2019 Picture Books: Technology, Computers, and Robots

I wanted to create a technology booklist as many libraries create STEM booklists for kids. Definitely check out my Outer Space list for even more books about science. I tried not to duplicate titles here. This list has a good mix of fiction and nonfiction.

Don’t miss the other lists in this series:

Brown’s other titles crack me up.
A new series described as ” The Magic School Bus meets The Way Things Work”
Yes, start with potty humour. Always a good bet.
Inventions! Failures! Maker girls!
I could totally see this book being a jumping off point for a STEM program.
So, like, WHATEVER HAPPENED TO IT?!
A child’s robot gets carried away.
Also on my Women Biographies list but I couldn’t not include it here.
At least she’s wearing safety goggles.
This looks straight out of a Disney movie.
From 90210 to picture book author. It really does happen.
Looking a bit precarious there!
Buff up your biography section.

Do you provide STEM reader’s advisory at your library? Will any of these titles make it onto your lists? Let me know in the comments!

New Videos: I Like Tacos! and The Subway Song

Howdy, friends. Popping in this week to make sure you saw the last two videos I uploaded on our YouTube channel. If you haven’t done so already, feel free to subscribe to our channel and click the bell notification to get an email every time I upload a video (never more than once a week, I promise!).

The first video is one of my new favourites for any age! Have a listen to “I Like Tacos!”

Here’s what I love about this song:

  • You can change the food to any food. Try incorporating foods from different cultures to increase your everyday diversity in storytime.
  • You can use it with any age. With babies I have the caregivers point to the baby’s body part. With toddlers and preschoolers I have them pat their legs with me.
  • You can change the first line to an adjective + noun. For example, “Red tomatoes, I like red tomatoes.”

Kat from the Brampton Public Library in Ontario for sent us this public transportation version of The Elevator Song. We have one of the best public transportation systems in the world in Vancouver IMO, and families use it often so I am loving this way to highlight it.

So fun! Practice hopping forwards and backwards for an extra workout.

Got any new songs you are loving at the moment? Hit me up in the comments.

2019 Picture Books: Parents

First I did a list about babies. Then I did a list about grandparents. Then there were still so many titles about parents that I decided to add to the family. Check out these 2019 titles featuring moms and dads.

Don’t miss the other lists in this series:

I love stories with nontraditional parent roles.
Moms really do make everything better.
Who among us with children does not have a picture on their phone exactly like this?
Light’s books are usually great for toddlers.
Mini me.
Mama Bear throws the to-do list out the window.
Companion to Just Like Mommy above.
This one looks really sweet.
A celebration of fatherhood.
He’s about to get his beard brushed, isn’t he?
A celebration of family rituals.
Also on my Things That Go list.
I can’t stop looking at his mustache.
PUGS 4 LIFE
This frog is no bigger than a human fingernail in case you were wondering.
It happens.
The dog doesn’t look convinced.
A celebration of all the things parents hope for their children.
A story of adoption.

Which ones will you be getting for your libraries? I’d love to know in the comments!

Dog Man Afternoon!

Dog Man. Is it every on your shelves for more than 5 seconds? Let’s capitalize on the popularity! After reading this fabulous guest post make sure to check out Kim’s excellent guide on how to Host a Supa Awesome Dog Man Party.

Today’s guest post is brought to you by Thomas Shalin, the Youth Services Coordinator at the Bartow County Public Library System in Cartersville, Georgia. I met Thomas on Instagram and convinved him to write about his supa awesome Dog Man Party because I’m hosting one in September and am looking for new ideas. Check out all the cool things they did!

We ended our summer school-age programs with a super afternoon, dedicated to everyone’s favorite canine, or part canine crime-fighter, Dog Man! 

When doing programs for primarily elementary aged-kids, I’m a big fan of including Reader’s Theater or some sort of play or drama activity into the program.  Kids love being a part of the story and Reader’s Theatre is excellent for sharpening their literacy skills!  For this program, we ended up reading and acting out almost the entire first Dog Man book.  I began by projecting and telling the origin story up on the screen by scrolling through the comic panels. Then, we told the tale of the Dog Man vs. the giant vacuum cleaner and the Weenie Revolution, complete with headband hats.  I put together scripts for the two chapters and gave Dog Man a few things to say since his emotion is only visually covered in the comic panels.  We had some super readers!  We always have super readers.  However,  the ringleader of the hot dogs really takes some panache, and our reader of that part for the day really helped make the story.  The kids had a blast and the crowd added the perfect sound effects.   I don’t have any pictures of us acting out the story because I was the narrator.   Here’s a picture of some of the hats and props from our storytime production!

