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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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!

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.


Talking to Kids About Race: Racially Diverse Storytime Books

Awhile back I wrote a post about talking to kids about race.  Should we talk to kids about race in storytime? This post is the second in a series I hope to continue throughout the year.

Picture books can be a great tool to start these conversations with children.  If you need help finding racially diverse picture books that work well in a storytime setting, look no further (actually you should look further, specifically at the wonderful blog Everyday Diversity which reviews storytime books featuring people of colour, First Nations, and Native Americans).

In this post I’d like to welcome guest blogger Echo. Echo is the Children’s Librarian at an urban library in Washington State. She loves playing the ukulele and trying to convince her family that anyone can sing, even them. Echo is here to share an amazing resource she created – thematic storytime booklists featuring characters of colour.  Take it away, Echo!


When I was first learning to prepare story times, I was trained to choose a topic, select thematic story time elements, then go through our story time books and children’s collection to find titles that fit the story time theme. This made for cohesive, successful story times, but artificially limited which titles I would consider for story time; making it more likely to include books that were about a topic, rather than about a character. I was frustrated by how difficult it was to find good story time books about a particular theme that included characters who were people of color so, I intentionally changed the way that I plan story time from the start of the process. Now, rather than choosing a theme and finding books to fit, I find a specific title, use it as a base on which to build the rest of story time, and allow themes to emerge naturally. This change in my planning process made the books the first priority and the most flexible element in story time.

This change empowered me to be more intentional about the books I share in story time and made it much easier to include diverse books. I evaluate every book that I use in story time, looking for excellent titles that: make good read alouds, are about interesting topics for preschoolers, have believable characters rather than relying on stereotypes, and treat the characters that are people of color as normal rather than other or different. This last criterion is particularly important for the library where I work. My library is located in an incredibly diverse city and a book about being a person of color, and so different from most of your classmates or friends, does not reflect the experience of most of the children who live here.

When children see themselves in the book, they are more engaged and make richer connections. I share all kinds of books in story time, but when I’m looking for a book to build a story time on, I choose books that portray children who are people of color doing simple, every-day things in familiar environments like Mice Squeak, We Speak by Arnold Shapiro. I recently shared this book at a story time in a local day care center. Excited preschoolers yelled out, “He’s like me!”, “I do that too.”, and “She looks like my friend!” The smiles and excitement of these children made it clear that they felt valued in that moment. It would have been a bigger stretch for these young children to make these kinds of connections with characters who did not look or act like themselves or the people around them.

Rudine Sims Bishop talked about books as windows to see into the experiences of others and mirrors that reflect ourselves. For many of the children I serve, these windows are everywhere, and mirrors are few. I am a white woman with the privilege and opportunity to work in a diverse community; I may not be a mirror, but I can help these children find them in the books I share.

And now to the lists!

Thank you, Echo, for sharing this resource with us. Where do you find racially diverse storytime books to share with your library community? Let us know in the comments!

2016 Favourite Storytime Picture Books

This year I delivered over 150 storytimes. 150! I’ve actually never counted before, but this year was definitely a busy one.

Over the course of the past 11 months I’ve kept track of all the picture books published in 2016 that work well in a storytime setting. There were so many favourites this year! I swear this list gets longer with each rendition.  If you missed past round-ups, here they are:

Here are my picks for outstanding storytime books for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and early elementary-age kids. If I missed one of your favourites, please leave a comment sharing yours!

1-big-salad1 Big Salad: A Delicious Counting Book by Juana Medina. A creative and fun counting book perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.  Not only does this book introduce food vocabulary, it’s also a great jumping off point for an art or drawing activity. Have kids count on their fingers to strengthen early numeracy skills.

abracadabra-its-springAbracadabra, It’s Spring! by Anne Sibley O’Brien; illustrated by Susan Gal. The lovely Rebecca tipped me off to this beautiful story about the changing of the seasons.  The fold-out pages work perfect for storytime as you can have kids predict how things change from winter to spring. We also had a blast saying the magical phrases together.  Great for toddlers and preschoolers. Be sure to check out the sequel called Hocus Pocus, It’s Fall!

barnacle-is-boredBarnacle is Bored by Jonathan Fenske.  Short enough text to read to toddlers (caregivers will get a laugh), but the humour in this one is aimed at preschoolers to Grade 2 kids. Give Barnacle a dramatic voice and the kids eat it up. This one reminds me a mix between I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry  and I’m Bored by Michael Ian Black; illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi.

blocks-irene-dicksonBlocks by Irene Dickson. A toddler storytime gem. Simple sentences tell the story of two kids learning to share.  The best thing about this book is the emotional connection many kids will have to the story.  A great chance to give an early literacy tip about social emotional learning.  The big pages and large illustrations are the cherry on top.

city-shapesCity Shapes by Diana Murray; illustrated by Bryan Collier.  I love this book so much I suggested it for a CLEL Bell Award.  Follow a young girl through her neighbourhood as she discovers shapes everywhere.  A diverse title ripe with follow-up activities. Also a great chance to tell caregivers about how shapes are the first step to learning letters.

daniel finds a poemDaniel Finds a Poem by Micha Archer. I am always looking for ways to include more poetry in storytime and this book is the perfect lead in.  Daniel discovers the poetry in the world around him.  Simple enough for toddlers and preschoolers to grasp. I followed it up by reading a poem from Neighbors: The Yard Critters Too by George Held; illustrated by Joung Un Kim.

