Board Books for Storytime

As a follow-up to my last post, I wanted to let you guys know what board books I ended up ordering for my storytimes. I polled my esteemed colleagues on the ALSC listserv and got some great ideas!

Moo, Baa, La La La by Sharon Boynton
Sharon Boynton is seriously one of the best children’s authors out there for storytime books. Her stuff is engaging and her illustrations are charming. Moo, Baa, La La La is one of my favorite board books in general, because of the easily identifiable farm animals and the way it encourages kids to interact with the reader by making the different animal sounds.

Everywhere Babies, by Susan Meyers
This was one of the recommendations that came up a lot, because babies really love books about other babies – seeing themselves in the illustrations makes it much easier to engage them with the book! Everywhere Babies also features babies doing recognizable things and simple rhyming text that I think will work very well as a readaloud.

Whose Toes are Those? by Jabari Asim
Who doesn’t love This Little Piggy? One of my goals for this activity is to encourage interaction between the babies, their caretakers, and the books, and setting something like This Little Piggy to illustration accomplishes that handily. And also, again, babies love books about babies.

In My Tree, by Sarah Gillingham
This one is a bit of an experiment – In My Tree features a little finger puppet owl, which will either be a fun thing for the babies to play with as the pages turn OR I will find myself with a bunch of torn-out finger puppets. We’ll see!


Storytime Development

I floated the idea of incorporating guided read-alongs into my storytimes – basically, the idea is that every baby would get their own copy of the same board book, so they could interact with it and follow along with their caretaker while I read it outloud – and my boss LOVED it. Not only did I get a mega confidence boost from that (plus, I just love how my boss is not only super accepting of our ideas and input, but actively encourages us to contribute), but I get to pick out and order books, which is quickly becoming my favorite part of my job. There’s something so exciting about being trusted to handle library resources, and to know that I’m having an impact on the library’s collection, which will have an impact on how our patrons interact with the collection and with us. That’s pretty thrilling to me.

What are your favorite board books to read out loud? Do you have any tried and true favorites in your own collections? I’m thinking we should get a counting book, an animal book, and a family-oriented book, but I’m still combing through title lists. Any recommendations?

New Storytimes and the Semi-Finals! *UPDATED*

**WRITER’S NOTE** BOY IS MY FACE RED. You may have noticed that the first version of this post incorrectly had The Hobbit as a semi-finalist – this is incorrect. The Golden Compass will be in the vote against Speak, and the poll has been updated to reflect that. Sorry about the confusion!

Our final matchups, generously provided by a random number generator, are…

The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman, vs. Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card vs. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Guys, these books need no introduction at this point. WHO WILL COMPETE FOR THE NUMBER ONE CROWN?

In other news, I’ve put the finishing touches on my storytime plan for this up-coming session – as you’ll recall, my library uses the Mother Goose on the Loose format, which means about 80% of my material is the same from week to week. This is nice, in that I don’t need a whole new plan every week, but it means I feel a bit of pressure to make sure I pick stuff that I like and that the kids will connect with. (Although, if something really didn’t work the first couple of weeks, I don’t think anyone would get mad if I swapped out the duds.)

Here’s my plan (all links lead to my Story Rhymes wiki!):

Opening song: Hello, Hello
Second Opening Rhyme: Open Shut Them (always a favorite of mine)
Rhythm Game: Rum Pum Pum
Rhyme/song that changes every week
Bounce Rhyme: This is the way the Lady Rides
Animal Rhyme: Five Little Ducks (as a finger play, my library doesn’t have a duck puppet to use)
Stand-Up Action: Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear
Scarf rhyme (this is the one I’m most nervous about changing, because you guys know how popular Wiggle Waggle got to be! We’ll see if I can get them into this new rhyme): Roley Poley
Closing Song: Our Hands Say Thank You

I’ll let you guys know how it goes!

Storytime Crafts

Our fall storytime session just ended and our next one starts January 6.  I was hired in the middle of this last session, which meant I had to dive into a lot of things headfirst – the big one was being added to the rotation of theme weeks. Each week of our storytimes is loosely themed, and each theme is decided by one of the librarians. We pick our theme, create a list of 10+ books for everyone to draw on for their storytime, and pick CDs and songs/rhymes/fingerplays for people to build into their storytime for that week. We also have to come up with a sensory craft activity for kids to do after.

