Global Storytime Picture Books

Holy smokies, folks, am I excited to share today’s guest post! You all know I love me some storytime book lists. Today I am happy to feature guest blogger Kate Davis.  Kate is a storytime ninja, global literature fangirl, and agent of early literacy advocacy. She is based in San Diego. And she is here to provide tips on how to select and read picture books in storytime from all around the world.  I learned about so many new titles! Do you have a favourite global picture book you share in storytime? Leave a comment letting us know.

————————————————————-

Diversity is a mainstay in our culture and is slowly developing a presence in North American children’s literature. While we continue to fight for its presence, we can fill cultural gaps in our storytimes with global picture books that have been translated into English. These amazing publications give us the opportunity to not only help little ones develop an early understanding of diversity, but to peek into unfamiliar cultures through themes they can relate to.

Intentionally selecting global literature to read during storytime can be overwhelming. Doubts on what to choose, how to pronounce unfamiliar words, and how to answer possible questions is enough to send many of us back to our comfortable favorites, but international picture books offer so many fantastic benefits. They prompt conversation and offer variegated sounds, vocabulary and sentence structure. They develop a deeper understanding of creativity and broach unfamiliar themes. Most importantly, they normalize diversity, helping young readers to see and accept it as a natural part of civilization.

Authors and illustrators from every culture incorporate elements of their society’s history, values, and viewpoints into their picture books. Since every culture is different, we have to be aware that picture books, even when translated, can’t possibly translate into our individual sensibilities. We wouldn’t want them to! So as we read them, we need to note cultural markers such as a glass of wine on the dinner table in a book from southern Europe or soldiers with machine guns patrolling a city street in a story from Central America. Such subtle nods to cultural dynamics are eye-opening, even a little surprising to adult readers in North America. It’s important to carefully assess a global book before reading it aloud to ensure that its appropriate for your audience.

Another key difference is that many international picture books do not follow traditional North American formats. They may not adhere to build up-climax-conclusion storylines familiar to U.S. readers. Endings are often abrupt and random, even anticlimactic. While this certainly doesn’t negate the books’ integrity, awareness of it is key when reading aloud. As storytellers, we moderate our voices according to position in a story, so we can use our voices to soften an awkward transition or an abrupt ending. Fortunately, our young listeners aren’t as ingrained in standard formatting as adults are, so they won’t be dissuaded from enjoying a book because the ending doesn’t fit a predefined standard. They will relish the characters, the illustrations and differences that make the book unique.

Some global titles are less culturally specific and therefore may seem more universal in nature, such as those with anthropomorphic creatures. Subtle details, however, in both text and illustration may still convey cultural flavor that can lead to expanding young readers’ perspectives. In strong contrast, however, picture books from some regions, especially third-world countries, reflect the intensity and rawness of daily life; their narratives and illustrations may be considered too harsh for North American readers. Don’t depend on the publisher’s recommended age ranges for such titles–what may be appropriate for a five-year-old in a different part of the world may not be suitable for a five-year-old in North America.

Global picture books are an incredible resource and can truly expand the worlds of the little ones we serve. Illustrations, regardless of country of origin, always bridge cultural gaps while the narratives produce often unexpected themes, quirky details, and enchanting storylines. They’re easy to incorporate into your storytimes for any age and provide for new and stimulating conversation with kids and caretakers alike.

Tips and Tricks for Including Global Picture Books in Your Storytime!

  1. Read your global lit book in advance and really look at the details in all the illustrations. Make sure that everything is appropriate for your storytime age group.
  2. Practice reading your global lit aloud. Get comfortable with its rhythm, any unusual phrasing, and unfamiliar words/names. Don’t worry if your pronunciation isn’t perfect–have fun trying!
  3. Make notes of possible conversation prompts. Is there a different animal in the book than you usually read about? Is the character eating a different kind of food for lunch?
  4. Have a globe next to you during storytime and point out where your library is located and then where the book comes from. Toddlers and preschoolers may have little idea of distance, but you’re helping them develop a foundational awareness of geography.
  5. Encourage your storytime friends to practice saying the author’s and/or the characters’ names. Discuss how the names sound different than names they’re used to hearing. Have fun practicing new sounds and noting how different your mouth feels when you say them.
  6. Don’t stress about it! Remember that you probably already have some favorite international authors, including Marcus Pfister (Switzerland), Mem Fox (Australia), or Jean de Brunhoff (France).

