We’ve been counting our zeros and we’re almost at 1,000,000 views! To celebrate this momentous occasion we’re asking for your help.
We’re asking you to send us a short video featuring you, your storytime crowd or your little one singing a song you learned on our channel. It doesn’t have to be the whole song – a small clip is fine! We plan on compiling all the clips and making a celebration video to show off all the amazing faces that have been part of our journey thus far.
To submit a video please upload your video file to Google Drive. Then “Share” the video with Jbrary (firstname.lastname@example.org) by our January 10th, 2015 deadline. Google Drive accepts most formats including .WebM files, .MPEG4, 3GPP and MOV files, .AVI, .MPEGPS, .WMV, .FLV and .MTS. If you have any questions or need any help, please don’t hesitate to ask us.
It’s that time of the year again….when all the “Best Of…” lists come out! Last year I started what I think will become an end-of-the-year tradition on Jbrary. I wrote about my favourite storytime books published in 2013. This year I’m back with my favourites from 2014. I’m always looking for new books to share at storytime, so I hope this list gives you some options for freshening up your storytime collection. Some of these may have come out in 2013 in the States, but it was 2014 before we got them here in Canada.
Without further ado! Presented in alphabetical order:
In this soulful book, Baby Bear searches for his way home with the help of his animal friends, and ultimately, his own heart. The illustrations are gorgeous and captivating. Because of the more serious tone of this book and the length, I think it makes a great preschool storytime or pyjama storytime choice. I love recommending it to caregivers as a bedtime readaloud.
A super sweet book perfect for babytime or toddler storytime! Each page uses the sentence starter, “I could…” so there’s a built in early literacy tip about repetition right there. For babytime, have caregivers point to the body parts mentioned or mimic the actions in the book. There’s also a lovely page on singing the same songs that their mother sang to them – a great reminder to caregivers that their home culture is valued and important. Another great choice for a pyjama storytime.
If you liked Wow, Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood or Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff, then you’ll love this one. Each page focuses on a different colour that Bear finds in nature, and kids are invited to “spy” the colour which makes a nice interactive element. I’ve used this with toddlers and it works great, though it could easily scale to preschoolers who would want to spend more time talking about the objects they see.
This concept book is a great toddler storytime choice. An image is presented on one page and then shown in relation to something else on the next page. So something you thought was big ends up looking small. This would work well in an opposites storytime or if you want to broach the STEM topic of scale. I used with toddlers and followed it up with a round of Roly Poly.
When I read this book at storytime we all practiced “belly breathing” before I started to read. Then we took nice big breathes whenever it came up in the book. I had one caregiver who thanked me for sharing this book because she was looking for something to help her toddler learn how to calm himself. I also love the message in this book – be happy, breathe deeply, live in the moment. I could see it working great at a yoga storytime too.
I used this non-fiction title with a Grade 2 class and it spurred lots of discussion. The format is interesting – each page starts with “Dear (insert animal name)…” and then the animal answers the question posed. Scale it to younger audiences by not reading the whole book. One of the many Steve Jenkins books I pull out for storytime.
Mole loves to label things, but what does he call the Lumpy Bumpy Thing he discovers? This book works great for school-age kids as they cue in to the adjectives Mole assigns the alligator. All of the descriptive language could lead to an excellent post-storytime activity.
Two pets; one room. Author Chris Gall brings back the age old rivalry between these two pets in this funny book. My 3-year-old niece cracked up at the mention of poop, and I think other preschoolers will enjoy this one though I’ve used it with Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes.
This one gets the cutest cover award. I’m a sucker for penguin picture books. I like the positive messages about determination, perseverance, and accepting help from friends. The kindergarten class I read it to kept giggling at Penguin’s attempts to be an eagle. Could work for preschoolers with a bit of extra explanation from the librarian.
Ms. Marino has done it again – She’s given us a beautifully written and illustrated parent-child story that brings me to tears. Perfect for a toddler or preschool storytime, this book emphasizes the importance of family and traditions. The colours in this book amaze and the story is heartwarming.
Salina Yoon is one of my favourite children’s book authors because every story she writes is so darn sweet. In Found, she addresses a topic many preschoolers are familiar with – passing on toys. After Dana and I read this one with my 3-year-old niece Sophie, she told me, “When I grow out of my pyjamas I’m going to pass them on to a smaller kid.” They listen!
