
Storytime appeal: This is a super clever book! A little boy has a cold and when it goes away he imagines all of the places it could go. It might pop up in Iowa (my home state!) or visit various other family members. He imagines it could also take a trip around the world, possibly stopping in Peru, the Alps or sailing the seven seas. He discovers his cold did not go as far as he imagined, it only went across the hall to see his sister. This book is so funny and requires a lot of imagination on the part of the reader. I could see a fun conversation happening after reading this in storytime
Possible themes: This is a great choice for a sick theme. I also think it would be a lot of fun in an imagination/pretending storytime.


Garden Storytime

Spring has sprung! The weather is absolutely beautiful and we celebrated today with a garden storytime! This is a lovely theme and is very versatile. I have been looking forward to this storytime for weeks and was so happy to finally share it with my kids.

First we read My Garden by Kevin Henkes.

This is a beautiful book about a girl who helps her mother in the garden and goes on to describe what her dream garden would look like. It’s full of imagination and encourages the children to dream about what their garden would look like.

Next we read A Handful of Sunshine by Meanie Eclare.

This book was a lovely addition to storytime today. It was a surprise find, I just stumbled upon it and am so glad I did. This is why I like it: it has real photos of a real girl planting sunflowers. That doesn’t happen too often with storytime books. Obviously there are lots of fantastic illustrations out there (Henkes’ from the first book are a glowing example) but it is nice to mix it up with something different. This book is a nonfiction and is easy to share with a group. Highly recommended!

Also included this week was Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert.

This is a super versatile storytime book. It would be great in a colors theme and was perfect for gardens as well. The illustrations are bright and vibrant and it contains good information on plants.

We closed with Lenny in the Garden by Ken Wilson- Max.

This is a nice story about a young boy Lenny, who is in the garden with his mom. While I like this book, I do think it is a bit young for the group I had today. I think if I were to use it again, I would use it for baby storytime.

For our craft today, we made our own gardens!

This was a super easy craft preparation wise. I made lots of flowers with our die cut machine, gave them glue, crayons and paper and let them go crazy.

I should mention that my friend, storytime katie, recently did a garden theme as well. If you want more ideas, be sure to check out her blog!

Tropical Storytime

This week’s theme went through a lot of changes. Let me explain: I wanted to read Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawai’i by Gerald Mc Dermott (I talked about it in a Storytime Contenders post post).  I started out with a fable theme, but it just wasn’t working for me. Then I decided to do a Hawaii theme but it was a challenge to find enough books to fit this theme. Finally, I opened it up and settled on a Tropical theme. This just gave me more to work.

I had to remind myself that themes are basically for myself. I know librarians who never use themes. Sometimes I don’t if I have a preschool visit suddenly pop-up or something. I have just found structuring a storytime around a theme to be a good way to focus the storytime for myself. I don’t always announce it to the children and I would be willing to bet some of them have no idea that there ever is a theme.

 So, we started with one of my favorite books set in the ocean I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry.

I think this book is hilarious. For the first time today in storytime, one of the children pointed out that the main character is boasting and “is not very nice.” Everyone was very excited to see what would happen to this boastful fellow. In the end, he is swallowed by a whale and proclaims the he is the biggest thing in this whale. Many of the children noticed that his is NOT, however, the biggest thing in the ocean.

Next we read Hula Lullaby by Erin Eitter Kono.

This is a very nice lullaby story with bits of flavor from Hawaii throughout. This is a nice book to calm everyone down a bit.

We closed with Pig-Boy: A Trickster Tale from Hawai’i.

Since this book was the reason for this storytime, I was super excited to share it with the group. I am pleased to report it was a success! It really held their attention and everyone was very interested in what happened to Pig-Boy. I love it when I share a book no one in the room has read before and everyone is so interested to see how the story ends.

I am also very excited about today’s craft. We made leis! This is a very easy craft to make. I cut out flower die cuts, and gave them yarn and some spacers I made out of cardstock. That was probably the most time-consuming part of the preparation.