We had four different craft/activity stations:

  • A Dog Man Hat/Ears Headband – Just like the one the kids who were in the play wore
  • A Petey puppet – His arms and legs were attached with brads and swung, danced, back and forth when you moved hi back and forth.
  • A flip-o-rama section, with pages from Dav Pilkey’s website
  • A K-9 Sniff Test Game with 6 different scents.  Since Dog Man is a police officer, we wanted to test something that every Police dog uses, their sense of smell!
Headband Station
Petey Puppets
Flip-O-Rama Station
K-9 Sniff Game

There are a couple of ways you could do this. One, if you had someone watching the station, you could blindfold each child and have them sniff and guess.  Since we had drop-in stations, we punched holes in the top of each jar/container.  We used cinnamon, ground coffee, parmesan cheese, salt and vinegar chips and lemon slices.  We didn’t want to make it too hard and also wanted to put things in there that they might already be familiar with. The majority of the kids got all of them right, although the chips were kind of a curveball.  They could smell the vinegar, but the potato chip part wasn’t as obvious.

We gave away three Dog Man books as door prizes as well to three different kids.

We had about 40 kids at the program.   It was our last storytime of the summer.  We could have handled more, but 40 was a perfect amount!

Thomas Shalin is the Youth Services Coordinator at the Bartow County Public Library System in Cartersville, Georgia.  He loves his job and doing fun programs at the library and doing school visits.  He loves picture books most of all.  Here he is meeting one of his literary heroes, Dog Man.  If you have any questions about this program or about anything else you’d like to ask or talk about, he can be reached at thomas@bartowlibrary.org

2019 Picture Books: Food

This topic was suggested by one of my Instagram followers and I’m so glad they sent it in! There are a wealth of books coming out this year about food, and it’s great to see a growing diversity of cultural representation. Food is such a key component of culture. A simple way to diversify your storytimes is by thinking critically about the types of food you read and sing about. Hopefully these new books can help!

Don’t miss the other lists in this series:

Lentils, yum!
I’ve heard so much good press about this one! That baby is freaking adorable.
This will never be on the shelf in Vancouver.
Loves Cereal!!
Poor buddy doesn’t know how birthday parties end…
Is that a child as a sushi roll? Because I love it.
Border is back with more food come-to-life.
A case of mistaken identity!
Every college student’s go-to meal.
I’m on the oatmeal train.
I know you wouldn’t necessarily eat these ones, but LOOK AT THOSE GLASSES.
This gives me weird Groot vibes.
See my Mythical and Magical Creatures booklist for more dragons!
Looks like it’s the cat’s turn to tell us a tale.
Dude, waitress’s have a really hard job.
Also on my Grandparents list.
A few of you have left comments saying this one is fabulous.
Boom Chicka POP.
They just look so happy!
Very funny.
I love these books because it lets kids get to know authors better.
I know this book isn’t really about food, but I’ve been so excited for the next one by this duo.
Also on my Things That Go list
I’m guessing this one shies away from some of the harsher realities of where our food comes from.
We can all relate. See also.
Bear is back with some tasty recipes to share!

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

The Videos Are Back, Baby

It took me over 9 months, but I have finally uploaded a new YouTube video!

Last fall I got a new laptop with new-to-me video editing software. And it took me those 9 long months to sit myself down, watch some tutorials, and actually learn how to use the software. But I finally did it! And now I have 6 videos to share over the course of the next month and a half.

These videos were filmed last summer so it’s been exactly a year since recording. Sophie asked if she could join us this round, so we let her accompany us. She looks so small to me already!

The first video is a short and sweet lap bounce. I thought I’d share some of my recent favourite lap bounces for babytime along with this new one. Anyone have any lap bounces they are loving right now? Please let me know in the comments! Here are my current faves:

In storytime I encourage caregivers to insert their baby’s name. Babies love hearing their names and pay close attention to the word that follows it.
I do these two back-to-back with my Folkmanis horse puppet on my lap. They work really well with older babies and toddlers.
In my babytimes we added a “Wheee!” after we count to three and lift the babies in the air. We also do a tickling verse.
I do a very exaggerated stopping pause during this one and talk to caregivers about how to make important life skills like stopping and going fun to learn through songs.
Can’t get enough of the Cool Cat song! Before we sing this one I get three baby volunteers and write their names on my whiteboard. Then we sing a verse with each name. This is a great way to get to know your storytime families and for them to get to know each other.

Want to see even more lap bounces? Check out my Favourite Lap Bounces for Babytime or our Lap Bounces playlist on YouTube. And make sure you’re subscribed to our YouTube channel to see future uploads!

2019 Picture Books: The ABCs

A short and sweet list this week. I get asked for ABC books all the time so I was happy to find some 2019 to fit the bill. Did I miss any? Let me know in the comments!

Check out the other posts in the series:

I like quirky. I like -icious things.
This author duo is back with another great title.
Hipster Vibes.
This reminds me of those name art pieces street artists would create.
Donaldson back in the house.
Reading really does seem like magic to preschoolers.
Text me about it.
Classic author, classic topic.
Also on my Books Featuring Babies list!
Thank you, Larissa, in the comments for pointing our this non-animal alphabet book!
Set in Nigeria, I learned about this one from Waking Brain Cells.

Which ones are you looking forward to sharing with families? Let me know in the comments!

New to Storytime: Planning a Storytime

Welcome new storytime leaders! This is the final post in my New to Storytime series. If you’ve just landed a job that involves doing a storytime or circle time for small children then you’ve come to the right spot. Here are the other posts in the series:

You’ve got your books. You’ve picked the songs you want to sing. You’ve considered how to incorporate visual aids like felt stories and puppets. Now how do you put it all together?