It was the craft I was most nervous about – I can pick storytime themes in my sleep, and the trickiest part about picking books was making sure the ones I wanted were on the shelf when I was gathering them up. Likewise, gathering rhymes is made much easier with resources like out there. But I’ve never planned a craft that was then actually executed by kids before! I was seized with the irrational fear that whatever I planned would flop, the kids would be bored, it wouldn’t work the way it was supposed to. Added to this, which either made things harder or easier depending on my mood, is the fact that my library emphasizes process-based activities rather than product-based activities. We try not to do stuff for the little guys that has a definitive end product, because we don’t want there to be this thought that there’s a “right” way to do the activity.

I had three weeks in this session. My themes were:
– Nighttime
– Fairytales
– Snow
And I have to say, after talking to my fellow librarians, I went three for three on my activities – each one was a hit with the kids. This might be the thing I am most proud of so far because of my aforementioned lack of experience; without any practical experience doing crafts with kids, I didn’t have a baseline for what worked and what didn’t.

Here are the crafts I planned!

– Nighttime: for my Nighttime theme we made night collages, using black construction paper, twigs and googely eyes. It was my least process-based activity, but the kids had a lot of fun gluing twigs and making nighttime animals with the eyes. Here’s what it looks like (and where I grabbed the idea from).

– Fairytales: First, let me just say that when I picked this theme I didn’t know that there are almost no fairytale picture books that are good storytime books. They’re all too long! I had to get creative and dig up some good dragon, knight and princess books, including some early readers.

My craft for this week was foil painting, which I thought was enchanted mirror-adjacent, and mostly thought it would be fun for kids to paint on something other than paper for a change. Hoooooly moly, I was right, they had SO much fun with this. Here is where I picked the idea up from.

– Snow: Possibly the week I was most excited for, because I don’t know if you guys know this, but weather books are almost always awesome (I pulled Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit by Il Sung Na for this week, which might win as Best Selection for my baby storytime). The craft was snow paint, which unfortunately we only got to do once; no one came to the Monday storytime (because it was WAY too cold), my babies don’t do a craft, and our end-of-session dance party was on Friday. But! The kids who did this one had a lot of fun. Similar to the foil painting, the snow paint was an activity they were familiar with using a new medium – in this case, the paint was a mix of shaving cream and glue, which dried puffy like snow. Check it out here, where I pulled the idea from.

If I have any librarians or other people who work with young children, what kinds of crafts do you like doing? Do you prefer process- or product-based crafts?

Watching: Frozen. Oh my god, Frozen. I actually have too many feelings about this movie to talk about it here – a longer, in depth review will be going up on Boycott Bluray later this week. Suffice to say, I really, really loved it.

Reading: Just finished Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. Deeply affecting and not for the faint of heart – it’s one of those books adults need to read so they know when to give it to teens who need it. What Speak does for rape victims, Wintergirls does for sufferers of anorexia and other eating disorders.

Storytime Book Selection

Have you voted in Best YA Book: Round Two yet? Do so here! Polls close tomorrow!

My storytime this week went really well – I felt like my kids were engaged with the books, everyone paid attention (one guy kept trying to pull a broom out of our cabinet, but he’s always a wanderer). Last week? Not so much. So today I want to talk a little bit about book selection, which is what made the difference.

Last week, I read Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig and Marc Brown, and The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell ad illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max. I’d been wanting to do both for a while; they have great sound effects, fun words, repetition, and bright illustrations. However…

They bombed! And it’s not the first time I’ve picked books that I thought were a sure thing – two weeks ago, I read Peek!: A Thai Hide-and-Seek by Minfong Ho and I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy. Again, both books had a lot going for them – Peek! has great repetition and beautiful illustrations, and I Kissed the Baby is sweet with simple illustrations and an easy, identifiable concept. (I have also seen it be used in other baby storytimes with better results than I got.) Turns out all my choices had drawbacks which were clear almost immediately:

– A lot of the repetition in Dancing Feet is nonsense words. I thought they sounded fun when I practiced the book, but my kids were young enough that I guess they didn’t register at all. They didn’t connect with the book at all like I thought they would.

– Turns out, The Baby Goes Beep is kind of boring! And since it was the second book I read, when people’s attention was already wandering, my kids had zero interest in sound effects. I know that when picking books for babies, plot is not super important, but there just wasn’t enough content for me to hook their interest back.

Peek! was too long. I ended up editing it pretty heavily, turning multiple pages to get to the end.

I Kissed the Baby may have been the weirdest one – the black and white illustrations freaked my kids OUT. I ended that one early, even though it’s quite short, because every time I turned a page someone would cry!

