The series continues! Bedtime stories beat Bodily Functions by 1%. ONE PERCENT. Follow me on Instagram to vote in my weekly polls if you want to have a say in what comes next.
If you do a pyjama storytime or an evening storytime, these books will be perfect. Some will make great read alouds, while others will make a perfect display. I encourage families to try and make reading a part of their daily routine. Bedtime is a great place to start! Here are some books to add to your nightstand about bedtime, sleeping, and the night.
Here are the other posts in my 2019 Picture Book series:
I’ve been meeting so many new people on Instagram lately. Annamarie Carlson is one of them! When I saw her post about a robot obstacle course, I knew it was something to blog about. So today, Annamarie has written all about how she runs her robot obstacle course for kids ages 8 – 12. Take it away, Annamarie!
At my library, combining technology and kids always results in a program win. Since receiving a state LSTA grant in 2017, I’ve run monthly introductory technology programs for ages 8-12 using Dash and Dot robots, SPRK+ robots, 3Doodlers, green screens, Bloxels, Google Cardboard, Makey Makeys, and more. These programs provide school-age kids with an opportunity to learn about something new, delve into their creative interests, and have some hands-on time with technology they may not otherwise be able to access. One of my favorite programs in my technology series is Robot Obstacle Courses, which engages attendees in technology and engineering concepts.
This program can be adapted to work with whatever robots your library has available. I used four Dash robots (by Wonder Workshop) and four SPRK+ robots (by Sphero) because those are the robots my library owns. Any robot that has a free drive or simple coding feature would work well for this program.
Space (the more room kids have to build in, the more elaborate obstacle courses can become)
Robots (enough to allow for groups no larger than 2-3 people)
Obstacle Course Building Supplies
How It Worked
At Robot Obstacle Courses, 16 kids were divided into groups of 2-3, assigned a taped off area of the room, and given just 10 minutes to create any kind of obstacle course with just the materials available in their space. Each group had access to the robot that would be navigating their course, but obstacle course creators could not test out their own course during their 10-minute building time.
After 10 minutes, it was hands-off the obstacle course materials. Each group of students moved to a new station and tested a different group’s course. I distributed iPads with the appropriate robot app to each group, and they had 10 minutes to test this new course and make tweaks (or massive repairs) as needed. By having the kids test out and improve another group’s course, the attitude in the room was much more teamwork-focused than competitive.
Groups rotated through each created obstacle course, receiving shorter adjustment and testing times as they went. About 20 minutes later, kids returned to their original group and were able to see what their original course had become and how well it had worked.
Since I was using two different robots (Dash and SPRK+), groups then demolished their original obstacle course before swapping halves of the room to try again with the other robot.
This program focused on engineering and teamwork skills over coding skills. Due to the limited time frame and that I used two different robots to accommodate more participants, most groups free drove the robots through the obstacle courses instead of coding the robots to complete each course. I explained some of the basics of block-based coding during the program for my more experienced program participants, but by not requiring coding knowledge, I was able to accommodate many new participants to this program who had not used a robot before.
Kids left the program talking about angles, speed, and support structures, plus ideas for how they could combine multiple courses into one giant course at a future event. While dragging all the obstacle course supplies back to our storage area wasn’t my favorite activity, this program was a ton of fun and well-loved by our program attendees.
About Annamarie Carlson
Annamarie Carlson is a Youth Librarian at Westerville Public Library in Westerville, Ohio. She focuses on technology programs for ages 8-12, literacy and play programs for ages 0-2, and large-scale events such as the Wizards & Wands Festival that brought 2300 visitors to her library. If you’re interested in learning more about this program, please reach out at email@example.com. Annamarie can also be found on Instagram at 2annamarie.carlson or via her website at www.annamariecarlson.com.
Have you ever done a robot obstacle course at your library? Any questions for Annamarie about this program? Leave a comment below!
Did you see the recent blog post on ALSC by the two ladies behind The Cardigan calling for more free professional development for children’s librarians? Hear, hear. One of the ways I try to get in my professional development is to read books relating to serving children and working in libraries.
Today I’m sharing the first of a series of blog posts on professional development books. This week is all about literacy and language – how do we learn to talk, how can we support emergent literacy, what does the newest brain research tell us? These books seek to answer these questions. Other posts in this series will include books about programming support and child development. Stay tuned!
