Toddler Time: Bugs, Bugs, Bugs

We recently started offering a Toddler Time storytime for our nearby preschools/daycares. We do this special storytime once a month, and I’ve been assigned to them in July, August, and September (and hopefully October, November, Decemeber, etc.). I am absolutely loving this storytime, and I was so excited about August’s bug theme that not even a bad sinus infection could stop me!

Since it’s been a few months since I posted a storytime on this blog, here’s what I did for my bug theme:

toddler-time-bugs-books

Books:

I Love Bugs! by Emma Dodd
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-Up Book by Eric Carle
Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi

toddler-time-bugs-activities

Activities:

Here is the Beehive:
w/ bee puppet

Here is the beehive,
But where are the bees?
Hiding away where nobody sees.
Here they come.
Out of the hive.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5
BUZZ!

Itsy Bitsy Spider:
3 ways

The itsy, bitsy spider,
Went up the water spout,
Down came the rain and,
Washed the spider out,
Out came the sun and dried up all the rain,
And the itsy, bitsy spider,
Went up the spout again.

Great Big Spider w/ great big voices
Rockin’ Rollin’ Spider sung really, really fast

Very Hungry Caterpillar Flannelboard:

Hand out various food and retell the story. Children put the food on the flannelboard when the time comes.

Wiggle Worms Movement Activity:

I created movement cards based off of bugs: wiggle like a worm, flutter like a butterfly, jump like a grasshopper, buzz like a bumblebee. For this activity, I would randomly select a card and we would move like that bug. The kids loved it!

Fuzzy, Fuzzy Bumblebee
w/ pom-poms as our bumblebees
to the tune of Mary had a Little Lamb

Fuzzy, fuzzy bumblebee,
Bumblebee, bumblebee,
Fuzzy, fuzzy bumblebee,
Landing on my toes [place pom-pom on toes]

Repeat with: knee, elbow, shoulder, head, bed (putting the pom-poms back in the tub)

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Goodreads Challenge Update #3

2016 Goodreads Challenge 3

Well folks, I have just over 5 months to read 20 more books to meet my Goodreads Challenge! When I posted my last update for this challenge, I mentioned that I hoped I’d fit in an adult book and nonfiction book for this third round, and neither of those things happened. Fingers crossed that I get both an adult book and a nonfiction book in during the fourth round because I’m pretty sure the final round will be mostly middle grade fiction as I read the best middle grade books of the year in preparation for my work’s annual Mock Newbery! Anywho, onto the books:

Amulet // I finished round two of this challenge at the end of April/beginning of May, and there were two books coming out that first week of May that I knew I would devour. So I didn’t want to start a big book, but I needed to read something during the few days that I had before the books came out. So I reverted to what I always revert to in these situations: graphic novels. I picked up the first volume of Amulet because it’s hugely popular at my library (this seems to be a theme with me this year…reading stuff that’s popular with the kiddos). I have to admit that the first volume didn’t enthrall me, but I can see the appeal. I got some strong Neil Gaiman vibes from it, and I would love to read another in the series just to see where it goes. (Whether or not that actually happens is yet to be seen.)

The Crown // I was initially so excited for this one because I love the Selection series, and Eadlyn’s story in particular. However, I was disappointed from the moment I picked the book up in the store. It felt so light to what I was expecting, and I would not be surprised in the slightest if I found out that Kiera Cass wrote both The Heir and The Crown as one book, decided it was too long, and lopped off the last part to make into a separate book. The whole thing felt like one, rushed denouement, and I really would have liked to have seen more development. Plus the guy I was hoping for didn’t win. However, I still really liked this book. It’s a perfect example of how sometimes a book isn’t what you want, but you can still appreciate it for what it is.

The Rose and the Dagger // This was another book that I was very excited for and then somewhat disappointed in when I finally read it. Although my disappointment for this was is because I thought that this series would be a trilogy for some reason. So I read this book thinking that it was the second book. It felt very much like a second book, seeing as it introduced us to new characters and places and concepts. It also felt…and I hate to say it…a little sluggish. Much like how many second books feel. So when it ended, I felt very disappointed. Both over the fact that there wasn’t a third book, and also because for 400 pages, the characters were preparing for a big battle…one that really didn’t seem to come. But, again, I liked it. I think if I had known that there wasn’t going to be a third book, I would have read it in a different mindframe and wouldn’t have been so disappointed with the end.

A Court of Mist and Fury // After reading two books that I was very excited for but ultimately a little disappointed in, I ended up picking up a book that I wasn’t really excited for and ended up loving SO FREAKING MUCH! I read A Court of Thorns and Roses last year, and I wasn’t that into it. As a matter of fact, I remember skipping/skimming entire chapters of it. It was only the end…a moment between two characters (Rhys and Feyre) that made me pick up the second book. And I am so glad I did.

This is Where It Ends // This book had been on my to read list for awhile, so I picked it up once I was able to move onto a new book that wasn’t A Court of Mist and Fury (that book stuck with me for a long time, keeping me from reading anything else). This book is powerful. It’s well-written. And it made me cry at the end (which rarely happens). As a side note, I finished this book (which is about a school shooting) the night of the Orlando shooting. I woke up the next morning and heard the news and promptly decided that I probably won’t read another book about a shooting anytime soon.

The Crown’s Game // I don’t know how I feel about this book. It’s well written, the characters are great, and it has a really strong setting. It also has a lot of things that I would normally love in a book: a historical setting, Russia, magic… Still, it was kind of a slow read for me. I liked it. It was fine. But I found myself sighing a lot and wondering how much longer I had until the end of the chapter. 

