10 New-ish Picture Books That are Storytime Gold

Storytime GoldHoot and Peep1. Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge.

Exquisite illustrations reminiscent of Van Gogh’s Starry Night really make this picture book stand out as a gem. The story features a pompous older old brother who wants to share his owly wisdom with his little sister and doesn’t seem to appreciate his sister’s unique voice. When I shared it in storytime, I invited the children to “hoo” along with the owls, which ended up being a big hit! This book is a tad on the longer side, so it’s best to share it slightly older preschoolers, though the toddlers in my group enjoyed “hoo-ing” just as much as the older kids. “Hoo-ing” aside, this is also a quieter book, best shared at the start of storytime before the wiggles really take over.

Super Jumbo2. Super Jumbo by Fred Koehler.

Every child dreams of being a super hero, and this picture book perfectly captures the imaginative ways children pretend to save the day. Prior to storytime, I enjoyed examining the pictures and got a chuckle over some of the details. During storytime, I appreciated the spare text that makes this book great for sharing with wiggly kids and toddlers. I also loved the opportunities for open-ended questions that this book presented. Examples include: “Who is he helping?”, “Do you think they want to be helped?”, and “What’s Super Jumbo’s greatest weakness?” The story ends with the message that helping a friend makes the world a little more super.

Get Out of My Bath3. Get Out of My Bath by Britta Teckentrup

This is an older one (copyright, 2015), but I didn’t get a chance to use it in storytime until recently because it had been so popular that it was almost constantly checked out! This is an interactive book in which you tilt and shake the book to make the bath water move. While I’m not thrilled with the way elephant asks the other animals to leave her bath (“Get out of my bath” just seems a little rude to me), the kids definitely enjoyed the story and parents wanted to check the book out after storytime. The illustrations are also cute, and the fact that this book is interactive and short makes it perfect for a wiggly crowd!

Opposite Zoo

4. The Opposite Zoo by Il Sung Na

I’m sure it’s a surprise to no one that a book by Il Sung Na is on this list. This book features Na’s whimsical artwork and also focuses on a favorite topic for the younger crowd: opposites! A monkey visits its neighbors in a zoo, and the readers are introduced to various opposites by the animals. Some are predictable: the sloth is slow, and the cheetah is fast. But other pairings are more imaginative. When I read this in a family storytime, the kids loved pointing out the various opposite pairs. The short text and colorful illustrations makes this book perfect for a toddler storytime, but it works equally well for the slightly older crowd.

Good Night Like This5. Good Night Like This by Mary Murphy

Pretty much everything by Mary Murphy is storytime gold, but I love this book in particular because of it’s twilight colors and the calming text. This is a perfect book calming down a hyper-active bunch (if they are able to be calmed down, that is), and it’s also great for a quieter bunch. Perceptive children may even spot the silhouettes of animals telling others good night on each page.

I am bear6. I Am Bear by Ben Bailey Smith and Sav Akyuz

I gotta warn you, this book could wrinkle some parent noes over the fact that the bear starts out bare. I personally feel, however, that it’s a good opportunity to expand vocabulary and maybe talk about homophones (plus the kids will get a good laugh). Bare bears aside, this book is wonderful. Full of bright colors with only two sentences per spread, this could work very well for kids of all ages. There’s also an opportunity for a game of peek-a-boo, and who doesn’t love shouting out BOO in storytime?

Puddle7. Puddle by Hyewon Yum

Okay, I haven’t actually tried it yet, but I have grand plans for this book in storytime. My plan involves paper, crayons, and having the kids draw their own version of puddles while I read the story. At the end, we’ll all stand up, put our puddles on the floor and jump in! Depending on the crowd, this could either be a great extension activity or a disaster. Still, I’m super excited to try something creative with this imaginative book!

Peddles8. Peddles by Elizabeth Ross Stanton

Speaking of imaginative stories, Peddles is about an adorable pig who thinks outside of the box. When Peddles discovers his love for dancing, he goes off to find some appropriate footwear. After a few unfortunate options (paint cans, flower pots, and even bee hives) Peddles finds a nice pair of red boots. Unfortunately, he finds it difficult to walk in said boots until he gets some help from his barnyard friends. Featuring pencil and watercolor illustrations and focusing on the themes of creativity and teamwork, this is a great one to share in storytime!