Oh! One more thing! There is a new Froggy book I would have loved to have included today but it is new and still on-order at my library and although I put it on hold,  it didn’t come in on time. It’s called Froggy Goes To Hawaii by Jonathan London.

Turtle Storytime

Today’s storytime theme was turtles! It was a fun theme and the group really enjoyed it. I can’t believe I haven’t done it before.

I only have two books to share today because my group was very talkative and had lots of energy so we did extra movement activities to help them get their wiggles out! It’s been cold lately and I think everyone has a bit of cabin fever waiting for spring to come back.

The first book we read is called Hurry Up and Slow Down and it is by Layn Marlow.

This is a very sweet book about a tortoise and a hare. The hare is always in a hurry and wants the tortoise to “Hurry Up!” However, when it comes time for the tortoise to read the hare a story, the hare worries the tortoise is going much too fast and wants him to “Hurry Up and Slow Down!” It’s a nice book and many of my kids were familiar with the tortoise and the hare which added a bit of depth for them.

We also read Turtle Splash! Countdown to the Pond By Cathryn Falwell

This is a counting book about turtles. It’s simple, but fun to read and it kept my group’s attention. We all counted together, which was a great way to keep them involved with the story. Falwall has another book that features turtles, Scoot! that is a great book for this theme.

I didn’t get to it because I ran out of time and we spent much more time moving around this week than usual.

Our craft today was really cute. It’s from this website.

It’s a turtle whose head can peek out from its shell! Everyone really liked it and the children were quite proud of what they were able to make. This craft does require a bit of cutting, which worked great today because most of the children are confident with scissors and if they needed help their parents were there to provide it. Everyone’s storytime group is different so if your group isn’t ready for scissors, this craft might require some pre-cutting. As usual, everyone’s turtle was spectacular!

Little Movers

You may have this blog has been on a bit of a break. We’ve had a two-week break between storytime sessions and during this time we have tried something new. Instead of storytime, we’ve done a new program called Little Movers. This is basically a drop-in, casual movement program for children 3-5 years with lots of music and song related activities.

I did not invent this idea. I learned about it when I went to the Illinois Library Association conference this past fall and saw a presentation by Hi Miss Julie. She discussed successful movement programs she’s presented and I was inspired and I wanted to do it! Upon returning to my library, we tried to find a time to implement this program.

What’s great about a program like this is you really can be flexible and do whatever works best for your patrons. This is what my program entailed:

I began with a book (this is a library after all!) I tried to choose books that have a bit of movement to them that expected the children to get involved. 

A great title is Dancing Feet! By Lindsey Craig, illustrated by Marc Brown. I’ve discussed this one before with the dancing storytime theme. I just love reading this one aloud!

Another great book to include is Eric Carle’s From Head to Toe. This is another one of my favorites and it has also been mentioned before on this blog. This is one of my go-to books, it’s fun to read and encourages the kids to participate.

I also read Can You Make A Scary Face? by Jan Thomas. This book is very silly and just as with the other two books, I have used this in storytime previously.

After a book or two, we started by streaching and moved on to some movement activities with music.

There is no limit to the amount of kid’s music that is out there. But, full disclosure here, I can’t stand most of it. Luckily, there is some fantastic stuff available and that’s what I shared with my group.

Jim Gill is awesome. He has five albums and each one is packed with great tunes that get little ones hopping and bopping all over the place. His music makes it way into many storytimes and my library has been fortunate enough to have him perform for our patrons. It was a fantastic show.

I also really like Georgina Stewart’s Bean Bag Activities & Coordination Skills.
These songs are instructional and incorporate bean bags. Tons of fun. Yes, the cover is a bit dated and the music may seem silly but everyone always has a great time. I use one song, The Bean Bag Rock, regularly in storytime.

