A Few of My Favorite Themes: Dinosaurs

It has been ages since I did a favorite theme post! This is mostly due to the fact that I don’t have much time for writing blog posts these days, and these favorite theme posts take HOURS. In an effort to cut back on the amount of time this post will take, I’m not going to create a PDF of the books, and I’m probably going to link to less activities. But I promise that everything I post will be great for a dino themed storytime!

Dino Books:

Lizard from the Park by Mark Pett

Best for: Preschool age groups or mixed ages if read at the beginning of storytime.

A little boy finds what he believes to be a lizard in the park. However, when the lizard continues to grow to a gigantic size, the boy realizes that it may not be a lizard. He also realizes that his pet needs a bigger home. This is a sweet book about what it means to care for a pet’s well being. Also, the storytime kiddos won’t be fooled; they’ll know it’s a dinosaur.


I Wanna be a Great Big Dinosaur! by Heath McKenzie

Best for: Preschool age groups or toddler groups with parents who aren’t shy.

A little boy pretends to be a dinosaur, then proceeds to tell the dinosaur about all the great things that humans get to do, such as eat a bunch of different foods and play sports. In the end, they decide to be both dino and human. This book has some opportunity for movement and roaring, which preschoolers will do gladly. I’ve found that toddlers only play along when there’s a big sibling or parent stomping and roaring with them. Either way, this book is a hit!


If I Had a Raptor by George O’Connor

Best for: Preschool age groups

Here’s another book in which a dino poses as a pet. In this one, the raptor clearly resembles a cat, which the kids may or may not pick up on. Nevertheless, kids will love hearing about all the shenanigans this dino gets into!


Dino Duckling by Alison Murray

Best for: All Ages

In this adorable story, a dinosaur is adopted into a family of ducks, who love him just as he is. He never feels different…until winter comes and he realizes that he can’t fly south with his family. But never fear! The ducks come back and they all find an alternate route south. This book is just short enough to work with toddlers, but the preschool crowd will love it too!


Stomp! Little Dinosaur by Jo Lodge

Best for: Babies and Toddlers

This is a super short and brightly illustrated book that features pull tabs for extra fun. If you have a toddler group, you can add in some movement by having them blink, stomp, and roar along with the book. This book will also work well with a mixed ages group that includes preschoolers; however, since it is so short, I typically don’t share it if the crowd is predominantly preschoolers.


Dinsosaur vs. the Library by Bob Shea

Best for: All Ages

Out of all of the Dinosaur vs. books, this one is my favorite, and it’s the only one I share in storytimes. Kids of all ages love roaring along with dinosaurs, and we also make the other animal sounds too. (My favorite is the sad owl: boo hoo hoo!) Every time I read this, I always have at least one coworker comment on how she/he can hear the roaring at the desk. That’s because the kids get really into this one!


How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague

Best for: Toddlers and Preschoolers

This is another dino series in which I pretty much only read the same book over and over (okay, sometimes, I read How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food). Told in rhyming verse with large dino pictures, this book works well as a calm down or last story. And kids sometimes like to say “no” when I asked about the various ways dinosaurs may or may not go to sleep.


Flannelboard Templates:

Click on the photos below to be taken to the PDF of the flannelboard templates. The first one is One Dinosaur Went Out to Play by Mel’s Desk, and the other is a baby dinosaur template that is a total rip-off of the baby duck flannelboard by Miss Mary Liberry.

 


Dino Activities and Rhymes:

  • SLC Book Boy has a great flannelboard that goes along with the book, Dini Dinosaur.
  • Speaking of flannelboard stories, Miss Jaime’s Library Journeys has a cute Dotty the Dinosaur story/rhyme!
  • The queen of all things flannel, Storytime Katie, has some great dino/dragon finger puppets to be used with a revised Two Little Blackbirds rhymes.
  • Miss Mary Liberry has a super fun song, The T-Rex Goes Grr, Grr, Grr.
  • Story Time Secrets shares a Five Enormous Dinosaurs rhyme (I love the word “enormous!” Vocabulary FTW!).
  • Looking to incorporate more math into your dino storytime? This clip and count stegosaurus activity (you’ll have to scroll down a bit) is great!
  • Every Star is Different has a lot of dino activities, but I especially love the dino shapes one!
  • Got a wiggly crowd? This dinosaur movement game is sure to get the wiggles out!
  • Last, but definitely not least, this dino matching puzzle activity is a great way for storytime kids to put their thinking skills to the test.