A book filled with giggle worthy rhymes and an underlying message of non-conformity – I’ll take it! Little Brown Bird plays with sounds and language in this delightful book that kids love to hear read aloud. I think it would work best for preschool – Grade 2 kids. There’s a spattering of puns to keep the adults interested too.
This one’s gotten a lot of buzz already this year, so I’ll add to it by saying how much I appreciate books that model the concept of kindness, empathy, and sharing. Also, I think this one could be translated into a puppet or felt story.
One of my top picks this year! I read this to a kindergarten class and they absolutely loved it. They thought it was funny and sweet, and a little boy took it home with him that day. I love seeing books that portray boys as affectionate and emotional. I’d also use it with preschoolers and it goes great with a peace or friendship theme.
Another book about hugging! I had a parent request for more social/emotional books and this one fit the bill. Felipe is a young cactus yearning for a hug from his “prickly” family. Pair with Hug Machine and you’re halfway there to a hug themed storytime.
A young girl walks through her diverse neighbourhood and experiences music with all five sense. You could totally read this at babytime and have parents point to body parts and tap out rhythms on babies’ backs or bellies. Also works great for toddlers because the text is short and sweet. I read it at the beginning of one of my family dance parties and it was a hit.
A funny read aloud from a Canadian author. The first half of the book presents examples of what dinosaurs are good for (can opener, snow plow, umbrella, etc.), while the second half stresses their downside. The pages are huge with bright illustrations making it a good choice for a large group. It is a bit long though, so I’ve only used it with K-2 kids.
18. It is Night by Phyllis Rowand; illustrated by Laura Dronzek
This is a reprint of a classic bedtime story illustrated by artist Laura Dronzek. It has an interactive element as kids can guess where each animal sleeps before turning the page. I’m planning on using it in an upcoming PJ storytime for kids ages 0-8. The illustrations are nice and bright, and I like how it weaves in factual information about animals.
Another hit from Todd Parr. When I read this in toddler storytime, the kids were immediately hooked by the cover illustration – in fact we spent a few minutes talking about it before we even read the book. I like it because it features scenes from a child’s life – spilt milk, colouring – and one little girl came up to me after storytime and told me, “Yesterday I spilled my milk but it’s okay because I just cleaned it up.” Parr’s books are great for any age.
I work primarily with school-age kids, so I am always on the lookout for books I can read aloud to Grade 2-3 students. This is a perfect choice as it gives the back story to Ivan, the main character in Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. A fascinating read that has inspired kids and adults alike.
21. Little Lola by Julie Saab; illustrated by David Gothard
A perfect choice for preschool storytime, this book features a curious little cat who wants to go to school. She experiences lots of school-like activities – including storytime! – and even bounces back after her pet rat causes havoc at show-and-tell. With short sentences, it is a quick read but ultimately a timely topic for those about to head to school.
Byron Barton publishes a new book and toddlers around the world rejoice! In this transportation themed book, a bus driver picks up animals and delivers them to their destinations. I like that it includes some basic counting and math. A great introduction to the author if caregivers haven’t discovered him already.
You should probably have a good feel for your group’s vibe before reading this one at storytime, but I think it’s perfectly fine! I bought a copy for my toddler nephew and it became his favourite book in less than 24 hours. Like I’m Bored, it is a hilarious tale that caregivers will appreciate and kids will relate to. I’d recommend it for toddlers and preschoolers.
Fractured fairy tale? Check. Rhyming verses? Check. Surprise ending? Check. I loved Schwartz’s Three Ninja Pigs, so I’m not surprised this one is a hit too. I’ve read it to K-2 students and it keeps them captivated the whole time. I love the ending – the wolf takes up yoga!
What’s better than winning? Helping a friend in need. A sweet message is embedded in this race car heavy book from the creator of The Watermelon Seed. There are some cute details in the illustrations that kids will pick up on subsequent reads. A great choice for kids ages 3-7.
A super fun rhyming book! Cat insists that frogs sit on logs and then goes on to name other increasingly absurd animal-seat pairs (think lions on irons and parrots on carrots). The illustrations are humorous and the K/1 classes I’ve read this too love looking at them again post-storytime. I could easily see creating an extension activity where kids have to make up their own silly rhymes.
Kind of a shoe in, right? I just love how versatile Mo Willems’ books are. I can use them with any age and they work. I could especially relate to this one as my niece went through a “hating to take baths” stage when she was one, and I wish I’d had this book to read to her. Pigeon is a familiar face to many kids now, so they are pretty excited when you bust this one out.