In addition to kid music I also played some old-fashioned rock and roll. We had a little Beatles, Beach Boys, and Chuck Berry. I also tried to incorporate newer music as well. Israel kamakawiwo’ole’s Somewhere Over the Rainbow is a great song to slow everything down and was a good at way to wrap up the program.

I also (attempted) to teach them the Chicken Dance and the twist. The results were (as expected) so-so but there was a lot of laughing. We got the parachute out, which is always a super fun surprise because we don’t do that all that often. I forgot our limbo stick, but that would have been a great addition.

What I learned from this program:
We had it in an hour drop-in time slot. The idea was they would drop in and out but they didn’t. That is a-ok because we had a great time. However, an hour was a bit long for some of the kids and they “had to go to the bathroom” and never came back. In retrospect, I think a half hour or even 45 minute time slot would work better for this group. Additionally, we did this program two weeks back to back so I need two hours of material. Obviously it’s ok to repeat but I couldn’t repeat everything.

Bubbles make everything better! We use bubbles in our baby storytimes and I got out the bubbles for the last few songs. This really rejuvenated the group and kept us going towards the end. When in doubt, blow some bubbles!


This week’s storytime was all about tools! I have done a construction storytime before (unfortunately prior to the start of this blog) so this was a different take on the same idea.

We started with Emma Garcia’s Tap Tap Bang Bang.

This book is the reason I wanted to do this theme for storytime. I am a huge fan of Garcia’s books. Tip Tip Dig Dig is one of my favorite picture books about construction and Tap Tap Bang Bang does not disappoint!. This book describes the sounds and actions of tools: “We can bang bang with the hammer and tappety tap in the nails.” This makes it lots of fun to do with a group.

Next we read Whose Tools Are These? By Sharon Katz Cooper, illustrated by Amy Bailey Muehlenhardt.

I like this book because it is interactive and ask the reader to guess who uses each tool. This book goes beyond the standard hammer, wrench, screwdriver tools and includes a chef’s tools, doctor’s tools and even a teacher’s tools. We had a good time discussing the type of tools we each use. A librarian’s tools are books!

We closed with I Love Tools! by Philemon Sturges.

This was a great book to close with. It discusses lots of tools and culminates in the creation of a bird house!

There are a few other titles worrth taking a look at if you want to use this theme. They are:

Magic Toolbox by Mie Araki
The Toolbox by Anne and Harlow Rockwell
and Toolbox Twins by Lola M Schaefer, illustrated by Melissa Iwai

I am sure there are others I am not including. Do you have a favorite tool book you like to use for storytime?

Our craft this week was a bit abstract. The children were given shapes and they could build something of their own on their paper. I will admit, the group needed a bit of guidance. It’s not as clean-cut as other crafts so we discussed it prior to starting and I gave them some ideas and asked them what they thought they would like to build. As a result, their creations were quite varied but they were also very imaginative.

I was told this is Thomas. As in the Tank Engine.

I did not get a chance to find out what this one is, but I think we can all agree it is awesome!


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!

Book Bundles

Recently, a co-worker of mine read an article about book bundles in VOYA magazine and implemented it in our library. The idea is to create groupings of books and other materials on a singular theme in order to help patrons find new titles on topics that interest them. She has been doing this with our Young Adult Fiction section for a few months and had great success. As a result, we have decided to expand book bundles to our picture books. Other libraries in our area have also been doing these bundles and calling them Literacy Bundles.  

I am very excited about this! It’s very common to be asked to find books on specific topics at the reference desk. We won’t be rolling this out until the summer, so there is plenty of time to think of topics for the Bundles. Why am I mentioning this here? Well, it’s a bit like storytime, isn’t it? Gathering books and materials on a theme to share with patrons. I’ve been brainstorming ideas and so far come up with these:

  • gardens
  • jungle
  • shapes
  • counting
  • dinosaurs
  • things with wheels
  • best friends
  • fairy tales
  • folktales
  • princesses
  • family
  • sea animals
  • the beach
  • seasons

What about you? What do you think are the must include themes for our book bundles?

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.