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Reader’s Advisory: Fantasy

Whether we love it or hate it, reader’s advisory is a big part of our jobs. And, if you’re anything like me, you have your go-to books that you always recommend when a customer is asking about a particular genre. But what happens when your go-to books aren’t making the cut? In an effort to keep my reader’s advisory skills sharp and up-to-date, I periodically spend time creating lists of books to recommend based off of a certain genre or subject.

Today I will be sharing my current list of fantasy books. This is a list of fantasy books that I feel have strong kid appeal and are something that I can confidently book talk. You will not find the obvious books on this list (no Where the Wild Things Are, no Roald Dahl, no Harry Potter). This is not because I don’t book talk them (I’m a HUGE Harry Potter fan!!!). But it’s because I’m trying to think outside of the box with this list.

*Summaries taken from the catalog unless otherwise stated.

Picture Books and Early Readers:

Julia’s House for Lost Creatures by Ben Hatke

Summary: Julie welcomes all lost and homeless creatures into her house, whether they be cats or trolls, ghosts or dragons, but soon realizes that each must have a chore in order for the arrangement to work.

Erin’s Comments: What fantasy-loving child wouldn’t want a house full of magical creatures? This story features a tale about teamwork, but it’s the artwork that really draws you in. The coziness of the cottage deflects from the ghoulish creatures, making this a perfect book for kids who love fantasy, but who don’t necessarily want to be scared.

Nobody Likes a Goblin by Ben Hatke

Summary: Goblin, a cheerful little homebody, lives in a cosy, rat-infested dungeon, with his only friend, Skeleton. Every day, Goblin and Skeleton play with the treasure in their dungeon. But one day, a gang of “heroic” adventurers bursts in. These marauders trash the place, steal all the treasure, and make off with Skeleton-leaving Goblin all alone! It’s up to Goblin to save the day. But first he’s going to have to leave the dungeon and find out how the rest of the world feels about goblins.”–Amazon.com.

Erin’s Comments: Got a kiddo who’s looking for a good quest? Well, look no further! I feel like I’m cheating by listing another Hatke book, but this one is just too good to pass up. Like Julia’s House, this book features wonderful artwork that some how makes goblins and skeletons seem downright friendly without making them too cherubic. As a bonus, this book also has a high fantasy/Dungeons and Dragons vibe to it, while staying kid appropriate and short.

Journey series by Aaron Becker

Summary: Using a red marker, a young girl draws a door on her bedroom wall and through it enters another world where she experiences many adventures, including being captured by an evil emperor.

Erin’s Comments: Stepping through a doorway to enter another world is classic fantasy. This one may or may not be a hard sell, depending on whether the child/parent sees the value of a wordless picture book, but the illustrations are so gorgeous that I’m sure even the most skeptical would be willing to spend even just a few minutes flipping through it.

Anything by Dan Santat

Erin’s Comments: From imaginary friends, to time traveling road trips, to Humpty Dumpty overcoming his fears, Santat’s books are pure magic! If I could, I’d talk about them all individually, but then this list would be ridiculously long. Santat has a talent for capturing the magic of a child’s imagination, so just about any of his books that you hand over to a fantasy-loving child will be a big hit!

Spark by Kallie George

Summary: “Spark is a little dragon with a big problem. He can’t control his fiery breath. Even practicing doesn’t help. Will Spark ever be able to tame his flame?”– Provided by publisher.

Erin’s Comments: For kids who are starting to read on their own, the Tiny Tales series by Kallie George is great! Each book focuses on a different fantastical animal, and the illustrations are…I’m just going to say it…super cute (I’m not adept at talking about art, you guys; everything is just cute or beautiful or gorgeous).

Early Chapter Books

Heidi Heckelbeck series by Wanda Coven

Summary: After being homeschooled her whole life, Heidi Heckelbeck enters a real school in second grade, where she encounters a mean girl named Melanie who makes her feel like an alien.

Erin’s Comments: You spend most of the first book thinking that this is realistic fiction, then the cliffhanger at the end (psst: she’s a witch) totally throws you for a loop. I’ve had great success selling this book to kids who like their fantasy to have a little bit of a realistic aspect to it.

Zapato Power series by Jacqueline Jules

Summary: Freddie finds a mysterious package outside his apartment containing sneakers that allow him to run faster than a train, and inspire him to perform heroic deeds.

