Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Thank You, John Burningham

While I have many favorite author/illustrators, none resonate with me quite as much as the late John Burningham. Leaving behind a legacy of amazing children's books, he passed away earlier this month at age 82. The managing director of his publisher called Burningham, "a true original, a picture-book pioneer and an endlessly inventive creator of stories that could be by turns hilarious and comforting, shocking and playful."

I find it no coincidence that probably my all-time favorite title of his was born the same year as I. I can't recall a time I didn't know this story, and it is still a favorite of mine to use in storytime.

When I went back to school to get my Masters degree, these two titles were fairly new. A friend I made in school introduced me to Avocado Baby, saying that it was one of his young son's favorite bedtime stories. As a soon-to-be children's librarian, I made it a point to get to know Burningham's work.

My oldest daughter was born around the same time this book came out. It was a bedtime favorite, the gentle lyrical prose is such a delight and a perfect match to the pictures, without being too sweet.

These next three were all published in the last ten years and I adore each of them, as a librarian, as a mom, as a human. I don't even have cats or dogs and I'm excited about the prospect of a party with the Queen of the cats! Picnic is perfect for storytime, and I swear I was Sylvie from The Way to the Zoo when I was a kid.

Motor Miles came out in 2016 and I remember being so excited when it came in at work. My guess is that's John Burningham, zipping around in a car or a plane with his dog, thinking up more wonderful adventures.
 More Favorites:

The Magic Bed

There's Going To Be a Baby

Come Away From the Water, Shirley


Mouse House

Where's Julius?

Harvey Slumfenberger's Christmas Present

Mr. Gumpy's Motor Car

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Storytime: Food

I'm currently doing a 2s Storytime at one library, and a 3-5 Storytime at another. So in order to maintain some sanity, I'm trying to pick one theme for both each week and adapt it for the different ages. Some of my 2s are REALLY little and some of my 5s are already in school.

2s don't really get the concept of Thanksgiving so it's always easy to do FOOD as the theme and throw in Thanksgiving rhymes and books here and there.


Red Pepper Yellow Squash by Scholastic Rookie Toddler
Thanksgiving Cats by Jean Marzollo
Guess What? - Fruit by Yusuke Yonezu
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley

Also for 3s/4s:
10 Turkeys in the Road by Brenda Reeves Sturgis
Sometimes It's Turkey, Sometimes It's Feathers by Lorna Balian
Over the River and Through the Woods (various authors)
Sam's Sandwich by David Pelham

'Apples and Bananas'
'Five Plump Peas'

'The Soup Is Boiling Up'

The Soup Is Boiling Up

The soup is boiling up, the soup is boiling up.

Stir it slow, around we go,

The soup is boiling up.

2s Activity:
I used two sets of games that I found in the desk files - 'The Soup Is Boiling Up' involved the kids adding the ingredients to a pot of soup and then taking turns stirring it. The second was called 'Going on a Picnic' and had the kids adding various foods to a picnic blanket.


I am proud to report that letting the 2s play with slime actually went well! I found a great recipe for super-fluffy slime that was sticky but didn't stick to everything. A few were apprehensive at first but they could also use a popsicle stick to touch it if they didn't want to use their fingers. We added some shaped cookie cutters and rollers to the fun!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Storytime: Bedtime

I'm currently doing a 2s Storytime at one library, and a 3-5 Storytime at another. So in order to maintain some sanity, I'm trying to pick one theme for both each week and adapt it for the different ages. Some of my 2s are REALLY little and some of my 5s are already in school.


Hush by Mingfo Ho
Night Light by Nicholas Blechman
Goodnight Already! by Jory John
The Going to Bed Book by Sandra Boynton
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney
Everyone Is Yawning by Anita Bijsterbosch


'Goodnight Sweetheart'
'All Around the Barnyard'
'Big Yellow Moon'


Ten (bears) In A Bed

similar to this one at Making Learning Fun

2s Activity:
If you have enough, I love to use small stuffed animals and little baby blankets. Even if they end up running around with them, they are so cute trying to wrap the babies in the blankets! Have them practice putting the bears to bed, then waking them up!

3-5s Craft:
There are so many options for bedtime crafts! Unfortunately, I can't find the one I did for this but it's pretty standard and I'm sure you can find on Pinterest.

Similar to this one at Sunflower Storytime but I just use a piece of construction paper folded in half, and then one side cut down so it looks like a blanket over the bear. The kids can color the bear and/or add stickers to the 'blanket'.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Storytime: Shapes

I'm currently doing a 2s Storytime at one library, and a 3-5 Storytime at another. So in order to maintain some sanity, I'm trying to pick one theme for both each week and adapt it for the different ages. Some of my 2s are REALLY little and some of my 5s are already in school.