Strictly No Elephants9. Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Montchev

I feel like I say this a lot — or, at least, I think it a lot — but this book is SO FRIGGIN’ CUTE! A little boy with a pet elephant is excluded from a pet club due to his unusual choice of pet. While this is very disheartening the boy eventually finds other children with weird pets and they start their own club. The illustrations are charming and the story could open up a great conversation about inclusion and treating others as you want to be treated. If that’s a little heavy-handed for your storytimes, you could also change the conversation to what kinds of unusual pets the kids would like to have and make a chart of their pets (unusual or otherwise) to add a STEM activity!

Dear Yeti10. Dear Yeti by James Kwan

Two hikers set out to meet the illusive yeti in this wonderful story. Told through a series of (storytime-short) letters to the yeti, we follow the hikers and see how the yeti watches over them on their trip. When a mean, old grizzly attacks, the gentle yeti saves that day using only words (no violence). The story ends with the hikers getting a letter back from the yeti. This is a sweet story to share with a storytime crowd.

 

Makerspace Challenge: Friendship Bracelets

Makerspace Challenge
As I mentioned in my last post, I started up a kid-friendly makerspace at my library. This makerspace is open all day and kids are encouraged to use their creativity to make whatever they want. However, I also decided to have a monthly challenge for those kids who either 1) likes a challenge, or 2) needs a little help coming up with something to make.

I wanted this month’s challenge to be something simple that required little to no prep work on my side. I also wanted it to be something that had kid appeal so that it could entice kids to use the new makerspace. So this month’s challenge is…

FRIENDSHIP BRACELETS!

A few things of note:

  1. My typed up instructions are for the traditional braided friendship bracelets, but I did put out several books on friendship bracelets for those who wanted to do something more challenging.
  2. Rainbow loom bracelets probably would have been more popular. I’m showing my age with the traditional friendship bracelet thing.
  3. We initially kept the thread at the computer sign up desk because we were afraid that it would go too quickly. A few kids asked for the thread, but mostly it just sat on the desk. After the first week, I moved the thread into the makerspace, and more kids have been participating in the challenge.

friendship bracelet thread
I’ll be changing the makerspace challenge every month, and it’ll be interesting to see which challenges will be popular and which ones will be ignored in favor of the child creating his/her own project. As of right now, I’d say that the friendship bracelet challenge has had a mild to moderate response. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I wouldn’t do it again in the future.

A Makerspace for the Younger Crowd

After years of wishing and months of planning, I finally managed to start up a kid-friendly makerspace at my library! The makerspace has only been out for about a week now, but it’s gotten a decent amount of use and some positive feedback. One grandmother thanked me for the makerspace because her 4-year-old grandson got the opportunity to work with another little boy on a project that they came up with together. Later that same day, a tween deemed the makerspace “pretty cool” which, as we all know, is pretty high praise!

The makerspace is set up in our computer lab, which is where the majority of kids end up at some point during the day. The supplies are out all day and kids are encouraged to use the makerspace whenever they want. I did type up a set of makerspace rules that include: 1) Be kind, 2) Share, 3) Be safe, and 4) Clean up.

The makerspace consists of a set of drawers stocked with supplies such as:

  • Masking tape
  • Yarn
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Plastic tubes
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Scissors
  • Soufle cups
  • Coffee filters
  • Wheels/Turbine Hubs
  • Cotton balls
  • Styrofoam balls
  • Straws
  • Paper scraps
  • Hole punch

There are also trays of cardboard and paper towel/toilet paper tubes for the kids to use.

I’ll be posting more later this month (or early next month) about what works, what doesn’t, and what plans I have for the future. In the meantime, I’m just happy to share that I have started this project and that it’s going well so far!

 

Guest Post: Computer Part Art

Computer Part Art 1

I work with an amazing group of children’s librarians! Seriously. I am amazed by their creativity on a near daily basis. So I decided to share the love and have a couple of guest posts about the awesome programs that my coworkers offer. First up is a Computer Part Art program that my coworker, Marra, did last month. Marra was very kind to share some pictures and write up a blurb about the program, so here you go:

We’ve done a Computer Part Art program before, and it was always been popular.  Both kids and grown-ups really enjoy seeing the guts of a computer and come up with some very fun creations.  And the grownups usually end up making something too.  The most time consuming part of the program is taking the computers apart.  Computers are like a complex 3-D puzzle held together by a million screws.  Time was running out of getting the pieces out of the machines, so in a last-minute move we decided to have some of the computers, keyboards and mice laid out on the tables with a variety of screwdrivers, pliers and other tools.