Global Storytime Picture Books

The Fly (Horácek, P. (2015). The fly. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.)
Petr Horácek
Czech Republic
STEM, humor, novelty, bugs
Ages 3-7

Why is the fly always in trouble? All he wants is to do is exercise, visit the cows and eat his meals on time. But no one ever wants him around! In this clever novelty book, Horacek shares an entirely different perspective with readers while subtly sliding in some important facts about flies.

Good Morning, Chick (Ginsburg, M. (1980). Good morning, chick [Tsyplenok]. New York, NY: Greenwillow Books.)
Text adapted from Tsyplenok by Korney Chukovsky
Translated by Mirra Ginsburg
Illustrated by Byron Barton
Russian Federation
Animals, farm, STEM
Ages 1-4

The farm is full of adventures for a brand new baby chick! Fun movements, sights and sounds encourage interaction from even the youngest readers as well as introduce early scientific concepts about farm animals. The illustrations beautifully portray the innocence of the chick with bright colors, simple outlines and subtle textures. Perfect read aloud for babies, toddlers and preschoolers alike.

Potty Time (van Genecthen, G. (2001). Potty time. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.)
Guido van Genechten
Belgium
Animals, concepts
Ages 2-4

Potty Time tickles toddlers with the unlikely pairing of animals giant and tiny and in between all sitting on Joe’s potty seat. It’s just the right size for Joe, but could it work for everyone else? Each animal is full of personality, from their colors and patterns to their size and speech.

Hippopposites (Coat, J. (2012). Hippopposites. New York, NY: Abrams.)
Janik Coat
France
Opposites, concepts
Ages Birth-4

Opposites don’t have to be standard when a clever hippo gets involved! This fun hippo introduces little ones to unconventional counterparts like positive and negative, clear and blurry, and opaque and transparent. Hippopposites is a great conversation starter and a fantastic way to help young readers look at things in a completely different light!

Bubble Trouble (Mahy, M. (2009). Bubble trouble. New York, NY: Clarion Books.)
Margaret Mahy
Polly Dunbar (illustrator)
New Zealand
Ages 2-8

Get ready for some bouncy adventures when a bubble floats away and causes some crazy bubble trouble! Through inventive rhymes and an infectious meter, readers young and older will be giggling by the end of the first page!

Guess What? (van Genechten, G. (2012). Guess what?. New York, NY: Clavis Publishing.)
Guido van Genechten
Belgium
Ages 1-4
Concepts, STEM

Lift the flap to see how one thing can look like another. Simple, bright and colorful, Guess What? prompts observation, inquiry, prediction, comparisons, imaginative responses and is a great conversation starter.

Millie and the Big Rescue (Steffensmeier, A. (2012). Millie and the big rescue [Lieselatte versteckt sich]. New York, NY: Walker Books for Young Readers.)
Steffensmeier, Alexander
Germany
Ages 3-8

It makes for a crazy day when all the animals on the farm end up high in the branches of a tree!
Fans of Click, Clack, Moo will love Millie and the Big Rescue–zany farm animals never fail to delight!

In the Meadow (Kato, Y. (2011). In the meadow. New York, NY: Enchanted Lion Books.)
Yukiko Kato
Illustrated by Komako Sakai
Japan
Ages 3-6

With soft greens, strong contrasts and incredible movement, In the Meadow invites young readers into the cool grasses to feel the tickle of a grasshopper, hear the song of the river and see the flash of a butterfly.

5 Cherries (Facchini, V. (2017). 5 cherries (Anna Celada Trans.). New York, NY: Enchanted Lion Books.)
Vittoria Facchini
Italy
Ages 3-8

Who knew that five red cherries could provide so much inspiration? Two small children imagine an afternoon away by finding inventive and creative uses for their special cherries. Humorous and imaginative, 5 Cherries features incredible artwork and subtle nods to a very difficult subject.