I decided to do SHAPES because some of my 2s parents are constantly teaching their children their shapes during playtime with our blocks and puzzles, etc. I wasn't sure if it would work with my older storytime, but since they are mostly 3 and 4 it was fine - we could talk about some 'advanced' shapes and they liked sharing their shape knowledge!


Bear in a Square by Stella Blackstone
It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw
My Very First Book of Shapes by Eric Carle
Not a Box by Antoinette Portis
Shape By Shape by Suse MacDonald
Shapes That Roll by Karen Nagel


'I Can See Shapes'
'Where Is Thumbkin (shapes)'
'Circle Song'

'I Can See Shapes'

I can see a circle shape, circle shape, circle shape
I can see a circle shape, how about you?
(repeat with little square, triangle, rectangle, diamond)
I found two sets of games in the files that I used - one went with 'I Can See Shapes' and the other we used with 'Where Is Thumbkin' but changed the words to 'Where Is Circle'...etc.

This might be where a previous librarian found the shape people from:
Library Village

2s Activity:
At the last minute I was looking for something physical that the 2s could do, so I decided to set up a sort of obstacle course! They LOVED it! I dragged out hula hoops and balls and anything they could jump over or roll in. Definitely going to do this again!

3-5s Craft:
I found a cute Shapeasaurus craft for these guys on Pinterest. Everyone loves a dinosaur! Thanks to the North Sioux City Community Library for the Pin!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Storytime: Around Town/Halloween!

I'm currently doing a 2s Storytime at one library, and a 3-5 Storytime at another. So in order to maintain some sanity, I'm trying to pick one theme for both each week and adapt it for the different ages. Some of my 2s are REALLY little and some of my 5s are already in school.

Halloween storytime can  be a little tricky with 2s because you never know what you're going to get. For some kids, they've never gone out for Halloween, and for others, they are all about dressing up and what they're going to wear. Some kids may have never heard of a vampire before, or can be extremely afraid from what they've seen on television and in stores. For this reason, I decided to focus on what you see 'around town' on a normal day, and also on Halloween.

We started with Bear About Town by Stella Blackstone, and talked about what we see around town.
From there, you can use some of these 'around town' options, or head into the Halloween stories. The Five Little Pumpkins choices are endless!

 Silly Sally by Audrey Wood
Maggie's Ball by Lindsay Barrett George
Twinkle, Twinkle Little Car by Kate Dopirak
Pete the Cat and the Five Little Pumpkins by James Dean
Five Little Pumpkins by Dan Yaccarino
If You're A Monster and You Know It by Ed & Rebecca Emberley

'If You're A Monster and You Know It'
'Itsy Bitsy Spider'
'Five Little Pumpkins'
'I'm A Little Pumpkin'
'Where Is Thumbkin/Pumpkin/Ghostie'

I had two flannel board games that really worked perfectly for this topic. One just involved using a set we've had for years and love. It works for so many themes and the 2s can relate to all the objects and learn colors at the same time. I handed out a variety of different colored objects and they brought up the ones that matched the particular colored house I put on the board.

The second one was a pleasant discovery in the desk from a previous librarian. She got it from Miss Sue at Library Village and it is PERFECT for kids who might be afraid of the creatures they see on Halloween. Very creative Miss Sue!

Library Village - Halloween Surprise Flannelboard

2s Activity:
Tossing bean bags into a plastic jack-o-lantern turned out to be way more fun when I had the little ones see if they could pick up the whole thing when filled with heavy beanbags! Who knew they'd love showing off their muscles!

3-5s Craft:
For the older kids, we used scratch art paper to make jack-o-lantern necklaces! Then we played with some totally fun alien slime that I found at Walgreens!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Great Books for All Kinds of Boys (updated 2018!)

Back in 2013 I made a booklist called "Great Books for Boys: Beyond Wimpy Kid" that was really popular with parents. I don't do a lot of booklists, partly because we are a small library and prefer one-on-one help when you come in (let's face it, it's hard to hide in the stacks here) and because there are soooo many available on the Internet.
However, I think this booklist resonated with parents of boys because "Wimpy Kid" was so popular and their sons were clamoring for more but not knowing where to look outside of non-fiction. In the 5 years since then, I personally think there have been many great books, both fiction and non-fiction, published for boys in all sorts of genres. And more importantly, I've found that many boys don't mind reading books with a girl as a main character, despite what we adults tend to think. I have also heard from many parents that their sons are spending too much time on the computer and gaming, and they really want to get them reading QUALITY books. Luckily, there are more books than ever for ALL KINDS of boys - AND - feel free to use this for girl readers as well!