Did I miss one of your favourite books on this topic? I’d love to learn about it in the comments!
Born Reading: Bringing up Bookworms in a Digital Age – From Picture Books to eBooks and Everything in Between (2014) by Jason Boog The author consults authors, librarians, publishers, and child development experts to piece together a year-by-year guide to instilling a love of reading in your children. Includes reading on a variety of technology – from books to screens.
Growing a Reader From Birth: Your Child’s Path from Language to Literacy (2004) by Diane McGuinness I think this book was my bible in my early literacy course during my MLIS degree. Go from babbling to developing vocabulary to reading print and learn the science behind what’s happening in a child’s brain. An essential read.
Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Volume 3 (2011) edited by Susan B. Neuman and David K. Dickinson For those looking for research studies about early literacy, this is the tome for you! Studies cover brain development, language development, self-regulation, sociocultural contexts, and early intervention. I wish there were more recent volumes.
How Babies Talk: The Magic and Mystery of Language in the First Three Years of Life (2000) by Roberta Michnick and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek Written by developmental psychologists this book takes you on a chronological journey through learning language. I like their “try this” asides where they offer concrete things to do with your baby to encourage language development.
Many Languages, Building Connections: Supporting Infants and Toddlers Who Are Dual Language Learners (2012) by Karen N. Nemeth This thin book is aimed mostly at preschools and daycares, but it includes chapters on how to welcome diverse families and engage them in your programs. Sample training worksheets are included in the back.
Proust and Squid: The Story of Science and the Reading Brain (2007) by Maryanne Wolf Written by a cognitive neuroscientist and child development expert, this book takes you on a journey of how the brain learns how to read. Language is natural to humans; reading is not. It’s a tough skill you have to learn, and Wolf shows why some kids will struggle with it. This one’s got an evolutionary lens I love.
Raising a Bilingual Child (2007) by Barbara Zurer Pearson If you’ve ever been asked by a storytime caregiver if it’s okay to speak more than one language to a child, then you definitely need this book. Pearson covers the benefits of bilingualism and how to create a bilingual home environment. As a children’s librarian this book gives me the knowledge to talk about this subject with my community.
The Read-Aloud Handbook (2019) by Jim Trelease The 8th edition of this classic comes out this year! Like Mem Fox, Trelease is interested in helping families read aloud to kids. He tells you why and how to do it, and includes an updated read aloud booklist with new diverse titles.
Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever (2001) by Mem Fox Australian literary expert Fox presents an easy-to-read guide for how to read aloud to small children and why its so important for their development. I found it a little commanding in tone at times, but the three secrets of reading are not intimidating for parents.
Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want and Why We Should Let Them (2014) by Jefffrey D. Wilhelm and Michael W. Smith Finally a book about school-age kids! Mostly geared towards schools and teachers, librarians can use the arguments in this book to push for reading for pleasure and the many educational benefits it can bring. A great choice for parents who are questioning lexile levels and other reading measurements.
Tap, Click, Read: Growing Readers in a World of Screens (2015) by Lisa Guernsey and Michael H. Levine These two authors are known for their research and writing on digital media and young children, and in this book they present an argument for why “we cannot allow technology to exacerbate social inequalities” (ix). They dive into a world of raising readers alongside smart phones and tablets – a critical, balanced view that urges us to do the same.
Time to Talk: What You Need to Know About Your Child’s Speech and Language Development (2017) by Michelle MacRoy-Higgins and Carlyn Kolker Written by a speech-language pathologist, this book covers language acquisition milestones for a typically developing child. The goal is to demystify the process of learning language for parents and caregivers, and there’s lots of great tidbits we can use as early literacy tips in storytime.
April is National Poetry Month! I am a true lover of poetry. My mom says when I was little I had a fascination with certain words, especially odd sounding ones, and loved to sit in her lap and listen to poems read aloud. Do you have a favourite poem? As a kid I loved “Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout” by Shel Silverstein. Nowadays I devour contemporary love poems, with those by Ada Limón among my favourite. I’m sure kids will discover many future favourites in these 2019 poetry collections.
Check out the other books in my 2019 Picture Book series:
Have you heard about the Library Services for Children Journal Club? It’s a side project I started with my friend Christie to encourage anyone serving children in libraries to read and discuss relevant research. We have a local Vancouver meetup quarterly and you can find a recap of all our discussions on my Professional Development page.