Chirri and Chirra (Doi, K. (2016). Chirri & chirra (Y. Kaneko Trans.). Brooklyn, NY: Enchanted Lion Books.)
Kaya Doi
Translated by Yuki Kaneko
Japan
Ages 2-5

As they ride their bikes through the forest, two little girls explore a new world filled with animals, treats, adventures and surprises. The enchanting colored pencil illustrations bring Chirri and Chirra’s world to life through texture, color and pure whimsy.

Grandma and the Great Gourd: A Bengali Folktale
Divakaruni, Chirta Banerjee
India
Folk tale
Ages 4-up

Grandma goes for a visit, but the forest through which she travels is filled with peril. She’s tiny and frail, but oh so smart. Can she find a way to outwit the danger? This beautiful retelling of a Bengali folktale will have younger readers on the edge of their seats and rooting for Grandma!

Luke and the Little Seed (Ferri, G. (2015). Luke & the little seed. Hong Kong: minedition.)
Giuliano Ferri
Italy
Ages 3-7

When Grandfather gives him seeds for his birthday, Luke is disappointed. But with Grandfather’s a little guidance and a whole lot of patience, Luke discovers just how magical seeds can be.

The Bus Ride (Dubuc, M. (2014). The bus ride [L’autobus] (Y. Ghione Trans.). Tonawanda, NY: Kids Can Press.)
Marianne Dubuc
France
Ages 4-7

Riding a bus all by yourself can be a big adventure. But you’re never alone when there are all kinds of friends to meet and adventures to be had!

LSC Journal Club: January 2018 Recap: Educational Apps

On Sunday we had our second Vancouver Library Services for Children Journal Club meeting.  Have you heard about the LSC Journal Club? My friend Christie and I started it as a way to promote research-based library service and professional development opportunities for anyone serving children in libraries. In November we discussed executive function and this month we took a look at what counts as an “educational” app.  We highly encourage you to start a local group if you’re interested in being research nerds like us!

The research article we read this month is called “Putting Education in ‘Educational’ Apps: Lessons From the Science of Learning.”  I led the group discussion this month by reviewing the purpose of the article and the term Science of Learning which was new to me.

Purpose of the Article:

  • There are thousands of unregulated apps in the app store categorized as “educational.” Parents and educators have a hard time navigating this marketplace. Can they trust that label?
  • What does the Science of Learning tell us about how kids learn best? The researchers investigated research that applies to kids ages 0 – 8 years old. Their goals are to guide researchers, educators, and designers in evidence-based app development and to help people like us (library staff) evaluate already existing apps.
  • They came up with 4 Pillars of Learning that define “educational.”  This definition means apps should promote active, engaged, meaningful, and socially interactive learning.

Science of Learning

  • This is an amalgamated research area that takes different learning theories and draws similarities between them. It is relatively new, about 20 years old.
  • It includes research from a variety of fields – psychology, linguistics, computer science, animal behaviour, machine learning, brain imaging, neurobiology, etc.
  • It seeks to know HOW children learn not WHAT we should teach children. More about the process, less about the content.  Strives to identify strategies kids can use to think flexibly and creatively in the future.
  • Views kids as active learners, not vessels to be filled with knowledge. Takes its cue from Piaget who called children “little scientists.”

From there the article goes into depth for each of the four pillars of learning looking at what the Science of Learning says about them, what television research says, and how we can apply this knowledge to apps. At our meeting we broke up into groups and each group wrote down the key points for each of the four pillars before sharing with the whole group. Here are our notes:

Pillar #1: Active Learning

Pillar #2: Engagement in the Learning Process

Pillar #3: Meaningful Learning

Pillar #4: Social Interaction

The article then talks about what I call Secret Pillar #5: Scaffolded Exploration Toward a Learning Goal. It states:

  • Apps need a context for learning. They should promote exploration toward a learning goal.
  • Adults can play a supportive role in guiding play to lead to the best overall learning outcomes. A halfway point between complete free play and direct instruction.
  • Apps can provide scaffolding options such as providing background knowledge, offering more or less challenging levels, or by responding to individual children’s needs.