Grandpa + grandchild books seem like a rare beast to me, so I was super happy to see this adorable book. With short sentences, it makes a great toddler storytime pick. The ending is a bit of a surprise – the tea party is happening via a computer. But I think that made me like it even better! I Skype with my nephews in California all the time and it’s good to see authors reflecting ways technology can support long distance relationships.
It’s all about perspective in this clever picture book. Simple text and large illustrations make it a good book for storytime. It’s short enough for toddlers, but I think preschoolers and school-age kids will get the most out of it. It shows an escalating argument that comes to a amicable end. I like that it challenges kids to think from a different viewpoint.
Honourable Mentions: These books have been on my “To Read” list all year, but alas, my library hasn’t gotten them in yet. I can’t say for sure how they’d work in storytime – but maybe you can!
We could not be more thrilled to host this month’s Thrive Thursday Round Up and for those of you who might be new to Thrive Thursday, here’s what it’s all about:
Thrive Thursday is an online blog hop in which participating bloggers post a description of an after school activity on their blogs the first Thursday of the month. All the participating posts are gathered into one spot in a link round-up. It is a way of sharing ideas, encouraging new techniques, and building community among children’s library staff and around the country (and fingers crossed…around the world). For more information check out the schedule, Pinterest board, and Facebook Group.
Disagreement, while uncomfortable, is a normal and needed part of librarianship. I know going into this that people will disagree with me. And many of those people are librarians I deeply admire which in a way makes this post even harder to write. But I truly believe that disagreement is healthy and can be done respectfully. And it definitely shouldn’t stop us from sharing our opinions and engaging in conversations about our profession.
Two weeks ago, Kendra told us to Check our Holidays at the Door. Kendra advocates against the type of inauthentic holiday programs that some librarians try to squeeze in in an attempt to be “diverse.” And I am in total agreement that this type of holiday programming is tokenism and should be avoided. And as someone who grew up in the United States, and is still aware of movements like this one, I can see why for some American libraries it makes sense to focus on seasonal themes rather than holiday ones.
But the problem for me is that this argument was then extrapolated to include all holiday programming in any library ever. And I think whenever we use phrases like “all,” “any,” and “ever” we have to be aware of the implication of those words.
The reasons given for excluding all types of holiday programming are:
1. You are not an expert on all holidays.
2. Holiday programs exclude and alienate people from the library.
I’d like to address both of these arguments because after grappling with this topic for over a week, I’ve come to realize I simply disagree. And as a pretty outspoken atheist, I can assure you it has nothing to do with any religious hidden agenda.
#1: Your Community is the Expert
Where I live – Vancouver, British Columbia – we take a an approach to holiday programming that encompasses the official government policy of multiculturalism. As my colleague Tess Prendergast pointed out, we don’t do the whole “melting pot” thing here.
At the Vancouver Public Library where I work we follow a community-led libraries model. This model was developed to reach community members who have traditionally not used the library due to social exclusion and other barriers. In this model, the community member becomes the “expert” and helps guide the library in developing services and collections that meet their needs. Different groups have different wants and needs and our programming should reflect these differences.
Using the community-led model means we work with community groups and other agencies to plan holiday programming which fit with my library’s stated mission to create an “engaged, informed, and connected city.” Recently, my library hosted a week long series of holiday programs called “The Day of the Dead, Coast Salish Style.” Our VPL Aboriginal Storyteller in Residence, Rosemary Georgeson, has worked in years past with Latino artists from California on the intersections between the Day of the Dead and First Nations traditions around honouring ancestors and acknowledging the life cycle. Drawing on these conversations, she and other library staff decided to work with community groups to put on a week full of art workshops, storytelling, hands on crafts, and participation in a local parade. This series of programs was a huge success and drew in many community members who have traditionally faced social exclusion from the library.
Here’s another example. At Surrey Libraries, librarians work with community groups to showcase Diwali. They hosted a program that included a sari wrapping demonstration, a bollywood dance workshop, and menhdi by donation by partnering with a local South Asian women’s group. They also worked with a local arts club called Shan-E-Punjab to provide a Bhangra and Gidha performance. These festive activities were chosen by the community groups as ways they publicly celebrate Diwali, and it drew a crowd of over 200 people.
