Flannel Friday: Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau

Another Flannel Friday submission! Who am I even?!

I may just be becoming a flannel story enthusiast, folks.  This one, like the ones I’ve done before, is simple.  If you’ve read French children’s book author Edouard Manceau’s book Windblown, you’ll know his brilliance when it comes to shapes.  My library recently acquired his newly translated book Tickle Monster,  and I knew after reading it that it would make a great felt story.  The story uses a set of shapes that are transformed from a monster to a landscape.

As you read the story, you tickle each part of the monster which makes that body part “disappear.”  These body parts then become elements of a scene reminiscent of a children’s drawing – a house, trees, a car.  It’s similar to Go Away, Big Green Monster! but it’s got that added element of play with shapes.

Here’s a screen-by-screen shot of how the story progresses.

tickle monstertm2tm3




Using a felt story like this one is a great chance to sneak in some early literacy messages about social emotional development.  Here are some examples:

  • Naming emotions helps children express their feelings.  If you’re child gets upset or feels scared, try naming the feeling by saying, “I can see you’re feeling scared right now.  Would you like a hug?”
  • Sometimes when we’re scared our bodies freeze up. Let’s practice taking some nice, deep breathes to help us calm down.
  • One way to help your child conquer a fear is to gently expose them to the fear.  Books and felt stories like this one take a common fear like monsters and make them fun and comfortable to talk about.  They also model how to be brave and address a fear which is empowering.

What’s even better – this book won a 2016 CLEL Bell Award!  Check out their website for an Early Literacy Activity Sheet with even more ideas on how to use this story to promote early literacy development.

Thank you so much Kathryn at Fun with Friends at Storytime for hosting the Flannel Friday round-up this week! Check out her post for more flannel story inspiration.  Learn more about how you can participate in Flannel Friday.

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Go Forth and Fort: Family Fort Night

Play seems to be in the air this Winter:  learn about inclusive play, read about toy collections in public libraries, or catch up on the Babies Need Words Every Day blog tour which includes multiple posts on play.  We even chimed in with our webinar Press Play! Injecting Play into Library Programs for Kids. All this to say, PLAY IS AWESOME! And today I’m going to take it one step further and tell you about my favourite way to play at the library: Family. Fort. Night.

Nuts and bolts:

  • We posted signs with four very simple instructions:
    • Step 1) Find a book
    • Step 2) Gather supplies
    • Step 3) Build your fort
    • Step 4) Read your story in your fort!
  • Make sure to have LOTS of books on hand. You’re going to be doing some fast booktalking and will want to have displays with your favourite read-alouds ripe for the picking.
  • Keep your supplies in a central location so the tape and ALL THE CLIPS don’t wander off.
  • If at all possible run this program after-hours. Not only is it way more fun, but you’ll also find the adults browsing the MAD magazines. Seriously.

Fort Night SignsIMG_20160126_184809


Supplies needed:

  • Blankets, sheets, pillows, tablecloths – you can ask families to bring their own or have them on hand
  • Plastic clips or wire clips or tape- do not put books or other heavy objects to hold things down
  • Flashlights and/or glow sticks
  • Books!

Extensions activities:

  • Read a story to begin the program and gather everyone together – bedtime stories are a great choice like the Pigeon Needs a Bath or I Dare You Not to Yawn or stories that inspire creativity like Chalk or It’s Not a Box.
  • Have families name their fort and draw for a winner at the end of the night.
  • Play music from your collection or nighttime sounds in the background to set the mood.
  • Make dreams come true and play hide and seek like our friend Amy, The Show Me Librarian, did at her Family Forts After Hours program. To do this she gave each family a glow bracelet, had the person wearing the bracelet hide, and instructed the rest of the family to find their person.
  • Depending on space and the age of your fort builders you could also play flashlight tag where the child who’s it can only tag other players by casting the beam of their flashlight over them



Fantastic forters*:

And now it is your turn, or in the words of our F/Hairy Godmother, go forth and fort! Have you tried a family fort night program at your library? Please share all the details below in the comment box!

*Did this pass the Nine Year Old Giggle Test? Are you kidding me?! Of course not.

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Flannel Friday: Dog’s Colorful Day

Last week I wrote about how I plan a storytime session.  This week, I want to show in more detail how I retold the book Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd.

