True Confessions: Why I Hate Arranging Forced Book Marriages

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There’s a sad but predictable ritual I go through at least once a week at the library. It usually goes like this: a parent (usually a mom) drags a kid to my desk and says, “Can you recommend some books for my child?”

Usually the kid in question is staring fixedly at the floor.  I try to be cheerful. “What kinds of books do you like?” I’ll ask. Or “What’s a book you enjoyed recently?”

The kid usually gives me a deer-in-the-headlights look, as if he’s never heard of a book before, much less read one. The mom will often supply an answer, “You liked that Percy Jackson book, remember?” The kid will nod obediently. And then we’ll all trudge over to the shelves, where I’ll do my best to talk up several other books that might appeal to a Percy Jackson fan.

Usually the kid will show little interest in any of my recommendations. He never signed up for this embarrassing public matchmaking service, and even though he liked Percy Jackson, none of these books ARE Percy Jackson. They may have shiny covers and nice personalities, but they are all total strangers and so am I.

On the rare occasion that a book does catch the poor kid’s fancy, often his mom will disapprove. “I’d rather he read a ‘real book,'” she’ll say, pursing her lips at the graphic novel I just put in his hands. Or, “That one looks too easy.”

One time, I managed to hook a boy with a nonfiction book about a zoo veterinarian, only to have his mom say, “I think he’d prefer a novel.” Another time, a mom told me she wanted her daughter to “fall in love with a book,” then spent the next twenty minutes criticizing every book her daughter opened, while yelling “Hurry up!” and “You can only take one!” I’ve never actually hit someone over the head with a library book before, but I can’t say I’ve never been tempted.

Don’t get me wrong: I LOVE recommending books to people, especially kids. But it’s a very different situation when a child or a teen comes to me of their own volition to ask for a suggestion. Those usually lead to amazing conversations: their faces light up as they share their favorite reading adventures, and they eagerly accept my shiny new books as if I had just handed them a big box of chocolates.

Arranged book marriages, on the other hand, are a depressing enterprise for everyone involved. That’s why I was thrilled to hear Young Adult author Kwame Alexander say in a recent interview, “Books are like amusement parks, and sometimes you gotta let kids choose the rides.” Although he admitted his own daughter threw that quote back at him when he tried to dictate her reading choices on vacation. (You can read the full story here: http://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2017/06/28/kwame-alexander-summer-reading)

I get it: I have two kids of my own, and I want them to love books the same way that I love them, and even to love the same books that I do.  For the most part, they do, although I have more luck with the books I read aloud to them.  Otherwise, my only hope is to keep bringing books home and leaving them in places where they might be discovered (I find that the backseat of the car is one of the best locations for a bored kid to meet a lonely but fascinating library book).

And that’s my main advice to parents of reluctant readers (or even avid readers who are caught in that mourning period between series): please, yes, ask librarians, teachers, friends, and book lovers of all kinds for recommendations, but do it on your own.  Then bring two or three books home and leave them–no pressure–for your kids to stumble upon, open, and hopefully, if all goes well, find a match. Or ask them if they’ve heard of any books they might be interested in.

Above all, let your kids choose the ride. When I was in library school, I did a survey of kids who read above grade level to see if there were any trends in the kinds of books they read. The only thing they had in common: they all read voraciously, both above and below their reading level.  They might read Tolkien one day, and Dr. Seuss the next.  Being a book lover does not mean that you only read challenging, educational books. And encouraging your child to love books means letting them choose what books to love, even if those books seem silly or gross or “too easy,” or if they just want to read the same one over and over again.

Also, embrace other reading experiences. One of the best new publishing trends is the boom in graphic novels and audiobooks. Not only are graphic novels and comic books more appealing and less intimidating for many reluctant readers, they often feature harder, less familiar vocabulary than regular books, while providing illustrations to help kids decipher the new words.  And studies on the science of reading have concluded that listening to a book on audio involves most of the same processes in the brain as physically reading it.

For some kids, ebooks are less daunting: they can adjust the font-size and easily look up unfamiliar words.  They are also perfect for reading late at night without having to turn the light on, or hunt for where you left off (I became a Kindle convert as an adult when I developed chronic insomnia).