Neither of these examples focus on religion; they focus on the cultural significance the holiday has for members of our community. These programs are not viewed as an assimilation tactic or an expression of cultural power or privilege. In fact, I would argue they do the opposite. They help build partnerships with community groups and foster the belief that all of our cultural backgrounds are welcome and visible in the library.
Do these types of holiday programs happen all year round and for every major holiday from all cultures? Probably not. Like many other libraries, we experience a stress on limited staff and resources, in addition to an ever increasing list of job duties. But it’s certainly what we strive for, and working with the community in general (not just for holiday programming) is always a top priority. My point is - it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing mindset. We plan these programs based on community feedback and we try to the best of our abilities to reflect what is important to them.
#2: Every Program Has a Chance of Alienating or Excluding Someone
One of the commenters on Kendra’s post wrote this statement that summed up exactly what I was thinking. Kate, if you read this post, thank you for this perspective:
“…the exact same thing happens when our therapy dog visits, and little Johnny is allergic to dogs. The same thing happens when we don’t buy the hardcover book because we are using that book’s money on a downloadable audio instead; little Johnny with no device nor internet can’t read it. And the same thing happens when we have Lego club on Saturday, instead of during the week because then the Orthodox Jewish family cannot come. Exclusion happens whether we want it to or not (gosh we try so hard for not, don’t we!!), but it happens. Sometimes we don’t see it or know about it, and I think this is the entire thrust of ‘no holiday programs’ – just remove it all together and we won’t exclude (offend) anyone…well, except those that wish we had some kind of fun event because they can’t afford to take their kid to the paid event at the local mall, or don’t want to drag their kids through the department store to see Santa and have to worry about purchasing something. Yep, we’ve now excluded them too, because the library’s events are FREE and open to anyone who WANTS to come. It’s simple really – if you don’t want to come to THIS particular program, then don’t. There will be something equally fabulous some other day that you WANT to come to, not to worry.”
This is not to say that we shouldn’t be mindful of potential exclusion – we absolutely should and I think Kendra’s post gets that point across. But the reality is some people don’t celebrate anything – holidays, birthdays, nothing – while other people would have a problem with Harry Potter programs because of witchcraft and magic. So then it begs the question – why are we drawing the line at holiday programs when so many other things we do have a chance of offending/alienating/excluding? If you look at it from an academic standpoint then the argument starts to fall apart.
Lastly, on a more philosophical level, when I think about the best possible community I imagine a place where ideas are freely exchanged, where we support diversity in actions and words, and where people are open-minded about each other. How do we achieve this? We have to bring people together, and to me the library stands as one of the most appropriate places to do just that. If people only celebrate within their own cultural group, then we’ve lost a chance to bridge a cultural divide and create an inclusive community.
So that’s my opinion. This is what works in my city.
I’m thankful to all of my fellow library workers for starting and adding to this discussion.
Ever since we learned the song This is Big, Big, Big from Mel I have been on an opposites kick. Factor in the hungry bunch of toddlers I program for on a weekly basis and let’s just say I’ve developed quite a list. Side note: those toddlers can turn on a dime if they don’t get their fill of the opposites. If you know of what I speak read on, in, down and up!
To get us started I’ve chosen two Hello and Goodbye song combos which feature our friends The Opposites.
So many great things about this song: like the word marmalade. But also the fact that you can adapt it to opposites which might make an appearance in your program like “let’s say hello like cats if we can” and then “let’s say hello like dogs if we can.” And don’t tell anyone but I also use this with almost every school age crowd I encounter and then challenge them to say hello like Fly Guy or Thea Stilton. Continue reading →
This past weekend my partner and I spent four wonderful days visiting our best friends in Oregon. They’ve got a 20-month-old, our nephew Ethan, who absolutely loves to read. And it’s no surprise considering all the early literacy goodness in their home.
Practicing colours with Uncle Jon
Of course we had to take a trip to the bookstore to pick up some new reads, but I also spent some time helping my friend make some felt stories for this TOTALLY AWESOME FELT WALL she created on the side of her kitchen.
We made some weather pieces so she could sing What’s the Weather? each morning, plus Little Mouse, Little Mouse as it is toddler gold. Because we had bought the book Go Away, Big Green Monster!, I also made the felt version. Expanding books with felt stories, props, and crafts is a great way to help kids retell stories which supports their narrative skills. They also help children internalize stories and can spark further conversations between parent and child. And we know the benefits of repetition – repeating stories, songs, and rhymes helps children remember them and helps them understand the stories on different levels. I also love this article on the importance of repeated interactive read-alouds in preschool and kindergarten.