Erin’s Comments: Speaking of books that feature both realistic fiction and fantasy, this series is great for beginning readers, particularly those who would rather be a superhero instead of a witch or wizard. This book also has a bit of mystery to it, which really broadens the appeal!

The Kingdom of Wrenly series by Jordan Quinn

Summary: Eight-year-old Lucas, Prince of Wrenly, is eager to explore and Clara, daughter of the queen’s seamstress, knows the kingdom well, so they team up to find a lost jewel and visit all of the land’s main attractions as they search.

Erin’s Comments: Okay, I admit that I haven’t read this one myself, so I really can’t comment on it beyond what the catalog is telling me. But it sounds perfect for young kids who like their fantasy to have a bit of mystery, royalty, and adventure.

Graphic Novels

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

Summary: Jack dreads summer because his single mother has to work and leaves him at home with his boring little sister who is autistic. She doesn’t talk at all. Ever. But one day while they are at a flea market, she does talk. She tells Jack to trade their mother’s car for a box of mysterious seeds. It’s the best mistake Jack has ever made!

Erin’s Comments: Here’s Hatke again. Clearly I have a thing. But modernized fairy tale retellings are all the rage these days, and this one just happens to be in comic book form! And just look at that cover! It practically sells itself to any kid who likes fairy tales, graphic novels, or battling beasts.

Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell

Summary: “In a fantastical 1860s England, every quiet little township is terrorized by a ferocious monster–much to the townsfolk’s delight! Each town’s unique monster is a source of local pride, not to mention tourism. Each town, that is– except for one. Unfortunately, for the people of Stoker-on-Avon, their monster isn’t quite as impressive. In fact, he’s a little down in the dumps. Can the morose Rayburn get a monstrous makeover and become a proper horror? It’s up to the eccentric Dr. Charles Wilkie and plucky street urchin Timothy to get him up to snuff, before a greater threat turns the whole town to kindling”–Page 4 of cover.

Erin’s Comments: Got a kiddo who has a dry, almost morose, sense of humor? This might be the graphic novel for them!

Giants Beware! by Jorge Aguirre

Summary: Claudette wants nothing more than to slay a giant but her little village is too safe and quiet.

Erin’s Comments: Not only is this graphic novel a great fantasy, complete with mythical creatures and sword-fighting adventure, but it’s also really funny! Hand this one to a kid who likes their fantasy to have a lighter side. It’s also a series, which means kids will have plenty to read!

Middle Grade

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

Summary: With her glass slippers and devotion to good deeds, Sophie knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and join the ranks of past students like Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Snow White. Meanwhile, Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks and wicked black cat, seems a natural fit for the villains in the School for Evil.

The two girls soon find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School for Good, thrust among handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication.

But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are? — from Amazon

Erin’s Comments: This book has a strong Harry Potter vibe, plus lots of fairy tale references. But the best part of it constantly defies fairy tale stereotypes, which is so, so refreshing!

The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

Summary: When twelve-year-old Farah and her two best friends get sucked into a mechanical board game called The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand, a puzzle game akin to a large Rubik’s cube, they know it is up to them to defeat the game’s diabolical architect in order to save themselves and those who are trapped inside, including her baby brother Ahmed.

Erin’s Comments: This book is a little bit Jumanji and a little bit steampunk, but it’s also a whole lot of fun! Hand this one to readers who like to solve puzzles.

Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly

Summary: Kymera, who has a raven’s wings, a snake’s tail, and a cat’s eyes and claws, loves the father who brought her back to life after a wizard killed her, but she begins to question his motives, especially after she connects with a boy in the town from which she is rescuing sick girls.

Erin’s Comments: This one is reminiscent of Frankenstein, but it also features a girl who feels like an outsider and ends up saving the day. Also, that cover pretty much sells itself.

Wings of Fire series by Tui Sutherland

Summary: “Clay has lived his whole life under the mountain. The MudWing dragonet knows war is raging between the dragon tribes in the world outside – a war that he and four other dragonets are destined to end, according to the mysterious prophecy they have been taught. The five “chosen” dragonets were stolen from their homes while they were still in their eggs – and hidden away for years – all to fulfill the prophecy. But not every dragonet wants a destiny. And when danger threatens one of their own, Clay and his friends may choose freedom over fate … leave the mountain … and set the dragon world on a course that no one could have predicted.” — Jacket.