And, the number one piece of parenting advice I will offer (while usually forgetting to follow it myself) is stay calmSadly, nagging and obsessing over how much or what your kids reads is probably going to put reading in the same category as liver and turnips: something they know may be good for them, but they’ll never choose it voluntarily. Your best bet, after leaving books lying temptingly around the house, is to curl up with a good book yourself and just relax.

 

 

 

Thinking Outside the Box: A Storytime About Boxes

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Paper Box by Kylie

I had a group of mostly young toddlers this week, which was the perfect age group for these picture books about boxes.

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Thank You, Bear by Greg Foley

Very sweet picture book about a bear who opens a box and decides that he has found a perfect gift for his friend Mouse.  But the other animals who look inside are not impressed.  Spoiler alert: The box is actually empty, but it turns out to be exactly the right size to be a cozy spot for Mouse.  This one got lots of “Awww’s” from the group (especially the parents).

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Special Delivery by B. Weninger

Sadly this book appears to be out of print, which is a shame because it has a lot of kid appeal.  After her new vacuum arrives, Mom receives a new delivery on the doorstep, with something very special inside.  The book features large flaps for kids to open as the contents of the box are slowly revealed.  I love this book because my daughter used to love to hide inside boxes to surprise me.

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A Pig, A Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske

This is actually an easy reader, but one that works well as a read-aloud.  The tricks Fox plays on his good friend Pig all end up back-firing in painful ways.  A funny book, told in rhymed verse.

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Not a Box by Antoinette Portis

The companion to Not a Stick, this picture-driven book shows all of the different ways a box is transformed by a rabbit’s imagination.  The kids always like guessing what the box will turn into next: a rocket, a pirate’s ship, a mountain, etc.

CRAFT: Paper Box

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Paper Box by Brandon

There are lots of templates online for making paper boxes.  I used this one from Pinterest.  I cut the template out ahead of time and gave the kids markers to decorate them before gluing them together with glue sticks (the parents helped with assembly).  The kids were really happy to have their own little boxes.

OTHER BOOKS ABOUT BOXES:

Inside Outside Upside Down by Stan and Jan Berenstain

This was one of my favorite books as a child: a rhyming story featuring Brother of the Berenstain Bears, and his adventures inside a box.

Too Many Toys by David Shannon

When Spencer’s Mom orders him to get rid of some of his many, many toys, they are both in for a long day of negotiations.  But then Spencer discovers the best toy of all…

I Miss You Every Day by Simms Taback

I’m sad that this book is out of print, because it’s always been a hit with my storytime families.  A young girl wishes she could package herself up and send herself to her loved one who is far away.  Sweet, rhyming book with beautiful illustrations.

What are your favorite books about boxes?

 

Lions and Tigers (But No Bears)! Oh My!

 

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Fork-Painted Lion by Maia

It’s been a while since I wrote a post about one of my storytimes, but last night’s was particularly fun, and the kids loved all of the books.  Here’s what we read:

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Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T. Smith

This book has been nominated for the Irma Black Award, and I had a blast reading it to two classes of second graders last week.  The storytime crowd loved it too.  When Little Red’s Auntie Rosie develops a bad case of spots, Little Red sets out through the jungle to bring her some spot medicine.  On the way, she meets a sneaky lion, who plots to shove Auntie Rosie in a cabinet and disguise himself in her clothes.  Unfortunately for the lion, Little Red is not fooled.  Before the lion has a chance to react, Little Red has given him a fashionable (and hilarious!) new hairdo, made him brush his disgusting teeth, and changed him into a lovely pink dress.  The kids laughed out loud at the illustrations!

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It’s a Tiger! by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Jeremy Tankard

I had the kids stand up and mime the motions to this one, because it takes the reader on a journey through the jungle, where the tiger pops up unexpectedly among vines, under leaves, and even in the uniform of a boat captain.  The kids loved spotting the tiger hidden in the illustrations, and running in place whenever I said, “It’s a Tiger!”

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Lion Lessons by Jon Agee

I’m a big fan of Jon Agee, especially since he gave a wonderful presentation at my son’s school a few years ago.  This book was fun for the kids to act out as well, since they got to stretch, and roar, and pounce.  It’s the story of a boy’s effort to earn his “Lion Diploma” from a very hard-to-please instructor.