dig-inDig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliot; illustrated by Mary Peterson.  I also suggested this one for a CLEL Bell Award.  Perfect for spring and summer storytimes, this one encourages kids to get out and play and get a little messy. Short and sweet text makes it great for extra wriggly toddlers.

dont-splash-the-sasquatchDon’t Splash the Sasquatch! by Kent Redeker; illustrated by Bob Staake. A wacky and fun read perfect for summer storytimes. This one is great for older preschoolers. Have them join in yelling the repetitive title phrase.  I like how it encourages kids to make up their own words and have fun with language. Squizzilefied is one of my new favourite words.

dont-wake-up-the-tigerDon’t Wake Up the Tiger by Britta Teckentrup.  Another interactive win from Teckentrup! If you have a small group you can have the kids come up and pet tiger’s nose and tummy.  There’s also perfect opportunities to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and Happy Birthday.  Great for preschool outreach visits.

duck duck dinosaurmaple-leafDuck, Duck, Dinosaur by Kallie George; illustrated by Oriol Vidal. Big pages make this a good choice for larger preschool groups. There’s an underlying message that families can look like anything. Great for a dinosaur or sibling themed storytime. The author lives in Vancouver, so I love sharing this one and giving the local author a shout-out.

everyone-is-yawningEveryone is Yawning by Anita Bijsterbosch.  Perfect for babies and toddlers! A gentle bedtime book where you get to practice yawning together. The lift-the-flaps are an added bonus. Babies often mimic the facial expressions of their caregivers as they learn language (hello, mirror neurons!) and you can practice that skill by yawning along to this book.

excellent edExcellent Ed by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach. I learned about this book from Anna’s Everyday Diversity blog.  Ed, the dog, worries that he’s not good at anything unlike the 5 kids in his family. Luckily Ed does discover his talent by the end of the book.  Recommended for preschool – Grade 2 kids. And dog lovers.

follow-meFollow Me! by Ellie Sandall. Before I read this one to my toddler group, we all practiced chanting the repeating phrase, “Follow me, follow me, follow me!” It was a great way to get caregivers involved as we read the book. I love the repetition and unique choice of animal (lemurs!). Highly recommended for the younger groups.

goodbye-summerGoodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak.  Another CLEL Bell Award suggestion. When reading this one aloud I had to use different voices to model the conversation the child has with the natural world. A great way to promote the early literacy practice of talking.  Encourage caregivers to continue this story when they go outside.

goodnight-bobGoodnight Bob by Ann Hassett; illustrated by John Hassett.  Perfect for pyjama storytimes, a little boy keeps seeing pairs of eyes in the dark.  Encourage kids to guess who the eyes belong to.  Every toddler I know is obsessed with flashlights – bring one in as a special prop!

good-night-like-thisGood Night Like This by Mary Murphy. Similar to Say Hello Like This, in this book animals take turns saying goodnight to their babies. I like sharing this one at babytime. We either make animal noises together or snuggle the babies as we say good night together on each page.  I often include an early literacy tip about making reading part of your daily routine and bedtime is the perfect place to start.

grumpy pantsGrumpy Pants by Claire Messer. Another toddler storytime gem. Simple text and bold illustrations convey how penguin is able to help himself out of a bad mood. After reading this one we sing many different feeling versions of “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”  My favourite verse is “If You’re Mad and You Know It, Take a Deep Breathe.”

hand-in-handHand in Hand by Rosemary Wells. A top choice for baby and toddler storytimes. Nice big pictures are good for developing eyesight and the short rhyming text has a nice rhythm.  I always tell my families that storytime is a place to develop a loving bond with their child and this book illustrated that concept beautifully.

have-you-seen-elephantHave You Seen Elephant? by David Barrow.  Elephant claims he is very good at hide-and-seek in this delightfully funny book great for toddlers and preschoolers.  I had the kids tell me where Elephant was hiding on each page and we talked about good hiding places.  Play is one of the five early literacy practices and this book encourages it.

hooray for todayHooray for Today! by Brian Won.  The sequel to Hooray for Hat! is here and it’s just as good as the first.  It’s still got a repetitive phrase that lends itself well to group participation.  The thing I like best about it though is that it shows animals feeling tired, a feeling that can be hard for kids to notice in themselves. Definitely a feeling to point out related to social emotional learning.

hungry-birdmaple-leafHungry Bird by Jeremy Tankard. Bird is back and this time Bird is hangry! Your preschoolers who know Bird from Tankard’s other two storytime gems will love this third installment. I love talking to preschoolers about the colour choices on each page and what foods they find gross and delicious. Bonus: Tankard is a local author!

ill wait mr pandaI’ll Wait, Mr. Panda by Steve Antony. I think I like this one even better than the first. When reading with toddlers and preschoolers, we practice saying the phrase, “Wait and see” together and making the signs too. Turn-taking, patience, and self-regulation are key themes here.

im-a-hungry-dinosaurI’m a Hungry Dinosaur by Janeen Brian; illustrated by Ann James. A baking themed follow-up to I’m a Dirty Dinosaur. I sing this one to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot” and we all do the actions like dinosaur.  I’ve tried it in babytime and toddlertime to much success. You can mention that baking with kids is a great way to practice math.

is that wiseIs That Wise, Pig? by Jan Thomas. I mean it’s another Jan Thomas title so you knew it was going to be storytime magic, right? Have families join in asking the title phrase and giggle along to Pig’s soup additions.  Perfect for any age.

king-babyKing Baby by Kate Beaton.  This is the perfect book to read at babytime.  I was ROFL the first time I read it, and I think this book does a great job setting a fun and playful tone of storytime.  If you have younger siblings who often sit-in at babytime, they will get a kick out of it too. An apt metaphor for the life changing event of having a child.