This month we discussed an article written by colleague Tess Prendergast called ” Growing Readers: A Critical Analysis of Early Literacy Content for Parents on Canadian Public Library Websites.” You can get the full article here. Here’s a recap of the article and what our group discussed.
Prendergast sets out to examine the assumptions and beliefs underlining early literacy messages we provide on our public library websites. As our communities continue to diversify linguistically, ethnically, and developmentally, she is curious if our websites reflect these changes in both words and images. She lays out the following two research questions:
What messages (text and images) about early literacy aimed at parents are found on English language urban Canadian public library websites?
Do early literacy messages (text and images) aimed at parents on English language urban Canadian library websites reflect or acknowledge family diversity?
She examines 20 libraries across six provinces.
This research was conducted in the fall of 2012, so Tess mentioned that things have likely changed since then, and it would be interesting to see a duplicate study performed today. Have we improved?
After collecting data on the websites Prendergast looked at cultural and/or linguistic diversity, developmental inclusion, and kindergarten and reading readiness. She found that all of the libraries promote storytimes and encourage caregivers to participate and have fun. She notes the influence of the branded Parent-Child Mother Goose program in the frequent references to bonding and attachment found in storytime descriptions. While 50% of the sample websites address cultural and/or linguistic diversity, most libraries do not provide translated webpages in languages outside of English. Similarly, about 50% of storytime descriptions mention kindergarten preparedness. Lastly, and most unfortunately, one one program was found that overly suggests the program is appropriate for children with disabilities. She recommends using the phrase “all ages and stages” in storytime descriptions to signal to caregivers that children with disabilities are welcome.
When looking at information aimed at caregivers, 90% of libraries sampled included early literacy messages with most of that content coming from both editions of Every Child Ready to Read @ Your Library. When looking at images on these websites, she discovered that kids are most often shown reading adult books, rather than books from the children’s section. In about 50% of the images cultural diversity is easy to discern, while only 4 out of 20 websites contain an image representing disability.
Prendergast’s first argument is that the text and images we see on public library websites aimed at caregivers “point out dominant views held by public libraries about the promotion of early literacy within their communities” (245). With an increased interest and concern about the first five years in life from multiple sectors of society (health, education, government), it’s not surprising that initiatives like Every Child Ready to Read emerged and were eagerly adopted by libraries not only to justify our programming, but also to use in conversations with community members. Her criticism, which our group spent most of the meeting discussing, is that the research used to create ECRR privileges research studies that result in quantitative test results that can be tied to education goals. She states, “ECRR tenets were developed out of cognitive, skills-based educational research (not library and information studies research) about reading readiness” (246).
So what’s the issue? Firstly, if you look at it from the end goal first it means that our view of early literacy is rooted in school readiness. ECRR aims to help parents support their children so that when they start kindergarten they have measurable skills to accomplish tasks. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing – of course we want kids to succeed in school. But what Prendergast points out is that by drawing on only this type of research we exclude a more broad definition of early literacy, and one that is rooted in a library’s goals and values. With a narrow view of early literacy we are more susceptible to excluding diverse community groups who may face barriers to library access already.
Prendergast draws on research from Stooke and McKenzie (2011) that calls for a “counter-narrative” to the ECRR curriculum. I admit this part shook me. I’m actually planning on writing a whole other blog post about their article and how it made me question things. In sum, we need to be open to research that takes into account sociocultural and social and emotional learning in order to develop our own early literacy framework that places the library’s values as paramount. Understanding how diverse communities translate culture and literacy would help us support these communities and build meaningful community relationships, even if their practices are different from the tenets of ECRR.
This doesn’t mean we need to completely throw out ECRR. The second edition is broad enough that we discussed the different ways we’ve taken the 5 early literacy practices and applied them in our interactions with diverse communities. A lot of that is up to us in our one-on-one interactions with families. Overall though, this article led me to think more critically about a widely adopted curriculum which has a huge impact on our programming and our identity as children’s librarians.
Prendergast gives the following five recommendations for Canadian public library websites:
Create and maintain separate parent pages on the website that are different than the information aimed at those who work with children.
Translate and adapt all parents pages into common languages spoken in your community. Adding videos in multiple languages is an added bonus.
Use expanded, sociocultural views of early literacy and strength-based approaches to help us write our content on our websites and to guide us in our interactions with diverse communities.