 

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Naughty Kitty by Adam Stower

Another hidden tiger book.  This is a cute story about a girl named Lily, who blames her adorable gray kitten for some very destructive behavior.  The kids enjoyed spotting the tiger on each page, and the feeling of knowing more than the main character.  The surprise ending made them laugh too.

SONGS AND RHYMES:

We’re Going on a Tiger Hunt

Instead of the usual bear hunt, we went on a tiger hunt.  This is a great way to give the kids a chance to move around in between books.  I like to ham it up by pretending to get a grasshopper stuck in my shirt, wiping the mud off my feet, and shaking myself dry from the lake.  There are lots of variations, but this the script I use, with the kids repeating every line:

We’re going on a tiger hunt!
(We’re going on a tiger hunt!)
It’s a beautiful day!
(It’s a beautiful day!)
We’re not scared!
(We’re not scared!)

We’re coming to some grass.
(We’re coming to some grass).
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go through it.
(Have to go through it.)
Swish! Swish! Swish! Swish! (Rubbing hands together)

We’re coming to some mud.
(We’re coming to some mud.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go through it.
(Have to go through it).
Squilch! Squelch! Squilch! Squelch! (Clapping hands together).

We’re coming to a lake.
(We’re coming to a lake.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to swim across it.
(Have to swim across it.)
Splish! Splash! Splish! Splash!

We’re coming to a cave.
(We’re coming to a cave.)
Can’t go over it.
(Can’t go over it.)
Can’t go under it.
(Can’t go under it.)
Have to go inside.
(Have to go inside.)
Tiptoe…tiptoe…tiptoe…tiptoe…
It’s dark in here…
(It’s dark in here…)
It’s cold in here…
(It’s cold in here…)
Two yellow eyes…it’s a tiger!

Run!
Swim across the lake!
Run through the mud!
Run through the grass!
Into the house!
Slam the door!
Lock it!
We’re never going on a tiger hunt again!

Fun with Scarves

Something I’ve been meaning to blog about is my recent addition of scarves to my storytimes.  Our library recently received a set of play scarves, and I found some fun, easy songs that we do each week with them.  It’s a part of storytime, along with the instrument play at the end, that the kids look forward to each week.  Here are the two songs I do most often:

Popcorn Kernels
To the Tune of Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping?)

Popcorn Kernels, (hold scarf bunched up in one hand)
Popcorn Kernels,
In the Pot,
In the Pot.
Shake ’em, shake ’em, shake ’em, (shake hand)
Shake ’em, shake ’em, shake ’em.
Till they POP! (throw scarf in the air)
Till they POP!

Icky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum

(Click on the triangle to hear the tune)

Icky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum (stretching scarf between hands)
Bubblegum, Bubblegum.
Icky Sticky Sticky Bubblegum,
Sticking my hand to my nose. (put one end of the scarf on your nose)
1-2-3 UNSTUCK! (throw scarf in the air).

Repeat, sticking the scarf to different body parts: belly button, eyebrow, etc.

CRAFT: Fork Painted Lion

I found this fun and easy craft on CraftyMorning.com.  I put out plates with orange paint (along with other paint options for kids who wanted to do something different), along with googly eyes, markers, and plastic forks.  Some of the kids smeared the paint to make the fork prints less obvious.

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Fork-Painted Lion by Jade

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Fork-Painted Lion by Kiley

MORE BOOKS ABOUT LIONS AND TIGERS:

The Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elisa Kleven

This is one of my all-time favorite picture books.  A little red bird wonders why a lion has a bright green tail.  She follows him for the day, until he disappears into his cave, but the next day his tail is orange!  The reason for the lion’s colorful tail is a mystery until one stormy night when the lion rescues the bird, and brings her into his cave.  A sweet story with beautiful illustrations.

The Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Another nominee for the Irma Black Award this year, this funny book lists a wide assortment of animals sitting next to a hungry lion.  On each page, there are fewer animals, although the reason for their disappearance will come as a surprise.

The Tawny Scrawny Lion by Kathryn Jackson; illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren

One of my favorite Little Golden books, this is the story of a lion who terrorizes all of the other animals, until a rabbit brings him home to enjoy some carrot stew with his large and entertaining family.  I used to read this book over and over when I was a kid, and I love it still.