I wish there was one easy answer!The first thing to know about planning a storytime is that everyone does it differently. There is no one “right” way to plan a storytime. If you want a more in-depth look at storytime planning, make sure to check out the books on my Professional Development Books: Program Planning list. Because this post is aimed at beginners, I’m going to provide different methods of planning a storytime that cater to different styles. Find what works for you!

Theme or No Theme

Many people plan a storytime based around a theme. The theme could be an animal, an activity, a time of year, an action – you get the idea. There is an abundance of themed storytime ideas online. Storytime Katie, Sunflower Storytime, and Abby the Librarian are good starting points if you want to browse themes and get inspiration.

Rather than start with the theme, some people start with a good book and then plan the theme around that. This method ensures you aren’t sacrificing the quality of read alouds to fit a specific topic. Saroj Ghoting shares her process on how she builds a theme from a pile of books, and The Stories Guy writes about how he plans family storytime starting with a diverse book.

I’ve written about something I do which is called Storytime Flow. Rather than start with a theme, I focus on choosing good books and building connections between the different elements of my storytime. We might cover multiple themes in one storytime. The focus is on connecting with the kids and helping them see connections across topics. Jessica at Storytime in the Stacks follows a similar process and shares amazing storytime outlines.

Structured vs. Unstructured

Unstructured is kind of a misnomer, but here are two different ways to plan a storytime. The first kind is where you list everything you are going to do in the order you are going to do it. That’s the structured kind. The second kind is more unstructured in that you plan for different elements of a storytime but you don’t go into the storytime with an exact order of execution. Here is an example of a “Wild Things” storytime planned both ways.

This is the structured version.
This is the unstructured version.

Even in the unstructured version there are some things I do decide beforehand because they have to do with repetition. For example, I know how the first 5 -10 minutes will look because it will include the welcome message, opening songs, and first book. From there I choose things based on the mood and energy of the group, the responses from the kids, and any interesting connections I can make. When you are just starting out as a storytime leader this may feel overwhelming and it’s why I include the structured outline as a perfectly fine option. I’ve written a lot about planning storytimes and recommend these posts for a deeper dive:

Having a set structure to your storytime can make your storytime more inclusive, especially if you provide a visual schedule which shows kids what will come next. In my experience this works best with small groups. Larger groups demand more flexibility as your crowd can quickly start to feel out of control if 30 toddlers can’t sit through one more book. Even with the structured outline though you will likely find yourself making adjustments throughout the storytime based on your group.

See how other people plan storytimes for a variety of age groups:

Planning a Full Session

Most storytimes run for a set of weeks if not the entire year. This means you’ll also want to think about how to plan a full session. Again, there is no one right way to do this. Even my own method changes constantly. I’ve written about how to repeat stories over the course of a 9-week session. Here are some other key concepts to keep in mind when looking at the big picture:

Diversity and Inclusion

Do the books you read and songs you sing in storytime feature everyday diversity? Think broadly about the types of diversity your material reflects – racial, cultural, linguistic, socio-economic, sexuality, neurodiversity, etc. Can you find books that reflect your community specifically and encourage them to share their home language in storytime? Can you include songs in languages other than English? Can we feature stories that are told in different narrative structures?

It can be helpful to keep track of the books and songs you sing over the course of a storytime session as a way to track your own inclusive practices.

Repetition

Repetition is essential for early learning. I’ve written two posts on the importance of repetition. The first post covers what happens in the brain and the second post gives examples of how I repeat stories, songs, and information week-to-week. Think about how much will be repeated each week and how this can help new families and ESL families in particular.

Early Literacy Messages

Conveying information about early literacy to caregivers in storytime is one of the reasons storytime is so important. This does not have to be done in a super formal, preachy way. I have written about how I incorporate early literacy messages into storytime in simple and personal ways. Also check out the blog round-up I hosted to see how many other children’s librarians do it. If you are new to the world of early literacy, I have some great book recommendations to get you started.

Interactivity

I learned more about this concept in the Supercharged Storytimes online module where one of the learning goals is to “increase interactivity with children during story times, observing children’s behaviors, and engage parents/caregivers to reinforce these behaviors at home and in other environments.” Over the years I’ve found that the relationship-building aspect of storytime is huge. It’s what keeps them coming back. So now I think more critically about how to choose storytime activities that allow me to interact with kids, allow kids to interact with caregivers, and allow kids to interact with other kids.

Further Learning

There are some amazing courses and webinars out there that can support you as a storytime leader. Here are the ones I recommend:

The WebJunction Course Catalog has many other webinars and courses related to storytimes. I also recommend the free webinars offered through InfoPeople on a variety of library topics. Early Childhood Investigations has a collection of free webinars for early childhood educators. Lastly, if you are a member of ALSC you can access their eLearning content for free, while non-members pay a small fee.

How do you plan your storytimes? What tips and advice do you have for new storytime leaders? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.