Tag: storytime

Wee Reads: Week One

One of the things I’ve had parents ask for was something for children who are emerging readers. As I see it, it is not enough to hit the pre-literacy, we really need library programs and services to capture those kids who are just tackling reading on their own. English isn’t an easy language to learn or to read. It’s a mix of rules and exceptions, phonics and sight words, sounding it out and “why do you pronounce it that way?”

So this spring, with Madame Storyteller’s blessing, I put out the idea of an older kid’s evening storytime. I planned for 12 kids and hoped to at least half fill it. The response was gratifying–we closed out the “waiting list” at 16 (NO MORE, I announced). The children are between 4-7, with the majority 6-7. Little siblings, though not completely forbidden, are really strongly discouraged.    

For three weeks the youth services aides tackled creating picture boxes for me. I’d picked up 20 8x8x8 boxes a few months ago and I raided the never ending stash of donated National Geographic Magazines. I told the aides I wanted the boxes covered with pictures on all sides.They did a beautiful job. 

There are 20 different brightly covered boxes.

Starting 15 minutes before storytime (now that I’ve told them about it) and through the first five minutes of “actual storytime”…I invited the kids to grab a box and tell their grown ups a story about the pictures they saw. The kids engaged very quickly with it, as did the parents. I think over time it will go even more smoothly as they come up with wild and crazy stories based on tree frogs, pyramids, buildings, and wild cats.  

We did a hello song.  Always a good way to draw focus.

Then, I got to read them a book I’d never be able to read to my 3 year olds (Wednesday starts my regular Pre-school storytime too):


The Book That Eats People
by John Perry

It’s a lot longer than my usual pre-school books, but this crew can handle it.  And while the dark and sinister is giggle worthy, rather than nightmarish. It’s a phenomenal read aloud. 

Then I pointed out a whole slew of Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie books that I’d brought in for the kids to grab. Often parents are looking for “the good easy readers” and I have the chance here to highlight authors and bring in some classics.

For tonight’s selection, I read:

I Will Surprise My Friend!
by Mo Willems

I don’t think I could ever live up to the reading I’ve seen the author do of Pigs Make Me Sneeze but the kids, fortunately, are not judging my reading against his. 

And this is a separation storytime, which most of the parents have been pretty excited about (“Ten minutes to go look at adult books all by myself? Really? Sign me up!!”).  So after those two books I shooed the parents out of the room. We only had a little anxiety about staying in the room with a book that eats people. I put my chair on top of it so it wouldn’t eat anyone.  (We counted 3 times to make sure the book hadn’t eaten anyone.)  

During this ten minutes I’m going to do a short activity and then read to the kids from a chapter book. I’m staying away from crafts and snacks, though not entirely ruling either out either. This week’s activity was ribbon dancing (ribbons taped to straws) and we started Knights of the Kitchen Table by Jon Scieszka. I only had time to get through one chapter, but that’s okay.  What was important was that they listened–clustered around and nearly right on top of me.

We finished by scooping up carpet squares and grabbing Mo Willems books and then our Read to Rover program followed hard on the heels of the storytime. Several of the kids headed out to the children’s area to wait their turn to read aloud to a dog, and I saw one boy painstakingly reading aloud an Elephant and Piggie book.

Can’t wait to see how next week goes!

An Oink Free Storytime

This morning I did a pig-themed storytime. Discussing it just now with Madame Director I came to a rather startling realization. In four books, two rhymes, and nearly forty minutes–I didn’t have the kids oink.

How does one miss oinking during a PIG storytime?

We read:

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf (as told to Jon Scieszka)
(Wolf’s point of view, so no oinking)

Olivia by Ian Falconer
(Olivia is anthropomorphized–no oinking)

Twenty Hungry Piggies by Trudy Harris
(Again, anthropomorphized….wolf growls but no oinks)

Piggies in a Polka by Kathi Appelt
(Pigs dancing, singing, using various obscure dance and party terms)

And though they aren’t really the best for storytime (the art doesn’t work so well with a room full of kids–very detailed), I did bring in all the Toot and Puddle books for the kids to take with them. Holly Hobbie does incredible artwork and really beautiful stories. That’s me….raising the circulation on the pig picture books.

But apparently not oinking.

Apply Storytime as Necessary

Wednesday mornings are always a little dose of sunshine during the week–for that’s preschool storytime.

The ‘preschool’ time is a challenge to prepare because it is our “drop in” story time. Thus I have no one formally registered, no clue on how many I’ll have week to week, and an age range generally running from 2-6. Development levels are all over the place. I use crafts sparingly, usually focusing on more physical activities rather than crafts as they don’t require manual dexterity the 19 month olds don’t have and which can be expanded to a broader age group without the five year olds being bored and “done” in .5 seconds.

I usually prep on Tuesday nights, finding picture books appropriate for whatever theme I’m doing (today was trains), semi-memorizing action rhymes that help reinforce what we’re talking about, debating the use of a flannel board activity, figuring out a little early literacy tip to sneak in, and if I’m a week ahead of time-working on a craft. I did use a video a couple of weeks ago–our copy of Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats was out and we have it in video from Scholastic–a really nice gentle version. But that’s a rarity for my story times.

I close Tuesday nights and have never professed myself to be a morning person, so Wednesdays aren’t my favorite morning to roll out of bed. The residual lethargy slips away about 10:07 a.m. when I head into our story time area. This is, quite literally, a Mississippi riverboat. There is a deck outside the room and the kids have a fabulous time climbing all over it, pretending more boat stories that I could ever imagine, and frolicking on the carpet that truly looks like hard wood flooring.

Young children are marvelously enthusiastic, particularly in story time. At 10:15 I ring the bell on the boat to call everyone in and from the second they race for their carpet squares, the energy is teeming. Now I’m faced with excited children, some forward and some shy, all anticipating and that’s as powerful a wake up as a Starbucks Double Shot. There’s a ‘hello’ song to pull their focus and we’re off into adventuresome tales. Toss in an action rhyme and the required ‘head and shoulders’– which we have to do (at P’s demand today) “REALLY fast!!” and 35 minutes flies by without a thought. We finished with a little parachute time today–circling around while singing “Little Red Caboose” and then letting them shake the parachute and run under it. I’ve never quite understood the parachute fascination, but I think if I had the opportunity to lay under one sometime, I might.

It’s one of the best half hours of my week, that chance to be with children who are happy to be there, introduce funny stories on familiar and new subjects, and find a way to change it up just enough to keep it fresh for the parents and myself. It’s a lovely way to set aside the rest of the world for a few moments and allow our imaginations to run free.

And besides, how often do you get to say “After a rousing round of ‘Hot Potato’…”