What better time then spring to read about BUGS!!!

some bugs

I found this utterly charming book by Angela DiTerlizzi and illustrated by Brenden Wenzel. It has a lovely rhyming verse and hilarious illustrations, telling some interesting facts about a huge variety of bugs. The kids loved it and wanted to look closer at every bug page to find them all. Luckily there is a bug guide at the back. I love a book that tells facts about our world in a fun way, and this book is one of my favorites now.

step gently out

This is another beautiful book, with delicate micro photographs that give us an up close look at some bugs. While not as amusing as the first book, this lovely book allows the reader to get so close and take a good look at these delicate creatures.


While not a bug book, this very simple book does address the life cycle changes of many animals, including butterflies, and contemplates before and after using beautiful, simple, colorful paintings and little windows in the page. The kids loved to guess what came next, and so it turned into the most participatory of the three books.

For out craft I cut out rectangles of clear contact paper and put in a butterfly shaped frame that the kids could fill with tissue paper squares. It went a little too fast, but turned out pretty with very little effort. Here is a link to a similar project from Differentiated Kindergarten.




We are having a super space party at the library this week, so I planned a space storytime. I decided to use some books about traveling into SPACE!!!


This book is stunning, the images are beautiful and have the feel of the iconic space images. I did plan on doing some editing, since it is long for reading, but the text really tells the story and makes it exciting, so hard to do much of that.


Mousetronaut is cute, a little mouse helps the astronauts in space. I liked the pictures, of the space shuttle. Written by an astronaut.

trip into space

Super cute and very simple, this bright story shows the activities and daily lives of a very diverse crew of the space station.

Our craft is to color and then make straw rockets.

NASA created a pdf for data analysis and rocket design, which is more than I would do for First graders, but is cool for older kids or a more involved program.

I decided to go with the simple folded paper and tape one I found on the blog The Pleasantest Thing. It is simple and straightforward, and easy to make colorful.



I love Dinovmber. It is the month when toy dinosaurs come to life and get into some mischief. I learned about it from the amazing people at the Dinovember tumbler. The Dinos took over at the library this last November, playing with all our interesting things and generally getting silly. I also did a dinosaur themed storytime to celebrate the silliness inherent in the month.

if i had a raptor

In this hilarious book by George O’Connor, a little girl dreams of the fun to be had having a Velociraptor for a pet. The punchlines are all in the knowing looks by the raptor as the girl dotes affection on a vicious killing machine. A great selection to add to the diversity goals of at least one not-white character per storytime.


Is there anything more ridiculous and endearing then a ballerina Brontosaurus? Brontorina begs to be taken on as a student at Madame Lucille’s school of dance. Brontorina is eager to follow directions, but is constantly limited by the size of the school. In an effort to make her realize her dreams, Madame Lucille moves the school outdoors, and invites anyone who wants to come join in.

if dinos came with

This book starts out like a boring story of a boy running errands with his mother. He quickly changes his attitude about each stop when each store offers a Dinosaur with a purchase. His mother is initially eager to head straight home after the first Dinosaur, but the boy drags her along collecting more and more dinosaurs. Hilarious.


We did this craft from www.cuttingtinybites.com. I prepped the long strips and tringles, and the kids got to tape it all together. We made rainbow colored spikes, and the kids loved it. One made a tail all the way to the floor!

Here are some alternates that are also super funny.

Are All the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? by Julie Middleton

If the dinosaurs came back by Bernard Most

The Super Hungry Dinosaur by Martin Waddell

National Braille Day

In response to National Braille Day on January 4th, and the curriculum of the 1st grade class we did a braille storytime. The kids were enthusiastic to see books in braille, which we collected from our system and others, the tactile experience was very impressive to them.

helen's big world

Helen’s Big World: The Life of Helen Keller  by Doreen Rappaport is a beautiful book, although i did not expect the 1rst graders to sit through it, their enthusiasm held their interest. The books pictures are bright, the story includes quotes from Helen herself and even mentions her commitment to social justice, without getting into the discussion of her political life. The back pages included the sign language alphabet and the group had fun figuring out letters.

black book of colors

This stunning book by Menena Cottin is the book that inspired me to start this storytime theme. The book is all in black, the pictures illustrated by raised shiny black shapes of rain, strawberries and grass, allowing the children to feel and hear the experience of colors rather than depend on their eyes. Hard to pass around in the big group, but the tactile experience was important and the kids loved feeling the words in braille and the pictures.

naomi springtime

Although it is out of print this books is a short, sweet story of experiencing of spring by Naomi who is blind is worth finding. Naomi Knows It’s Springtime explains how she hears and feels the changes of increasing warmth, animal sounds, and the feel of the lawn mower vibrating as it cuts the newly growing grass.