The first way was through a felt story. We already had the dog and the bathtub in my library’s felt story collection, but I wanted to make it a more complete retelling.  If you’ve never made the dog before, here is a great printable pattern.  Now ya’ll know I’m not the craftiest of children’s librarians.  When charged with making my own felt story, I opt for the super simple.  This one was super easy to make, I promise! I free-handed all of these pieces. They aren’t perfect, but kids don’t care and a little imagination never hurt anyone.  I made new spots to match the colours of the felt pieces.  I was inspired a lot by this version I found on Etsy.

dogs colorful day 2dogs colorful day

The items are:  a chocolate bar, grass, orange juice, a beach ball and a puddle, a marker, a bee, a can of paint, a jar of jam, and an ice cream cone. I’m particularly proud of the bee.

When I did this felt story in storytime I used this AMAZING script to invite the children to participate by name.  First I passed out the spots to the kids who volunteered.  Amazingly, there were no tears, no complaints from anyone who didn’t get a spot.  As I told the story, each child would come up and place the spot on Dog and we’d all clap for them.  It took longer than the usual felt story, but it was so wonderful.  The kids were quite pleased with themselves, even the toddlers.  Not only did it celebrate turn taking, it also got the kids involved in the storytelling.  The script has some great ideas for adapting this story to smaller or larger groups too.

The second way we retold the story was through the use of a puppet.  I found a big, shaggy, mostly white dog puppet.  Then I cut out and stuck on velcro stickers.  To the other half of the velcro sticker I attached coloured pieces of felt.


During storytime, I passed out the velcro felt pieces before starting the story with the kids.  This time, I wanted to adapt it even further so I had the kids tell me what dog might have stepped on or rolled in or walked underneath in order to get each colour.  Some of them remembered the items from the original story, but others came up with things like green apples, blueberries, leaves, and the sun.  We also waited until the very end of the story to count all of dog’s spots since it was hard to see them all at the same time.  For his bath, I decorated a shipping tote with some bubbles.

dog in bath

I loved challenging myself to tell a story in three ways over the course of three storytimes.  I highly recommend trying this out with your storytime groups.

Thanks to Shawn at Read, Rhyme and Sing for hosting this week’s Flannel Friday!  Check out her blog for the full round-up this Friday, and check out the Flannel Friday website for information on how you can participate.

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Planning a Storytime Session

I’ve been doing storytimes for about three years now.  In some ways I still consider myself a storytime newbie.  My process for planning is constantly changing and adapting based on articles I’ve read or ideas I see others trying. I’ve written before about how I plan a toddler storytime and how I plan a baby storytime.  Recently though I’ve started to think more intentionally about my storytimes in the context of a 9-10 week session.

We know repetition is important for learning.  And I’ve always made it a point to repeat many of the songs and rhymes we sing each week.  But I recently read an article by friend and colleague Tess Prendergast that’s published in the book Library Services from Birth to Five: Delivering the Best Start that got me thinking about repetition of stories.  Tess’s article lists repetition of stories as one way storytimes can become more inclusive to families with children with disabilities.   I knew this was something I needed to give more thought to.  Simply put, I needed to start planning.

My storytimes run about 9-10 weeks depending on the season.  It’s a mixed age group, but I mostly get toddlers and early preschoolers. For this winter session, I decided on three stories that I could adapt as both felt stories and puppet stories. They are:

  • Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd
  • Jump! by Scott Fischer
  • Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

Each story will get three weeks of sharing – once as the book, once as a felt, and once as a puppet version.  To take it a step further, I couched these stories within three larger themes.  Concepts related to the themes will be showcased in other books, songs, and flannel stories.  Here’s what my planning document looks like:

Colours and CountingJanuary 6Dog’s Colorful DayBrown Bear, Brown BearOld MacDonald
January 13Maisy’s Rainbow DreamDog’s Colorful DayLittle Bunny in a Hat
January 20Bear CountsOne Red Mitten SongDog’s Colorful Day
Rhyme TimeJanuary 27Jump!Anna MariaWhen Cows Get Up in the Morning
February 3I Know a RhinoJump!Little Bunny in a Hat
February 10Rhyming Dust BunniesThe Bus for UsJump!
Feelings and EmotionsFebruary 17Hooray for Hat!Go Away, Big Green MonsterMmm Ahh Went the Little Green Frog
February 24Hug MachineHooray for Hat!Little Bunny in a Hat
March 2Grumpy BirdThe Very Busy SpiderHooray for Hat!

In addition to the book, felt, and puppets I also do a selection of songs and rhymes.  Little Mouse usually always makes an appearance too.

I really like having this kind of overview because I can also plan out my early literacy messages a bit more based on each theme.  For example, during Colours and Counting I can talk about using spatial relationship words such as “over,” “under,” “next to,” “above” and “below.”  For my Feelings and Emotions unit, I’ll be rereading Mel’s great blog post that includes extension activities and early literacy tips.  I feel so much more organized this way!

