Best of March Reading Roundup

I’ve been in a mood where I want to read everything I see. If only there was time to do that. One of these days I’m going to take a reading vacation. Just me, some beach, a stack of books and a big mango daiquiri! In the meantime, a few standouts I came across this month.

This book is super cute with its thick-lined pastel illustrations. It’s about a little chick who tries to convince her egg friend to hatch listing all the fun things they can do once he does. He’s got an excuse for everything and repeatedly declares, “I’m not hatching.” The excuses are funny and the reader may be a little surprised at what finally gets him to hatch. Can’t wait to read this one at stortyime!

Susan Gal’s illustrations perfectly capture the wild and wonderful beauty of spring. With flaps that open to reveal spring’s hidden surprises to the ‘magic’ words on each spread this is lovely read aloud title for anytime of the year. I just did it in storytime this week and kids and adults were transfixed by it.

 

I don’t know why cows are funnier than other animals; they just are. This title is about a cow with a dream, a dream of flying. What else do you need to know? From beginning to end this is a good story with a great message of staying curious and discovering the possibilities.

 

I know this book came out a long time ago but it was new to me. Actually, I’d tried reading the book a long time ago and just couldn’t get into it. A friend recommended the audio book. Oh. My. God. So much funny. I’m sure people that saw me driving thought I was crazy as I doubled over the steering wheel laughing hysterically to myself! All the parts about him in France and the bit about explaining Easter to the Muslim classmate, worth listening to just for that. Seriously. Listened to some parts several times because I couldn’t get enough! His odd, deadpan voice is the perfect vehicle for his dry, sarcastic humor. It does get a little dark at times when he’s talking about his struggle with drug addiction. But if you can overlook that and you’re the kind of person who appreciates a dark, sarcastic wit, you will love this.

 

I read tried reading Eat, Pray, Love. It seemed like another book about bored, white, suburban life and I’d already read enough of those. So I was really surprised when I saw her Ted Talk on creativity and loved it. If you haven’t seen it, you should watch it. I’d heard good things about this title and decided to give her another try. So glad I did because this book is AMAZING. I’m not finished yet but so far it’s funny, insightful and inspiring. She has a fresh perspective on inspiration and working through fear which I found to be helpful. If you liked Eat, Pray Love you should read this. If you liked her Ted Talk, you should read this. Just go ahead and put it on the to-read list. You can thank me later. 😉

What were your favorites this month?

 

 

 

Storytime Rewind

We had storytime yesterday with ages ranging from 0-8 years  and everyone had a good time. I don’t usually follow a ‘theme’ per se. I just pick books, music and activities I like. Here’s what we did!

I’d been wanting to read these pirate books for a while and yesterday was the day. If you haven’t yet read Half-Pint Pete, read it already!  It’s one of the better pirate books I’ve seen. I wasn’t sure about Swap! for a readaloud but I did it anyway. The illustrations are a little busy but the older kids were able to follow what was happening, and I had everyone saying ‘swap’ every time we saw it. There was a little girl about two years old who after a few rounds of saying ‘swap’ with the group looked at her mom and exclaimed, “I said swap! I’m reading!”

  

In between I read….

This is a beautiful book with flaps on each page that reveal the magic of spring. It has lots of interesting words having to do with spring and kids thought it was fun getting to say things like, “hocus pocus” and “bibbity boo”. It’s a good one to read this time of year.

We sang……

I’ve been trying to incorporate more diversity in my storytimes. One of the ways I am doing that is with music. “Funga Alafia” by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael on their Bouncy Blue CD is a fun West African song of welcome and has actions that you can simplify for the preschool crowd. Loosely translated it means the spirit in me welcomes the spirit in you;  everyone is welcome here; namaste or amen. That’s a great message to share with people. Youtube it if you’re unfamiliar.

“Funga Alafia” by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael (use with shakers and bells)

“Finger Poppin” by Georgina Stewart

“Ram Sam Sam” (watch the Wee Sing video here)

“I Can Shake My Shaker Egg” by Mr. Eric and Mr. Michael (so much fun to watch kids moving to this one!)

“Skinnamarink” by Sharon, Lois and Bram (Don’t count them out because their music is older. They’re awesome! And they do the best rendition of “Itsy Bitsy Spider”!)

For our station time we…..

played in a sensory table filled with packing peanuts, seashells and scoops

did body tracing on rolls of butcher paper

and had a ‘build-a-palooza’ using all the blocks we had

 

By the end, one little boy kept coming up to me with a big smile and giving me hugs. I think he enjoyed storytime!