leo-can-swimLeo Can Swim by Anna McQuinn; illustrated by Ruth Hearson. Another babytime hit. Showcasing a father-son relationship, this one depicts a common childhood experience – swim lessons. Fun to share in the summer when families are more likely to head to the pool.   

listen to our worldListen to Our World by Bill Martin Jr and Michael Sampson; illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Travel around the world and hear all the different sounds animals make.  Make it participatory by having kids and caregivers make the sounds with you. Accurate habitats are depicted and back matter gives more detailed information.  Use with toddlers and preschoolers.

little-penguinsLittle Penguins by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Christian Robinson. Now this is what happens when two all-stars join together. A perfect winter themed read aloud for babies and toddlers. The simplicity of the language is perfectly suited for your younger groups. Would also work well for a getting dressed theme.

maggie and michael get dressedMaggie and Michael Get Dressed by Denise Fleming.  A new toddler classic. Big page spreads feature a little boy who tries to get dressed with the help of his dog. Not only are the sentences to the point, they model sentence extending: “Look, Maggie – socks. Yellow socks.” The colour words are printed in their corresponding colour to draw attention to print. A funny tale packed with early literacy goodness.

maybe something beautifulMaybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy  and Theresa Howell; illustrated by Rafael Lopez. An uplifting story about the power of art. I shared this one with a Grade 1 class and we talked about ways we could make our community better. I love that it’s based on a true story.

mixed up truckThe Mixed-Up Truck by Stephen Savage. Definitely add this to your transportation or construction themed storytimes. Follow the little cement mixer as it accidentally makes a cake! I talked about print awareness before reading this book as I pointed out the different names of the factories.  The kids loved shouting, “Presto!” with me as we read.

the-moons-almost-hereThe Moon’s Almost Here by Patricia MacLachlan; illustrated by Tomie dePaola. A gentle bedtime story with repetition and the option to add in animal sounds. If you’ve got huge groups of babies and toddlers, the big pages will help all see. Before I read this one we practiced the title phrase as it repeats on each page and offers a chance for participation.

my heart fills with happinessmaple-leafMy Heart Fills With Happiness by  Monique Gray Smith; illustrated by Julie Flett.  A beautiful board book featuring a First Nations family that encourages everyone to celebrate the simple joys in life. Highly recommended purchase especially if you buy sets of board books to read together at babytime. I also recommend Flett’s second board book this year with author Richard Van Camp called We Sang You Home.

my houseMy House by Byron Barton.  I think almost all of Barton’s books are surefire hits with toddlers. With his bright colours and simple text, Barton showcases a home in this one.  I would love if he followed it up with My Apartment which is an underrepresented dwelling in picture books.

my new mom and meMy New Mom and Me by Renata Galindo.  A sweet story of adoption that is easily accessible by preschoolers. I am always looking for diverse representations of family to read in storytime.  Even if kids haven’t been adopted themselves they can relate to the feelings of fear, nervousness, and ultimately belonging.

old-macdonaldmaple-leafOld MacDonald Had a Truck by  Steve Goetz; illustrate by Eda Kaban.  My new favourite book to sing at storytime! The littles who love things that go will delight in this take on the traditional song.  I personally enjoyed the woman’s (maybe she’s Old MacDonald!) active role in the story. I had multiple requests to take this one home after storytime.


sing with meSing With Me!: Action Songs Every Child Should Know by Naoko Stoop.  I pull this one out at babytime almost every week.  It’s great if you just want to practice one song. If you have a large population of newcomers or ESL families, it provides a good introduction to common Western rhymes. Stoop also provides recommended hand motions.

some petsSome Pets by Angela DiTerlizzi; illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. This one has all the right elements – repetition, unique vocabulary, adorable illustrations, and a diverse cast of kids. I read it to my mixed-aged storytime group and they all wanted to tell me about their pets afterwards.

still-a-gorillamaple-leafStill a Gorilla by Kim Norman; illustrated by Chad Geran. Repetition? Check! Humour? Check! Positive message about being yourself? Check! When reading with toddlers and preschoolers, I teach the sign for gorilla and we all beat our chests whenever we say the title phrase.

summer-nick-taught-his-cat-to-readThe Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley; illustrated by Kate Berube. My love for this book knows no bounds! I love the characters, I love the cats, I love how it’s about following your interests, I love how it’s funny, and I especially loved reading it to a kindergarten class.  I recommend this one for older groups, K-2 especially, who are learning to read themselves.

ten hungry pigsTen Hungry Pigs by Derek Anderson. A follow-up to Ten Pigs: An Epic Bath Adventure, one of my 2015 favourites. In this absurd tale, the pigs keep piling up more and more ridiculous ingredients. So many giggles at storytime! It has a surprise ending similar to the first book.  Great for food themed storytimes.

theres-a-bear-on-my-chairThere’s a Bear on My Chair by Ross Collins.  This is rhyming text done well. A very frustrated mouse just wants Bear to get out of his chair! I read it to a Grade 1 class and we talked about why some words are printed in red. The older crowd got more of the humour in the illustrations too, but I think this one could go as young as preschool.

they-all-saw-a-catThey All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel. A stand-out picture book this year, for storytime and otherwise. Great for toddlers through Grade 2, this book is all about perspective.  I love the conversations that will stem from sharing this one with a group, and the language has a beautiful flow to it. Highly recommended.