Erin’s Comments: I almost didn’t include this one because it’s getting popular to the point where it’s an obvious choice. But this series about dragons is character driven, has excellent world building, and is all around a lot of fun.

Spirit Animals series by various authors

Summary: Four children separated by vast distances all undergo the same ritual, watched by cloaked strangers. Four flashes of light erupt, and from them emerge the unmistakable shapes of incredible beasts — a wolf, a leopard, a panda, a falcon. Suddenly the paths of these children — and the world — have been changed forever. — from Amazon

Erin’s Comments: This one almost didn’t make the cut for the opposite reason than Wings of Fire: It was super popular at one time, but it’s popularity seems to be waning (at least at my library). Still, it’s a great series to suggest for the animal lovers out there.


And that is it! There are obviously many, many more fantasy books out there. Which ones do you like to book talk?

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Executive Function

On November 5th, several of my coworkers and I met at an Indian restaurant to eat some food and discuss the two journal articles that were assigned for the very first Library Services for Children Journal Club! While I could probably write a whole essay on our discussion, I’d much rather share via bullet points.

  • We were all very appreciative of this club, because all of us find it difficult to fit this type of professional development into our already hectic schedules. Because the readings are selected for us, and since this is a club with a some what flexible due date (but a due date nonetheless), we were all able to read (at least some) of the articles. (I admit I didn’t finish the Harvard one.)
  • It’s easy to think about executive function for small children, but we all were a little shocked about the fact that reading these articles made us worried about our own executive function. We currently live in a time of constant stimulation and immediate gratification — how is this affecting us? And if this is affecting adults, how is it affecting the next generation?
  • It’s also easy to think of ways to develop executive function skills in storytime, but what about the kids who aren’t going to storytime? What about the older kids who spend a lot of time on Roblox? How can we help them?
  • There was talk about the need to get out into the community more and to form partnerships with various other organizations in the community to ensure that we are reaching those who need help the most. We cannot rely that everyone in the community will come into the library, and even if they do, we cannot expect them to all participate in activities that will benefit this type of learning.
  • One colleague shared another article that lists activities that can enhance executive function skills. The great thing about this article is that it shares the activities based on age, and it does go on up to teens! The trick is incorporating some of these activities into our services and being very intentional about it. For example, video games can be used to promote executive function for older kids, but not every video game does a good job of this.

Overall, it was a really great discussion, and we are definitely looking forward to the next one!

Library Services for Children Journal Club

I am so excited to announce a brand new way to keep up with professional development/reading: the Library Services for Children Journal Club!!!

This club is the brainchild of Jbrary’s Lindsey and her colleague, Christie. Every other month, Lindsey and/or Christie will pick a journal article or two based on a certain topic. November’s topic is on executive function, and future topics will focus on one of six research themes that include areas such as STEAM and community engagement.

The purpose of this club is to both promote professional development among individuals and to also encourage library staff to engage in professional dialogue. Those who are interested in participating can host a meeting in their community or they can participate online via blogs and Twitter.

While I don’t know about the rest of you, I have not been great about keeping up with scholarly research in our field. This is due to a lack of time and not a lack of interest. With this club, I hope to get my butt into gear and create a habit of reading up on research. I have already sent this idea out to my staff members and will have a group of people to hold me accountable to actually doing the reading (and, really, Lindsey and Christie are doing the hard work of finding the readings, which I very much appreciate!).

I’ll also be blogging about the various articles (if I have time) and will try to join the Twitter debate, though we all know I’m not great at Twitter.

If you’re interested, visit the Library Services for Children Journal Club website and see how you can get involved!

Makerspace Update

Back in April of 2016, I started a kid-friendly makerspace in our computer lab. This is an unstaffed area that houses a variety of maker supplies for kids to utilize. Every month, there is a different makerspace challenge; however, kids (and teens and adults) are encourage to use the supplies available to create whatever they can imagine.

Since this makerspace has been running for well over a year now, I figured it’s time to do a makerspace update.

Makerspace Challenge is still going strong:

The makerspace challenges continue to be popular. My favorite challenge so far was a Build a Bird’s Nest challenge that I did in the spring. I had a couple of books on birds’ nests out at the makerspace, and I stocked a tray full of “nature” supplies. Ideally, I would have used actual sticks and leaves, but because materials go so quickly (and I don’t always have time to collect nature objects), I ended up using popsicle sticks for sticks, die-cut leaves for leaves, and craft feathers for feathers.