What did you do or are going to do in storytime this week?

 

 

Storytime 101

Storytime has been a hot topic around me lately. I’ve got a friend doing storytimes for the first time and asking lots of questions, a Facebook group was discussing advice for new storytime presenters and I’ll soon find myself in a new library doing storytimes in a way that’s totally different from my normal format. Aagghh! When I started no one told me what to do or what not to do. There was no Pinterest. I didn’t even have the benefit of observing a storytime before doing one. It took me a while to find my groove. Here’s what I wish I had known in the beginning.

Do the stories, music and activities that you love. 
I can think back to books I used that were total flops because they didn’t have much of a story or just weren’t very interesting but I used them anyway because they went with The Theme. (More on themes later.) Because I didn’t like them it was hard to get into the reading. I decided a long time ago not to do that anymore. If I don’t like the book, why in the world would I read it to other people? Only do stories that you like yourself and your enthusiasm for them will be felt by the audience. Being told you have to do a certain book or song? Try it various ways until you find a way to make it your own.

Storytime will never be perfect and that’s okay.  
In the beginning I’d write up elaborate plans so that every moment was laid out with visions of one thing flowing seamlessly into the next with no dead space making for the perfect storytime. The only problem is that that’s not how it works. Right when you’re getting to the good part of that awesome book is just the time one of the kids will decide to throw a fit. Just when you’re getting ready to play a song for everyone to dance to is when the Ipad or CD player will mysteriously stop working. Or a kid will pull the fire alarm during storytime requiring you to excuse yourself and frantically hunt down the key that silences the alarm while simultaneously racking your brain trying to remember what the procedures are for this but you can’t because the last time the alarm was pulled was four years ago. For example. Not like that’s ever happened or anything! The point is even the best plans can go awry and you just have to roll with the punches. Have a plan but don’t be afraid to improvise or move on if something isn’t working. The storytime crowd is usually very forgiving (with the exception of persnickety soccer moms and they’re never happy anyway) and kids don’t care if you make a mistake.

Take themes and….throw them out the window.
This doesn’t mean never do themes. There are lots of good themes around which to build a storytime. But don’t feel like you have to do a theme each week in which every single element is tied to said theme. There are themes that you can find books, songs, and rhymes for easily, ducks or bedtime, for instance. Recycling, not so much. Pick good books, songs and rhymes and don’t worry about themes. However, if you must, pick broad themes, like letters or concepts or “Every Child Ready to Read” skills. Choose activities that appeal to a variety of learning styles.  If you feel limited by a theme, get rid of it. Storytimes aren’t about themes anyway.

Have your elevator speech ready to go!                                                                                      At a storytime several years ago I had kids fingerpainting with pudding. A  mom asked me about it and I didn’t have a professional, academic response at the ready. I still regret that missed opportunity. Since then kids at my storytimes have walked through paint, played with dyed spaghetti, painted with blowdryers, built marble runs and lots of crazy stuff. I can tell you the cognitive/social/motor skills being developed for any activity I do. Be ready and able to explain developmental benefits of your activities should someone ask.

Choose good books!
There are so many wonderful picture books out there but not all of them work as read alouds. The best readalouds have simple text and clear, easy to see illustrations. Here are some of my favorites. This list of readaloud do’s and don’ts from Teach Preschool has great pointers.

Have fun with it!
Try something new, experiment. Find your style and run with it! I’m all about music and movement and play so there’s always lots of that in my storytime. I know a librarian who often doesn’t read books but rather does actual storytelling. Others swear by puppets. You do you. Ultimately the goal of storytime is to help parents and kids form positive connections with books and reading and by extension, the library. If they leave smiling rather than running out screaming that’s success!

Friday Faves!

Loving Book Riot more all the time. They put together this list of literary references from Golden Girls. Love the Girls and I’m not afraid to admit it. And no one gives them credit for being the first Sex and the City!

 

If you don’t know Literature Map yet check it out! It’s a fun animated visual for author read-alike suggestions. There’s a Movie Map and a Music Map too!

 

Have you seen these? Yoga dress pants could revolutionize this children’s librarian’s workday!

 

Love this mug at Gone Reading! Not so sure about the Sylvia Plath finger puppet….

sylvia

5 little Sylvias…..

 

I have a birthday coming up and I’m gonna need cake.  Some literary inspiration….

via amandaonwriting.tumblr.com