What are your favorite books about lions and tigers?

My Favorite Picture Books of 2016

It’s that time of year again.  The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) will be announcing their Book and Media Awards on Monday, January 23 at 8am EST (5am, my time, unfortunately).

I’m very excited this year because my friend and former coworker, Ashley Waring is on the Caldecott Committee, although she doesn’t know who the winner is yet, and has been sworn to secrecy anyway.  So until the 23rd, I just have to look at my own favorite picture books published in 2016, and try to guess which one might win.

Admittedly, I have a different criteria for picture books than the Caldecott Committee.  As a children’s librarian, I tend to prefer books that lend themselves well to being read aloud to a large group of kids, so many of the beautiful wordless books or very wordy picture books don’t work as well for me.  There are also a few books on some of the Mock Caldecott lists that I haven’t been able to get hold of yet. But these are my personal favorites so far:

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Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat

This is one of the most unusual picture books I’ve seen this year, and one that works well both as a read-aloud and a book for kids to pore over on their own.  The text is fairly simple, but describe a feeling that most kids can identify with: the endless tedium of a long car trip.  As the trip progresses though, the book flips upside down and backwards, and the scenery outside the car shifts, travelling back in time to the age of pirates, ancient Egypt and all the way back to the dinosaurs.  It then jumps forward into the far future, and the boy wonders if they missed Grandma’s birthday party altogether.  Santat already won the 2014 Caldecott for The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, so it would be surprising if he won one again so soon, but between the two books, this one is my favorite.

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King Baby by Kate Beaton

This one is fairly simple, and unlikely to win the Caldecott, but it’s been one of my favorite books to read aloud this year, because the kids love it.  Cartoony illustrations capture the pride and frustration of a baby who is King of all he surveys.  His parents are his loyal subjects, waiting on his every need and whim, although they don’t always understand what he is asking for.  So King Baby has to learn to do things for himself by growing into a Big Kid.  Whenever I read this one, the kids laugh out loud at the diaper change, the burping, and especially the last page, when King Baby is replaced by a new ruler, Queen Baby.

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Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Compoy and Theresa Howell; illustrated by Rafael Lopez.

I can think of several picture books about kids who have transformed a bleak city landscape into something beautiful that brings the community together (including City Green by DyAnne DiSalvo-Ryan and The Curious Garden by Peter Brown), but this is notable for being based on a true story.  A little girl who lives in a gray city hands out colorful pictures to her friends and neighbors.  Her drawings make people smile, and inspire a muralist, who picks up a paintbrush and begins to transform the walls into bright, beautiful paintings bursting with color.  The story is based on the Urban Art Trail Project in the East Village of San Diego.  The illustrations are truly vibrant and joyful, and the book as a whole is a wonderful testament to the power of art.

schoolSchool’s First Day of School by Adam Rex; illustrated by Christian Robinson

Adam Rex is one of my favorite children’s author/illustrators, and, although I haven’t had a chance to share this one at storytime yet, I am looking forward to it.  There are hundreds of books about kids facing the anxiety of the first of school, and even books about teachers being nervous, but this is the first book I’ve seen that personifies the feelings of the school building itself.  Embarrassed by the fire drill that empties the building, hurt by the kid who says, “I hate school!” and seeking reassurance from the school janitor, the school becomes a character that you immediately like.  Christian Robinson’s whimsical, colorful illustrations add to the humor and endearing nature of the story.  I expect to be reading this one a lot in the future.

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They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

This is the picture book that has gotten the most buzz this year.  As a cat walked through the world, he is seen by different people and animals in wildly different ways.  Each page is vivid and thought-provoking.  The dog sees the cat as a skinny creature with a giant bell.  The bees sees it as a collection of multicolored dots.  This is one I would have spent a long time looking at as a child, and one I could see having lots of uses for art lessons or themes about different points of view.  Mostly though, it’s a fun and beautiful, unusual book, and I can see why it’s at the top of most of the Mock Caldecott lists this year.