So, without further ado, here is my list - more of an addendum to the 2013 list as it only features books published between 2013 and 2018. You can always find the original list here:

Great Books for Boys 2013


 Early Chapter Books

JF Angleberger          Inspector Flytrap series / Angleberger, Tom
JF Dillard                   Extraordinary Warren: a super chicken / Dillard, Sarah
PJ Cummings             Notebook of Doom series / Cummings, Troy
PJ Here's Hank          Here's Hank series / Winkler, Henry & Lin Oliver
PJ Holub                   Heroes in Training series / Holub, Joan
JF Meisel                   Stinky Spike and the Royal Rescue / Meisel, Peter
JF Milway                 Pigsticks and Harold series / Milway, Alex
JF Pennypacker         Waylon! One Awesome Thing series / Pennypacker, Sara
JF Priebe                   Adventures of Henry Whiskers / Priebe, Gigi
JF Shurtliff                Rump: the (Fairly) True Tale of Rumplestiltskin (also, Grump, Jack & Red) /                                        Shurtliff, Liesl
JE-ER Snyder           Charlie & Mouse / Snyder, Laurel
PJ Tarshis                 I Survived series / Tarshis, Lauren
JF Urban                   Weekends With Max and His Dad / Urban, Linda

 Middle Grade Fiction (4th-6th)

YA Alexander            The Crossover series / Alexander, Kwame (crossover, gr. 6 & up)
JF Anderson              Ms. Bixby's Last Day / Anderson, John David
JF Brown                  The Wild Robot / Brown, Peter
JF Connor                  The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle / Connor, Leslie
JF Gidwitz                 The Inquisitor's Tale / Gidwitz, Adam
JF Gibbs                    Spy School series / Gibbs, Stuart
YA Gratz                   Refugee / Gratz, Alan (crossover, gr. 5 & up)
JF Griffiths                13-Story Treehouse series / Griffiths, Andy
YA Moore                 Stars Beneath Our Feet / Moore, David Barclay (crossover, gr. 5 & up)
JF Moore                  King of the Bench series / Moore, Steve
JF Patterson              Max Einstein: the genius experiment series / Patterson, James & Chris                                                    Grabenstein
JF Peck                     The Best Man / Peck, Richard
JF Russell                 The Misadventures of Max Crumbly series / Russell, Rachel Rene
JF Ryan                     Echo / Ryan, Pam Munoz

 Graphic Novels

J Graphic Annable     Peter & Ernesto: a tale of two sloths / Annable, Graham (Gr. 1-4)
JGraphic Blabey         The Bad Guys series / Blabey, Aaron (Gr. 2-5)
JGraphic Chmakova   Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School series) / Chmakova, Svetlana (Gr. 5-9)
JGraphic Hatke          Little Robot / Hatke, Ben (Gr. 1-4)
JGraphic Hayes          Patrick Eats His Peas & other stories / Hayes, Geoffrey (Pre - Gr. 2)
JGraphic Pilkey         Dogman series / Pilkey, Dav (Gr. 1-4)
JGraphic Science       Science Comics: Dinosaurs (et al.) / Reed, M.K. (Gr. 4-7)
JGraphic Sell             The Cardboard Kingdom / Sell, Chad (Gr. 4-7)
JGraphic Tobin          Plants vs. Zombies series / Tobin, Paul et al. (Gr. 3-5)
JGraphic Winick        Hilo: the boy who crashed to Earth series / Winick, Judd (Gr. 3-6)


J031.02 National       5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) 2 / Nat Geo
J385 Floca                 Locomotive / Floca, Brian
JE 550 Gladstone      When Planet Earth Was New / Gladstone, James
JE 571.3 Jenkins       Creature Features: 25 animals explain why they look the way they do / Jenkins,                                    Steve and Robin Page
J579.3 Mould            The Bacteria Book / Mould, Steve
J793 Isaac                 101 Things For Kids To Do On a Rainy Day / Isaac, David
J794 Stone                Pass Go and Collect $200: the real story of how Monopoly was invented /                                              Stone, Tanya Lee
J796.323 Coy           Hoop Genius: how a desperate teacher and a rowdy gym class invented                                                  basketball / Coy, John
J811.6 Alexander      Out of Wonder: poems celebrating poets / Alexander, Kwame et al.
J811.6 Harris            I'm Just No Good at Rhyming: and other nonsense for mischievous kids and                                         immature grownups / Harris, Chris
J973.46 Brown         Aaron and Alexander: the most famous duel in American history / Brown, Don
various                     Who Would Win? series / Pallotta, Jerry

And a few newer Picture Books that break traditional gender stereotypes:

JE Demont             I  Love My Purse / Demont, Belle
JE Haack                Prince & Knight / Haack, Daniel
JE Newman            Sparkle Boy / Newman, Leslea
JE Pearlman           Pink is For Boys / Pearlman, Robb

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Storytime: Opposites

I'm currently doing a 2s Storytime at one library, and a 3-5 Storytime at another. So in order to maintain some sanity, I'm trying to pick one theme for both each week and adapt it for the different ages. Some of my 2s are REALLY little and some of my 5s are already in school.