The article evaluates an app called Alien Assignment and discusses how the four pillars hold up. We were able to download the app to view it but the sound didn’t work on the iPad we had as it is an older app. It’s interesting to note that the developer is the Fred Rogers Center who came out with a position statement in in 2012 in conjunction with NAEYC that states, “when used intentionally and appropriately, technology and interactive media are effective tools to support learning and development.” So it’s not surprised their app is pretty great.

We ended our meeting by talking about the following discussion questions:

  • Do all apps need to be “educational” for us to recommend them to caregivers?
  • How can we apply these guidelines to our work with children in libraries?
  • How does this research compare to other research, position statements, and app rubrics that have been developed?

We all agreed that the four pillars are a good tool to use when evaluating apps for educational content. We can look at the apps on the anchored iPads in our children’s area, on our website, and on our bookmarks to see if they hold up to the “very deep” learning category.  While the majority of the apps we select for these things should be educational we also discussed the merits of other “playful” apps such as the Toca Boca apps.  We still think it is worth including some of those types of apps as caregivers and kids often use them in unintended ways that foster learning.  Having the four pillars in our minds when talking to caregivers is a great tool we can use to guide these conversations. One of members, Kate, came up with an acronym and mental image to help her remember the four pillars. It’s called M.E.A.L.S. She says, “Choosing Apps: Are You Serving Your Child Balanced M.E.A.L.S?” Meaningful, Engaging, Active, Learning Goals, and Social Interaction.

We also talked about how it is common for caregivers to set their child down in front of the iPads in the children’s library and leave them there unattended or without engaging with them. Parents wanting or needing a break and using technology as a babysitter, while alarming to some, is not something we as library staff can solve or regulate in our spaces.  We discussed how we provide the technology to help bridge the digital divide and we can encourage joint media engagement through our signage and handouts and conversations with caregivers.  The research from this article is further evidence that caregiver participation in media is essential for learning, especially with young children.

In terms of other research around evaluating apps, we discussed Lisa Guernsey’s 3 C’s for choosing digital media: Content, Context, and Child. Perhaps a fourth C could be something like “Cause” to align with the learning goal element discussed in the article. There are two other app rubrics we looked over, both developed by Claudia Haines. They are both worth a look and can be used to evaluate the apps you recommend and provide in the library.  Check out Evaluating Apps and New Media for Young Children: A Rubric and the Diverse and Inclusive Growth Checklist for Inclusive, High-Quality Children’s Media.

What did you think of this month’s article? Let me know in the comments!

Guest Post: Turning Infant Care Into Early Literacy Brain Development

My friend Kate Lowe is back with another guest post! Seriously, everyone, this woman is good. In case you missed it the first time, Kate Lowe works as a children’s librarian in Vancouver, BC. She enjoys testing out new storytime material on her 4 year old son. She is also living proof that anyone can learn to play the ukulele. Today she is sharing a way to organize a storytime that is relevant to caregivers. Take it away, Kate!

————————————————————-

Caregivers spend a huge percentage of their day caring for their baby’s physical needs. That makes babytime the perfect platform to convince caregivers to turn one-on-one interactions into Early Literacy moments. Babies learn best when lessons are built into daily routines. Libraries aren’t the only ones that have realised the power of these everyday interactions. Ellen Galinsky’s book Mind in the Making states that caregivers can teach children skills such as self control and critical thinking by “doing everyday things in new ways”. In storytime we can pair a song or rhyme with a specific infant care task. You can tell the audience you’re about to sing  “burping songs” or a “getting in the stroller song”. This is our chance to remind caregivers that eye contact, expressive facial expressions, and a song can instantly turn a “chore” into a moment to connect with their baby and help develop their brains. I’m even considering getting a tattoo that says “Songs… they’re not just for bedtimes anymore”.