There are so many ways to retell a story; I just happened to choose felt and puppet stories for my first go around.  In the future I hope to try draw-and-tells, stick puppets, interactive retellings (like with scarves), or even a dramatic performance.  My goal is to do write separate posts about the felt and puppet versions of each story.  That way you can see how I adapt and change the story each week, as well as get the kids involved with the retellings.

How do you plan out your storytime sessions?  Let me know in the comments!

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We’ll Link to That: Winter 2016

Every quarter we write a column for YAACING, a youth services newsletter published by the Young Adult and Children’s Services (YAACS) arm of the British Columbia Library Association.  This winter our column is a collection of the most current resources for digital media and libraries, but make sure to check out the entire Winter 2016 issue! If you’d like to catch up on our past columns you can find them here:

Is your library doing advisory or programming around apps or digital media?  Do you want to start?  Research from Common Sense Media in 2013 cites that 75% of households own digital media in some format, with 40% of families with children under age 8 owning at least one device. Here are our Top 10 resources for learning about the research on using digital media with children and for learning about ways public libraries are embracing our role as media mentors.

1. NAEYC/Fred Rogers Joint Position Statement

In 2012, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College released this paper giving their recommendation that “when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development.” They also state that we must pay special attention to media use with infants and toddlers, avoiding passive play in favour of shared technology time with an adult caregiver.

2. American Academy of Pediatrics Growing Up Digital Recommendations

Though widely cited for their 2011 recommendation of no screen time for children under the age of two, the AAP recently came out with updated suggestions that make a distinction between passive and active media. They now recommend that parents engage in digital media with their children, model media behaviours, and investigate the quality of media aimed at children. A more formal policy statement to follow their 2016 national conference.

3. ALSC White Paper on Media Mentorship

This 2015 paper published by the Association for Library Service to Children summarizes the current research on the topic of using digital media with children and makes four core recommendations for all youth services staff. They recommend that every library have staff who act as media mentors, that media mentors support families in their decisions, that library schools provide training to future youth services professionals, and that current staff receive the professional development they need to take on this role. Their website includes many helpful links, including free webinars on this topic to their members.

4. Zero to Three: Screen Sense
Zero to Three is one of the leading organizations advocating for early childhood education.  In 2014 they came out with their “Research-Based Guidelines for Screen Use for Children Under 3 Years Old.”  In these guidelines they advise that caregivers must participate in screen time for young children and that screen time should be interactive. They also highlight the importance of extending learning beyond the screen.

5. Joan Ganz Cooney Centre: Joint Media Engagement
The Cooney Center is an independent research organization that specializes in advancing children’s learning through digital media. They came out in 2011 with a publication that advocates for joint media engagement – using digital media alongside children – which leads to more positive learning outcomes. They were one of the first groups to emphasize the positive effects of caregivers participating in screen time.

6. Little eLit

While no longer being updated Little eLit remains a vital source of information when it comes to digital media. Browse through the archived blog posts, scroll through apps which have been reviewed on Little eLit and locate lists and other trusted review sites. Finally, their home page links to some of the reports mentioned above and other important publications.

7. Anne’s Library Life

If you’re just getting started or curious how to incorporate digital elements into your storytime we love Anne’s no-nonsense eStorytime outlines. She includes descriptions of the apps she uses and lots of images. Her introductory blurb on iPad Apps and Storytime would be great to adapt and share with caregivers as well.

8. Media Smarts

This is a great place to go for Canadian standards, research and policy for digital and media literacy. They also have excellent resources for educators and guides in several different languages.

9. Books by Lisa Guernsey

Lisa Guernsey is one of the leading researchers on digital media and young children today. Her most recent book Tap, Click, Read: Growing readers in a world of screens by Guernsey and Levine (2015) is a complete look at helping children develop strong literacy skills through “the combination of parents, educators, and high-quality media.” The book which started it all Screen time: how electronic media–from baby videos to educational software–affects your young child (2012) explores her journey as a parent and journalist to dispel myths around media use and children. If you’ve ever heard of the 3 C’s, we’ve got Guernsey to thank!

10. West Vancouver’s Youth Department App Reviews

Featuring app reviews for young children, teens and kids in between this is one tumblr you’ll definitely want to follow. Each review is written by a member of the West Vancouver Memorial Library Youth Department and includes helpful tags for searching by operating system, age, price and type.

Do you have a favourite resource for using digital technology with children that we missed? We’d love to hear about it, give us a shout at jbrary@gmail.com.

