looking back on stuffed animal storytime

One of my favorite-ever public library programs is Stuffed Animal Storytime. The last time I did this was back in June 2012 – my last year (so far) of public librarianship – and it was a huge hit. Kids ages 2-6 brought their favorite stuffed friend to a late-afternoon storytime. We had snacks and made blankies for the stuffed animals (using cheap fabric, pre-cut into appropriate sizes, that kids decorated with fabric markers). Then the kids said goodbye to their creatures, and the adventures began! Continue reading “looking back on stuffed animal storytime”

Storytime: Happy Halloween!

Oh, so did I mention that today I did three storytimes AND an hour-long program for grade-school kids? No? That’s probably because I didn’t know I was doing those things, either. But it’s all good.

Today and tomorrow, my supervisor and I are going over to the park district’s preschool to read some Halloween stories. Good thing there are, like, twenty million awesome books about Halloween.

My first storytime this morning was not great. I hadn’t done a storytime in a year and a half, and I’d forgotten some of the most important rules of storytime:

1. Don’t let anyone touch the puppets unless you’re prepared to have everyone touch the puppets. As soon as one kid touches the puppet, it’s all over. I like letting everyone come up at the end to touch/hug/get a kiss from the puppet, but having it happen in the middle of storytime is super disruptive. Also, keep the puppets in your bag when you’re not using them, or risk being treated to a rousing chorus of, “BUT I WANT TO MEET THE PUPPET NOW!”

2. Don’t ask open-ended questions during a story (it’s fine at the beginning when you’re chatting with the kids). Questions with one-word answers are usually okay, although even that can have dire consequences. (Try “Does anyone have pets?” Seriously, I dare you. Try it.)

3. Have a very clear introduction and conclusion. Introduce yourself, tell the kids about the library (Have you been to the library? Do you know what we have at the library?), and sing some kind of hello song. At the end, sing a goodbye song (I like to use the “hello” song with some words changed out), give puppet kisses, and then get out.

…well, anyway, after that first storytime (in which I failed to follow any of those rules), I got back on my game. The afternoon went a lot better. What did we read?

Continue reading “Storytime: Happy Halloween!”

Storytime: Monsters!

I love monster stories. You have to be careful, of course, that you don’t pick anything too scary – start with really unscary stories, and keep an eye on how everyone is responding. Tone it down or ramp it up accordingly.

Sometimes there is no helping it, though. I was doing a (non-monster-themed) storytime for five-year-olds and pulled out an old standby, Leonardo the Terrible Monster. When we got to the roaring part, one kid inexplicably totally freaked out and started screaming, and (I was told later) didn’t stop for hours. What can you do?

I’m also a big fan of The Monster at the End of this Book – it was one of my little sister’s favorites, and it’s still a hit today (although I’ve had a few kids ask why Grover, and not Elmo, is the star of this book). There are lots of opportunities for interaction, which is fun, but can definitely rile the kids up. Read this at the end of storytime and then send them home with their caregivers. 😀

Younger Children

My Monster Mama Loves Me So Laura Leuck

Where’s My Mummy? Carolyn Crimi

The Monster at the End of this Book Jon Stone

Go Away, Big Green Monster! Ed Emberley

The Monster Who Loved Books – Keith Faulkner

Go to Bed, Monster! – Natasha Wing

I’m Looking for a Monster – Timothy Young

Older Children

Leonardo the Terrible Monster — Mo Willems

The Gruffalo – Julia Donaldson

Monster Goose – Judy Sierra

The Gunniwolf – Wilhelmina Harper

The Very Worst Monster – Pat Hutchins

Snip-Snap! What’s That? – Mara Bergman

Storytime: Creepy Crawlies!

So it takes a lot for me to call this storytime “Creepy Crawlies” – because no one can pronounce my last name (it’s not that hard, seriously), some kids in grade school called me Creepy Crawly. But whatever, that was a long time ago and I’ve moved on. So here is a creepy-crawly storytime full of wonderful bugs.

