2019 Picture Books: School Stories

School here in Vancouver runs until the end of June, but I know many of you are on the cusp of Summer Reading time. In celebration of another school year past and to give you time to get your orders in for the next school year, I’m sharing 2019 picture books about school today.

When Sophie was about to start kindergarten I checked out every single book about starting school my library holds. I particularly sought out books featuring anxiety about starting school. I am so glad to see more and more books about the school experience hitting the shelves. Here’s what’s coming this year.

See the other posts in my 2019 Picture Books series:

A burst of confidence from an award winning duo.
No words needed amirite?
Guys, Lola is growing up.
I loved the first book in this series so this is a must-get.
The llama in the rainbow sweater…mic drop.
That’s one way to get out of it.
You wouldn’t know it from the cover but this one is about the first day of school.
Can’t wait for this to circ a million times in one month.
Looks like a gentle and fun introduction to school.
This author always makes me laugh.
Attention all helicopter parents.
I think it’s supposed to look like it’s coloured by a child.
Learn how kids return to school around the world.
And they look so happy to do it!
Field trips are a big part of school for most kids and this one is out of this world.
This might be more like what the kids will experience 🙂
Hannah starts grade 1 and runs into a few problems.
Getting over first day jitters takes some positive thinking.
Oh, I love the literal interpretation here.
Part of the Nugget and Fang series.
What would your dream school look like?

Which ones are you excited to read? Let me know in the comments!

Link Extravaganza! Spring 2019

I haven’t done a link round-up in awhile! Here are some cool things I’ve seen on the interwebs lately. 

Professional Development

The Colorado State Library is offering a free 4-part series on services for kids in grades K – 3. The first two have aired already and can be viewed online. Mark your calendars for part 3 and 4!

Claudia at Never Shushed shared three new professional development books I can’t wait to read. Might add them to my professional development booklist

Scholastic released their Kids & Family Reading Report and Thrive by Three wrote a great post examining the “Decline by Nine.” 

Books and More

100 Scope Notes shared The 2019 Unicorn Report which compliments my 2019 Picture Books post about mythical and magical creatures

I am in love with raucous read-alouds by Jean Little Library and will definitely be consulting for my upcoming school visits.

The ALSC 2019 Summer Reading Lists are here! I scope these out every year to help me choose books to take on my summer reading visits.

Rain City Librarian shared an excellent list of board book must-haves that can be used as a reader’s advisory tool or baby book collection starter kit. 


I started a conversation about repetition in storytime and was delighted to see Get Curious, Get Creative @ Your Library share how she incorporates repetition in her storytime for 2s and 3s

If you’re scared to use a parachute with toddlers, then definitely give Library Laura’s Parachute Play program a read through.

I love Karissa and reading her How I Levelled Up My Toddler Storytime post made me love her even more. So many great tips!

A thoughtful post about the environmental impact of kids’ crafts by Inventors of Tomorrow. How do you try to minimize your environmental impact in terms of programming for kids?

Storytime Katie has me itching to use a stretchy band in storytime now. Thanks, Katie!

See anything cool on the internet these past few months? Let me know in the comments!

2019 Picture Books: Dinosaurs

We are the dinosaurs, marching, marching. We are the dinosaurs….

I love dinosaurs because they combine science and animals. Kids love them too. Here’s a selection of 2019 picture books about dinosaurs to fill your shelves!

See the other books in my 2019 Picture Book series:

Putting this on my storytime watch list.
The small arm joke never gets old.
Dinosaurs + Vehicles = Never On Your Shelf
This one is full of onomatopoeic text.
Nonfiction title that shows how dinosaurs evolved into birds.
Dinosaurs as pets!
They wrote The Bad Seed and The Good Egg so I’m definitely checking this one out.
Another pet version with silly antics.
Newest addition to the “How to Catch” series.
This one is actually a board book but it looks too cute not to include.
Jenkins coming at your with the FACTS.
This one isn’t really about dinosaurs, but the kids do see them in the museum.
To inspire future paleontologists.
Anyone working with toddlers knows the power of this word!
You can find this one on my Women Biographies list too!
You can find this one on my Things That Go list too.
Time travel and dinosaurs give us a funny romp through time.
If you’re wondering if the presents came out of its butt…..me too.

Which dinosaur books are you looking forward to sharing this year? I’d love to know in the comments!

DIY Harry Potter Wands

We are in full Harry Potter mode in my household these days. Sophie is reading the first book and officially *obsessed.* Which of course makes my little children’s librarian heart happy.

For her 8th birthday party we did a Harry Potter theme, and we decided to make wands as gifts for each attendee. I don’t think this craft project translates well to a library program because of the use of hot glue and spray paint, but if you wanted to make them ahead of time or simply for fun then this tutorial is for you!