Here are a few examples to get you and your storytime audience inspired:

Diaper Changing

Ask the caregivers in your storytime how many times they’ve changed their baby’s diapers since they were born. They’ll laugh and give you a number larger than 10. It’s the perfect opportunity to suggest they turn some of those diaper changes into a moment to connect and teach their baby.

The Diaper on the Bottom
Tune: Wheels on the Bus

The diaper on the bottom
Comes off, off, off
Off, off, off
Off, off, off
The diaper on the bottom
Comes off, off, off
Nice and clean!

For more ideas check out Jbrary’s Diaper Changing Playlist.

Practicing Rolling Over

Model how to place babies on the ground and gently rock them side to side using your entire forearm on each side of the baby. Sing a rolling song. Besides being fun for the baby it safely introduces the first step to rolling over.  Here are two songs to try:

You Roll It
You roll it, you roll it, you roll it
And then you put the raisins in.

10 in the Bed
There were ten in the bed and the little one said,
“roll over, roll over.”
So they all rolled over and one fell out.
Th
ere were 9 in the bed… Count down to zero.

Clean Up

Encourage caregivers to “narrate their day” by singing a cleaning song. This song can be repeated and changed depending how many people are tidying. At storytime the caregivers can supply the baby’s name and help them put an object into its container (shakes, scarves, etc). The song gets bonus points because it can highlight the shapes, colours, or sizes of objects.

Cleaning Up
Tune: Twinkle Twinkle

Who will clean up with me?
Who will clean up the blocks?
I am cleaning up the red
I am cleaning up the blue
I am cleaning up the green
I am cleaning up the pink
Who will clean up with me?
Who will clean up the blocks?

Getting Dressed

Many families attending storytime will be familiar with getting-dressed battles at home. Help caregivers sidestep some of those meltdowns by encouraging them to sing fun getting-dressed songs.


Baby Put Your Pants On
Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on
Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3
Baby put your pants on, pants on, pants on
Baby put your pants on, 1, 2, 3
Leg to the left, leg to the right
Wiggle and jiggle and pull ’em up tight.
Leg to the left, leg to the right
Wiggle and jiggle and pull ’em up tight.

Other Verses: shirt, socks, shoes, hat

Tummy Massage for Gas

Leg lifting rhymes are fun for babies, but they also allow caregivers to gently put pressure on their babies stomachs. If you mention this tip at baby storytime you’ll probably want to be prepared with a few books about infant massage and the contact information of a local health nurse who can answer questions about gas and digestion.

Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin went to France
To teach the ladies how to dance.
First he did the rumba, rumba, rumba
Then he did the kicks, the kicks, the kicks
Then he did the samba, the samba, the samba,
Then he did the splits, the splits, the splits.

Eating

Babies start off drinking milk and formula but they see people around them eating solids. Encourage caregivers to sing songs as they prepare, serve or eat food.


I Like To Eat Apples and Bananas
Verses:

I like to eat, eat, eat apples and bananas

I like to drink, drink, drink, milk and water

I’d like more, more ,more please and thank you

Green Zucchini
Tune: Alouette

Green zucchini, I like green zucchini
Green zucchini, that’s what I like best.
Do you like it on your head?
Yes, I like it on my head.
On your head? On my Head!
Ohhhhh. No!

What are your favourites infant care songs and rhymes to sing in babytime? Let us know in the comments!

2017 Favourite Storytime Picture Books

Hello, 2018! I am delighted that my first post of the year is one that I look forward to writing for many months. I’ve been keeping track of all the great picture books that work well in a storytime setting published in 2017.  I try these books out with groups of different sizes and different ages.  I give them my children’s librarian stamp of storytime approval! Before I jump into the books, visit these posts for even more storytime goodness:

I’m sure there are storytime stand-outs from 2017 that I missed, so please leave a comment with your picks! Without further ado…

5 little ducks5 Little Ducks by Denise Fleming
This one snuck in at the tail end of 2016 so I’m including it here since I just got to test it out.  This is a slight twist on the classic nursery rhyme with days of the week included and a Papa Duck who does the caretaking.  Nice big pages make it a good choice for big groups. Add this one to your singable books list.

babies can sleep anywhereBabies Can Sleep Anywhere by Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by Carolina Buzio
Perfect for babytime or pyjama storytime. Discover how different animals sleep, including the often weird positions babies find themselves in. The language is gentle and soothing but the illustrations will bring a smile to your storytime attendees.

Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke; illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
Set in a Nigerian marketplace, follow baby and his mama as they shop for food. This book can work in a babytime, just don’t feel pressure to read every single word. I think it works best with a mixed-age group.  The older kids can count along with you and the younger kids will be drawn to the baby protagonist. Bright, bold illustrations translate well for large groups.

chugga chugga choo chooChugga Chugga Choo Choo by Emma Garcia
I was SO EXCITED when I found out Garcia has a new picture book out.  Continuing with her transportation theme, this one features a train that visits different locations.  Different birds catch a ride as the train rolls along and it’s fun to count them as you turn the pages. Good for toddlers and preschoolers.  Another hit from this storytime heavyweight author.

everybunny danceEverybunny Dance! by Ellie Sandall
Sandall made my list last year too and is officially a storytime author to watch! This one is pure joy. You can have kids dance and sing along with you as you read or hold a dance party afterwards.  It’s got a sweet message about inclusion and friendship to boot. Worked best with toddlers for me, but you could definitely use for the entire 0 – 5 crowd. What’s even better? There’s a sequel coming out in 2018 called Everbunny Counts!

Firefighter Duckies! by Frank W. Dormer
Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, this is a funny storytime choice. I loved the repetition of sentences – They are brave. They are strong. – and the ultimate message about being kind too. The duckies help in all sorts of silly situations that are infused with good vocabulary. The nice big pages make this a stand-out choice!

found dogsFound Dogs by Erica Sirotich
My friend Shannon brought my attention to this gem. Count up to ten and then back down again as rescue pups get adopted. A child in a wheelchair adds much needed representation in picture books.  A great choice for toddlers and preschoolers – have them count along on their fingers as you read.

full of fallFull of Fall by April Pulley Sayre
The photograph queen returns with this leaf-tastic look at fall. Short, poetic sentences bring unique language to life.  You can also just describe the pictures with the kids and talk about what they see outside. It’s a perfect lead-in to a leaf craft project or a group walk around the neighbourhood. Pairs well with Sayre’s other seasonal books, Raindrops Roll and Best in Snow.

A Good Day for Hat by T. Nat Fuller; illustrated by Rob Hodgson
If you read one book to toddlers in storytime this year, make it this one! The repetition is built for their budding language skills. A bear finds the perfect hat to wear in every situation that appears. This one is begging to be made into a felt story.

Grandma’s Tiny House by JaNay Brown-Wood; illustrated by Priscilla Burris
Want a book about community, counting, and problem solving all rolled into one adorable package? I got you. I loved this family story and the fact that it counts up to 15 – rare for a picture book! Works best with small groups of toddlers or preschoolers.

hat on hat offmaple-leafHat On, Hat Off by Theo Heras; illustrated by Renné Beniot
The subject matter – getting dressed – is very toddler appropriate, and caregivers will empathize with the putting on and taking off aspect of dressing a child. The text is told in sentence fragments with an alternating “hat on”/”hat off” mantra.  Try bringing a hat with you to storytime and taking it on and off while you read to give the toddlers a clear understanding of what’s happening on the page.

hooray for birdsHooray for Birds! by Lucy Cousins
If you love Hooray for Fish! then you must try this one too. Cousins is back with her large pages and brightly illustrated animals – this time with a focus on our featured friends. Have kids make the bird sounds with you or act out the bird actions. Both toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy.  I also love this book because you can skip a few pages if your crowd is restless and they’ll never know!