Opposites is a favorite theme for 2s because there are so many options. In and out of things, day/night, open ans shut, up and down.


 Stanley's Opposites by William Bee
Outdoor Opposites by Brenda Williams, et al.
Stop, Go, Yes, No! by Mike Twohy
A Garden of Opposites by Nancy Davis
Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long 
Octopus Opposites by Stella Blackstone


'Great A, Little a, Bouncing B'
Itsy Bitsy Spider
This is Big
'Roly Poly'

Roly poly, roly poly, Up, up, up! Up, up, up!
Roly, roly poly, Roly, roly poly, Down, down, down. Down, down, down.
(Repeat with in/out, fast/slow)

You can find many games on Pinterest that work for this - just print, cut and laminate and then match during storytime. Search Pinterest for "opposites puzzle".

2s Activity:
In and Out of the Barn
I found this fun activity left by a previous librarian, but I don't know where she found it so I will describe as best I can. Print out a bunch of farm animals - we also have a tractor (one for each storytime kid). Use tape or whatever you have to mark off an area in the storytime room - that will be 'the barn'. Tape works best because the first time I tried it I used a hula hoop and they kept wanting to pick it up, duh!) In storytime, pass out one animal (laminate!) to each child. Then sing "The Farmer in the Dell" but with the words changed to:
"The pig is in the barn, the pig is in the barn, hi-ho the derry-o the pig is in the barn" and use that for each animal. Have the child with that animal stand in the 'barn' area during their part of the song. Now, not all 2s will actually do that, so we had fun also singing "the pig is out of the barn..." "the dog has returned to the barn", etc.

3-5s Craft:
I didn't end up doing this theme with the 3-5s because the way the calendar fell, but I think any craft with a paper door for "open/close" would work well. I automatically thought of one I've done before with a dog on a ice cream stick that you push up through a slot in a bathtub, "in/out". Alternatively, a chick hatching from an egg would work too!

Friday, October 12, 2018

Storytime: Big, Bigger, Biggest!

I'm currently doing a 2s Storytime at one library, and a 3-5 Storytime at another. So in order to maintain some sanity, I'm trying to pick one theme for both each week and adapt it for the different ages. Some of my 2s are REALLY little and some of my 5s are already in school.

I wasn't sure how much of this concept my 2s would understand. As usual, the barely-2s had a hard time even with 'big and little' and the almost-3s had a way better grasp. So I just tailored it as best I could!


Big, Bigger, Biggest! by Nancy Coffelt
Bigger! Bigger! by Leslie Patricelli
Big Box Little Box by Caryl Hart
I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry
Up! Tall! and High! by Ethan Long 


'I'm a Little Pumpkin' (to the tune of I'm a Little Teapot)
'Great A, Little a, Bouncing B'
Itsy Bitsy Spider

'I Love to Row in My Big, Blue Boat'

I love to row in my big blue bloat, my big blue boat, my big blue boat, (show 'big' with your arms)
I love to row in my big blue boat, out on the deep blue sea. (make waves for 'sea')
My big blue boat has two red sails, two red sails, two red sails,
My big blue boat has two red sails, out on the deep blue sea. (make a triangle with arms for sails)
So come for a ride on my big blue boat, my big blue boat, my big blue boat,
Come for a ride on my big blue boat, out on the deep blue sea.

We have a pseudo-flannelboard set for I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean that I used. You can find nicer flannel ones on Pinterest - ours is just the animals on paper with velcro. It's nice b/c there's enough of the animals for each child to add one to the board as you read the story.

2s Activity:
I found this free farm printable at Buggy and Buddy and adapted it to make 1 large and 1 small barn. I also made large and small animals and laminated them all. I taped the barns to red buckets and had the children find the animals around the room. Then were then to place the animal in the appropriate bucket - large or small. It sort of worked!
Free Farm Printable

3-5s Craft:
I used the same printable for the older kids. Instead, we attached the animals to Popsicle sticks, colored the barn (and animals) then made a slit in the hay window (print the barns on cardstock). The kids had their own little play set!