Monday, August 24, 2015

What I Read This Week 8/21

The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
I thought this was just the sweetest picture book I've read in a long time. The illustrations are darling and the rhymes flow so easily it almost doesn't even sound like rhyming. I think it would be great for young kids who like looking at other kids' faces as well as talking about individuality.

We Forgot Brock! by Carter Goodrich
I always love picture books where kids have imaginary friends because when I was little I tried to convince myself I had an imaginary friend but I never could. This one is a little long for a read aloud in my opinion, but I think it would make a great bedtime story. Whether or not the child reading it has an imaginary friend, it's always nice to find a book about being taken seriously.

The Whale In My Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan
It's picture books like this one that make me wish, as much as I love my infant storytimes, that I did storytimes for toddlers, too. This would make an excellent read aloud book--there are plenty of opportunities for asking silly questions like, "what would you do with a whale in your swimming pool?" or "do you think a crane will get that whale out of the pool?". Plus, I always love a picture book with a silly ending.

Beach House by Deanna Caswell
This was another really lovely picture book. The watercolor illustrations go really well with the simple rhyming text. This would be a great book for bedtime or before going on vacation--it shows a trip that would be very familiar to a lot of kids.

Papa's Backpack by James Christopher Carroll
I don't think I've ever seen picture book illustrations quite like these. It's so hard to find simple picture books about parents deploying overseas, much less ones that discuss feelings in such a child-friendly way. I also always like when illustrators choose to use animals instead of humans to make the characters relatable to all types of kids. If the child is being read aloud to, I think it would be easy to replace "Papa" with "Mama" if mom is the deployed parent.

William & the Missing Masterpiece by Helen Hancocks
I am such a fan of really clever picture books. Obviously it's most important for kids to enjoy their picture books, but I think it's also very important for parents to enjoy them. Plus, who doesn't love a picture book full of great illustrations and cheese jokes? I'm not sure it would make a great read aloud, but it would be a wonderful read-together.
And because I enjoyed this one so much:

Seaver the Weaver by Paul Czajak
I think this book would work well as both a read aloud and a read together. Kids will like repeating "what is that?" and identifying the shapes in Seaver's webs. It's also a nice way to talk about appreciating differences and being independent.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

ABCs at Storytime

Everybody at our library, no matter the age group, sings the ABCs at their storytimes. Older kids always seem to enjoy singing a song the recognize and I like to tell my parents with infants that even though babies can't recognize letters yet, it's important to teach them that those funny shapes on the page make different sounds. Anyway, our alphabet board gets so much use and is shared among storytimes (during the school year) upwards of 19 times a week, that it has gotten pretty ragged:
Corners are bent, it won't stay on the easel, and we wanted the letters to be a little less "cartoon-y".

Enter: my latest project:

This board is bigger, the letters are a full inch taller, and the pink background only hurts to look at a little bit. It's just the side of a large cardboard box covered in leftover bulletin board paper so I'm hoping it will last for a little while until I can get my hands on some corrugated plastic (the stuff campaign signs are made out of).

Decorations: Back to School 2015

Schools in my neck of the woods started up again today, so I had some fun making a back to school bulletin board this past weekend:

I told my coworkers I think the best decision I've made since I've been working here is making the pigeon drive the bus:

Flannel Friday: Ladybug Guessing Game

The kids at my storytimes go so bananas for the Little Mouse guessing game, when I saw Jbrary's ladybug version I knew I had to make my own version. (Their's can be found at

Depending on the group's ages, I might start out by going over the colors. Then I ask what color rug they think the ladybug is under.

If they said yellow, all together we would say "Ladybug, ladybug, are you under the yellow rug?"
"Nope! Not under the yellow rug. What color should we try next? Pink? Ok, all together- ladybug, ladybug, are under the pink rug?"