this-is-our-babyThis is Our Baby, Born Today by Varsha Bajaj; illustrated by Eliza Wheeler.  I loved reading this welcoming tale at babytime. We all say the “Born today” refrain together on each page.  As a super involved aunt, I was delighted to see them mentioned as a key part of baby’s world.  The text is lyrical and the illustrations are warm and inviting.

when spring comesWhen Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes; illustrated by Laura Dronzek. The perfect title to read when the weather starts to brighten.  The text is just right for toddlers and young preschoolers, and the bright illustrations work perfect for a read aloud. Pair with Abracadabra, It’s Spring! for a season themed storytime.

whoopsWhoops! by Suzi Moore; illustrated by Russell Ayto.  One of my favourite picture books in general for 2016! The kindergarten class I read this to absolutely loved it. There’s a cat, a dog, a mouse, an old lady, and some very funny spells. I love the repetition and getting all the kids to say “Whoops!” together.

worm loves wormWorm Loves Worm by J.J. Austrian; illustrated by Mike Curato.  Anyone can love anyone and that includes Worm and Worm.  Love wins out in this celebratory tale despite objections from other critters. Due to the length, recommended for older preschool and school-age crowds as a read aloud.

you are onemaple-leafYou Are One by Sara O’Leary; illustrated by Karen Klassen.  A year’s worth of baby milestones are featured in this diverse title. I read it at babytime and afterwards we went around and caregivers shared a baby milestone they were excited about. This is the first book in a three part series, so look for You Are Two and You Are Three coming soon.

What a great year for picture books! I’m sure I missed some superb read alouds, so please let me know your favourites in the comments.

Toddler Storytime: Favourite Read Alouds, Part 2

The last time I wrote about my favourite picture books to read in toddler storytime was three years ago!  This updated list features a blend of newer publications with older titles I didn’t include in the first round.  I’ve included a short note about why they make a great choice for toddler storytime or how I use them with this age group.

Want to see the other posts in my toddler storytime series? Here they are:


bear countsBear Counts by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Jane Chapman.  Before reading this book I have caregivers practice the refrain with me: “Number, numbers everywhere. Can you count along with Bear?” I don’t read every single word – the focus is on practicing counting to 5.  I encourage the toddlers to practice using their fingers to count while we read.

big bugBig Bug by Henry Cole.  Perfect for teaching opposites.  Only a few words on each page allow you to compare and contrast things based on size and distance.  Follow up with your favourite opposites song.

boats goBoats Go by Steve Light.  This one is part of a transportation-themed sound extravaganza.  As large board books, they are perfect for those babies who are just walking.  I encourage everyone to make the different sounds with me.

breatheBreathe by Scott Magoon.  Toddlers are notorious for being little balls of emotion.  When I read this one we practice taking deep breaths together.  I mention to caregivers that modeling deep breathing to kids is one way they learn how to calm themselves.

the bus is for usThe Bus is for Us by Michael Rosen; illustrated Gillian Tyler.  The pages are nice and big for your larger toddler crowds. We have lots of fun chanting, “The bus is for us!”  I love the diverse array of children and the rhyming text.  When I’m done reading, we always do a transportation song.

butterflyButterfly, Butterfly: A Book of Colors by Petr Horacek.  One of my favourite springtime reads for toddlers.  Only one short sentence per page and you can talk about the different colours Lucy observes. The pop-out page at the end always delights the little ones. I follow it up with my favourite butterfly song.

dinosaurDinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea.  Before I read this book we practice making claws and roaring our terrible roars.  I also like pointing out the letters while we read – R-O-A-R.  Never to early to promote print awareness.

familiesFamilies, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang and Max Lang.  I’ve found that the toddlers love seeing all the different animals, while caregivers appreciate seeing a diversity of families.  If it gets too long you can always skip a few pages.

hooray for fishHooray for Fish! by Lucy Cousins.  Big, bold illustrations hold a toddler’s attention.  I truly believe Cousins is one of the masters of books for toddlers and this one explores all sorts of imaginative fish.

hooray for hatHooray for Hat! by Brian Won.  I love reading this one to a mixed-age storytime group.  With toddlers, practice making a grumpy face and cheering, “Hooray for hat!” before you begin reading.  Caregivers always ask for a copy to take home.

hello airplaneHello, Airplane! by Bill Cotter.  I like reading this one in the summer when many families go on holiday.  The sentences are short and sweet and you can sneak in a STEAM early literacy tip about prepositions such as above, over, and under.

i got the rhtyhmI Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison; illustrated by Frank Morrison.   With toddlers you can encourage them to point to the different body parts mentioned as the little girl walks through her neighbourhood. Perfect for getting out some energy while reading.

i love bugsI Love Bugs! by Philemon Sturges; illustrated by Shari Halpern.  Super simple sentences allow you to read this one quickly or spend time talking about each insect if your toddlers have the attention span. I like to read it in the spring and summer.

if youre a robotIf You’re a Robot and You Know It by David A. Carter.  My new favourite pop-up book!  The movable parts keep toddlers engaged, and the funny new verses are a refreshing twist to the classic song. Perfect for when you need to get up and move.

im a dirty dinosaurI’m a Dirty Dinosaur by Janeen Brian; illustrated by Ann James.  My co-worker Elizabeth taught me how to sing this book to the tune of “I’m a Little Teapot” and it’s been magical ever since.  I have the the toddlers mimic the actions while I read – sniff, shake, tap, and stamp about.  Could work well with scarves or egg shakers!

jumpJump! by Scott M. Fischer.  Lots of great rhyming in this one.  I either stand up and have the toddlers jump with me or I hand out scarves and they make their scarves jump as I read.  I’ve also done a felt and puppet version that the kids love.