Include photographic diversity of families in your community on your website and all promotional materials.
Relax storytime rules to accommodate children of all ages and stages.
Did you read this quarter’s article? What were your thoughts and opinions? I’d love to discuss in the comments!
My Instagram peeps finally came through and voted for my favourite category! Being *a bit* of a fantasy lover, I couldn’t pass up a chance to feature new releases starring magical creatures. Unicorns, fairies, mermaids, dragons, giant fish monsters. They are all here, folks. You’ll have a hard time keeping these on your shelves.
Check out the other posts in my 2019 Picture Books series:
Kids are never too old to read picture books. Heck, even adults still enjoy them! Kids of all ages also love being read to, so today I’m sharing some of my favourite picture books for school-age children.
I love having my local elementary school classes come to the library for a visit, and I’ve built up a collection of go-to books I can grab when they drop in. Most of these books work best with grades K – 2, though I’ve had Grade 5 students sitting rapt with attention. It really depends on the kids!
Have fun reading these to school-age kids and testing out which grades like them the best. Did I miss a favourite of yours? Let me know in the comments!
After the Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat A clever take on the classic nursery rhyme with themes of overcoming fears and resilience. Beautifully big pages make it good for large groups. I think the message strikes home the most with kids in grades 1 – 4.
Are You Scared, Darth Vader? by Adam Rex Perfect silly read for those Star Wars obsessed K – 2 students. Practice your Darth Vader voice before reading or enlist a strong reader to help you out.
The Bad Seed by Jory John; illustrated by Pete Oswald One of those magical books that works for any age. Older kids will get the humour, while your K – 1 kids are just beginning to have more complicated discussions around good and bad. I hear there’s a sequel coming out this year too!
A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin Perfect for grades K – 3, this origin story of the moon offers an opportunity for soothing storytelling. There’s so many art extension activities you could weave in if you’re a teacher.
Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child; translation by Gordon Jourdain; illustrations by Jonathan Thunder A bilingual tale of a real and imaginative powwow. Can be used with any grade to show present day Ojibwe people.
Brief Thief by Michaël Escoffier; illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo Mistaken identity and a creature’s conscience make this a great choice for grades 2 – 4. You can swing it with younger kids but they often don’t get the concept of an inner voice. Funny, unique, recommended for fans of Klassen.
Chester by Melanie Watt Oh, Chester. I read this one in my Early Readers Book Club and then we create our own masterpieces. Best read aloud in two distinct voices. Look for the whole series if it’s a hit with your crowd.
The Day Louis Got Eaten by John Fardell This cumulative tale features a brave girl and lots of scary funny monsters. Recommend for K – 2. My niece’s grade 2 class LOVED it.
Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle; illustrated by Rafael Lopez Inspired by a true story, this book tackles sexism and a girl’s fight to overcome it. Even kindies are attuned to what’s fair and what’s not, but it packs the most punch with grades 2 – 4.
Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld What do *you* see? This optical illusion book is highly engaging for your K – 2 crowd and will have them talking about it long after.
Excellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach An animal antic with a theme of belonging. Perfect for kindergarteners but can stretch up to grade 2 in my experience. I like asking the kids what they are excellent at after reading it.
Froodle by Antoinette Portis Kindergartens will adore this goofy sound book. I like how some of the words are in big word bubbles so you can encourage the emerging readers to help you pronounce them. Because they are made up words, there is no pressure to get them right!
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems I’ve read this successfully with many ages, but I actually think older kids appreciate the humour the most. Twisted fairy tales in general make great read alouds for school-age kids. And Willems is a master.
Hey, Wall: A Story of Art and Community by Susan Verde; illustrated by John Parra I love story’s about the community coming together to do something mutually beneficial. An inspiring story that will encourage young activists.
Horse Meets Dog by Elliott Kalan; illustrated by Tim Miller Great for grades 2 – 4, this one works best with two distinct voices. Try asking a kid to read one of the parts. They definitely nail the school-age kid level of humour.
In a Cloud of Dust by Alma Fullerton; illustrated by Brian Deines. This one made my 2015 Favourite Storytime Books list too. As I said there, I love showing kids how other kids live around the world. There’s the perfect amount of text per page for preschool – Grade 2 in this one.
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein Kids who are well versed in fairy tales will enjoy this one the most. A laugh out loud bedtime story. I highly recommend the sequel that came out last year, Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise.