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2015: A Year in Review

It’s our first post of the new year!  We thought it’d be nice to take a look back at all we accomplished in 2015.  I’m of the opinion that we, as children’s library staff, could do with a little more tooting of our own horns. We’re a pretty awesome group and we should take time to celebrate it.

2015 in Review

We had a great year blogging at Jbrary.  We managed to publish a blog post every single week which I’m absurdly proud of, even if some of them were guest posts. Seriously folks, partner blogging is amazing.  Here are the posts that standout to me as highlights of 2015.

Early Literacy Messages in Action Blog Tour

How do you incorporate early literacy “sprinkles” into storytime?  It’s one of the most common and important questions we get asked.   So I wrote up my answer and hosted a blog tour featuring 13 other bloggers sharing their methods of getting those talking points into storytime.  This all developed organically out of conversations on Twitter and Facebook, and it was really cool to see so many people share their wisdom.

Canadian Libraries Spotlight

Dana and I worked really hard in 2015 to connect with children’s library staff across Canada in order to showcase the work being done to serve Canadian children and families. We featured 16 guest posts from libraries in British Columbia, Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, Manitoba, and Prince Edward Island.  I loved learning about the services, programs, and communities that make up our country.

Babytime Series

As more libraries introduce baby storytime, we thought it would be helpful to write a series of posts about the key elements that make up storytime for our youngest patrons.  We talked about the songs and rhymes we sing, the books we read, the play activities we incorporate, and the overall organization of a babytime.  I’m really proud of us for completing the series before the end of the year.

2016 Picture Books Preview

This post is probably one of my personal bests. As someone who works in a large library system and is disconnected from the book ordering process, I was so enthused to learn about picture books coming out this year.  The positive response from the authors and illustrators floored me, and it was one of our most-viewed posts in 2015.

Flannel Friday Contributions

We only participated in Flannel Friday three times in 2015, but I am really proud of all three!  First, I shared a mega-round up of all the different variations of Little Mouse, Little Mouse I could find on the internet. I still go back and add to it when I find new ones.  Then we participated in the Guest Post Palooza and featured Julie’s amazing STEAMY Flannel in Outer Space.  Lastly, I added a ladybug version of Little Mouse to my repertoire.

Spring Scavenger Hunt

Cutest bunnies on the interweb if you ask me! One of my colleagues helped me create this super fun, super adorable spring bunnies scavenger hunt.  If you missed it last year, definitely give it a try in a few months!  It’s one of those things people can print and do in 10 minutes which is always appreciated.

We’ll Link to That!

Dana and I continued to write our quarterly column for our province’s Young Adult and Children’s Section (YAACS).  In 2015 we wrote about new blog discoveries, innovative summer reading club ideas, STEAM resources, and collection development websites.  It’s really fun to shine the spotlight on others and this is one of the ways we do it.

2015 Favourite Storytime Books

We ended the year with a round-up of over 50 picture books published in 2015 that work well in storytime.  This post continues our end-of-the-year tradition, and it’s one of my favourite to write. I hope it stands as a resource for those of us looking to refresh our storytime collections.

What a year!  Thank you to our PLN for being awesome and joining us for this ride.

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2015 Favourite Storytime Picture Books

The tradition continues!  One of my favourite Jbrary posts to write all year is my round-up of favourite storytime books published in the last 12 months.  Missed the past two years? Check them out here:

I do storytimes primarily for children ages 0 -5, but I also serve school-age children on occassion.  This list includes books for them all.  Please let me know your favourites in the comments, espeically if it’s a book I missed.  Without further ado, I present my favourite picture books from 2015 that work well in a storytime setting!

15 things not to do with a baby15 Things Not to do With a Baby by Margaret McAllister; illustrated by Holly Sterling.  Perfect for a storytime about babies, families, or siblings. A little girl lists the Do’s and Don’ts of having a baby in the home.  The family is interracial though they only appear on one page.

baby love

Baby Love by Angela DiTerlizzi; illustrated by Brooke Boynton Hughes.   I really enjoyed reading this one at babyime.  I had the caregivers point to baby’s nose, toes, etc. as we read and we said the refrain together.  Super sweet and encourages a loving relationship.

baby partyBaby Party by Rebecca O’Connell; illustrated by Susie Poole.  One of my babytime favourites this year.  On each page we practiced the social skill of clapping.  Happy to see more and more books coming out with a diverse cast of babies and this one joins the ranks.  Shapes are another theme of the book which you can point out to caregivers for 1-1 reading time.

