2019 Picture Books: Food

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

Don’t miss the other lists in this series:

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

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

The Videos Are Back, Baby

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Picture Books: The ABCs

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

Check out the other posts in the series:

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

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

New to Storytime: Planning a Storytime

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

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

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

Theme or No Theme

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

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

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

Structured vs. Unstructured

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

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

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

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

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

Planning a Full Session

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

Diversity and Inclusion

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

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

Repetition

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

Early Literacy Messages

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

Interactivity

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

Further Learning

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

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

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

2019 Picture Books: Playing

The importance of play in early childhood has never been more well researched. Picture books about play is one way we can communicate this message to families because they themselves encourage families to play together. Here’s a selection of books about play coming out this year!

Don’t miss the other lists in this series:

Bruce is Back.
Wild Child Alert. (here for it)
Very clever, very, very, clever.
I think this one is a reader, but it looks great.
Is the animal on the cover made-up or am I completely drawing a blank here?
Sometimes playing together can be a challenge.
Eyeing this one for babytime.
It’s all the rage.
Eyeing this for school-age storytimes.
The comb on the sheep’s head!
Get it, girl.
Love everything from this author and illustrator. Also, tire swings for life.

Which ones have you read? Any you are especially looking forward to? Let me know in the comments!

2019 Picture Books: Music, Singing, and Dancing

Three of my favourite things! Get ready to jam, y’all. Many of these are biographies, but a few of them would be great storytime picks. Perhaps one of them will win a CLEL Bell Award for a picture book that supports the five early literacy practices.

Catch up on old posts here:

A sequel to the first Kat book which made my 2018 favourites list!
CODE RED, CODE RED: There is a new Emma Garcia book coming out this year!!
Nothing left for me to do but DANCE.
Can you name all of the people on the cover?
Willems is back again.
I need to know how the art was made!
A biography to add to your collection.
Blues is having a year.
Angleberger is known for his middle grade novels, so I’m interested to see how this does.
Feel the beat in the rhythm of your heart…
A storytime winner? I have high hopes.
So many kids in my neighbourhood play piano. Really excited to get this one.
And another biography!
Miles Davis, yes please.
Interesting contrast between happy and sad on the cover.
For ballet enthusiasts. The illustrations are so elegant.
Also on my Books Featuring Babies list.
Features on my women biographies list.
Songs are powerful.
Had me at the title, the font, the guitar, the centipede…

Which ones have you read? Which ones are you waiting on? Let me know in the comments!

2019 Picture Books: Under the Sea

Instagram voted and this week’s winner is Under the Sea!

If you didn’t immediately hear Sebastian’s voice in your head after reading that title, then you were not a mermaid obsessed 6-year-old like I was. Let’s look in the ocean this week! I love living a 15-minute drive from the sea – so many of these creatures are right at my doorstep.

Need to catch up on the series? Check out the other posts:

I am loving the different shades of blues and purples plus the vertical lines that draw your eye upwards.
Got me thinking Storytime.
This is about animal conservation, right?
This dude has seen some battles.
1Fish, 2 Fish….
A case of mistaken identity!
Love me a true life story about rescuing animals.
Predicting laughter for this one.
Required reading.
Okay, now I’m getting Sebastian vibes for reals.
What do these things have in common? It starts with an F.
Seen lots of good press about this one!
The next in her peek-through series.
Loving this cover SO HARD.
Not an animal book, but still very much part of the sea!
The first one in this series was great for school-age kids.
Oh boy.
I think that’s my tagline too.
Another rescue story.
Not gonna lie, this slightly terrifies me.
Cuteness overload.
Ask yourself how many books you know about sea dragons.
That’s the cutest looking monster I’ve ever seen.
Hey, another great book by Portis!

Which ones will you be ordering for your library? Let me know in the comments!

2019 Picture Books: Holiday Stories

So many holiday books coming out this year! I’ve arranged these loosely by holiday so you can order the ones that will fill any gaps in your collection. Still waiting on a more diverse array, but for now Christmas reigns supreme.

See the other books in my 2019 Picture Book Series:

An overview of major holidays around the world.
How many books do you have about Ramadan? Now you can increase that number.
Underwear for every occasion.
Santa AND trains?! It will never be on your shelf.
I forgot to include this one on my Books Featuring Babies list.
Sophie’s Grade 2 class is obsessed with Mustache Baby so I know this one will be well loved.
Fuse 8 + a Caldecott Medalist = Christmas Gold
Even Santa needs to sleep.
A story about kindness, generosity, and friendship.
Ask the tough questions, chica.
The first of two holiday themed books featuring The Crayons.
Yes, Tomie dePaola is still publishing children’s books.
A Christmas book NOT about Santa.
Move over, Rudolph.
I can’t find much about this one, but it looks cute.
Self explanatory.
Christmas and reading all in one.
Super cute illustrations!
A little girl celebrates Christmas with a trip to the ballet.
This looks like a really cool cut-out book.
If you’re into the whole zombie thing.
If Christmas gets one…
100% buying multiple copies of this one.
I could buy 50 copies of this and they would all get checked out.
Learn about the Festival of Lights.
Sure to be popular with toddlers.
A group of cat friends get ready for Halloween.
Another one in the Dino series.
This isn’t an in-your-face Halloween book, but great for the holiday anyways.
If you’ve ever seen the movie The Last Unicorn you will know why this tree looks creepy AF.
Great for fall time in general.
Halloween serves as the backdrop for this cute tale.
A rhyming spooky jaunt.
Not gonna lie, these snowmen slightly freak me out.
The only Easter book I saw out there!
American friends, take note!
My bet is on the turtle.
The Crayons are back in this sweet story.
Amy Krouse Rosenthal *bursts into tears*

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