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Thunder Boy, Jr. by Sherman Alexie; illustrated by Yuyi Morales

As someone who hated her name as a kid (growing up with the name “Ashley” in Gone With the Wind country was no picnic), I identified with this book’s main character, a boy who hates being named Thunder Boy, Jr., after his dad.  Thunder Boy proposes several names he would rather have, including Mud in His Ears, Can’t Run Fast While Laughing, and Not Afraid of Ten Thousand Teeth.  Finally, he and his dad come up with a name that works for both of them.  This is a great, funny read-aloud with large, striking illustrations by Yuyi Morales.

 

Any other picture books I should have included?  Please share your favorites in the comments.

 

In the Night Kitchen: A Storytime in Honor of Maurice Sendak

Today, Friday, June 10, would have been Maurice Sendak’s 88th birthday.  So this week I did an all-Sendak storytime.

Here is what we read:

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Where the Wild Things Are

Of course, I had to include the story of Max and his adventures as King of All Wild Things. I was surprised by how many of the kids hadn’t read this book yet, but they were mesmerized.  They especially enjoyed roaring and gnashing their teeth like wild things, and the silly chant I threw in for the “wild rumpus” pages (something like, “Ung-ga-da, ding-ga-da, ding-ga-da.”  I made it up as I went along).  My copy was immediately snatched up.

pierre

Pierre

I remember the day my son’s teacher read this to the class in Kindergarten (unbeknownst to me), and how he came home saying, “I don’t care!” in reply to everything I said, until I could totally understand why Pierre’s parents left him alone in a neighborhood where hungry lions occasionally wander through.  For a long time this was my son’s favorite book.  The kids at storytime loved it too, eagerly chiming in on all the “I don’t cares!”  A couple of them looked shocked when Pierre (still insisting he doesn’t care) got eaten by the lion, then relieved when he emerged again intact.  But they were all clamoring to check it out in the end.

outside

Outside Over There

This story has always reminded me of the movie Labyrinth, although I’ve never actually checked to see if there’s a connection.  It’s the story of Ida, who is left in charge of her baby sister, but fails to see the goblins sneaking in through the window to steal the baby away, and leaving a baby made of ice in her place.  Ida has to use her wits and her wonderhorn to rescue her sister from becoming a goblin bride Outside Over There.  There is something so wonderfully bizarre and otherworldly about this book.  It makes me think of the old collection of Andersen’s fairy tales I used to read over and over, feeling equally disturbed and fascinated.  My storytime group was equally entranced, and there were quite a few hands reaching for it when it was over.

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In the Night Kitchen

This was one of my favorite books as a kid: the story of Mickey, who falls out of bed into the night kitchen, and is nearly baked in a cake by the enormous bakers who cook there.  Instead he builds a plane out of bread dough and flies into the Milky Way to find the missing ingredient: milk!  I was wondering if anyone would comment on Mickey’s nudity, but no one did (I don’t remember noticing it when I was a kid either).  A couple of kids were arguing over who would get to check this one out too.

SONGS:

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

I have an old lady puppet that the kids love to “feed.”  I do have her “die” at the end, but then we take her to the hospital and revive and pump her stomach, which always gets a laugh.

Home Again

I wrote this song a few months ago.  It’s based on several Sendak books, including Where the Wild Things Are, Outside Over There, and We are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy.

Home Again
Darling, when you feel afraid,
For you can plainly see,
The world is full of monsters
Who look just like you and me.

Just jump aboard your tiny boat
Follow the falling star.
And sail away through night and day,
To where the wild things are.

And you will dance and then
Let the wild rumpus begin.
But I will love you best of all
When you come home again.

And darling, when the goblins come,
And no one seems to care,
Climb out your bedroom window
Into outside over there.

Bring your horn, and play a jig,
And charm them with a song.
They’ll set you free, and you will soon be
Home where you belong.

And you will dance and then,
Let the wild rumpus begin.
But I will love you best of all,
When you come home again.

When the moon is in a fit,
And you are in the dumps,
Lost in the rye with one black eye,
And diamonds are all trumps.

I will come and buy you bread,
One loaf or maybe two.
And I will bring you up
Cause happy endings can come true.

And we will dance and then,
Let the wild rumpus begin.
And I will love you best of all
Until the very end.