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen This is my favourite of his “something gets eaten” books. I know a lot of people read these to preschoolers but I think they work the best with school-age kids. They get the humour and are much more versed in the art of someone getting their due. You could choose any Klassen book from the shelf and be all set though.
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall I love reading this one to kids in preschool up to Grade 3. I *still* remember the terror I felt when faced with jumping off the diving board. Great to read during the summer time, obvi.
King Baby by Kate Beaton So fun. So funny. Any kids with younger siblings will especially love this one. When Sophie was 5-years-old she couldn’t get enough, especially when the baby learns to crawl.
The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt; illustrated by Adam Rex This one works best with older kids. I’m saying Grade 4 – 6. They get the jokes. They may even be inspired to write their own “origin” story.
Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems Basically all of Mo Willems books work great for school-age kids. This 2005 title is one of my favourites for grades K – 2. If they like it you can read them the companion book at your next visit.
Little Red by Bethany Woolvin This book has seen me through so many Summer Reading Club school visits. I can read it to any grade. One kid looked at me afterwards and said, “Savage.” That about sums it up. Woolvin’s got a few other fairy tale retellings too.
Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy and Theresa Howell; illustrated by Rafael Lopez. Another story about transforming a community through art. I love that this one is based on a true story. Great for grades K – 3.
Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos; illustrated by Joy Ang I sent this one in with Sophie’s Grade 2 class and they LOVED it. The teacher has requested all the other books in the series. It’s got some great metaphors and a twist ending to boot.
Moo! by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. This is one of my favourite books to read to kindergartners because even if they can’t read yet they can still help me tell the story. Great for building self confidence and a love of books.
Mr. Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown This one also works great for preschoolers. Fits in great with any themes about individuality or finding your own beat.
Nanette’s Baguette by Mo Willems As I said, basically all of Willems’ books could be on this list. I wanted to shine a light on this one because the rhyming is top notch. Perfect for kids who are learning to read! Recommended for grades K – 3.
Potato Pants by Laurie Keller So funny! I mean, it’s a potato with an eggplant nemesis and they are fighting over PANTS. Perfect for K – 4.
The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton Beaton’s second appearance on the list! I took this to a school outreach event and a Grade 2 boy demanded that I read it aloud. It’s got a biracial princess and a farting pony. What more can you ask for?
Rot the Cutest in the World by Ben Clanton Man, do I have a soft spot in my heart for this book. I love Rot so much. He believes in himself and isn’t afraid to take a chance. I also like how the other animals learn to love Rot too. Perfect for K – 4.
Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins Grab this for all your fall visits. It’s not an in-your-face Halloween story, but it can stand in if needed. We all have dreams, even stemless pumpkins. Great for K – 3.
Tadpole’s Promise by Jeanne Willis; illustrated by Tony Ross. This is a lesser known choice, but you won’t be disappointed. It reads like a folktale with a twist ending that will leave kids gasping. I’ve had success with all school-age kids.
Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora This one’s got awards all over the cover for good reason. A generous grandmother feeds the whole community who return her in kind. A beautiful uplifting story. I love to read it to grades K – 2 and talk about family and favourite meals.
They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel The kindergarten classes I’ve read this to have been fascinated. Such a wonderful way to talk about perspective. I love teaching the song by Emily Arrow after reading the book.
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezka; illustrated by Lane Smith A classic. I remember reading this when I was in school. And you know what? It still pulls its weight. If you’ve never read this fractured fairy tale, you’ve got to put it on hold straight away.
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins You can find this one on my 2018 Favourite Storytime Picture Books list. As I mentioned there, the Mother Bruce series is also great for school-age kids. This one works great as a back-to-school read when you are meeting kids for the first time.
Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Zachariah OHara Dyckman snags the last two spots on my list! This one is a funny tale about an adopted sibling. Great for when you want to liven up storytime and get the kids guessing about a character’s intent. I read it to kids in grades K – 2.
You Don’t Want a Unicorn! by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Liz Climo I bought this one for my nephew and he demanded multiple readings. It’s got the rainbow factor. It’s got the poop factor. It’s got the silly factor. What other animals would you definitely not want as a pet? Just the right amount humour for preschool – kindergarten kids.
There you have it! Certainly not a comprehensive list, but these are some of my favourites to read to school-age kids. Did I miss one of your favourites? Please let me know in the comments!