Top Ten Storytime Books of 2013

While this is only my first year giving storytimes, but between my internship and my baby storytime, I have given quite a few (and hope to give many, many more)!  The end of the year always heralds top ten lists for everything you can think of – here are my top ten favorite books I read in storytimes this year. They’re arranged alphabetically because I couldn’t figure out how to rank them!

Anton Can Do Magic, Ole Konnecke
Before I actually read Anton to my kids, I was worried that it might not be a great choice – the text is very spare, and some of the illustrations require some abstract thinking in order to follow the story. I’m glad I used it, though, because it ended up being a lot of fun! The trick is to make it a little interactive – Anton thinks he is making things disappear, such as a bird and a friend, when his hat is actually falling over his eyes so he doesn’t see when they fly or walk away. Once my kids got what was happening, through some leading questions and following my finger over the illustrations, they had a lot of fun trying to tell Anton where things were going. The clarity of Konnecke’s illustrations make this one a winner every time. (Ages 3-5)

Go Away, Big Green Monster, Ed Emberley
I really like books that get kids involved with reading it with me (you will see that theme pop up several times on this list), and Big Green Monster is pretty much the epitome example of this. I had so much success getting a group of 2 year olds to tell the Monster to go away, that the next class I read to ( a group of 4-5 year olds) asked if we could read the monster book because they’d heard us having so much fun! This one is also great because it works with any number of kids and really any age group – who doesn’t want to tell the Monster under their bed to just GO AWAY? (Ages 2-5)

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?, Jane Yolen and Mark Teague
Any of the How Do Dinosaurs books are a lot of fun, with the added bonus that they’ve got little lessons hidden in them (“How do dinosaurs say good night? Do they do all these bad things? No, they are good dinosaurs,” etc.) that are easy for kids to swallow. This one is my personal favorite because of the illustrations – the pages with dinosaurs holding teddy bears and being tucked in by human parents are both charming and funny. (Ages 2-5)

Leonardo the Terrible Monster, Mo Willems
The whole book is completely charming, but it’s made extra awesome by the full page spread of text when Sam tells Leonardo everything that’s wrong and making him cry – I’ve found that the best way to approach this is to take a deep, exaggerated breath…and then say the whole thing really fast. It doesn’t even matter if the kids catch every word, they certainly get the idea and I’ve never NOT gotten a room full of laughs at the end of Sam’s speech. (Ages 3-5)

Little Pea, Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Jen Corace
Amy Rosenthal and Jen Corace have done a few of the Little books – Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Little Oink, among others. What makes them so appealing, in addition to the utterly adorable illustrations, is the obvious contradiction in each one: in Little Pea, the titular character only wants to eat vegetables…but first, he has to eat his dinner (which is candy). Kids find this turnaround of their expectations to be pretty hilarious (because who wouldn’t rather eat candy than veggies?). (Ages 2-6)

Peck Peck Peck, Lucy Cousins
I admit, I didn’t actually read this one – my supervisor read it during the baby storytime while I was still observing. But it worked SO well that I can’t wait to use it myself in the next session! You may recall my story about one of my regular attendees, who came in the week after hearing Peck Peck Peck still ready to peck anything in the room he could reach. A book that stays with the babies like that is clearly a winner. (Ages 0-2)

Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit, Il Sung Na
I thought this one could really go either way, and it turned out the best way – my babies were very engaged by the bright, friendly illustrations and they loved being able to identify the different animals on the pages. The story is simple enough that they didn’t get bored, and quiet enough that it made the perfect end book for our storytime. It’s also lovely enough that I want to add it to my own book shelf. (Ages 0-2)

The Sunflower Sword, Mark Sperring
I like this one so much I asked for (and got!) it for Christmas. It’s a very charming story about friendship and inner versus physical strength, and how using a flower can be more effective than using a sword. Plus, dragons! And as a bonus, there are lots of opportunities to get kids swinging imaginary flower swords. (Ages 3-6)

Time to Say Bye Bye, Maryann Cocca-Lefler
Books that ask simple questions, where the answers can be demonstrated in a way for my babies to follow along, are generally winners, and this one is the best of those I’ve found so far. Even my youngest (about eight months old) understood waving good by, and by the end of the book I had my whole audience waving and saying “bye bye.” The colorful, dynamic illustrations of very familiar concepts (playing at the playground, baking at grandma’s house, taking a bath) were easy for them to identify and proved to be very engaging. (Ages 0-2)

The Bear Books, by Greg Foley
I’m 100% cheating by including this whole series, but I couldn’t pick just one – they’re too sweet. From Thank You, Bear to Don’t Worry, Bear; I Miss You, Mouse and Good Luck, Bear; I’ve never had one of these flop in my storytimes. They’re simple but emotive, and I love the way they make complex concepts easily accessible to very young children. (Ages 3-6 are best, but you can totally go younger with these)

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