Stack Happy!


Stack Happy!

The title of the fifth book down is hard to read but it’s the “Yellow Kayak” by Nina Laden and Melissa Castrillon and it is a beautiful story of bravery and adventure. Check it out!

Itsy Bitsy Science: STEAM @ the Library

We’ve been trying a monthly preK STEAM series at my library and this session was our most popular one yet. It was loosely themed around penguins. Everyone seemed to have a good time trying the different activities, adults included.

We had a tinkering station that was inspired by this one I saw at a workshop. It’s a fully stocked tinker table with pretty much all of the things one could want from feathers to wire cutters. Oh, to have these materials on hand all the time!

I would highly recommend doing a tinkering station program or as an activity within a program. It was the most popular activity. It will require lots of materials so start stockpiling early.

The tinker table was quickly being depleted!

This was the maker station where patrons could create and take home whatever they wanted using materials from the tinker table.

One of the activities was building a raft for a penguin. I adapted an idea I found here. These kids couldn’t wait to test out their designs. The young man on the right kept testing, tweaking and retesting. It was fascinating to watch him try different things and figure out what worked best to keep his raft afloat.












We also made Epsom salt snowflakes and discovered how penguins stay dry in the water. So much fun and learning through play!

The only problem with doing a successful program is following it up with another one!


Caldecott & Newbery Predictions

It’s that time of year when librarians are all abuzz about Youth Media Awards! Who’s going to win??? Some years I feel like I have a good handle on the books that will probably win or be honored. Other years I don’t have any sense at all on what will be selected. This is one of those years. A coworker and I were discussing this recently and she felt the same way. So, really, these aren’t predictions as much as they are what I’d put on the list if I were in charge!


Simply gorgeous and everyone should read it.

Because Kadir Nelson has never won. He’s been robbed. Robbed! If there is any justice in the children’s literary world, Kadir Nelson will win a Caldecott. He puts out gorgeous picture book after gorgeous picture book. What else does he have to do? Come on, Caldecott committee!


Really funny ABC read that adults might like too!

I have always been a fan of McDonnell’s adorably illustrated picture books. This is one of his best.


Whose Moon Is That? Children's book

No one is talking about this one. I get it – there’s no ‘message’, no diversity to speak of. Still, it’s one of the most beautiful book I’ve read in the last year.


Thoughtful, simple explanation of life. Beautiful illustrations. Would be perfect for gifting.

Jeffers’ books feel big and important while, at the same time, being simple enough for young readers. This one is beautiful with a touch of whimsy.


Inspiring, beautiful and worth sharing

Collier has received a Caldecott Honor four times, but I don’t think he’s ever won. He should’ve won for Dave the Potter but this one is Caldecott-worthy.



Full disclosure–I didn’t read a lot of medal-worthy middle grade fiction this last year. I read titles that were popular with patrons but those won’t be winning awards, regardless of how good they may be. Of the titles I read that are getting buzz, here are my favorites.












~~Edit~~ I just finished this one and loved it. Jackson gets it just right in this book from the setting-which is so well-developed it’s practically a character itself- to the tone to characterization. I appreciate when authors write truthfully and authentically for kids and Jackson does. There are many difficult and tense scenes in the book but the reader is led through those moments by the strength of main character Rose Lee Carter who is one of the strongest female leads in middle grade fiction I’ve come across. One of the best middle grade fiction titles I’ve ever read. Amazing job by Jackson that deserves to be recognized.


A realistic portrayal of the lives of three children whose families are refugees and whose stories are connected. As refugee crises continue in the world, this book brings a needed perspective to the issue. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

Loved the characters and the way their stories overlapped and connected. Gripping, page turning and well done.


Such a thought-provoking coming-of-age story about family, mental health and dealing with the curveballs life throws your way. The writing is smart, tight and the book has strong character appeal. Really liked the way Cheng handles the tough subjects and reveals each of the characters. One of the better mg novels I've read this year.