Books for Older Children

Miss Spider’s Tea Party – David Kirk

Diary of a Worm – Doreen Cronin

Little Buggy – Kevin O’Malley

Anansi the Spider – Gerald McDermott

Inch by Inch – Leo Lionni

Books for Younger Children

The Very Hungry Caterpillar – Eric Carle

Don’t Worry Bear – Greg Foley

The Grouchy Ladybug – Eric Carle

Happy Bees – Arthur Yorinks

Beetle Bop – Denise Fleming

A Closer Look – Mary McCarthy

Stretchers

The Ants Go Marching

A Caterpillar Crawled

Herman the Worm

Baby Bumblebee

The Little Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

The Itsy-Bitsy Spider

Storytime: Be Yourself!

So, this list includes a lot of my very favorite children’s books ever. I had been looking for a theme that would tie all of them together, and I found it. Stretchers were more of a challenge – I ended up going with some popular selections, because repetition is good for us anyway.

The books on the first list, in particular, are all pretty long. I ended up substituting some of the shorter books from the second list a few times. The Little Rabbit Who Likes to Say Moo, by the same guy who wrote I’m Not Cute, is a lot of fun and lets everybody make animal noises.

Books for Older Children

Tacky the Penguin – Helen Lester

The Big Orange Splot – Daniel Pinkwater

The Gruffalo – Julia Donalson

Leo the Late Bloomer – Robert Kraus

Leonardo the Terrible Monster – Mo Willems

Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed – Mo Willems

Books for Younger Children

Swimmy – Leo Lionni

Rainbow Fish – Marcus Pfister

The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo – Jonathan Allen

The Cow that Went Oink – Bernard Most

How to Be – Lisa Brown

Stretchers

Key to the Kingdom

Herman the Worm

The Ants Go Marching

The Itsy Bitsy Spider

If You’re Happy and You Know It

Wave Goodbye

Storytime: Excuse Me!

Got asked to do a storytime about good behavior. At first this seemed really daunting – the only one I could think of offhand was that Aliki book about manners – but there are actually some really great books out there. (It will not surprise you to learn that all of them teach good behavior by showcasing hilariously bad behavior.) This was for a class of five-year-olds – Excuse Me! is pretty long, so you may want to switch that one out if your audience is younger.

Excuse Me! – Lisa Kopelke – This is the only one of these books that isn’t all that well-known, and it’s really fun for storytime. It’s about a frog who burps too much (yes, there are many group burping opportunities) and gets kicked out of town for never saying “excuse me.” The caregivers were grossed out, the kids LOVED it, and I had a lot of fun reading it.

No, David! – David Shannon

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? – Jane Yolen

Meet Wild Boars – Meg Rosoff

Storytime: Dinosaurs!

Today we held a dinosaur storytime with somewhere in the realm of 100 attendees. Not something I thought I would find myself doing, ever, but it went surprisingly well. (Maybe that’s not a surprise. Who doesn’t love dinosaurs?) We also had the benefit of a three-foot-tall T-Rex puppet who assisted with our stretchers and (of course!) offered everyone a kiss at the end of the storytime.

Books for Older Children

Whatever Happened to the Dinosaurs? – Bernard Most

Bones, Bones, Dinosaur Bones – Byron Barton

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything – Elise Broach

If the Dinosaurs Came Back – Bernard Most

Books for Younger Children

How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? – Jane Yolen & Mark Teague

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime – Bob Shea

Dinosaur Dinosaur – Kevin Lewis

Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs – Byron Barton

Dinosaur Stomp – Paul Stickland

Fingerplays

Dinosaur, Dinosaur (Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear)

Five Enormous Dinosaurs

Dinosaur Hunt (Bear Hunt)

Dinosaur, Dinosaur (Thumbs)

Dinosaurs (with puppet)

Our handout is here.

Storytime: Extreme Animals!

Two things of note for this storytime (check out the PDF here):

1. This is not my preferred version of Herman the Worm (or “Hermie the Wormie”). I have included mine below. I feel very strongly about Herman the Worm – I grew up with it, and this is the version I have known and loved all these years.

2. In case you’re wondering, “Extreme” Thumbkin is actually just regular Thumbkin with Extreme Animal finger puppets (elephants, tigers, etc.)