Best.idea.ever.

Computer Part Art 3

Children and grownups were excited about the idea of choosing to “create or destroy” the computers.  The destroyers really dug into their work, focusing for the entire program length at taking the computers apart, layer by layer.  The cheers of victory as each piece came off were pretty amazing.  One young man, about 5, spent the entire hour with a screwdriver and a keyboard, patiently removing each screw until the computer came apart.  His grown up was in awe and said over and over how she had never seen him sit in one place for so long.

Computer Part Art 2
If you would like to offer a computer part art program, you’ll need:

  • Old, Useless Computers (ask local IT departments)
  • Tools
  • Various craft supplies (tape, glue, macaroni, buttons, etc.)

2016 Goodreads Challenge Update

2016 Goodreads Challenge

It was really hard for me to set my Goodreads challenge this year. In 2015, I pledged to read 50 books, and I was able to surpass that pretty easily, but this year, I wondered if I should set a lower goal so that I could reread more books (I do not count rereads in my Goodreads challenge). I ended up sticking with 50 because it seems like a decent number of books for a librarian; however, I also decided to keep a Word document of every single book that I read this year, which includes things that I don’t count towards my Goodreads challenge, including: picture books, early readers, books I didn’t finish, and rereads. According to Goodreads, I’ve read 10 books so far and am 6 books ahead of schedule. According to Microsoft Word, I’ve read 29 books so far this year. Hmmm…

Anyway, here’s the Goodreads books:

The Sword of Summer –> Can you believe that this is the first Rick Riordan book that I’ve read? I tried picking up The Red Pyramid a few years back, but didn’t get more than a few chapters into it. I’ve always been curious as to Riordan’s appeal, and I do love me some Norse mythology, so I picked this one up. Despite thinking that it could have been edited down to less pages, I really enjoyed it! I absolutely love the characters and world building, and I can totally see why kids/tweens/teens/adults are into these stories. I may pick up another Riordan book before the year’s out! (Maybe.)

A Thousand Pieces of You & Ten Thousand Skies Above You –> I kept seeing these books on Tumblr, so I checked them out to see if they were actually good or if the Tumblr crowd was just reblogging them due to their pretty covers (you can never be sure with the Tumblr crowd). While I can’t speak for the rest of Tumblr, I think these books are good. They’re a very unique blend of sci fi (which isn’t my absolute favorite genre) and historical fiction. The characters are fully developed and you really do grow to love them. I also loved the world building. I couldn’t wait to see where they’d end up next and how they’d all be connected in that world. So, yeah, two very high thumbs up from me. (And it doesn’t hurt that the covers are pretty.)

Baba Yaga’s Assistant –> We have A LOT of graphic novel fans at my library, so I spent this month trying to catch up on some great graphic novels that I heard about but never got around to reading. This one was recommended to me by a coworker. I liked it. It was an interesting spin on Baba Yaga, and I really loved the protagonist.

Meet the Bigfeet –> This is an early chapter book that I stumbled upon while helping a young reader find a chapter book to read. I don’t know why I didn’t know about it before, seeing as it’s written by KEVIN SHERRY, but every librarian misses a book here and there. I thought this one was a great book for the early chapter book crowd. (Side note: I probably shouldn’t count early chapter books towards my Goodreads challenge, but eh…)

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword –> This is another graphic novel series that I heard a lot about over the years but never got around to reading until recently. I really loved the sense of family in this one and how it blended with elements of fantasy.

Monstrous –> I picked this one up because I saw the review for the second installment and I thought the cover (of both books) looked cool. It started out as a slow read for me, and I almost put it down, but I kept reading and ended up really liking it. I love that it’s a retelling of Frankenstein and that it has a very girl power vibe to it.

Zita the Spacegirl –> Another graphic novel. I don’t really have much to say about this one.

Awkward –> Last graphic novel! I picked this one up because I thought it could be a good one to recommend to Raina Telgemeier fans. I tried book talking it to one girl and was unsuccessful in convincing her to check it out, but I will continue trying because I think it does have high kid appeal and a pretty cool story.

The Siren –> This one was such a disappointment!!! The writing style was awesome as ever and the characters and world building were amazing, but the romance fell flat (they went on two dates and considered themselves in love) and the book was 90 percent pining from afar.

Minecraft Crafts

Minecraft Crafts

Did you know that back in the summer of 2014, when my coworker and I first started offering a Minecraft program, we initially planned to offer Minecraft crafts along with the computer game? We had thought that kids would naturally migrate between playing on the computer and doing a fun craft. And we were so. dead. wrong.