"There you are! The ladybug was under the pink rug the whole time!"
I really liked this idea because the Little Mouse guessing game was already very popular with my group and this version was no different! Sometimes I bring out Little Mouse twice in the same storytime so it's nice having an alternative. I've found that it's a good way to refocus an antsy group--plus it was very quick to make. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

What I Read This Week 8/14

Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones

I loved this series as a kid, so I decided to re-read a few. They are just as silly as I remember and not as dated as I thought they might be. There was one book about the kids thinking their school librarian was a wizard because he could find books on the computer, but other than that (and the covers, unfortunately) they seem pretty timeless. I think they're more silly than frightening so a higher level younger child would enjoy them. I think they would be great for kids with a sense of humor and imagination.
3.8 (K-3rd)/M (2nd-5th)/600L

43 Old Cemetery Road: Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise

I can't believe I had never heard of this series. Kate Klise's book Letters From Camp was probably my favorite chapter book in elementary school and this series' style is very similar. It's told all through letters, notes, and illustrations which I think is very appealing to the elementary age group. I do think it would be a little immature for middle schoolers, unless they especially like silly rather than scary type stories. I think it would be great for any kids who like silly/scary stories as well as ones told through notes.
4.9 (4th-8th)/U (3rd-5th)/730L (8-11 years)

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell

Even if I didn't already love Jane Goodall, I would love this book. The illustrations are very detailed and would appeal to kids who are also fascinated by animals. I think it would be a great bedtime story as it's very simple and calm.
3.2 (K-3rd)/L (K-3rd)/AD740L (5-8 years)

Underwater Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta

My library just got a stack of alphabet books by this author and I love them all. I especially enjoy how you could ignore the extra information and read it as a simple alphabet book because the illustrations are that good. It is great for all kids though--there are plenty of facts to keep older kids happy.
3.8 (K-3rd)/O (K-2nd)/590L

Night Animals by Gianna Marino

Very silly book about nocturnal animals. I love how detailed the illustrations are. It would make a great read aloud for storytimes because kids will love responding to it while you read. I think kids who like unusual animals will also enjoy it, as well as kids who might be nervous about the dark.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What I Read this Week 8/4

I've been trying to read more chapter books, especially ones for the 3rd-6th grade range. We seem to get a lot of readers' advisory questions for kids that age and I'd love to be able to branch out on my recommendations. Here's what I read this week:

The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein
I found that this book was very similar to the author's previous novel, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library, but I still really enjoyed it. There are a lot of smart kids using their resources and solving puzzles. I think most kids would enjoy it, but especially kids who are familiar with literary characters like Robin Hood, Hercules, etc. If they're not already familiar, the author included a note at the end with literary references so they can do further reading. I think it will be good for kids who like puzzles and mysteries, as well as kids who like reading about familiar characters.
4.3 (4th-8th)/640L (8-12 years)

Dragon Slayers' Academy 1: The New Kid at School by Kate McMullan
Definitely a solid choice for a lower-level chapter book as it is not intimidating length or language-wise. It has a very silly tone similar to How to Train Your Dragon, but shorter length. This series would be great for kids who liked the How to Train Your Dragon movie but aren't a high enough reading level for that book series.
3.3 (4th-8th)/O (3rd-5th)/500L

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
This is my absolute FAVORITE mystery book to recommend to kids. There are plot twists and puzzles every reader will enjoy. I think it would be great for classrooms learning literary devices, teachers looking for a read aloud chapter book, and even for lower level readers who can read along with a parent and talk about the clues together. I have never read another elementary/middle school mystery I have loved more.
5.3 (4th-8th)/V (4th-8th)/750L

Kylie Jean: Cupcake Queen by Marci Peschke
My library can't manage to keep these on the shelf no matter how many copies we order, so I thought I'd give one a try. They are definitely cute books and I see the appeal for kids too old for "kiddie books" but aren't quite ready for longer chapter books. I think they'd be good for kids who are too proficient for the Katie Woo series but maybe aren't quite ready for American Girl (although they probably appeal to the same audience).
3.6 (K-3rd)/Probably N--not leveled but the rest of the series is N/630L

Whatever After: Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski
I've really been enjoying all of the new fairy tale-inspired books lately. I think it's a great way to get kids to transition into chapter books. That being said, this series definitely uses kid-friendly language so even though rating systems say it appeals to kids through middle school, a 6th or 7th grader might find them a bit childish. I think this series would appeal to kids with active imaginations who like to imagine themselves as part of the stories they read.
2.8 (4th-8th)/S (3rd-7th)/400 L

Picture Book Book List: Math

Using math in storytime always seemed intimidating to me until I attended a STEAM programming seminar. One of the presenters spoke about in...