I am a Baby by Kathryn Madeline Allen; photographed by Rebecca Gizicki
Published in November 2016 but I’m still counting it. A new babytime gem, folks! The photographs are clear and depict a beautiful collection of diverse babies.  I love the simple sentences and repetitive sentence structure. It is baby focused featuring common things in a baby’s life such as a crib, bib, diapers, clothes, family members, and toys.

i am a unicornI am a Unicorn! by Michaela Schuett
Playing dress-up? Check. Fart jokes? Check. Annoyed friend who eventually comes around? Check. Recommended for preschool up to Grade 2. This is a silly, magical story about a frog… err I mean Unicorn who believes in themself.  You’ll get lots of giggles, I promise.

I am dreamingmaple-leafI am Dreaming of…Animals of the Native Northwest by Melaney Gleeson-Lyall
This board book features illustrations from 10 Northwest Coast Indigenous artists. Gleeson-Lyall lives in Vancouver is a Coast Salish, Musqueam writer and I love to promote a local author.  Each animal is given an action that kids can easily mimic. Because the book is small it works best with small groups of babies and toddlers. A stunning delivery.

I Got a New Friend by Karl Newson Edwards
Short, simple sentences depict a young girl and her new puppy as they get to know each other and care for each other. I recommend this one for toddler or preschool storytime – it’s a quick read but will garner lots of discussion about pets.  Some funny moments are sprinkled throughout the book.  Can’t beat those adorable illustrations.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Nice big pages that were built for storytime. This one went over well with preschoolers but I think you could use up to grade 2. I told them my story about grabbing onto my swim teacher’s leg before she lowered me off the diving board while I screamed at the top of my lungs.  A great jumping off point for discussing emotions, especially how we overcome our fears. Use in the summer months for extra ummph.

legend of rock paper scissorsThe Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt; illustrated by Adam Rex
You know when you have that Grade 4 class coming to visit and you can’t think of anything to read them that will have them ROFL. Look no further! This book fits a needed niche of funny, attention-grabbing picture books you can use for school-age storytimes. I found the older the better – they’ll get more of the humour.

Life on Mars by Jon Agee
A total hit with the preschool crowd. First we sang Zoom, Zoom, Zoom then we read this book about an astronaut determined to find life on Mars. It’s one of those books where the audience knows the secret that the character doesn’t which the kids find hilarious.  Perfect amount of text per page for a storytime.

Mama, Look! by Patricia J. Murphy; illustrated by David Diaz
Toddler storytime, I am calling your name! This book was pretty much built on how toddlers acquire language. It’s got the repetitive phrase (which you can change to any person! Even a child’s name!), the labeling of objects, and the big beautiful illustrations.  I’ll be using this one for years to come.

Noisy Night by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Brian Biggs
Is there a more Vancouver book? So many people here live in apartments and high rises. As you move up the floors, kids get a chance to guess who is making all that noise.  It is required of you to sing The Elevator Song as soon as you finish this one.

Now by Antoinette Portis
The concept of this book is simple and beautiful. Follow a little girl as she points out all her current favourite things. The language has a nice rhythm and the amount of text works for as young as 1-year-olds. The cover captivated me. A gentler read that is perfect for the end of storytime.

Peek-a-Boo Zoo! by Jane Cabrera
I’m always hesitant about books about zoos, but this one doesn’t feature the zoo at all until the last page and even then not heavily. Use with babies and toddlers – it’s short, sweet, and interactive. It’s got good repetition and you can talk about the importance of play with caregivers after reading it. Cabrera’s a storytime staple.

plant the tiny seedPlant the Tiny Seed by Christie Matheson
The interactive book trend continues and I’m not complaining. Kids love to tap, clap, and wave while you read and watch the flowers bloom. This is a secretly STEM book too – it’s all about a plant’s life cycle. Even with big groups where it’s too hard to have every child touch the page, you can still do some of the actions as a large group.  Grab all of Matheson’s books for your storytime shelves.
Spunky Little MonkeySpunky Little Monkey by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson; illustrated by Brian Won
Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, this is an active one.  Have kids do all the actions with you – clap, stomp, shake, cheer.  I had one preschool class stand while we read the book to make it extra fun. Follow up with Let’s Get the Rhythm.  An all-star team created this one and it shows.