CRAFT: Wild Thing Feet

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Wild Thing Feet by Evie

I stole this craft idea from AlphaMom.com: http://alphamom.com/family-fun/activities/where-the-wild-things-are-monster-activities-for-kids/

I precut the feet (in a variety of sizes to accommodate different kids), then gave them supplies to decorate them.

What are your favorite Maurice Sendak books?

 

 

UNDER CONSTRUCTION: Picture Books about Big Machines

It’s been a while since I’ve done a write-up about a storytime, but I just did two with a construction equipment theme that were both a lot of fun.  The first was a family storytime, for a wide variety of ages. The second was a preschool storytime, although most of the kids were actually under the age of 3.

Here are the books I read for both:

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Go! Go! Go! STOP by Charise Mericle Harper

I liked this one so much, I actually read it for Musical Storytime as well.  Little Green knows only one word, “GO!”  When he shouts it out to the busy machines working on the new bridge, it motivates them to work faster and faster.  But then things get out of control.  Luckily, just then, Little Red rolls into town and shouts the only word he knows, “STOP!”  It takes a while for Little Green and Little Red to figure out how to work together, but when they do, they help the machines get the bridge built.  There are lots of opportunities for the kids to shout (and whisper), “GO!” and “STOP!” throughout the book, which they loved.  It also provides a great way to model to parents how to use prominent repeated words in the text to help kids make the connection between print and spoken words.  This would work really well for a color theme as well.

bulldozer

Bulldozer’s Big Day by Candace Fleming; illustrated by Eric Rohmann

Bulldozer is so excited about inviting his friends to his party.  But each time he rolls up to a big machine he knows and ask them what day it is, they answer that it is a scooping day, a mixing day, a scraping day, or whatever kind of day it usually is when they are working.  Bulldozer is sad, until the crane announces that it’s a “lifting day,” and lifts up an enormous birthday cake.  Fun book for kids to try to name each type of big machine, and demonstrate what each one does.  This would also work for a birthday theme.

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Build, Dogs, Build by James Horvath

A crew of dogs tear down an old building and construct a new one from beginning to end.  LOTS of different types of construction equipment in this one, and funny details hidden in the colorful illustrations.  The kids especially enjoyed looking for Jinx the cat on each page.  Great for both dog fans and construction lovers.

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The Construction Crew by Lynn Meltzer by Carrie Eko-Burgess

Another picture book that follows the construction of a house from beginning to end, with rhyming text that asks kids, “What do we need?” for each step of the process, starting with the wrecking ball to tear down the old building and ending with the moving truck to help the new family move in.  Even the adults loved this one.

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What Can a Crane Pick Up? by Rececca Kai Dotlich; illustrated by Mike Lowery

I did this one for Musical Storytime as well.  It’s a rhyming book that describes all of the many things a crane can lift, including multiple trucks, a submarine, library books, another crane, boxes of underwear, and even you!  Quirky and fun.

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I’m Dirty  by Kate and Jim McMullan

Another book by the team behind I Stink, this book introduces a mud-loving backhoe who cleans up a lot full of garbage and abandoned junk, counting what he picks up as he goes: including four cat-clawed couches, and two tossed-out toilet seats.  The kids enjoyed “eww”-ing at the pictures of trash and mud.

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20 Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mike Lee; illustrated by Kurt Cyrus

Cute counting book about an ice cream truck that breaks down in the middle of the street, causing a traffic jam of big trucks.  No one knows what to do, until the boy narrating the story suggests that the crane truck can save the day.  The kids liked the big truck illustrations, and of course, any book with ice cream is always a hit.

SONGS:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Traffic Light

I did this one to go along with Go! Go! Go! Stop! to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star:

Twinkle, Twinkle, Traffic Light,
Twinkle, Twinkle, Traffic Light,
Shining on the corner bright.
Red means STOP! (hold out hands in “STOP” motion)
Green means GO! (run in place fast)
Yellow means YOU’D BETTER GO SLOW! (run in place slowly)
Twinkle, Twinkle, Traffic Light,
Shining on the corner bright.

Bouncing Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon

This is a great song for babies on up.  Older kids like coming up with silly “tools” to fix the wagon, like a pickle or a rhinoceros.  The ukulele chords alternate between C and G7, so it is very easy to play too:

Bouncing up and down in my little red wagon.
Bouncing up and down in my little red wagon.
Bouncing up and down in my little red wagon.
Won’t you be my darlin’.