I became emotionally attached to these wands.

What You Need

I live in Vancouver and order take-out sushi a lot, so I had a collection of wooden chopsticks that were perfect for this craft. I picked up the spray paint at my local Michael’s. I chose it because it does all three jobs in one and dries very quickly. I got the colour Root Beer.

Step-By-Step Guide

Begin by sanding down the chopsticks so kids don’t get splinters. Make sure to get the top edge – I rounded it off a bit to be safe. If you buy a pack of chopsticks online that are already smooth you can skip this step.

Once your chopsticks are splinter free, heat up your hot glue gun and get ready to create some wand patterns. There is no right way to do this – I did zigzags, knobs, stripes, swirls, etc. I tried to make each wand unique. Do not worry about imperfections – it will all be covered by spray paint! Sophie tried her hand at wand-making too, but it requires a lot of hand-eye coordination. Be forewarned , this does use a lot of glue. I think I used about one glue stick per wand.

This is how they look with the hot glue on them.

The next step is to spray paint them. The kind I used is a paint, primer, and sealer all in one so I didn’t have to do multiple different coats. I put down a piece of cardboard to catch the mist. The more you spray the darker the coat, so you can do different variations of brown. I let these dry for about an hour just to be safe.

Once the wands are dry you can decorate! I bought a pack of gold, metallic, silver, and black sharpies at Michael’s and used them to add accent colours. Sophie and Jon enjoyed helping me make each wand special.

And that’s it! Once the sharpies dry they are good to go. At the birthday party I played Mr. Ollivander and had each kid come to my wand shop where their wand chose them. At the end of the party we used the wands to practice the spells from this spell book I printed for each child. Honestly I’m not sure who had more fun – me or the kids!

Wands ready for their wizards!

If you are looking for even more book character party ideas, don’t miss the round-up I continually update. So many great ideas to celebrate the stories in our lives.

2019 Picture Books: Grandparents

Intergenerational bonds are something special. Sometimes I have moments where I forget that all of my grandparents have died, and I’m struck with an intense sadness when that moment passes. Here are some books coming out in 2019 to help us treasure the time we have with our grandmas and grandpas.

See the other posts in my 2019 Picture Book series:

G-L-A-M-O-R-OUS (thank you, Fergie.)
Passing down stories is truly a great gift.
A fairy tale retelling featuring the three little pigs and Grandma.
Yes, THAT Paul McCartney.
Love those suspenders, Grandpa!
A much needed story – can’t wait to read this one.
A little boy comes up with a game to get his grieving grandpa to talk and it works.
An intergenerational tale of bridging cultures.
I can’t with this cover. It’s just too cute.
A take on the classic cumulative tale.
A little girl turns to her grandpa to help her answer a question she keeps getting asked.
A girl learns about her grandpa who was a farmer in West Africa.
You make lemonade?
This little girl has a whole lot of questions and grandma is there to talk.
Abuelo’s memory starts to go, but luckily he’s got a grandson to help him find his way.
Another one about memory loss.
A boy tries to recreate the best day ever.
This one looks sad.
is that they are awesome!
I bet this will be a fun one to read aloud.
Lots of love for grandpas this year.
A true story of a girl and her grandmother in Iran.

Which ones do you think will fly off your library shelves? Let me know in the comments!

The Library Services for Children Journal Club Wins an Award!

In November 2017 my colleague Christie Menzo and I launched a new project designed to get library staff serving children to read and discuss emerging research related to our field of practice. It’s called the Library Services for Children Journal Club. I’ve written recaps of each of our meetings here on Jbrary as a way to spread awareness of the club and to encourage others to join the discussion.

At the 2019 British Columbia Library Association conference held this past weekend Christie and I were given the Young Adult and Children Services Award for the creation of the LSC Journal Club which shows exceptional service in the area of children’s or teen librarianship in British Columbia. What an honour!

We were able to give a short acceptance speech and I thought I’d share it here too. I was so nervous accepting the award that I didn’t say everything I intended, but I hope the message rang true. I wrote the first paragraph and Christie wrote the second.

Thank you to the British Columbia Library Association and the Young Adult and Children’s Services division for this award. When you envision a children’s librarian you probably think of things like singing The Wheels on the Bus with a group of rambunctious toddlers or making rocket ships out of cardboard and glitter or getting a group of 100 people to shake their sillies out. Which is true! Doing those things is why I love my job so much. But we started the Library Services for Children Journal Club because we also see ourselves as researchers and analyzers of current research in any field related to child development and youth services. The “what” we do is important – those early memories of the library as a fun and welcoming space create future users many of you see later in life – but the “why” behind what we do is perhaps even more important. We want to push our field to think about those reasons critically.