I’ve been wanting to try this out more in storytime. So here’s some different ways I’m going to try out telling Go Away, Big Green Monster! when my next storytime session starts in January.
1. Read It!
In this book you build up the monster and then talk him apart piece by piece. I love having the kids yell, “Go Away” as we read it. I tell parents that this book is great for helping kids overcome their fears and repetition of phrases is great for brain development.
2. Felt It!
The felt is super easy to make. You do not have to be precise and can use any colours you have on hand. The best pattern I’ve found is from KidsClub found here. And I have to share the following picture because we laughed for SO LONG when we came home from dinner one night to find the babysitter’s version. Bless her heart, but we were crying from laughing so hard.
A for Effort!
3. Use the Puppet!
My library bought the puppet version here. But if you’re crafty you could make this on your own with some fabric and velcro.
4. Draw it!
My colleague Francesca introduced me to this method. If you have a whiteboard or chalkboard, you can easily draw the story and use an eraser to make the monster go away. Check out this post by So Tomorrow for step-by-step instructions.
5. Use the App!
We’ve been using this app in our Parents’ Night Out on apps for preschoolers. I love how it has four different ways to read/listen to the story, and I guarantee once you hear the jazz version you’ll never be able to read it in the same voice.
Way back when, the teachers in British Columbia were on strike for VERY GOOD REASON which led to more kids in the library than we were used to in June and September, and the Summer Reading Club (while so much fun) didn’t quite stretch far enough. It was at this time that I learned of the magic of Passive Programs. Through colleagues near and far I began to collect these gems and have finally sat down to share them with you. The images below are from some simple but clearly very popular passive programs our friends Alicia and Christie tried out in our backyard!
Getting crafty with bookmarks!
Books can be games too! Just add kidlets.
Origami= Forever Awesome.
First up, a quick note about why I love Passive Programs oh-so-much:
Passive Programs are always running. That means the kids who can only get to you late on a Saturday or Monday-on-the-way-to-picking-up-her-brother can participate.
These activities provide a sneaky, yet perfect opportunity to engage with younger patrons while they’re busy honing their ninja skills (just wait!) or heading off on a scavenger hunt. Have a conversation, point to a resource or simply learn a name. It’s all gold.
Collection connections! With the right activity or entry point you’ve Indiana Jones’d into the pile of treasure we know (and labour over) our collection to be.
Finally, while I wish there was another name passive or low impact programs are just that. Minimal work up front and then fairly easy to deliver and/or maintain. Easy peasy lemon squeezy for busy librarians like you’n’me!
In my current position I work mainly with school-age kids, so when I get to do anything related to the 0-5 age range I get SO EXCITED.
This is my excited face
Last week we had a preschool class come in for a tour and storytime focusing on how to use the library. I had a really short time frame to plan this program, so the first thing I did was look through Dana’s library tours post to collect ideas. From there, I found Bryce Don’t Play’s Pete The Cat and His Groovy Field Trip Adventure! I was completely sold. A huge shout out to Bryce for thinking up this amazing idea and sharing it with us all!
Here’s how I took that idea and adapted it for my group. The first half of the program is a modified storytime with a focus on how to use the library. In the second half, we toured the library using Pete the Cat as our guide. The total program was 1 hour. I tried to integrate my discussion of the library into the storytime itself.
1. Welcome Song: If You’re Ready for a Story
With new groups I always choose a song they will be familiar with to open the storytime. We did clap your hands, stomp your feet, jump up high, shout hooray, and sit back down.
2. Little Bunny in a Hat Rhyme
I introduced this puppet as the library bunny. When he popped out of the hat he was holding a piece of paper (which they all thought was a book!). We opened the piece of paper and it had the letter “L” on it. We brainstormed different words that start with the letter “L,” ending with library. Then I explained how we would be learning all about the library today.
3. Read Maisy Goes to the Library by Lucy Cousins
After we read this book, we talked about the different things you can do at the library. I held up things like DVDs, audiobooks, music CDs, magazines, plus some of our puzzles and puppets from the children’s area. I stressed that the library is a place to read and have fun. Having concrete materials to show the kids is really important for this age group, especially if they have never visited before.