the bear ate your sandwhichThe Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach.  Recommended for preschool – Grade 2. An unnamed narrator recounts the exciting story of what happened to your sandwich. A surprise ending is what makes it a storytime winner. If I worked with older children more it’d be a great choice for leading into a writing exercise about tall tales or unreliable narrators.

bear countsBear Counts by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman.  Bear and Mouse observe the natural world around them and learn to count to five. I like how the text invites the reader to count with them which is helpful in storytime. Because it’s only to five, the counting is not overwhelming and makes it a great choice for toddlers.

beep beep go to sleepBeep! Beep! Go to Sleep! by Todd Tarpley; illustrated by John Rocco.  Three adorable robots refuse to let a little boy go to sleep in this pyjama time keeper.  I loved the refrain of “beep! beep!” – you can definitely get kids to do it with you.  Try giving each robot its own voice to help the kids distinguish who is speaking.

boats goBoats Go by Steve Light.  The newest addition to Light’s board book series on things that go. Lots of great noises to make in storytime.  It’s a large, long board book that works with small to medium sized groups.

bookobeardsBook-O-Beards by Donald Lemke; illustrated by Bob Lentz.  Buy the whole dang series! My friend Angela alerted me to these storytime gems.  Read the page and then “wear” the book.  Only a picture will do it justice.

book of beards

bulldozers big dayBulldozer’s Big Day by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Eric Rohmann.  Did everyone on the construction site forget its Bulldozer’s birthday?  Lots of great verbs fill this construction and birthday themed book that is a perfect read aloud for preschoolers.

bunny rooBunny Roo, I Love You by Melissa Marr; illustrated by Teagan White. My colleague Jane tipped me off to this one.  I agree with her assessment that it’s a gentle bedtime book to share with caregivers at babytime. White’s illustrations stole my heart.

the bus is for usThe Bus is for Us by Michael Rosen; illustrated by Gillian Tyler.  A transportation-filled gem.  I loved the rhyming text and the repetitive chant.  The pages are nice and big, working well for a large group.  Hooray for public transportation!

butterfly parkmaple-leafButterfly Park by Elly MacKay.  A lovely story of a girl who transforms the neighbourhood park into a butterfly garden.  MacKay’s paper-cut illustrations are outstanding though smaller groups will get the chance to study them better. Great for preschool to Grade 2.

the duck saysmaple-leafThe Ducks Says by Troy Wilson; illustrated by Mike Boldt.  Preschoolers will get a kick out of all the sounds duck makes as he roams around the farm and interacts with the other animals. I had the kids make the sounds with me after reading each sentence.

everythingEverything by Emma Dodd.  A babytime standout! Short, sweet sentences illustrate everything about a baby koala that the parent koala loves. When I read it at storytime, we mimicked the actions of the book.  Some of the pages have a metallic sheen that catches baby’s eye. Perfect for a small group.  Don’t miss the companion book, When You Were Born.

families families familiesFamilies, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang.  The message here is that if you love one another, you’re family. This book means so much to me because my niece Sophie is my adopted family and this book reflects all the diversity in the world. Read it to my toddlers and they loved it.

fire engine no. 9Fire Engine No. 9 by Mike Austin. Told almost entirely in sounds, follow firefighters over the course of their action-packed day.  Use in babytime to talk about phonological awareness or introduce to your transportation-loving toddlers and preschoolers.

fish jamFish Jam by Kylie Howarth.  Reminiscent of I’m The Biggest Thing in the Ocean, this book follows a scat-loving fish who just wants to jam. A great addition to a music themed storytime.  Toddlers on up will enjoy the rhythm and surprise ending.

the flyThe Fly by Petr Horacek.  Betsy Bird called this book “the best readaloud picture book of 2015.” I love the creative use of flaps and the fly’s personality. A great choice for preschoolers to school-age kids.

get out of my bathGet Out of My Bath! by Britta Teckentrup.  Ellie the elephant enjoys a good bathtime splash, but other animals try to join in the fun. This one reminded me of other interactive books where you have to tilt and shake the pages.  The pages have a sheen to them which I loved to touch.

hoot owlHoot Owl, Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor; illustrated by Jean Jullien.  I love the language in this book; it’s almost poetic. Hoot Owl puts on various disguises in order to catch some prey, but a pizza filled ending ensures no animals are harmed. Preschool to Grade 2 students will thoroughly enjoy.

how to draw a dragonHow to Draw a Dragon by Douglas Florian. This book combines art and imagination.  It leads very well into a post-storytime art activity involving dragons.  With just one sentence per page and big pages, it’s perfect for those wiggly toddlers.