This week, I read Time to Say Bye Bye by Maryann Cocca-Lefler and Meeow and the Blue Table by Sebastien Braun (both suggestions I got from Melissa Depper’s blog, off this list). Both were a resounding success, and here’s why I think that’s true:

Time to Say Bye Bye has very simple, easy concepts with great illustrations, but it’s also interactive enough to keep babies engaged. Waving “bye bye” is a pretty universal gesture, and I had my whole crowd waving and saying bye bye by the end of the book. It was pretty great (and also adorable).

– I was concerned Meeow might be too abstract for the babies, but the text is SO simple and the characters are all common enough animals that everyone had fun telling me that Moo was a cow and Quack was a duck. I also appreciated the inclusion of basic concept words (the blanket is red and the table is blue, etc.), which gave me something to point their attention to on every page.

I’m still getting used to picking books for babies rather than toddlers or pre-schoolers, but these last few weeks have been very educational – I’m sad that I picked some books my kids didn’t like, but hopefully that means I’ll be better at picking books in the future.

Voting Begins!

Before we get to the polls, I wanted to share an adorable story with all of you: most of the songs and rhymes I do for my storytime are carried over from week to week, so there’s a lot of repetition.  (When the new session starts in January, I will be planning out a whole new storytime which will stick through the winter/spring session.)  We have been doing “This Old Man, He Played One” every week, and a rhyme with scarves that goes “Fingers like to wiggle waggle, wiggle waggle, way up high” (down low, side to side, etc.). “This Old Man” plays to limited success, but the wiggle waggling is the favorite of many children.

One of my regulars had to attend a different storytime because of his caregiver’s work schedule last week. When it ended, he came out of the storytime singing “wiggle waggle” to the precise tune of “This Old Man.” He also proceeded to remix some of the other songs he’d heard in that morning’s storytime, and his accuracy and pitch on the tunes was almost perfect.

This kid is just shy of three. It was the cutest remix I’ve ever seen.

Voting!  Sorry this is going up a day later than expected – putting the polls together was more time consuming than I expected.

Round One, Part One: Fantasy

A boy wizard an his owl versus a girl and her daemon – both destined to change the world. Harry Potter deals with classism, The Golden Compass with religion – both take place in worlds of magic, and both have some of the most beautiful prose I’ve ever read. Haven’t read them? Read more about Harry Potter here and The Golden Compass here.

While different in tone, I Shall Wear Midnight and Sabriel both feature young women learning to navigate the strange powers they possess while maintaining their sense of self. Midnight has Pratchett’s singular humorous bent, while still managing to spring emotional weight on the reader; Sabriel is delightfully macabre with its sprinkling of necromancy and spirits. Read more about I Shall Wear Midnight here and Sabriel here.

Speaking of macabre…historical fiction meets monstrous entity in The Monstrumologist, while Hold Me Closer, Necromancer stars a teen and his realization that he has the power to raise the dead. Another matchup of humor versus poetic horror, read more about The Monstrumologist here and Hold Me Closer, Necromancer here.

Neil Gaiman versus a Neil Gaiman endorsed graphic novel, both starring adventurous young women who bite off more than they can chew. For Coraline, it’s getting involved with the otherworldly Other Mother; for Anya, it’s inviting the ghost of Emily home with her. Read more about Coraline here and Anya’s Ghost here.

Round One, Part One: Science Fiction

I like pairing classics, although it makes the choice a lot harder. All dystopian novels owe some of their DNA to The Giver, while A Wrinkle in Time melds hard science with interstellar travel and spiritual beings seamlessly. Read more about The Giver here and A Wrinkle in Time here.

Speaking of dystopias…both The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games are stories of survival in bleak futures, where the main characters are only working with part of the information. Thomas from The Maze Runner has more of an internal battle to fight, while Katniss struggles against forces outside her control. Read more about The Hunger Games here and The Maze Runner here.

I picked The City of Gold and Lead instead of the first book in the Tripods trilogy, The White Mountains, because the city as described is so vivid – clogged with pollution, heavy with increased gravity, the prose feels as oppressive as the story of alien domination. On the other side, you have the descriptions of the Battle Room, and the impending doom of alien invasion.  Read more about Ender’s Game here and The City of Gold and Lead here.

Surgical perfection versus cloning and organ harvesting –  this last match-up is a battle of medical oddities. Tally Youngblood eagerly anticipates becoming a Pretty, without a care or responsibility, until the truth of her utopian society is revealed, while Matteo Alacran waits for the drug lord he was cloned from to claim his organs. Read more about Uglies here and The House of the Scorpion here.