(Granted, we had also thought that offering the program once a week every other week would be sufficient. We were dead wrong there too.)

For the past two years, I have more or less kept the Minecraft craft idea on the back burner. Kids just weren’t interested in crafts when there was Minecraft on the computer in front of them.

But then I thought…hey, what if I offered this program on a different day and time than our usual Minecraft program? And what if I advertised the program as being just crafts with no computers at all?

Well, it turns out that kids are interested in Minecraft crafts. (Just as long as there’s no computer to distract them.)

Here’s what I did:

Paper Folding Minecraft

Paper Folding Minecraft Creeper:

Supplies:

Template
Scissors
Tape

Children cut out the template, fold in the appropriate areas, then tape it all together. This was a slightly time consuming and a little bit difficult craft. Most kids did just fine, but there were a few kids who really needed help with this one.

P.S. You’ll notice that I have glue sticks in the picture. Glue sticks don’t work so well. Use tape.

Duct Tape Minecraft

Minecraft Creeper Wristband:

Supplies:

Bright green duct tape (pre-cut)
Permanent markers
Velcro

I had all the duct tape pre-cut so that kids wouldn’t have to use adult scissors. To make the wristband, kids placed one piece of duct tape on top of another piece of duct tape. They then used permanent marker to draw their designs. Lastly, they added velcro to the ends of the wrist band (one piece of velcro on one side, and the other on the other side).

This one was slightly easier, though some kids did have trouble handling the duct tape.

Coloring

Minecraft Coloring Pages:

I added this at the last minute when I realized that both of the other crafts are more for older kids, and I wanted to have something that young kids could do too. I did have a few 3 and 4-year-olds show up to the program, so it was nice to have this available for them.

Family Storytime: Jan 2016

I haven’t been posting many storytime plans on here lately. This is mostly because I usually only do 1 storytime a month (sometimes 2, but usually just the one). It’s also because I no longer do themes unless it’s a special occasion. Still, I’d like to post some storytimes, so here’s what I did in January.

P.S. This storytime doesn’t have a theme, but if it did have a theme, the theme would be, “Awesome books I discovered through Jbrary’s 2015 Favorite Storytime Picture Books post.”

Storytime Books
Books:

Welcome Home, Bear by Il Sung Na
The Fly by Petr Horacek
Fish Jam by Kylie Howarth
Nose to Toes, You are Yummy! by Tim Harrington
Pepper & Poe by Frann Preston-Gannon

Activities:

Along with my usual rhyme cube, we also danced to Jumping and Counting by Jim Gill, sang “Where is Bear” with bear finger puppets, and sang “Shoo Fly” with shoo fly props. The words to “Where is Bear” and “Shoo Fly” are below:

Bear Puppets

Where is Bear?
To the Tune of Where is Thumbkin

[start with hands behind your back]
Where is bear? Where is bear?
[bring one hand, then the other in front of you]
Here I am. Here I am.
How are you today, bear?
Very tired, thank you.
Go to sleep. Go to sleep.
[lower fingers as if bear is sleeping]

Instruct children to count to three then yell, “Wake up, bear!” Repeat rhyme.

Credit: Storytime Katie

Shoo Flies
Shoo Fly (Don’t Bother Me)

[pass out shoo flies and have children wave them around while you sing]

Shoo fly! Don’t bother me!
Shoo fly! Don’t bother me!Shoo fly! Don’t bother me!
I below to somebody.

Oh no! The fly landed on your knee! Where’s your knee? Shoo fly!

Repeat. Choose different body parts such as feet, hands, shoulders, nose, and head.

Credit: Mel’s Desk

How It Went:

This was such a fun storytime! My preschool group especially loved the books; three kids came up to me after storytime to tell me how much they liked them, and one child asked if I could read all of the books again at the next storytime!

My family group also loved it! I’m so glad that I picked really short stories because the average age of the family group was probably 2.5 (if you don’t include the parents’ ages, of course). Despite their young age, the kids were really into the books and loved the extension activities!

The other thing that I noticed about this storytime plan is that it had a good variety of interactive and get up and wiggle stuff, as well as let’s sit quietly stuff. I’ve been noticing that there are two types of storytime kids: those who want to bounce around the whole time, and those who want to sit quietly and listen. I’ve been trying to make sure I have something for both kinds of kids, and this one really worked well.