We created Library Services for Children Journal Club so that we could have more space to discuss the “whys” behind the important work Children’s staff do. Lindsey and I believe that opportunities for professional development conversations and critical thinking in the field needed to be ongoing, regularized, and open to all levels of staff. Conferences like this are great AND we need to build on these conversations throughout the year so that we remain vibrant, research-informed organizations. We encourage all of you to consider beginning your own journal clubs in your own communities. Lindsey and I are happy to help you get started and you can check out our website: lscjournalclub.org for more information on how to get started or join our Vancouver group. Thank you again for this fabulous award. Happy learning.

If you’ve never heard of the LSC Journal Club before and are interested in getting involved please let me know! We encourage local groups to form and you can see if there is one in your area already.

As children’s librarians we don’t always get the recognition we deserve, but dang it feels good when we do.

2019 Picture Books: Reading and Writing

I mean, OF COURSE I was going to make a thematic list about literacy! I think these books would make great CLEL Bell award nominations too. Check out these 2019 picture books about reading and writing.

See the other books in my 2019 Picture Book series:

Pizzoli’s books are always fun and great for storytime.
A poetic journey through my favourite activity.
Nothing like a little peer pressure.
Another one in this fun series.
A young girl writes a story for her cat’s alter ego, Tiger.
A biography of Carter G. Woodson
Cabrera alert! Cabrera alert!
A grade 2 girl learns how to spell and write her name.
Fooled me!
I live for these STEM fairy tale retellings. Also, HER CORNROWS.
Time to get educated, Wolf.
She’s a poet and the bully is named Big Brad Wolf. Enough said.
Look at those baby owls!
A boy writes a series of letters to the president about building a wall between him and his brother.
This one gets meta. Also belongs on my Feelings and Emotions list.
Reading really does feel like magic to a kid who doesn’t know how to read yet.
3 books in one!
I wonder if that’s one of the infamous NYC library lions.
This is just to say…I am actually interested in how this book.
A Japanese import about the wonder of a bookstore.
I think it’s about time for a Book Superhero.
Graphic novel style with a Reading Superhero!
I’ll buy anything Lucy Ruth Cummins illustrates.
Every child deserves a book to call their own.
Those posters have piqued my interest.
I have complicated feelings about Little Free Libraries. Ask me about it.
For future authors everywhere!
So many picture books misrepresent libraries. I hope this one gets it right!
Crayons have been the first writing utensil of many little ones.
Peanuts still going strong at my library.
This book may be more about worms than drawing, but drawing is great finger muscle practice.
Get to know the story behind the writing utensil.
Perfect for those of us overcoming perfectionism.
Pencil has to compete for a boy’s attention with things like video games and movies.
Books with mustaches!
Everyone has one!

Which ones are you looking forward to reading this year? Let me know in the comments!

Professional Development Books: Child Development

Welcome to Part 3 of my Professional Development Books series. Part 1 showcases books about language and literacy, while Part 2 features my go-to program planning resources.

This post is all about child development, child psychology, and brain development. In truth, I have not read all of these in full – this list is partly for my own reading inspiration. My goal is to read one a month. Anyone with me?

The Danish Way of Parenting: What the Happiest People in the World Know About Raising Confident, Capable Kids (2014) by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl
I am a little biased about this one because firstly, if my last name didn’t give it away, my family is Danish, and secondly, this is how I raise the little one in my life. The authors spend a chapter each on the 6 elements of PARENT: Play, Authenticity, Reframing, Empathy, No Ultimatums, and Togetherness. Written in accessible language, this is a great book to read for yourself or to recommend to other caregivers.

The Design of Childhood: How the Material World Shapes Independent Kids by Alexandra Lange
A design critic steps into the world of children by investigating how toys, homes, schools, playgrounds, and cities affect children’s health, values, and behaviours. Though not directly related to library service, this is a fascinating look at the other things in the world that heavily influence child development.

Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn – and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less (2003) by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff
These two authors are also on my Literacy and Language list. In this book they push against the accelerated learning trend and make the case for play (which we know is so important!). I haven’t read it yet, but they’ve got a 2017 book out called Becoming Brilliant that I also want to check out.

The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the New Science of Child Development Tells Us About the Relationship Between Parents and Children (2016) by Alison Gopnik
I recommend all of Gopnik’s books. This is her most recent one which centers on the myth of “good parenting.” She argues that prescriptive parenting has made life worse for adults and kids, and offers advice on how to create a safe and stable environment for children which fosters exploration and experimentation. I also put it on my Language and Literacy list.

The Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs (2010) by Ellen Galinsky
Committed to providing a research-based parenting advice book, Galinsky lays out 7 critical areas where science can inform our interactions with small children. Filled with lots of suggestions that caregivers can use (or not). Highly recommend for anyone wanting to learn more about executive function.

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children (2009) by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman
I’ve written about my love of this book before, and it’s no wonder it’s a bestseller. Each chapter covers a different topic – praising children, sleep, race, lying, self-control, teen rebellion, and more. A quick, fun read that will get you thinking in new ways.

Nurturing Personal, Social and Emotional Development in Early Childhood: A Practical Guide to Understanding Brain Development and Young Children’s Behaviour (2018) by Debbie Garvey
Case studies and examples fill this guide which aims to inform early childhood educators about brain development and encourages them to reflect on their own practice. Some topics such as reward systems and food eating aren’t as applicable to a library setting as a home or childcare, but there’s lots of recent research to explore here.

The Orchid and the Dandelion: Why Some Children Struggle and How All Can Thrive (2019) by W. Thomas Boyce
I first learned about this book through an interview with the author on NPR. Using the metaphor of the two flowers, Boyce examines what makes some children able to cope with stress, while others are more sensitive and reactive. An interesting look at how we can support kids who need it most.

The Philosophical Baby: What Children’s Minds Tell Us About Truth, Love, and the Meaning of Life (2010) by Alison Gopnik
As I said, I recommend everything written by Gopnik. This one is especially relevant for those of us serving babies. Learn about memory, attachment, language acquisition, and how babies view the world.

Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps – And What We Can Do About It (2009) by Lise Eliot
A neuroscientist takes on assumptions and stereotypes about gender that start from birth. I like how she explains how small differences become amplified over time with parental reinforcement, but also how she looks at the role of genes and hormones to see what differences actually exist. Differences among us are presented as emerging, malleable characteristics rather than fixed biological traits.

The Power of Play: How Spontaneous, Imaginative Activities Lead to Happier, Healthier Children (2007) by David Elkind
Another push towards play as a method of learning versus the regimented educational curriculum popular in the 1990s. Elkind explores how play can help with reading, science, and math. An easy read with lots of great examples.

The Psychology of Babies: How Relationships Support Development From Birth to Two (2014) by Lynne Murray
Written by a professor of developmental psychology, I highly recommend this book to anyone doing babytime. Learn how a baby’s brain grows and changes in the first two years and how relationships can aid that development. I love the photograph sequences that illustrate main concepts so you see it in action.

The Scientist in the Crib: What Early Learning Tells Us About the Mind (2000) by Alison Gopnik, Andrew N. Meltzoff, and Patricia K. Kuhl
Revolutionary when it was published this book argues that “evolution designed us to both teach and learn.” Although the research they cite can’t be counted as groundbreaking anymore, they do a great job of using cognitive science to explain children’s brains and language development.

Screen Time: How Electronic Media – From Baby Videos to Educational Software – Affects Your Young Child (2007) by Lisa Guernsey
Despite being published in 2007, this book offers a great framework for choosing digital media that I still use today – Content, Context, and Your Child. Guernsey provides a critical look at technology for little ones but doesn’t give into the fear mongering common in the media.

The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults (2015) by Frances E. Jensen
Changes the question about teens from “What were they thinking?” to “How were they thinking?” The first four chapters provide the inside (brain) scoop on what’s happening as teens develop and were the most interesting to me. The next 12 chapters dive into specific topics such as drug and alcohol use, sleep, taking risks, mental illness, and stress. Highly recommend for those us serving teens and trying to understand them better.

The Toddler Brain: Nurture the Skills Today that Will Shape Your Child’s Tomorrow (2017) by Laura A. Jana
The premise of this book is based on the premise that the Information Age requires much different thinking abilities than the Industrial Age (which we still see in the structure of our schools). The author argues that the first five years are a prime time to develop what she calls QI Skills and she spends a chapter each describing how we can foster emotional intelligence and qualities such as curiosity, creativity, and empathy.

Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College (2011) by Sandra Aamodt and Sam Wang
This one contains the most science-y language and the most breadth covering from birth to teenage years. The neuroscientist authors lay out neural development, the importance of play, and how children’s brains adapt to school and other challenging environments.

The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind (2011) by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Written by a psychotherapist and a clinical professor of psychiatry, this popular book explains how a child’s developing brain affects emotions and behaviour. Written for caregivers, this book gives concrete strategies for dealing with common parental frustrations that are tied to brain development. Includes a chart showing the 12 strategies applied to different ages and stages.

Do you have a book about child development that has impacted the way you think or serve children in libraries? I would love to know about it!