Round One, Part One: Realistic Fiction

The best in survival fiction, both voluntary and involuntary. Brian and Sam have been inspiring people for years with their tenacity, ingenuity and fortitude; Hatchet reveals that we are made of stronger stuff than we might think, while My Side of the Mountain explores the freedom of choosing to live your own life. Read more about Hatchet here and My Side of the Mountain here.

As a high school girl, these two series spoke to me on a pretty fundamental level – the girls featured went through and came out of so many of the same troubles I was having, and they did with grace (mostly) and humor (typically). The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is definitely the more emotional of the two, but Georgia Nicolson provided much needed perspective on all the little things that felt like life-enders at the time. Read more about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants here and Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging here.

On the surface, these two classics don’t have much in common: Scout’s story of race relations during the Great Depression versus a group of boys degenerating into chaos alone on an island. However, both deal with the breakdown of society in the face of savagery – it is more literal in the case of Lord of the Flies, but Scout must also face the failure of justice and the violent results of human brutality. Read more about To Kill A Mockingbird here and Lord of the Flies here.

One of the things that makes great YA is the fearlessness to tackle the big issues. Both of these novels do so with tragic skill, whether it’s Eleanor navigating her abusive home and budding relationship with Park, or Hannah baldly laying out the decision to end her life. Both novels are sharp illustrations of the kind of literature that can be deeply affecting. Read more about Eleanor & Park here and Thirteen Reasons Why here.

Round One, Part One: Historical/Non Fiction

I didn’t actually realize until the moment that both of these are World War II narratives – the Book Thief tells its story from inside Germany, about the little rebellions people fought every day and how they can turn into something huge, while Code Name Verity is about spies and truth and camaraderie in Nazi-occupied France. Both feature girls that will break your heart with their courage. Read more about The Book Thief here and Code Name Verity here.

I confess – when the boys in my class were reading Hatchet, I was reading Julie of the Wolves.  (We all read The Island of the Blue Dolphins.) Julie’s story, of adapting to life amongst the wolfpack and surviving in the bare tundra and reconnecting with her Eskimo heritage, captured me; Karana, alone on her island, made me examine the connections I made with other people. Read more about The Island of the Blue Dolphins here and Julie of the Wolves here.

The most popular pirate story ever written versus one of the most controversial novels still part of the school curriculum. Both feature voyages and unlikely friendships – Jim Hawkins sails with, and befriends, the bloodthirsty Long John Silver, while Huck meanders down a river with escaped slave Jim. Read more about Treasure Island here and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn here.

Blankets is a serene, emotional story about first love and reminiscing, while Stitches is the violent, disturbing tale of being lied to “for your own good” and the mental and physical damage that can do. While Stitches is more visceral, Blankets is more familiar – but both are the kind of story that sticks with you long after you’ve put it down. Read more about Blankets here and Stitches here.

These initial pairings were formulated using a very scientific method of what I thought was appropriate multiplied by process of elimination.  The second round for all categories will go up on Saturday, and then I’ll close the polls next Wednesday and post the next round of match-ups. Feel free to debate heatedly in the comments! You can also vote more than once, so advocating for your favorites is encouraged. Tell your friends! Tell your librarian! Tell everyone!

Establishing Presence

First thing’s first: I saw Ender’s Game, and while I stand by my earlier statements regarding seeing the film versus not, I was extraordinarily disappointed in it. I’ve got a review up over here if you’re interested in more detail.

I spent a long time this week working on an entry about how I need to establish a presence in the library, and how that might help in attracting more kids to my storytimes and also establish with the teens that I am actually an authority figure, despite being the newest person at the library and also really short – but the whole thing just ended up sounding SUPER whiny and also really obvious. So. TL;DR, establishing presence in the library as a librarian is important!

Here’s what we read this Tuesday:

Wolf Won’t Bite, by Emily Gravett
Fall Is Not Easy, by Marty Kelly

Wolf Won’t Bite may  have been a little old for my regular, but it’s got fun pictures that are pretty silly to look at so it got some laughs.  And because I only  had two, I sat on the floor for Fall Is Not Easy, which is a smaller book, so that everyone could get a better look at the illustrations.

I’m brainstorming with my supervisor and the head of our PR department about how we can increase attendance to the lapsit storytime; one thing we’re going to start doing for the next programming quarter is advertising in pediatricians’ offices, which I hadn’t thought of but is totally obvious. So apart from the website and quarterly newsletter, my homework is to come up with other ways to get the word out.