It’s a slice-of-life story. It’s quiet. It would be a hard sell to your average kid. It’s got Newbery written all over it.

I’d love to know what’s on your list!

Children’s Books to Gift this Holiday Season

There are some books that are so well done they practically beg to be read again and again. Here are some of favorites of the year that young book lovers will want you to read over and over and are good enough that you won’t mind doing so. It’s not too late for a little more holiday shopping, right?

Board Books











These are all very cute board books. I read Quantum Entanglement and I still couldn’t tell you what it really is but what a great way of introducing science to babies! One of several titles in the Baby University series.

Picture Books


A beautifully illustrated story of what life is all about.

An outrageously silly story that you will enjoy reading as much as your child enjoys hearing it.

A new Olivia story that’s as sophisticated, clever and sassy as ever.

The story is thoughtful and interesting but this book is worth it for the illustrations alone.

A tribute to America and all Americans illustrated with Kadir Nelson’s gorgeous paintings.

New parents will appreciate the clever, sly humor and graphic style of this.

A riot of color and sound!


Chapter Books

Historical fiction with strong characters and a good plot. At times a little sad but handled delicately.

Feisty, larger-than-life characters (mostly Gertie) who get themselves into unbelievably embarrassing and hilarious situations. Would make a great family readaloud.

A thought-provoking coming-of-age story about family, mental health and dealing with the curveballs life throws your way.



Best Storytime Ever: All the Other Stuff

Yes, I know it’s been a while. I was conferencing, Christmas decorating and caroling. Now, for your reading pleasure, the final installment of this storytime series. We’ve talked about the basics, and music and books. Let’s talk about all the other stuff!

Storytime can be whatever you want it to be. You can keep it simple: just books and music. You can make it elaborate with lots of different stations, props, puppets, instruments, and fancy hand motions! We’re all doing books and music. It’s those extra elements that will set your storytime apart from the rest and may become ‘your thing’ that patrons come to know and love.

Activity Stations

We always have stations at our storytimes because we believe that play is an important part of the storytime experience. There are usually 3-5 stations set up and they vary depending on the theme and personal preference. We’re more concerned about providing good activities rather than the stations being on a theme, though. Activity stations you may find at storytime……

Art – open-ended process focused


Small Motor


Large Motor




Simple Science






Puppets – Either ones you’ve purchased or ones you’ve made yourself

Flannelboards – These can be pricey and you can easily DIY your own flannelboard sets

Objects related to the theme or story

Mystery box/bag/basket – A box or other container large enough to hold a few items. Have kids reach in and without looking feel the item. Have them guess what it is then reveal the items as you and the children talk about what the items are and how they relate to the theme.

Storytelling basket – Contains items representing a story that you can use when retelling a story. Then can be set out for children to play with and retell the story themselves.

Anything can be a prop!


A few instruments that you may want to have on hand to use whenever.

Ukulele – With just a few chords you can play a ton of children’s songs. You can get these pretty inexpensively, there are lots of YouTube videos to teach yourself and parents will be so impressed to have live music at storytime!

Rhythm Sticks – Set the rules for playing and you can have a good time with these. Jbrary has a few songs for rhythm sticks.


Shakers – bought or DIY’d

Scarves – Not an instrument but they seem to fit here

Ribbon Rings – Get one or two sets of shower curtain rings and tie ribbons or strips of inexpensve plastic tablecloths around them. Instant shower of color at storytime!

Slide whistle

Music wand




DIY instruments

Loved this idea of a bell made from an empty can, ribbon and a bead. It worked, too!

How fun would a washboard be?

Other things to consider…….

A storytime cheer – classes do this and I think it would be a fun way to end a storytime

Mindfulness moment – I bought this set and it’s super cute. Big, colorful cards each with an action to foster calmness or energy in kids. Social/emotional development is a big focus in early childhood right now and this would be a simple way to encourage that with kids and families at storytime. 


There’s no right or wrong as long as what you’re doing helps move the kids a little further down the road to literacy and you’re all having good fun.

Until next time!