Snug as a Bug in a Book: Creepy Crawly Storytime


Bumblebee with Tissue Paper Wings

My son loves bugs and spiders and all manner of creepy crawly things.  So I was excited to trot out some insect books, especially after I was given this premade craft set by his former preschool teacher, Pauletta Cravotto, a personal hero of mine.  Here’s an article that appeared in our local paper when she retired.  My favorite quote is about why she enjoys working with young children:

“They don’t have agenda and they don’t have a plan,” Cravotto said. “If you forgot something, or your dog has eaten up part of your planned event and you have to invent on the spot, they don’t care. Nobody knows where ‘this’ day is going. Maybe it will be magic.” “I think kids need to know that they are perfect exactly the way they are,” Cravotto continued. “They don’t fit into a mold, nobody does. Give them some space and who knows what they will accomplish?”

So, with that in mind, here was my storytime.


I was surprised last night because, along with my regular kids, who are rapidly approaching Kindergarten, I had one VERY young toddler and three MUCH older kids–they looked to be 9 or 10 year olds.  I tried to incorporate a range of books to accommodate them all, but it was tricky.


Jazper by Richard Eglieski

This is one of those bizarrely original stories that stick in your head.  When Jazper (who is some kind of green insect) learns that his father has been injured in his job at the tomato plant, he offers to take a job of his own until his dad gets back on his feet.  He ends up working as a housecleaner for five moths, whose house is filled with books of magic tricks.  Jazper uses the books to create his own astounding magic act, until the angry moths come after him.  Filled with bright, quirky illustrations of Bugtown, this one had the kids mesmerized.


Itsy Bitsy Spider by Iza Trapani We sang “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” before I read this book, and one of the older kids said, “Did you know there’s more to the song?”  I asked him how the next part went, and to my surprise, he started singing the next verse from this book.  So go, Iza Trapani!  Your additional verses are catching on.  This really is a lovely book, with wonderful illustrations.


Diary of a Fly by Doreen Cronin and Harry Bliss The kids fought over who would get to take this one home.  Most of them knew the series already, but the books are always a hit, even though some of the humor goes over the heads of the younger ones.  The part about eating “regurgitated food” got a gratifyingly number of “yucks!,” once I explained what it meant, and it really does teach a lot about flies while being very silly and entertaining.


Are You a Butterfly? by Judy Allen and Tudor Humphries

My favorite nonfiction series for preschoolers, these books teach amazing facts about different creatures in an easy, accessible, story-like format with great illustrations.


Itsy Bitsy Spider 

(I usually do a second verse with the “great big hairy spider.”)

Here is the Beehive

Here is the beehive  (make a fist)
Where are the bees?
Hiding away where nobody sees.
Watch and you’ll see them come out of the hive.
1,2,3,4,5  (open fingers one at a time)
They’re alive!!!  (fly bees around and tickle kids)

I didn’t get around to it last night, but if I had had time, I would have done “Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee” (I like to have the kids suggest other animals they would like to bring home, and we make up rhymes like, “I’m bringing home a baby li-on.  Won’t my mother really start a-cryin'”).

I had also thought about doing “Ants in Your Pants.”  If you haven’t seen the video by Eric Herman, check it out.  It’s one of my daughter’s favorites:

INSTRUMENT PLAYALONG WITH A CD:  Under a Shady Tree by Laurie Berkner, from her Under a Shady Tree album.

CRAFT: Paper Bumblebees

The craft set I had used the tissue paper wings and card stock bee bodies already cut out, so the kids just had to glue on the eyes and wings, and add the pipe cleaner antenna.  I was originally planning to do this, much simpler version, where the bodies are made out of construction paper loops:  Incidentally, this site has LOTS of great bug crafts.


I did a spider storytime not too long ago, but one of my absolute favorite books is Aarrgghh!  Spider! by Lydia Monks, about a spider who wants to be a family pet.

What are your favorite insect and spider books?


The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Hungry Children


Strawberry Mice! The adorable one on the left was made by Sarah.

Tonight I continued the food theme, since our Summer Reading Program has officially started.  Plus there are so many wonderful food books!  These are some of my favorites:


The Sweet Touch by Lorna and Lecia Balian

A childhood favorite of mine that I thought had disappeared into the mists of time until I found a single copy in our library system (according to Amazon it’s back in print.  Woohoo!).  When a tiny genie grants a little girl a single wish, she asks for the ability to make everything she touches turn into something sweet.  Her bed becomes gingerbread, her rug chocolate, her pillow full of cotton candy.  The kids were mesmerized.


Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and James Dean

To be honest, I don’t enjoy all of the Pete the Cat books, but I LOVE this one and Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons.  This book got horrible editorial reviews when it came out, but the simple story of the cat with white shoes who keeps stepping in different things (strawberries, blueberries, and mud) has tremendous kid appeal, and is always a big hit at storytimes.


Bunny Cakes by Rosemary Wells

My favorite Max and Ruby book.  Max wants to buy Red-Hot Marshmallow Squirters for his Grandma’s birthday cake, but no matter how hard he tries, the grocer can’t read his writing on the grocery list, until he hits on a solution.


The Little Mouse, the Red, Ripe Strawberry, and the Big, Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood

A classic, with the most luscious strawberry, and the most adorable mouse, ever drawn.  Also a great book for a range of ages.  Younger kids can empathize with the little mouse’s terror at hearing about the big hungry bear, while older kids can discuss whether or not there really is a hungry bear at all.


Way Up High in the Apple Tree

Way up high in the apple tree (Raise arms high)
Two little apples smiled at me (Make circles with fingers)
I shook that tree as hard as I could. (Shake imaginary tree)
Down came the apples! (Lower arms)
MMMM! They were good! (Rub tummy)
The kids suggested other kids of trees, including cupcake trees, pear trees, and ice cream trees.

Three Little Kitty Cats

Three little kitty cats
Lying in the sun.
One jumped up and said, “I’d like to run!”
Then said the other one, “I’ll run too!
Running running running and I’ll play with you!”

I asked the kids for suggestions, and we sang the song as lions, kangaroos, and then kitty cats again.  The jumping up and running in place is a great way to work off some energy in the middle of storytime.

Little Bunny FooFoo  

Yes it’s one of the many violent children’s songs. I also regularly do the Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly with a puppet that the kids “feed.”  I do kill her off at the end (Hey, you can’t eat a whole horse without consequences!), but then I revive her and pump her stomach.  The infamous Bunny FooFoo has always been one of my favorites though, and tonight there was an adorable two year-old doing all the motions.

INSTRUMENT PLAY WITH CD: Rhubarb Pie by Laurie Berkner (from Under a Shady Tree)  

CRAFT TIME: Strawberry Mice

I washed and stemmed the strawberries ahead of time, then pulled apart strips of string cheese for the tails.  The kids stuck the tail in the hole at the back of the strawberry, then broke banana chips to make ears, and stuck mini chocolate chips into the strawberry for the eyes and nose.  Yummy fun, and definitely healthier than the marshmallow monsters we made last week!

What are your favorite food books?  Also, next week is Father’s Day, so I’ll be hunting down some good Dad stories.  I always love recommendations!


My friend and wonderful children’s librarian Barbara B. recommends:

What Did You Put in Your Pocket? by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (illustrated by Michael Grejniec), a fun rhyming book that goes through the days of the week with all kinds of messy substances kids can imagine putting in their pockets.

Chocolatina by Erik Kraft (one of my favorites as well, about a girl who loves chocolate so much that she wakes up as a chocolate girl)

Standing on My Head…Or How to Entertain a Crowd of Kids Under the Age of 3

When I first started as a children’s librarian in Raleigh, North Carolina, I was lucky enough to be apprenticed to a woman who patiently taught me how to do infant and toddler storytimes. I was still terrified.  The hardest thing about doing storytime for this age group was that I was painfully aware that I was mostly performing for the parents, while the babies and toddlers were busy pulling books off the shelves, chewing on their friends’ toys, crying over a lost binky, and basically anything but listening to me.  At first this was so frightening that I would find myself forgetting the words to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.”  I started writing my favorite rhymes and songs down on index cards, which would inevitably wander off and get chewed on, but they were still very helpful in those early years. Here are some of my favorites:


Tick Tock, Tick Tock (rocking side to side)
I’m a little cuckoo clock
Tick Tock, Tick Tock
Now I’m striking one o’clock…
Cuckoo! (lift baby up, or have toddler jump up in the air)

(Repeat for two and three o’clock)