little mouseLittle Mouse by Alison Murray.  This is another fun one to act out.  We practice waddling like a penguin and playing a trumpet like an elephant.  You can also make the animal noises.  The ending is sweet and you can encourage caregivers to read it again and find all the animals on the last page.

my busMy Bus and My Bike by Byron Barton.

say helloSay Hello! by Linda Davick.  One of my new favourite books to read at the beginning of toddler storytime.  I actually think you could read it every week and practice making all the different motions.  Love the diversity of kids and the diversity of greetings.

snowballsSnowballs by Lois Ehlert.  My favourite winter read aloud!  Also works great with a mixed-age group because the older kids will notice all the different items Ehlert uses to create the snow family. If you’ve just got toddlers though, the pages are nice and big and you can quickly scan through the snow people.

supertruckSupertruck by Stephen Savage.

this little chickThis Little Chick by John Lawrence.

what a wonderful worldWhat a Wonderful World by Bob Thiele and George David Weiss; illustrated by Tim Hopgood.  This entire list could be singable books, but I thought I’d just mention a recent discovery.  I had to practice this one a few times before reading it in a storytime, but once you get the tune down it’s quite a gentle song to sing and read.

where is babyWhere is Baby? by Kathryn O. Galbraith; illustrated by John Butler.

What are your favourite books to read in toddler storytime?  Let me know in the comments!

2015 Favourite Storytime Picture Books

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

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

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

baby love

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

book of beards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Baby Storytime: Favourite Books

I am so excited to write this post!  I’m always on the hunt for new books to share at storytime, especially babytime.  This post includes old books and new books, but they’ve all served me well in a baby storytime setting.  Make sure to check out the other posts in our baby storytime series too:

It is completely possible to do a baby storytime without reading a single book.  But I like to read one book at each session as a way to promote the library’s collection, model to caregivers dialogic reading, and talk to caregivers about how to choose books for babies.  The Canadian Children’s Book Centre and Zero to Three have great talking points to share with caregivers that can help them feel confident and comfortable selecting books and reading to their babies.  Now on to the  books!

1.  A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na
book of babiesI’m in love with everything Il Sung Na writes and illustrates. This book has big, bright illustrations of animal babies with short descriptive sentences. The illustrations have a touch of humour and provide ample opportunities to model asking questions and talking about what we see.

 2.  Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox and Emma Quay

baby bedtimeThis book made my 2014 Favourite Storytime Picture Books list and it’s still a babytime favourite. When I read this book I encourage caregivers to mimic the mama elephant, and we talk about using books as part of a bedtime routine.

3.  Baby Party by Rebecca O’Connell; illustrated by Susie Poole

baby partyIf you loved O’Connell’s  book, Baby Parade, then you have to get this new release!  When I read it in storytime we practiced the skill of clapping. I love that it includes a diverse cast of babies and is filled with different shapes. In addition to clapping you can encourage caregivers to draw the shapes on baby’s hands.

4.  Bunny Roo, I Love You by Melissa Marr; illustrated by Teagan White
bunny roo i love youI learned about this book from my colleague Jane, and her assessment is spot on. The illustrations are gorgeous, and when I used this book in babytime we made the animal noises featured on each page as a way to make it interactive.  I love sharing books that help caregivers develop a loving relationship with baby, and this one hits the mark.

5.  Clip Clop by Nicola Smee
clip clopThis book is traditionally used in a toddler or preschool storytime, but I simply ask caregivers to plop baby on their lap and we clip clop away.  Babies get to experience bouncing while we say the refrain together, and they can be dipped to the side when the animals fall off.  It’s a great way to show caregivers how to adapt picture books to meet their baby’s developmental stage.

6.  Everything by Emma Dodd
everything emma doddThis book is a bit small, so I would recommend it for small groups. It starts with the premise, “which part do I love the best?” and precedes to go through different body parts. A great chance for caregivers to identify the parts of baby’s face.  It’s told in sweet rhyming sentences that flow beautifully.

7.  Faster! Faster! by Leslie Patricelli
faster fasterAn old standby for me.  Because there’s basically only one word in this book, caregivers can read it with you.  We practice bouncing babies very slowly, and then faster and faster as we read.  I love when caregivers realize the different animals are actually the dad – always a delight!

8.  Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla; illustrated by Amy Cordova
fiesta babiesI wish this book were bigger, but it still doesn’t stop me from sharing it in babytime.  The rhythm of the text mimics a fiesta and I chant the words rather than say them.  A beautiful introduction to Latino culture that encourages singing, dancing, and celebration.

9.  From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
from head to toeIt’s Eric Carle at his best.  Repetition, movement, and bright, colourful pictures.  When I read the refrain, “Can you?” I ask caregivers to help their baby make the actions in the book.  A great introduction to the “I can do it!” attitude their babies will soon sport as toddlers.

10.  Giddy Up! Let’s Ride! by Flora McDonnell
giddy up let's rideAnother book to bounce to!  I think it might be based off of the song, “This is the Way the Ladies Ride.”  As I read this book, we practice bouncing babies to different rhythms and at different speeds.  I love how big McDonnell’s books are too – the images really travel.  Great use of repetition and sounds.

11.  Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson; illustrated by John-Francis Bourke
hands canBabies love looking at pictures of other babies. This book features a diverse cast of little ones using their hands to clap, say hello, and touch things.  Caregivers can model how to do these things as we read.  It’s also a great segue to talking about the skill of pinching and grasping which helps develop hand and finger muscles they will need later when they learn to write.

