Happy Birthday to US!

This week’s them was Birthday/Fourth of July books.

I have a secret phobia of holiday storytimes, because I hate almost all of the holiday books, except for Halloween (our holiday book section is right next to the storytime rug, and kids are always pulling Halloween books off the shelf and asking me to read them, no matter what time of year it is).  Halloween books are always fun, because they are usually just stories with creepy characters, and the kids love them.

But for the most part, I find that most holiday books are either: overly cutesy (Vixie’s Vexing Valentines–Vixie the adorable Vole is horrified to discover that her brother Vladimir has eaten all of the glitter for her class cards.  Whatever will Vixie do?);  dull (Egbert’s Eggcellent Easter–Egbert the Eel hunts for eggs, finds them all, eats a few, has dinner with his family, and goes to bed, all in badly-written rhymed text; or forced (Say Hooray for Saint Patrick’s Day!–Haley the Honey Badger asks why she has to wear green in the town parade, and learns all about the history and significance of the Irish saint in 32 excruciating pages.  Seriously, Saint Patrick’s Day books are the worst!).

Okay, I totally made up all of the examples I mentioned above, but they COULD be real.  There are Christmas books that I like personally, but many of them are too long for storytime, and religious holidays are especially tricky at a public library.  My favorite holiday picture book is actually The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming by Lemony Snicket, which somehow manages to explain the history of Hannukah and tell a compelling story, all with a lot of wry humor, a bit of social commentary, and a tremendous amount of screaming throughout (which the kids love).

Anyway, enough ranting about holiday books.  My only reason for bringing it up is that tonight I decided to do just one token honest-to-goodness Fourth of July book (of the Egbert the Eel variety, but with bubble wrap for the kids to pop, so they’d have to at least listen to know when it was time for the “fireworks.”)  The rest of the books were all about birthdays, because, I told the kids, the Fourth of July is the birthday of our country.  A bit of a stretch, but who doesn’t love birthdays?

Here were the books:


Moira’s Birthday by Robert Munsch

Moira’s parents tell her she can only invite 6 kids to her party.  Instead, she invites first grade, second grade, third grade, fourth grade, fifth grade, aaaaaannnndddd  Kindergarten…and doesn’t tell her parents.  The parents laughed at this one, and the kids had a great time chiming in on the “aaaaaannnnndddd Kindergartens.”


Happy Birthday, Moon by Frank Asch

I love all the Bear books by Frank Asch.  The kids always seem to enjoy knowing more than Bear, and realizing his mistake.  In this one, Bear thinks he is having a conversation with the moon, but it is really just an echo (the kids played the part of the echo).


Mouse’s Birthday by Jane Yolen; illustrated by Bruce Degen

Simple, funny rhyming story with adorable illustrations.   Lots of animals squeeze into Mouse’s very small house to bring him presents, with disastrous consequences (or not).


Henry’s Fourth of July by Holly Keller

My one token Fourth of July book.  It follows Henry the mouse(?) as he celebrates the Fourth of July with his family by competing in a sack race, having a picnic, and waiting impatiently for the fireworks.  (The kids were waiting impatiently for the fireworks too, since I handed out squares of bubble wrap for them to pop.  One tip: I used the big bubble wrap, and had them twist it).  In the middle of this book, I suddenly remembered Olivia Forms a Band by Ian Falconer, which I wish I had done instead.  It’s a funny story, with lots of great sound effects, and also has fireworks.


Ten Candles on a Birthday Cake

Ten candles on a birthday cake,
All lit up for me! (hold up 10 fingers)
I make a wish and blow them out.
Watch and you will see! (blow on fingers and close hands into fists)

This is the Way I Blow My Balloon

This is the way I blow my balloon (hold imaginary balloon)
Blow, Blow, Blow (spread arms wider as you blow)
This is way I pop my balloon
Oh, Oh No! (Clap hands together)


We did a very noisy, chaotic little parade with the instruments to This Land is Your Land from the 20 Great Kids Songs album.  It’s a wonderful, upbeat version of the song with several different singers, including a kids chorus and a verse performed by Willie Nelson.

CRAFT: Fourth of July S’Mores

I ripped this one off from my daughter’s preschool teacher (one of the perks of having a preschooler).  She called them Fruit S’Mores, and used bananas instead of blueberries.  They are surprisingly yummy (and messy!)

Basically, I cut up strawberries, and put out blueberries, graham crackers and whipped cream.  I manned the whipped cream can, spreading some on each child’s graham cracker.  Then they decorated them with strawberries and blueberries and devoured them on the spot.  I left the crackers open faced–otherwise they get very messy!  Plus, if you’re really patient, you can decorate them to look something like the American flag.

What are your favorite holiday or birthday books?


Fortunately by Remy Charlip (Recommended by Barbara B)

Another book I had completely forgotten, but I used to read it all the time (thank you for jogging my memory, Barbara!).  It tells the story of a VERY eventful journey: “Fortunately, Ned was invited to a surprise party. Unfortunately, the party was a thousand miles away.Fortunately, a friend loaned Ned an airplane. Unfortunately, the motor exploded.”  You get the picture…

Three Kind Mice by Vivian Sathre; illustrated by Rodger Wilson (suggested by Barbara B.)

I haven’t actually read this one, but if Barbara recommends it, it must be good, and I will have to order it immediately!

Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman; illustrated by Marla Frazee (suggested by Barbara B.)

Poor Mrs. Peters!  Her children (all seven of them) will each only eat one type of food, so she has to make seven separate dishes every day. Until one morning the kids decide to make all of their favorite foods for their mother’s birthday, with delicious consequences.  Funny, rhyming book for picky eaters (and their mothers).  It reminds me of another favorite of mine: Don’t Wake Up Mama! by Eileen Christelow, where five little monkeys try to surprise their mother with a cake and presents for her birthday.

The Elf on the Shelf by Carol V. Bell (suggested by Tina W.)

I’m embarrassed to admit I haven’t read this, although I definitely know about the Elf (and seriously wish I had thought of inventing it!).  Sadly I’m a lazy parent, and I’ve been intimidated by all the adorable montages my friends post at Christmas time.  But knowing that the book is actually good, I may have to break down and buy an Elf.

Any other book suggestions?  I love to get them!


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