You’re Welcome! A Storytime for Welcoming Week

This week, all of our libraries have been offering special storytimes for Welcoming Week, a week that celebrates welcoming people, especially immigrants, into our communities.

Here is what we did:


Dreamers by Yuyi Morales

All of our library storytimes featured either Dreamers or What Is a Refugee? by Elise Gravel. Dreamers tells the story of author-illustrator Yuyi Morales’ arrival in the United States with her infant son, and how, although she made many mistakes, she found wonder and acceptance at the public library. Some of the vocabulary was a little advanced for my audience of mostly toddlers, but the kids enjoyed the beautiful illustrations, which feature lots of colorful books, butterflies, and flowers. It also provided a good opportunity to explain the word “immigrant.” It’s a gorgeous book, and an inspirational story.

The Big Umbrella by Amy June Bates; illustrated by Juniper Bates

This is a simple book about a friendly, red umbrella, which is magically large enough to provide shelter to absolutely anyone who needs it. It was the perfect metaphor for Welcoming Week. I introduced it by showing the kids an umbrella. I also shared the story of how once, as a visitor in Tokyo, Japan, my two young kids and I were out sight-seeing when we got caught in a sudden rainstorm. A man rushed up to me, and before I could even react, he put his umbrella in my hand and hurried away. I’ve always remembered that as a moment of remarkable kindness and generosity, and yes, welcome!

Ways to Welcome by Linda Ashmann; illustrated by Joey Chou

Sweet, colorful rhyming book about different ways to welcome people and animals, including gifts, food, friendly words, smiles, flowers, and more. We had given out play scarves for a rhyme before we read this one, and the kids enjoyed waving them or pretending they were the lost hat in one part of the book.


Put Your Finger in the Air

This is my regular opening song, but I thought I would include it in this post because we spent even more time than usual counting to three in different languages. I always ask for volunteers to share how they count to three, and it’s often amazing how many responses we get. Today we counted in Spanish, French, Ukrainian, Mandarin, Portuguese, and German.

Here’s a link to a version performed by Miss Nina, which uses different lyrics, but the same tune. These are the lyrics I use:

[C] Put your finger in the air, in the air,
Put your finger in the air, in the [G7] air,
Put your [C] finger in the air,
And now [F] hide it in your hair,
[C] Put your finger in the [G7] air, in the [C] air.

Put your finger on your nose…
And now see how long it grows!…(mime making your nose grow long, and then short again)

Put your finger on your knee…
And now can you count to three?…1,2,3 (uno, dos, tres; un, deux, trois, etc.)

Put your fingers all together, all together… (clap your hands in time to the beat)
We will all be friends forever!

These Are My Glasses by Laurie Berkner

The kids always love this song, and it worked really well as a follow-up to the book Dreamers. Here’s Laurie Berkner’s video with the tune and the motions:

The lyrics are:

These are my glasses,

This is my book.

I put on my glasses,

And open up my book.

Then I read, read, read,

And I look, look, look.

I put down my glasses and whoop! close up the book.

Making a Rain Storm

This is such a simple activity, but always fun, and it was a great follow-up to The Big Umbrella.  I ask the kids to copy what I’m doing in order to make a rainstorm.  First we rub our hands together, then click our tongues (to sound like drops of rain), then clap our hands, then slap our knees, then stomp our feet.  Finally I have them all stand up, and we all jump at the same time to make a thunderclap, and then we do all of the actions in reverse to make the rain “stop.” Claire added thunder effects by shaking a thunder tube

Down Come the Rain Drops

We handed out play scarves before we did this rhyme, which I got from Let’s Play Kids Music.

Down come the rain drops, SPLASH! SPLASH! SPLASH! (stamp feet on the splashes, or throw scarf in the air)

Let’s run for cover, DASH! DASH! DASH! (run in place)

Pitter patter, pitter patter, DRIP! DRIP! DROP! (clap hands or shake scarf in rhythm)

I’m under my umbrella till the raindrops STOP! (put up pretend umbrella, or hold scarf over your head)

No One Like You by Andrea Willis Muhoberac:

We did this song as our instrument play-along, after handing out the shakers. Here’s a recording we made years ago for a Musical Storytime CD we made to give out to families:

I like your [C] eyes.

I like your [F] nose.

I like your [G] mouth.

Your ears, your hands, your [C] toes.

I like your face.

It’s really [F] you.

I [Dm] like the things you say and [G] do.

There’s not a [F] single [G] soul

Who [C] sees the [Am] skies

The [G] way you see them.

Through your [C] eyes.

[F] And aren’t you [G] glad.

[E]You should be [Am] glad.

There’s [C] no one, [G] no one

Exactly like [C] you.

Stay & Play: Coffee Filter Umbrellas

To go along with the book The Big Umbrella, we made umbrellas out of coffee filters and pipe cleaners. Before the storytime, I cut the coffee filters in half and scalloped the edge to look like the base of an umbrella. I also cut the pipe cleaners in half.

For the Stay & Play, I put out blue cardstock, markers, dot markers, glue sticks, and Scotch tape for the pipe cleaners (for those who were having trouble getting the glue to hold). Kids always love using the dot markers!

For more about Welcoming Week, visit Welcoming America.


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