Books for Older Children

The Big Wide-Mouthed Frog – Ana Martin-Larranaga

Cowboy & Octopus – Jon Scieszka

Harry the Dirty Dog – Gene Zion

The Mightiest – Keiko Kasza

Snip-Snap – Mara Bergman

Tacky the Penguin – Helen Lester

Books for Younger Children

Little Gorilla – Ruth Bornstein

Peek-a-Zoo – Marie Torres Cimarusti and Stephanie Petersen

Polar Bear, Polar Bear – Bill Martin Jr. & Eric Carle

Seals on the Bus – Lenny Hort & G. Brian Karas

Through the Heart of the Jungle – Jonathan Emmett & Elena Gomez

Zookeeper Sue – Chris L. Demarest

Stretchers

Extreme Thumbkin

Baby Shark

Ants Go Marching

Hermie the Wormie

Bingo Was His Name-O

5 Little Ducks

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Herman the Worm (the real version)

Chorus:

I was sittin’ on my back porch,

Chewin’ my bubble gum (smack-smack-smack-smack)

Playin’ with my yo-yo (woo-up, woo-up)

…when along came Herman the Worm,

and he was THIS BIG! (hold hands about six inches apart)

And I said, “Hermie, baby, whaaat happened?”

He said, “I ate my sister.” (hands on belly)

And I said, “Hermie, I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice: you can’t eat your mama, or your papa, or your sister, or your brother!”

And he said, “I know,” and he slithered away. (slithering motion with hands)

Chorus

…when along came Herman the Worm,

and he was THIS BIG! (hands about a foot apart)

And I said, “Hermie, baby, whaaat happened?”

He said, “I ate my brother.”

And I said, “Hermie, I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice, I’ve told you a hundred times: you can’t eat your mama, or your papa, or your sister, or your brother!”

And he said, “I know,” and he slithered away. (slithering motion with hands)

Chorus

…when along came Herman the Worm,

and he was THIS BIG! (hands a couple feet apart)

And I said, “Hermie, baby, whaaat happened?”

He said, “I ate my mom.”

And I said, “Hermie, I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice, I’ve told you a THOUSAND times: you can’t eat your mama, or your papa, or your sister, or your brother!”

And he said, “I know,” and he slithered away. (slithering motion with hands)

Chorus

…when along came Herman the Worm,

and he was THIS BIG!!! (hands as far apart as they can go)

And I said, “Hermie, baby, whaaat happened?”

He said, “I ate my dad.”

And I said, “Hermie, I’ve told you once, I’ve told you twice, I’ve told you a hundred million kabillion (etc.) times: you can’t eat your mama, or your papa, or your sister, or your brother!”

And he said, “I know,” and he slithered away. (slithering motion with hands)

Chorus

(Here, we often said stuff like, “And ten million years later…”)

…when along came Herman the Worm,

and he was (small voice) this big. (tiny!)

And I said, “Hermie, baby, whaaat happened?”

He said, “I burped!” (big burping sound)

Storytime: Spring Has Sprung!

We interpreted the “Spring” theme pretty broadly, throwing in books about farm animals, bunnies, ducks, and so on. The least thematically appropriate book, The Big Wide-Mouthed Frog, was one of the most successful. There are a lot of versions of this particular tale, but the illustrations in Larrañaga’s book are so great: bold, bright colors; large pictures without excessive detail; obvious facial expressions on the characters. It’s perfect for storytime. My storytime partner – also Amanda – does such an amazing job with this book. I have a hard time imagining doing it myself.

Books for older children

Come Along, Daisy! – Jane Simmons

Old Bear – Kevin Henkes

The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo – Jonathan Allen

Bear Snores On – Karma Wilson

The Big Wide-Mouthed Frog – Ana Martin Larrañaga

Books for younger children

Five Little Chicks – Nancy Tafuri

Clip Clop – Nicola Smee

Little Quack’s New Friend – Lauren Thompson

Whose Chick Are You? – Nancy Tafuri

Too Much – Dorothy Stott

Stretchers

The Ants Go Marching

Five Spring Flowers

Five Bright Kites (with flannel board)

Five Little Ducks (with duck puppet)

Itsy Bitsy Spider

The Little Red Hen

Row, Row, Row Your Boat