12.  I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow
I ain't gonna paintI love singing this book and having caregivers tickle babies based on the different parts of the body the child paints.  Most of the time I can get the adults to sing with me.  I’d love to buy a set of giant paintbrushes and let the babies play with them after reading this book.

13.  I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy
i kissed the babySo many good babytime books by Mary Murphy!  Make sure to also check out A Kiss Like This, Say Hello Like This!, and I Like it When.  I chose to focus on this one because I can talk to caregivers about choosing books for newborns with graphic black-and-white illustrations that are good for developing eyesight.  We also get to give lots of kisses!

14.  If You’re Happy and You Know It: Jungle Edition by James Warhola
happy and you know itThere are so many books to sing – seriously, check out our board full of them!  This one stands out to me because the pages are nice and big, and it has actions like clap your hands, flap your wings, beat your chest, and blink your eyes.   I like to model to caregivers how to take a familiar song and change it up.

15.  Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas
is everyone ready for funA toddler classic can easily be turned into a babytime gem.  Just have the caregivers wiggle, jump, and dance with their babies!  I love showing adults that kid’s books can be fun and silly, and Jan Thomas does that the best.  I have never not gotten some laughs after reading this book in babytime.

16.  Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
jazz babyI love reading this book in babytime because it’s got such great rhythm.  Because it’s a longer book, I’d use it at the beginning of storytime.  The entire family gets involved in the singing and dancing which is a wonderful reflection of community.

17.  Jump! by Scott M. Fischer
jumpThis book is so much fun to use with babies!  On the pages that say, “Jump!” all the caregivers lift baby into the air and say it with me.  If you’ve got some older babies in the crowd, you can encourage them to practice jumping themselves and point out the sense of accomplishment that comes even if they don’t clear the ground.

18.  Nose to Toes, You are Yummy! by Tim Harrington
nose to toesThis new release would work great for babies or toddlers. Simple sentences lead caregivers in interacting with their babies.  You can even listen to a song version.  I love the bright, colourful pictures.

19.  Overboard! by Sarah Weeks; illustrated by Sam Williams
overboardThis book hits home because many caregivers have experienced the “drop/throw object repeatedly on the floor” game that babies and toddlers love to play.  When I read it at storytime I have the caregivers hold baby in their lap.  When we say “overboard!” we dip babies to the side as if they are the ones falling out.

20.  Peekaboo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora
peekaboo bedtimeI pass out scarves before reading this book.  Then we play peekaboo with the babies as we read, mimicking the surprise of the child in the book.  I tell caregivers that peekaboo games are easy to recreate with blankets or washcloths at home.  Isadora has a companion book called Peekaboo Morning that’s just as good.

21.  Peek-a-Moo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti; illustrated by Stephanie Peterson
peek-a-mooAnother favourite peekaboo book.  You can use scarves with this one too, but the early literacy tip I share is about animal sounds.  Even though they aren’t real words they still help babies learn the sounds of our language.  All the caregivers help me out with the sounds when I read this one.  Cimarusti has a whole series – Peek-a-Pet!, Peek-a-Choo-Choo!Peek-a-Zoo!, Peek-a-Bloom!, and Peek-a-Booo!.

22.  Ten Tiny Tickles by Karen Katz
ten tiny ticklesThis entire post could be made of Karen Katz books, but this one is one of my favourites.  You get to count, caregivers get to tickle babies all over, and the illustrations are super cute.  My other favourite Katz books for babytime are The Babies on the Bus and Counting Kisses.

23.  The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell; illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
the baby goes beepIt’s O’Connell’s second appearance on the list! I love reading this one in babytime because of the repetition.  I’ll say the first part – “The baby goes beep” and then we all say the second part together, “The baby goes beep, beep, beep, beep.”  The vocabulary is great too – boom, flip, splash, smooch.

24.  Trains Go by Steve Light
trains goThis big board book is perfect for introducing new sounds to babies.  Each vehicle is given a sound that I have the caregivers say with me.  I like that the sounds aren’t ones I’d think of myself.  For example, the diesel train goes “zooosh, zooosh, zooosh.”  Because it’s a board book I found caregivers much more likely to take it home with them after storytime. There’s a whole bunch in this series like Trucks Go, Boats Go, Planes Go, and Diggers Go.

25.  We’ve All Got Bellybuttons! by David Martin; illustrated by Randy Cecil
we've all got belly buttonsLike Carle’s From Head to Toe, this book has an interactive question on each page that encourages caregivers to play with their babies.  The rhymes flow well and the images are bright and cheery.  Lots of room for talking about the pictures if caregivers want to spend more time with the book after storytime.

If you’re looking for even more to read in babytime, make sure to check out Abby the Librarian’s series and The Show Me Librarian’s survey results.

What are your favourite books to read in baby storytime?  Let me know in the comments!

2014 Favourite Storytime Picture Books

It’s that time of the year again….when all the “Best Of…” lists come out!  Last year I started what I think will become an end-of-the-year tradition on Jbrary.  I wrote about my favourite storytime books published in 2013. This year I’m back with my favourites from 2014.  I’m always looking for new books to share at storytime, so I hope this list gives you some options for freshening up your storytime collection.  Some of these may have come out in 2013 in the States, but it was 2014 before we got them here in Canada.

Without further ado! Presented in alphabetical order:

 1. Baby Bear by Kadir Nelson

baby bear In this soulful book, Baby Bear searches for his way home with the help of his animal friends, and ultimately, his own heart. The illustrations are gorgeous and captivating.  Because of the more serious tone of this book and the length, I think it makes a great preschool storytime or pyjama storytime choice. I love recommending it to caregivers as a bedtime readaloud.

2. Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox; illustrated by Emma Quay

baby bedtimeA super sweet book perfect for babytime or toddler storytime! Each page uses the sentence starter, “I could…” so there’s a built in early literacy tip about repetition right there. For babytime, have caregivers point to the body parts mentioned or mimic the actions in the book.  There’s also a lovely page on singing the same songs that their mother sang to them – a great reminder to caregivers that their home culture is valued and important. Another great choice for a pyjama storytime.

3. Bear Sees Colors by Karma Wilson; illustrated by Jane Chapman

 bear sees colorsIf you liked Wow, Said the Owl by Tim Hopgood or Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff, then you’ll love this one. Each page focuses on a different colour that Bear finds in nature, and kids are invited to “spy” the colour which makes a nice interactive element. I’ve used this with toddlers and it works great, though it could easily scale to preschoolers who would want to spend more time talking about the objects they see.

4. Big Bug by Henry Cole

 big bugThis concept book is a great toddler storytime choice. An image is presented on one page and then shown in relation to something else on the next page.  So something you thought was big ends up looking small. This would work well in an opposites storytime or if you want to broach the STEM topic of scale. I used with toddlers and followed it up with a round of Roly Poly.

5. The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak

bookEdited to Add: When I first wrote this post it was before I tried this book with any storytimers. But my copy finally came in the day before I went on holiday and I read it to groups of K, 1, and 2 students.  I have my doubts about children’s books written by celebrities, and the kids told me they didn’t even want to read it when I read the title. But they laughed the whole way through and the kindergarteners started to chant, “Read it again! Read it again!” when I was done. I mean, I should have known for a book with the phrase Boo Boo Butt in it.

6. Breathe by Scott Magoon

BreatheWhen I read this book at storytime we all practiced “belly breathing” before I started to read. Then we took nice big breathes whenever it came up in the book. I had one caregiver who thanked me for sharing this book because she was looking for something to help her toddler learn how to calm himself. I also love the message in this book – be happy, breathe deeply, live in the moment. I could see it working great at a yoga storytime too.

7. Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look The Way They Do by Steve Jenkins and Robin page

creature featuresI used this non-fiction title with a Grade 2 class and it spurred lots of discussion. The format is interesting – each page starts with “Dear (insert animal name)…” and then the animal answers the question posed. Scale it to younger audiences by not reading the whole book. One of the many Steve Jenkins books I pull out for storytime.

8. Dangerous! by Tim Warnes

DangerousMole loves to label things, but what does he call the Lumpy Bumpy Thing he discovers? This book works great for school-age kids as they cue in to the adjectives Mole assigns the alligator. All of the descriptive language could lead to an excellent post-storytime activity.

9. Dog vs. Cat by Chris Gall

Dog vs. CatTwo pets; one room. Author Chris Gall brings back the age old rivalry between these two pets in this funny book. My 3-year-old niece cracked up at the mention of poop, and I think other preschoolers will enjoy this one though I’ve used it with Kindergarten and Grade 1 classes.

10. Flight School by Lita Judge

Flight SchoolThis one gets the cutest cover award. I’m a sucker for penguin picture books. I like the positive messages about determination, perseverance, and accepting help from friends. The kindergarten class I read it to kept giggling at Penguin’s attempts to be an eagle. Could work for preschoolers with a bit of extra explanation from the librarian.

11. Following Papa’s Song by Gianna Marino

following papas songMs. Marino has done it again – She’s given us a beautifully written and illustrated parent-child story that brings me to tears. Perfect for a toddler or preschool storytime, this book emphasizes the importance of family and traditions. The colours in this book amaze and the story is heartwarming.

12. Found by Salina Yoon

foundSalina Yoon is one of my favourite children’s book authors because every story she writes is so darn sweet. In Found, she addresses a topic many preschoolers are familiar with – passing on toys. After Dana and I read this one with my 3-year-old niece Sophie, she told me, “When I grow out of my pyjamas I’m going to pass them on to a smaller kid.” They listen!

13. Froodle by Antoinette Portis

froodleA book filled with giggle worthy rhymes and an underlying message of non-conformity – I’ll take it! Little Brown Bird plays with sounds and language in this delightful book that kids love to hear read aloud. I think it would work best for preschool – Grade 2 kids. There’s a spattering of puns to keep the adults interested too.

14. Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

hooray for hatThis one’s gotten a lot of buzz already this year, so I’ll add to it by saying how much I appreciate books that model the concept of kindness, empathy, and sharing. Also, I think this one could be translated into a puppet or felt story.

15. Hug Machine by Scott Campbell

hug machineOne of my top picks this year! I read this to a kindergarten class and they absolutely loved it. They thought it was funny and sweet, and a little boy took it home with him that day. I love seeing books that portray boys as affectionate and emotional.  I’d also use it with preschoolers and it goes great with a peace or friendship theme.

16. Hug Me by Simona Ciraolo

hug meAnother book about hugging! I had a parent request for more social/emotional books and this one fit the bill. Felipe is a young cactus yearning for a hug from his “prickly” family. Pair with Hug Machine and you’re halfway there to a hug themed storytime.

17. I Got the Rhythm by Connie Shofield-Morrison; illustrated by Frank Morrison

I got the rhythmA young girl walks through her diverse neighbourhood and experiences music with all five sense. You could totally read this at babytime and have parents point to body parts and tap out rhythms on babies’ backs or bellies. Also works great for toddlers because the text is short and sweet. I read it at the beginning of one of my family dance parties and it was a hit.