(Don’t ask me why the kids love this so much, but they do)

They jumped in the boat, and the boat tipped o-ver! (Lean baby far to the right)
They jumped in the boat, and the boat tipped o-ver! (Lean baby far to the left)
They jumped in the boat, and the boat tipped o-ver! (Lean baby far to the right)
Ten little boys and girls (bounce baby on lap)


(A bouncing rhyme, to the tune of the Lone Ranger part of “The William Tell Overture”)

Giddy-up, Giddy-up, Giddy-up-UP-UP! (Bounce baby on lap)
Giddy-up, Giddy-up, Giddy-up-UP-UP!
Giddy-up, Giddy-up, Giddy-up-UP-UP!
Whoa! Horsey! (Lean back)


Inside the space shuttle (hold baby on lap, or have toddler crouch down)
Just enough room (hug baby or show toddler how to hug knees)
Here comes the countdown (holding up five fingers)
Blast-off!  (Raise baby in the air, or have toddler jump up)


(Similar to Inside the Space Shuttle, start with baby on lap or toddler crouching)

Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! (rub hands together on each “zoom”)
I’m off to the moon!
Blast off!!!


Ten candles on a birthday cake (hold up ten fingers)
All lit up for me! (point to yourself)
I’ll make a wish, and blow them out
Watch and you will see! (blow on fingers and quickly make hands into fists)


This is the way I blow my balloon (hold hands in front of your face in the shape of a balloon)
Blow! (blow air, and bring hands apart)
Blow! (blow air, and spread hands wider)
Blow! (blow air, and spread hands very wide)
This is the way I break my balloon
Oh, oh NO! (clap hands together)


Slowly, slowly, very slowly goes the garden snail (walk fingers slowly up baby’s arm, or have toddler walk very slowly in place)
Slowly, slowly, very slowly up the garden rail
Quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly
Goes the Little Mouse (run fingers up to baby’s chin, or have toddler run in place)
Quickly, quickly, quickly, quickly
All around the house!


Here is the beehive (make a fist)
Where are the bees?
Hiding away where nobody sees.
Watch, and they’ll all come out of their hive
1-2-3-4-5 (open up fingers one at a time)
They’re alive! (tickle baby or toddler)


(hold baby or toddler on lap and bounce them from leg to leg)

Down by the Banks of the Hanky Panky
Where the bullfrogs jump from bank to banky
With a hip, hop, a hippity hop
Jump off the lily pad (lift baby up)
And kerplop! (lower baby back down)


(To the tune of “Bouncing Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon”)

Riding up and down in an elevator (lift baby up and down, or have toddler stand and crouch)
Riding up and down in an elevator
Riding up and down in an elevator
First floor
Second floor (lift baby up, or have toddler stand)
Third floor (lift baby higher, or have toddler stretch up high)
DOWN! (lower baby, or have toddler crouch back down)


(To the tune of “This Old Man”)

Merry Go Round (lift baby up and down, or put her on your knees and bend and straighten them)
Merry Go Round
We all ride on the merry-go-round
Now we’re UP
And now we’re DOWN!
We all ride on the merry-go-round.

Down to town, down to town
We go riding down to town
Better be careful you don’t fall DOWN (lean baby far to the right)
We go riding down to town.


(Have baby or toddler lie on her back on the floor)

How do you make raisin bread?
You roll it (roll baby gently to one side)
And roll it (roll baby to the other side)
And roll it
And roll it
And then you put the raisins in (gently poke baby’s stomach in several places)


(a bouncing rhyme; thanks to Laura Siegel)

See my pony, jet black pony
I ride him each day
When I give him oats to eat
Clippity clappaty go his little feet!
See my pony, jet black pony
I ride him each  (long pause holding tension)
day (simultaneously open knees and child drops down- while holding on of course)


I have a cat (stroke imaginary cat on lap)
My cat lies flat! (clap one hand on top of the other)
I have a cat (stroke cat)
He wears a hat (pat the top of your head)
I have a cat
He caught a rat (clap your hands together quickly in the air)
I have a cat (stroke cat)


(pat hands on lap in time to the rhyme)

The hip-, the hip-, the hippopotamus
Got on, got on, got on the city bus
And all, and all, and all the people said
You’re squishing us! (put your hands on the sides of your face and squish your cheeks forward)