i can roarI Can Roar! by Frank Asch.  Using a circle cut out, Asch invites the reader to take on the characteristics and sounds of different kinds of animals.  If you have a small group, try going around and having each baby or child put their face behind the book and make the animal noises together.

if you plant a seedIf You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson. This one’s all about kindness. I like how Nelson first shows the destructive power of greed before ending on a happy note. A great addition to a storytime about gardening, plants, or friendship.

if youre a robotIf You’re a Robot and You Know It by David A. Carter.  The only new pop-up book that caught me attention this year.  It includes the classics like clap your hands and stomp your feet alongside some silly robot actions such as jump and beep and shoot laser beams out of your eyes.  Sure to get your audience up and moving.

inIn by Nikki McClure.  McClure’s signature high contrast images help tell the story of a child who goes from playing inside to outside.  You could read at babytime and talk about about babies’ developing vision or use in a toddler storytime and point out the owl guide at the back of the book.

ina cloud of dustmaple-leafIn a Cloud of Dust by Alma Fullerton; illustrated by Brian Deines.  Great for a K-3 audience, this story, set in Tanzania, shows how one little girl helps her friends explore the world on bicycles. Only 1-2 sentences per page make it a good read aloud length.

little bird takes a bathLittle Bird Takes a Bath by Marisabina Russo.  This one works for so many themes – the city, bath time, rain, birds. Little bird searches for the perfect puddle.  I loved the sound effects, the repetition, and the inclusion of singing.  Use with preschoolers on up.

love always everywhereLove Always Everywhere by Sarah Massini.  Big, bright colourful pages showcase a diverse group of children as they express all the ways they love – quietly, loudly, with a kiss, with a tickle, etc. Each page only has two words – perfect for toddlers or for a storytime about love or emotions.  Published in late 2014 so sneaking this one in!

my bokeMy Bike by Byron Barton.  I almost didn’t include this one because CLOWNS, but my toddlers loved it and I read it to a preschool group studying the circus and the teacher was overjoyed.  It’s got all of Barton’s trademarks – simple sentence structure, bright, bold colours, and toddler concepts.

my cousin momoMy Cousin Momo by Zacharian OHara.  One of two appearances OHara makes on my list.  A great story for preschoolers about how being different isn’t a bad thing. Plus, flying squirrels!

night animalsNight Animals by Gianna Marino.  This one made me LOL.  Perfect for a pyjama storytime, this book features a cast of animals scared of “night animals” which bat informs them they are.  The bold illustrations work well.

nose to toesNose to Toes, You are Yummy! by Tim Harrington.  A perfect choice for babies and toddlers as this book encourages movement and interaction.  Very brightly illustrated pages are eye catching and there’s a song version available on their website.

no, sillyNo, Silly! by Ken Krug.  This fun title shows lots of giggle worthy scenarious like sleeping on a pile of cookies that are met with the refrain, “No, silly!” It kind of reminds me of Cornelius P. Mud, Are You Ready for Bed?  Great for toddlers or preschoolers. I love the repetition of sentence structure and catch phrase.

one familyOne Family by George Shannon; illustrated by Blanca Gomez.  Books about families were on point this year. This one includes a counting element up to ten while noting all the different elements of the city.  A beautifully diverse landscape also lends itself well to solo reading.

otto the owlOtto the Owl Who Loved Poetry by Vern Kousky.  If you’re looking for a way to introduce poetry into storytime, look no further! Great for preschoolers – Grade 3 students.  A little owl struggles to fit in because he’d rather recite poetry than hunt mice.  Lovely book from a debut author.

pepper and poePepper and Poe by Fran Preston-Gannon.  A sibling tale featuring two adorable cats.  This one works great in a mixed age storytime because the sentences are short but the older kids will get the comic relief.  And the cats really are super cute.

please mr pandaPlease, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony.  A super adorbs panda fills the pages of this lesson in manners. Panda would like to give away doughnuts but no one remembers to say please. Funny without being preachy. My toddlers and preschoolers loved it.

polar bears underwearPolar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera.  Underwear stories never get old with kids, do they?  This one had my storytimers in a hoot. A Japanese design firm brings us the story of Polar Bear in search for his underwear.  Clever design cutouts work well. It would make a great felt story too!  I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and had multiple holds placed after storytime.

the princess and the ponyThe Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton.  Warrior princess? Check. Farting pony? Check. An all-star choice for preschoolers to grade schoolers. Princess Pinecone didn’t get the horse of her dreams for her birthday, but she finds an unlikely ally in her new pony friend.  My niece demanded multiple readings of this book when I brought it home.