Less is more:

When I first started the makerspace, I made sure that it was as full of a wide variety of supplies as possible. However, since this area is unstaffed, I quickly learned that it’s best not to have too much stuff out. The more supplies you have, the bigger the messes will be:

Special or seasonal supplies are fun:

There are certain supplies that are always out. Tape, scissors, pipe cleaners, and popsicle sticks are the norm for the makerspace. But every now and then, I like to change things up by adding something new and fun. For a few days during the summer, I had sea shells in one of the drawers. One weekend, I brought out the big, sturdy cardboard tubes. Kids went nuts one day when I added some mylar sheets. It’s always fun to see what kids will build with these different supplies.

Dreaming BIG:

I’ve been spending some time thinking about how I want the makerspace to grow, and the dream is for it to someday be a staffed area where we can utilize other supplies, such as little bits and 3D printers. Due to staffing levels, I think that will remain a dream for a little while, but there are some exciting changes that will hopefully happen. For example, my department FINALLY got its own 3D printer (I have been trying to get one for our department for YEARS now). I already offer 3D printing classes, but now that I actually have a printer for the department, I’m hoping to utilize it by printing some maker supplies (maybe some gears?) for the makerspace, and maybe offering different types of 3D printing programs. SO EXCITING!!!

 

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Fakemon Creations

I am back with another awesome, school-age program that I wish I could take credit for, but the real masterminds behind this fabulousness are my coworkers, Dori and Heather. The basic gist of this program is that kids got to design and make their very own Pokemon (we used the term, Fakemon, to avoid copyright issues)! If you’re interested in learning more, keep reading:

Step 1: Designing Your Fakemon

The program started with some brainstorming. Kids weren’t just making pikachus and charmanders, they were creating something new! And that takes some thought. There were books on hand about various biomes and different types of animals for kids to draw inspiration. They were asked to think about what type of Fakemon their creation was, what it ate, where did it live, what special abilities did it have, etc. Dori created some really, really awesome worksheets for kids to write down their ideas and draw a sketch of their Fakemon. Once the sheets were filled out and kids had an idea of what they were creating, they moved on to the second part of the program…

Step 2: Crafting Your Fakemon

Dori had some Magic Air Dry Clay and googly eyes on hand for kids to use to create a miniature version of their Fakemon to take home. Prior to the program, Dori told me that she planned for each child to have two different color packets of clay, plus a little bit of white or black for details. Since we had a lot of clay, it’s possible that maybe they were able to use more than just two colors. Either way, the kids loved it! I mean, who doesn’t want their very own Fakemon to take home? Plus, every librarian knows that whenever you break out the clay, the kids will be very excited!

Step 3: Gotta Catch Them All Scavenger Hunt (optional)

As if all that weren’t enough, there was also a Pokemon scavenger hunt throughout the children’s department. Heather was the mastermind behind this one, and she created the Pokedex (handout) that kids used to find each Pokemon in the department. Pokemon were hidden according to their type. So, for example, fire Pokemon were hidden by a fire extinguisher or the fire fighter books. Once kids found the Pokemon they were looking for, they would write the number (found in the top left corner of the Pokemon picture) on their scavenger hunt sheet and move on to catch them all!

And there you have it, folks. This was an amazing program that our kiddos loved!

Flannel Friday: Color Farm

My department has a pretty impressive collection of flannelboards. Honestly, I don’t utilize it enough because I tend to stick with my tried and true boards. But, the other day, I was planning a shapes and colors storytime and decided to check the department’s flannelboard collection to see if there was something new-to-me that I could use. And that’s how I stumbled upon our Color Farm flannelboard.

I know Storytime Katie has done a Flannelboard Color Zoo board before, but I haven’t seen one for the farm version (I’m sure it’s out there, though). I also haven’t seen one quite like this!

These pieces look like they were digitally rendered (I don’t know if we got this template from somewhere or if a very talented staff person made them) and each animal is missing a shape. Not only is this a great way to retell the story, but it’s also a great guessing game! After reading the story, I place a card on the board and ask the kids to tell me which animal it is and which shape is missing. The best part is that whoever made this set also included the shapes written out. What a great way to promote print awareness!

Jessica at Storytime in the Stacks is hosting this week’s Flannel Friday round up! You can also find a whole bunch of flannelboard ideas at Flannel Friday’s Pinterest page, the Flannel Friday Blog, and Flannel Friday on Facebook.

P.S. This is my first Flannel Friday post in years. O.O