Stack the Cats by Susie Ghahremani
A good choice for toddlers or preschoolers, this book features adorable cats and math all in one. I am dying to make a felt story version of this one – someone beat me to it, please! Take your time when reading it to practice counting and basic addition. Works best with smaller groups due to the size of the pages.

Thank You Bees by Toni Yuly
Perfect for babies and toddlers, this book expresses thanks to things in our natural world such as bees, clouds, the sun, and sheep. On every other page you get to utter a simple thank you to those things. Simplicity at its best and perfect for building mindfulness into storytime.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney

I bought this one for my 4-year-old nephew and we had to read it multiple times and then tell it orally over and over again. Pinkney brings his award-winning illustrations to the classic tale. Highly recommended for preschool – grade 2 storytimes. Getting the kids to act out the trip trapping will help hold their attention. I like using the one story, may ways method and retelling it with a felt story the next week.

Truck, Truck, Goose! by Tammi Sauer; illustrated by Zoe Waring
A funny tale of friendship and working together. This one works best with preschoolers – point out the words as you read to incorporate some print awareness. Since a lot of the story is told through the illustrations, take your time as you read and ask questions like, “where is goose going?” or “what happened to the truck?” If you have a small enough group it’s fun to play the classic game when you’re done reading.

maple-leafUp!: How Families Around the World Carry Their Little Ones by Susan Hughes; illustrated by Ashley Barron
A good one for babytime, especially if you have a smaller crowd as the book itself is on the smaller side. The phrase “upsy daisy” is on every page and you can have caregivers lift babies as you read. I loved how it showed people outside of the parents (aunties and uncles, yay!) who care for children.  A truly diverse look at something every baby experiences.
We are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner; illustrated by Ben Clanton
I have been excited about this book since I found out it was being published. I love Berkner’s songs for storytime and this is one of her top tracks put into picture book form. If you know the song, you can sing the book. The side conversations the dinosaurs have can be skipped if you have a restless group or hammed up if you’ve got preschoolers. Lovely bright, big pages are an added bonus.
We Love You, Rosie! by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Linda Davick
I love Davick’s Say Hello for storytime and am happy to see her partner up with Rylant for this storytime gem. Explore opposites with the help of an adorable pup. The repetitive phrases and bright, bold illustrations make it an A+ choice for toddler storytimes.
maple-leafWet by Carey Sookocheff
There are so many moments in this book that kids will relate to. The length makes it good for toddlers, but preschoolers will have the most fun talking about the situations as you read. Explores the concept of being wet – the good and the bad. The last page features  wet kisses from a dog and cat which sealed the deal for me.
Where is Bear? by Jonathan Bentley
Nice big pages make this an excellent choice for large storytime groups. A little boy searches for his bear while the audience sees glimpses of the furry animal on each spread. A surprise ending adds a nice twist. The amount of text makes it passable for toddler storytime, but preschoolers will have the most fun pointing out the bear one each page.
Whose Poop is That? by Darrin Lunde, illustrated by Kelsey Oseid
I really need to do a better job at incorporating non-fiction into storytime. This one was a total hit with preschoolers, not surprisingly. Not only do they get to guess about poop they also get to learn about different animals. Don’t worry about reading every single fact if the group is squirmy. Caregivers can check out the book and spend hours on the details. Poop books never stop being popular.
maple-leafWild One by Jane Whittingham; illustrated by Noel Tuazon
So fun fact – Jane and I are children’s librarians in the same library system! Jane wrote the perfect storytime book with this metaphorical journey through a child’s day. A little girl’s actions are compared to different animals and you could totally act them out while you read. The short text makes it a great choice for toddler storytime or a restless group of preschoolers. Bonus: I can tell families about the local connection!
maple-leafYou Hold Me Up by Monique Gray Smith; illustrated by Danielle Daniel
I’d read this one for any age but it’s got just the right amount of text for babytime and toddler storytime. This book is needed in the world and can help foster discussions around supporting each other and fostering empathy. Smith and Daniel are Indigenous women who have brought us the perfect storytime book that portrays First Nations people in the present day.  After reading you can ask kids how we can hold each other up.