raindrops rollRaindrops Roll by April Pulley Sayre. Sayre is a non-fiction queen and this new one explores rain and the water cycle. I read it during a fall themed outreach storytime and the kids were fascinated with the real-life photographs. Text is poetic and rich with new vocabulary.

say helloSay Hello! by Linda Davick.  The perfect book to use at the beginning of baby or toddler storytimes. Bright, colourful pictures depict a group of racially diverse children saying hello with different gestures and actions. After reading practice saying hello in sign language.

sea nd rexSea and Rex by Molly Idle.  This is a perfect book for summer storytimes. Cordelia and her friend dinosaur spend a memorable day at the beach.  Recommended for toddler or preschool storytime.

sometimes we think you are a monkeymaple-leafSometimes We Think You are a Monkey by Johanna Skibsrud and Sarah Blacker; illustrated by Julie Morstad.  A super sweet story for babytime or toddler time.  The narrator makes comparisons between a newborn and all sorts of animals. I like the repeating sentence starters and Morstad’s stunning illustrations.

spectacular spotsSpectacular Spots by Susan Stockdale.  Big pages with animal spreads fill this toddler storytime hit.  Minimal text and bold illustrations accompany lots of new vocabulary such as grazing, dozing, dashing, scouting, clinging.  The end pages are good to point out to caregivers.

supertruckSupertruck by Stephen Savage.  A truck book with a superhero theme = storytime gold! I used this with my toddlers and they all wanted to take home a copy. Perfect for the winter too as the little garbage truck transforms into a snowplow to save the city.

ten pigsTen Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure by Derek Anderson.  So funny. One little pig just wants to take a relaxing bath when more pigs decide to join in.  A cute ending that preschoolers will enjoy.  Perfect for storytimes about pigs, baths, or bedtime.

touch the brightest starTouch the Brightest Star by Christie Matheson.  Matheson is back with another wonderfully interactive book.  I’ve been taking this one to all my outreach storytimes and we practice taking turns and watching the nighttime sky transform.  Magical.

up in the gardenUp in the Garden and Down in the Dirt by Kate Messner; illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.  Longer text makes this a better school-age storytime choice, but you could also just read a few of the pages to younger children.  I love the long, tall pages and Neal’s stunning illustrations.  Great for a spring, garden, or plant themed storytime.

vegetables in underwearVegetables in Underwear by Jared Chapman.  Works best with smaller groups due to the size of the pages, but it truly capitalizes on the silliness of this article of clothing. Rhyming text works well in this case.  Giggles will abound.

welcome home bearWelcome Home, Bear: A Book of Animal Habitats by Il Sung Na.  My love of Il Sung Na has been well documented, so I was so stoked to see a new one come down the line this year.  Bear decides to search for a new home but finds the other habitats out of sorts. An absolute gem that works for toddlers and older.

the whale in my swimming poolThe Whale in My Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan.  I busted this one out for a summer storytime and it was great for the mixed aged group of kids I had. The older kids got the humour while the younger kids were engaged with the shorter text.  Bright, big pages bring this silly story to life. Based on the last page, I also smell a sequel!

who wants a hugWho Wants a Hug? by Jeff Mack.  I read this to a kindergarten class and they thought it was hilarious. Skunk tries various different methods to keep bear from giving away hugs.  A happy ending included.  Colourful pictures and animated animals draw in the audience.

wolfie the bunnyWolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHara.  I loved this story of a paranoid bunny who suspects her adopted wolf brother is up to no good.  The kindergarten class I shared it with enjoyed the build up to the end when the bunny and wolf siblings stick together.  The art is different but it works well to convey the characters’ emotions.

you nest here with meYou Nest Here With Me by Jane Yolen and Heidi E. Y. Stemple; illustrated by Melissa Sweet.  I know Yolen from her How Do Dinosaurs series, and I’m continually impressed. This rhyming book is a sweet bedtime story that would work great in a pyjama storytime.  All the different bird names included is a real triumph in vocabulary building.  End pages with additional bird information is nice to point out to caregivers.

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Canadian Libraries Spotlight: Bibliothèque Publique de Westmount

This year we’ve hosted a variety of guest posts from library staff around Canada.  For the last post of the year we are delighted to feature the Westmount Public Library, also known as Bibliothèque Publique de Westmount.  Our guest blogger is Children’s Librarian Wendy Wayling who is here to tell us all about a very special Summer Reading Club in Quebec!


Just when the rest of the library is winding down and looking forward to those lazy, hazy days of summer, children’s departments all across the country are gearing up for their busiest time of year – the season of the summer reading club! And the Westmount Public Library is no exception.