18. If You Happen to Have a Dinosaur by Linda Bailey; illustrated by Colin Jack

if you happen to have a dinosaurA funny read aloud from a Canadian author. The first half of the book presents examples of what dinosaurs are good for (can opener, snow plow, umbrella, etc.), while the second half stresses their downside. The pages are huge with bright illustrations making it a good choice for a large group. It is a bit long though, so I’ve only used it with K-2 kids.

19. It is Night by Phyllis Rowand; illustrated by Laura Dronzek

It is NightThis is a reprint of a classic bedtime story illustrated by artist Laura Dronzek. It has an interactive element as kids can guess where each animal sleeps before turning the page. I’m planning on using it in an upcoming PJ storytime for kids ages 0-8. The illustrations are nice and bright, and I like how it weaves in factual information about animals.

20. It’s Okay to Make Mistakes by Todd Parr

it's okay to make mistakesAnother hit from Todd Parr. When I read this in toddler storytime, the kids were immediately hooked by the cover illustration – in fact we spent a few minutes talking about it before we even read the book. I like it because it features scenes from a child’s life – spilt milk, colouring – and one little girl came up to me after storytime and told me, “Yesterday I spilled my milk but it’s okay because I just cleaned it up.”  Parr’s books are great for any age.

 21. Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla by Katherine Applegate; illustrated by G. Brian Karas

ivanI work primarily with school-age kids, so I am always on the lookout for books I can read aloud to Grade 2-3 students. This is a perfect choice as it gives the back story to Ivan, the main character in Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. A fascinating read that has inspired kids and adults alike.

22. Little Lola by Julie Saab; illustrated by David Gothard

little lolaA perfect choice for preschool storytime, this book features a curious little cat who wants to go to school. She experiences lots of school-like activities – including storytime! – and even bounces back after her pet rat causes havoc at show-and-tell. With short sentences, it is a quick read but ultimately a timely topic for those about to head to school.

23. Music is for Everyone by Jill Barber; art by Sydney Smith

music is for everyoneEdited to Add: I didn’t get my hand on this one before the year was over because Jill came to my library and did a singalong event, and her book was all checked out. Jill Barber is an award-winning Canadian singer-songwriter, and her book takes kids on a musical genre journey. The text is lyrical, the pictures feature a multicultural cast of kids, and I love the universal message. Pair with I’ve Got the Rhythm for a music-themed storytime, or be sure to include this one at your next library dance party. Great for a toddler or preschool storytime.

24. My Bus by Byron Barton

My BusByron Barton publishes a new book and toddlers around the world rejoice! In this transportation themed book, a bus driver picks up animals and delivers them to their destinations. I like that it includes some basic counting and math. A great introduction to the author if caregivers haven’t discovered him already.

25. Naked by Michael Ian Black; illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi

NakedYou should probably have a good feel for your group’s vibe before reading this one at storytime, but I think it’s perfectly fine! I bought a copy for my toddler nephew and it became his favourite book in less than 24 hours. Like I’m Bored, it is a hilarious tale that caregivers will appreciate and kids will relate to. I’d recommend it for toddlers and preschoolers.

26. Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz; illustrated by Dan Santat

ninja red riding hoodFractured fairy tale? Check. Rhyming verses? Check. Surprise ending? Check. I loved Schwartz’s Three Ninja Pigs, so I’m not surprised this one is a hit too. I’ve read it to K-2 students and it keeps them captivated the whole time. I love the ending – the wolf takes up yoga!

27. Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli

number one samWhat’s better than winning? Helping a friend in need. A sweet message is embedded in this race car heavy book from the creator of The Watermelon Seed.  There are some cute details in the illustrations that kids will pick up on subsequent reads. A great choice for kids ages 3-7.

28. Oi Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field

oi frogA super fun rhyming book! Cat insists that frogs sit on logs and then goes on to name other increasingly absurd animal-seat pairs (think lions on irons and parrots on carrots). The illustrations are humorous and the K/1 classes I’ve read this too love looking at them again post-storytime. I could easily see creating an extension activity where kids have to make up their own silly rhymes.

29. The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems

the pigeon needs a bathKind of a shoe in, right? I just love how versatile Mo Willems’ books are. I can use them with any age and they work. I could especially relate to this one as my niece went through a “hating to take baths” stage when she was one, and I wish I’d had this book to read to her. Pigeon is a familiar face to many kids now, so they are pretty excited when you bust this one out.

30. Tea with Grandpa by Barney Saltzberg

tea with grandpaGrandpa + grandchild books seem like a rare beast to me, so I was super happy to see this adorable book. With short sentences, it makes a great toddler storytime pick. The ending is a bit of a surprise – the tea party is happening via a computer. But I think that made me like it even better!  I Skype with my nephews in California all the time and it’s good to see authors reflecting ways technology can support long distance relationships.

31. You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang; illustrated by Christopher Weyant

you are not smallIt’s all about perspective in this clever picture book.  Simple text and large illustrations make it a good book for storytime. It’s short enough for toddlers, but I think preschoolers and school-age kids will get the most out of it.  It shows an escalating argument that comes to a amicable end.  I like that it challenges kids to think from a different viewpoint.

Honourable Mentions: These books have been on my “To Read” list all year, but alas, my library hasn’t gotten them in yet.  I can’t say for sure how they’d work in storytime  – but maybe you can!

What were your favourite books to read in storytime this year?  Let me know in the comments.