The Raven Cycle // I hadn’t intended to read this series. The plot seemed very weird to me (psychics? a dead king? prep school boys? what?). But so many people were raving about the series that I decided to pick it up…and I became enraptured with it. The plot’s still silly. But the writing is amazing. The characters are amazing. The setting is amazing. Definitely one of my new faves!

2016 Goodreads Challenge Update #2

2016 Goodreads Challenge 2

It took me a little longer than expected to read the next 10 books in my Goodreads challenge. This is due to many reasons: I got sick with a particularly nasty sinus something or another — twice — in the past few months, and I find it hard to read when I’m not feeling well. I’ve also been going through phases where I’d rather reread favorites instead of reading something new. And there were a couple of books that I picked up, read a few chapters, then put down again. But I made it! So here we go:

Winter –> I bought this book when it first came out, and I started reading it right away. I inhaled the first 1/3 of the book, and I was certain that I’d finish it before 2016, but then the middle part dragged on, and I ended up putting it down for…a month or two? I don’t know. It was awhile. But once I picked it up again and managed to get through the slow middle part, I inhaled the rest of it. Over all, I thought it was a good ending to a beloved series (even if the middle part was kind of slow).

The Walls Around Us –> I picked this book up during a phase where I wanted to read something, but didn’t feel like reading anything in particular. The book had been on my To Read list for awhile, and I had an arc of it laying around, so I picked it up. This book and how I feel about it is a perfect example of how being a mood reader affects what you think of books. I think this book is incredibly well written. The characters are vivid and the mood is eerie and suspenseful. But, as I was reading it, I thought it was just okay because I just wasn’t in the mood for a spooky magical realism book about murderous ballerinas.

The Shadow Queen –> I wasn’t going to read this one initially because I am SO OVER the whole fairy tale retelling genre. (I’ll probably get back into it when it becomes popular again, but for now I’m DONE). But then I heard that the Snow White character also has magic, and that there are DRAGONS in it, so I decided to pick it up. Again, this is a book that has good writing, good characters, nice setting, okay plot…but I felt very meh about it. I didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it. It was just okay. I did, however, recommend it to a friend who I thought would enjoy it. She was interested enough to pick it up, but I haven’t heard about whether she finished it or not.

Illuminae –> This book! THIS. BOOK! You can imagine that after reading several books that were just meh, I was starting to feel very apathetic about reading. But I heard a lot of good things about this book, so I picked it up. And, OH BOY, I am so glad that I did! This book is storytelling at it’s finest, and it’s just so visually appealing! My review of it on Goodreads is simply, “This book is a work of art,” and it really is. It’s also science fiction done right, and I am so much in love with this book!

Into the Dim –> And we’re back to a book that’s just okay. This book was described as Outlander for the younger crowd. While I haven’t read Outlander, I’ve seen bits of the show, and I generally really like time travel stories, so I picked it up. And. Yeah. It’s decent. The characters are good. The setting is…well, the setting is really well done. The plot is okay. I can totally see why there are so many people loving this book, but for me it was just okay.

The Dragonet Prophecy & The Lost Heir –> The Wings of Fire series is really popular at my library, so I decided to read the first book to see what all the buzz was about (and to help with my reader’s advisory, of course). I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did, but there you go. I love the characters and the world building and the plot. And the writing is such that I found it really hard to put down. If I were a 10-year-old, I would be GEEKING OUT about this series. But I’m not 10, so I’m not geeking out, but I did really, really enjoy it. I don’t know if I’ll read anymore in the series…but maybe.

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook –> I picked this one up solely because the premise of a child being raised in a prison was very intriguing to me. I have to admit that this book was wonderful, but I didn’t love it, love it. And I’m not sure how many kids would enjoy it.

First & Then –> I was so excited about this book because I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen retellings. Seriously. A great Sunday afternoon for me would consist of a Jane Austen movie, tea, and some form of baked goods. Since I was so excited for this one going into it, I was doubly disappointed to find it very meh. (Are you seeing a theme here?) There were some good things about this book, but I mostly found it boring and a little baffling (Why does this girl who seemingly has only 1 friend get invited to the popular parties? Why does the writing sometimes try to imitate Jane Austen, but then goes back to a typical YA writing? Why is a girl pregnant when we never really expand on that story?) UGH!

The Wrath and the Dawn –> And we are finally, FINALLY, back to a book that made me love reading all over again! This one came out last year and has had a lot of good reviews. It’s a retelling of 1001 Nights (there’s been a lot of those lately), and I completely fell in love with the world and the characters. I’m pretty sure I read this book in a day, and I have the sequel on hold at my library, and I am waiting very impatiently for it to come in!


And there you have it! Goals for my next ten books include trying to read an adult book (I’ve fallen so behind on my adult book reading that it’s kind of sad). I also would really like to throw in some nonfiction too, but we’ll see if that happens.

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.

 

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.

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.

What I Read in 2015

What I Read 2015 Header

It is mid-December as I type this, and I am currently 49 books into my 50 books reading goal for the year (this count does not include rereads, picture books, or early readers). I’m smack dab in the middle of Winter by Marissa Meyer and will be picking up Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes as soon as I can get my hands on a copy. And with several days off of work for the upcoming holidays, I am fairly confident that I will reach, and possibly surpass, my 50 book goal for the year.

2015 was a FANTASTIC reading year for me! I can’t even tell you how many times I found myself so completely absorbed in a book that I lost track of time and space and sorta forgot who I was for a bit. This usually doesn’t happen to me very often, but there was just something about this year. Maybe it was a good year for books in general. Or maybe I’m just getting better at finding stuff that I like. Or maybe the planets and stars just aligned in such a way that all Tauruses had a good reading year. I don’t know. But I do know that I had so many feels about so many books, that I just have to talk about them. So here’s an end of year reading survey. Be careful; it’s long.

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