One wheel’s off and the axle’s broken… (lean to one side)

Joey’s going to fix it with his hammer…

Bouncing up and down in my little red wagon…

Repeat, asking kids who would like to fix the wagon, and what tool they would use.

CRAFT:

07-22-Crane-Craft

Sadly, it was too crazy on Wednesday night for me to get a picture of the kids’ finished crafts, but I did my own version of this Crane Craft I found from the DeKalb Public Library. Instead of popsicle sticks, I cut up drinking straws, and had the kids thread a piece of yarn through them to attach to the arm of their crane.  It was a bit tricky for the toddlers, who needed their parents’ help, but they all seemed to enjoy it.

 

HANDOUT

Our library system encourages librarians to create a handout for storytimes, listing all of the books and songs, as well as literacy tips for parents.  I don’t usually do one for my Family Storytimes, since I often have to adjust my book selections on the fly depending on what age kids show up.  But here is the handout I used this week for Preschool Storytime: May 25 Pre K Storytime (Larsen, Ashley)

 

Kid Picks

Since I’m always trying to find new books for storytime, I often test out new titles on my own kids.  My son, at 11, mostly wants to read books on his own now, although my husband and I still read aloud to him at bedtime when he’s not caught up in a novel (right now, my husband is reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy with him. I am anxious for them to finish, because then I will get to share The Restaurant at the End of the Universe).

My six year-old daughter has a love/hate relationship with having a librarian mom.  On the one hand, she loves books, so she likes when I bring them home.  On the other hand, she’s always been dismayed that she can’t keep them all.  With both of my kids, I have been guilty of returning books to the library before they were ready to part with them, so I understand why she gets upset.  Occasionally she’ll become so attached to a particular book that  I’ll buy her a copy of her own.  That was the case with her latest favorite, Gaston, by Kelly DiPucchio and Christian Robinson.

gaston

My daughter loves everything about this book: the illustrations (which she talks about at length), the story, the whole package.  She asks for it at bedtime every night.  She brings it in the car to read for herself.  She lies on her bed and pores over every page.  Rarely has she fallen so hard for a book.

And I get it.  It’s a great book.  I think I picked it up originally because it was on a list of the best picture books of 2014.   It’s about a family of puppies: Fi-Fi, Foo-Foo, Ooh-La-La, and Gaston.  They are all adorable, except Gaston does not look like his poodle siblings.  He also struggles to sip (never slobber!), and yip (never yap!), and all the other proper things their mother encourages them to do, although he always tries the hardest.

Then one day the poodles meet a family of bulldog pups at the park.  Or at least three of the pups (Rocky, Ricky, and Bruno) look like bulldogs (and a lot like Gaston).  The fourth, Antoinette, looks like a little white poodle.   Gaston and Antoinette realize there’s been a mix-up.  The two families reluctantly arrange a swap.  Now everyone looks alike, but no one is happy.  Gaston finds the bulldog family too “brutish and brawny.”  Antoinette can’t stand being proper.  The next morning they all race back to the park, where the two mothers announce that they have made a terrible mistake.  Antoinette and Gaston return to the families they love, and later, when they grow up and have puppies of their own, they teach them be whatever they want to be.

All in all, it’s a wonderful story about the true meaning of family.  The illustrations are adorable (there’s a reason my daughter loves them), and the writing is perfect for reading aloud. I always wonder which of the current picture books will become classics, like Corduroy or Harry, the Dirty Dog–books that my kids will remember fondly enough to want to read to their own kids.  I’m sure this one will be on my daughter’s list.

As for my son, his current book obsession is the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children books by Ransom Riggs.  He tore through them in less than a week, pleading with me to check them all out because he didn’t want to wait even a day between books.  I haven’t read them yet myself, although he’s told me enough of the plot that I know it’s a fantasy/sci-fi series about a group of kids with bizarre talents and attributes.  The author based the book and the characters on creepy antique photographs of children (I love that idea).  I’ve promised my son that I will read them soon.

peregrine

So those are my kids’ current book recommendations.  What current books do you think will stand the test of time?