We have been hosting a summer reading club in our library for decades, but in 2011 we joined the TD Summer Reading Club to share ideas with librarians across Canada. Over the past years we have enjoyed successful summer reading clubs using such themes as science, mystery and fantasy, to name a few. This year our theme focused on play.  Choosing a theme as versatile as play left the door open for so many possibilities allowing our staff to brainstorm and come up with some terrific ideas. I had been playing with the idea of transforming our department into a giant Candyland game when another idea hit me: What is the quintessential children’s book about play and imagination?:  Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll of course! The choice was no coincidence, however, as the classic children’s book is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. This year’s theme was of particular interest to me as Alice has always been one of my all-time favourite books, as a child, as a teen and even now as an adult.

Our new library mascot, Findlay Featherton, joins the TD SRC!
TD SRC Launch at Family Day in Westmount Park
TD SRC Launch at Family Day in Westmount Park

What better way to celebrate play and imagination than through the discovery, rediscovery and sharing of Alice and her wonderful adventures down under! Our team got busy preparing reading-incentive games and activities based on play and Alice.

Asking children to keep track of the time they spend reading can be a challenge and understandably so, as not many of us want to set a timer each time we sit down to enjoy a book. Over the years, we have tried to make this aspect more enjoyable for the children by creating some fun reading-incentive games, giving out small weekly prizes throughout the summer and carefully selecting a gift book to give to each child who reached his or her reading goal.

Tech-free day at the library!
Tech-free day at the library!

This summer we developed a game that would teach some basic library skills, while still being fun and at times quite silly, in keeping with the spirit of Alice. Of course, the whole point of the games is to pique the curiosity of the children. For example, once the children had read for one or two hours (depending on their reading level), they were given a clue or a challenge. Here is one example:

In Wonderland, Alice met a Mock turtle – a character named after soup!
Look up books about making soup!

Once the children found a cookbook, they were asked to come up with their own silly soup recipe and share it with the staff. Here is but one creative recipe that a member came up with:

1 teacup of ice
1/2 bowl of unwashed potato skins
1 diget (sic) of pi
5/3 eggs
7 cups of water
9/5 toad’s feet
Boil it in a cauldron for 3 leap years until it is the colour of mud and serve it with dragonfly wings.

Some clues required a bit more research. For example:

Find a biography about our very own Queen Elizabeth II who, by the way, is nothing like the nasty Queen of Hearts!

Hidden in the book was the following question:

How old was Queen Elizabeth when she was crowned Queen? Did you know that she visited Westmount in 1959!

Besides the games and clues, we have also tried to transform the entire department each summer according to the theme. We do this with the amazing talents of the library staff and our local teen volunteers. I have been consistently blown away by the enthusiasm and artistic talents demonstrated by the teens. It is a treat to see how proud they are when they drop by the library to see their artwork on display. Partnering with local teens is a fantastic way to keep this busy age group engaged at the library.

The desk murals painted by a staff member and local teen volunteers.
The desk murals painted by a staff member and local teen volunteers.

Of course, we wanted to highlight other aspects of play: we invited the children to learn how to lawn bowl with the staff and the local lawn bowling club; we hired a local Irish musician to perform in our storytelling garden; we created birdhouses based on the TD SRC illustrations; we offered two Minecraft sessions; we played croquet in our local park dressed as the characters from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; and perhaps the most shocking activity of all this summer was Tech-Free Day when we took away all the computers on one Friday each month over the summer! Jaws dropped, but no tears were shed and parents enjoyed some quality time with their children playing board games and reading together.

Alice playing croquet
Alice playing croquet
Croquet and a Mad Hatter Tea Party in Westmount Park next to the library.
Croquet and a Mad Hatter Tea Party in Westmount Park next to the library.

So why do children’s librarians go through all this work every summer? Because we know that it makes a difference to the children in our communities. We put the extra time and effort into developing a fun summer reading club because we want to foster a love a reading that will last a lifetime. We want the children to feel comfortable in our libraries and to experience that magic moment when a story transports us to a different world, full of possibilities. We also want to reach out to those children who might think that they don’t like reading, but we all know that they just haven’t found the right book yet. The children’s staff love to book talk and recommend great reads to the children and summer is the perfect time to try out new books and share titles!

Our TD SRC closing party - 250 kids and parents participated!
Our TD SRC closing party – 250 kids and parents participated!

Even though it is autumn, I am already thinking about next year’s summer reading club and I am sure that most other children’s librarians are doing the same. Maybe it is time for our adult department to get into the summer spirit and develop a summer reading club designed just for adults!

Happy reading and don’t forget to celebrate Alice’s 150th anniversary this year!

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