For our craft I printed out these templates so the kids could use raised gem stickers to create a large braille name badge. I gave them each a braille alphabet chart to use to find their letters. They loved it.

Braille AlphabetBraille Name Template

Both of which I found from The Scout Leader Council.

The kids were curious about Helen Keller being able to speak, and they would have loved to see this short clip about her and hear her speak.

Librarian Storytime

Storytime begins, and although I know the kids don’t really care if there is a theme, I like it.September’s Theme for the three groups that came in is:

LIBRARIES: an introduction.


library lion

Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen is a very sweet story of a lion who comes in and melts the heart of the stern librarian. This book can get the littler kids squirming in their seats, but overall a nice addition to the library theme.

BatsAtTheLibrary-e1408739426624Bats at the Library by Brian Lies is super fun, but needs a fair amount of explanation for the K/1 group that was visiting. This also offers a good amount of interaction: having the kids call out stories they recognize and detail they see. Since the book is colored dark (it is night, after all), it helps to have all the kids looking close to see what they can find. The story is about a group of bats that come in to the library through an open widow. They read and play. The story is told in a rhyming poem and the illustrations are rich.

dinosaurvslibBob Shea never fails to create a hit for the young crowd. Dinosaur vs. the Library is delightful, funny, and silly, without being mean. Dinosaur wins over all kinds of creatures with his roaring, but must take a break from noise during storytime. Everyone wins! I like to get the kids to roar along, even if it may disturb the other patrons for a minute.

waiting for biblioburro

Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown is the story of a little girl who is visited by the biblioburro  and is so excited she writes a book about it. We had a copy of this through 3M Cloud Library as an ebook, and the kids seem to really like getting the lights turned down and a book read to them projected onto a screen. I expected them to be bored, but they were all in.

Here is a video of the real Biblioburro:

Our craft was to make little books to add to our collection. I did the prefolding, and the kids had a free for all. The nice thing about this craft was that for an older group, I could teach them how to fold their little books.

Here is what our library display looked like

tiny library within a library

Other books to add to the display on the theme:

tomas and library lady

Tomas visits the library for the first time on his own and makes friends with the librarian. This book is lovely, the illustrations are very stylized and interesting, but it is too long for a storytime.

inside this book

Three children each make a book and they all fit inside this book. This was a great book substitute for the craft

Books I missed when I did this storytime:

lottie paris

 I love the dreamy swirly illustrations and the two quirky kids who make friends in the library.


Great for a young (3-4 yrs) this is a sweet book about the weekly trip Lola takes to the library.

please louise

Louise is having a very bad, afraid, miserable, rainy day, until she finds her way into the safe haven of the library.

World War II YA Novels

code name verity


Wein, Elizabeth. Code Name Verity. Disney-Hyperion, 2012. 352 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1423152194

During World War II a British spy is captured and held by the gestapo in France.

Historical Fiction

Age Range 14-18

5 out of 5 for quality

School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, 2012; Agatha Award Nominee for YA, 2012; Edgar Award for YA, 2013; Printz Honor, 2013; Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor for Fiction, 2012; YALSA Best Fiction for YA (Top 10), 2013; ALA Best Books for Young Adults, 2013.

This is an exciting mystery, with confusing perspectives of two young women who work in the military in England during World War II. One is a spy, captured by the gestapo in France, and it is she who tells the story of their friendship. This is one of those books where the less said, the better. The writing is excellent, the tension holds, the mystery interesting all the way through. Also, I cried.

Other reading:

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

B for Buster by Iain Lawrence

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


Author Website http://www.elizabethwein.com/



Sheinkin, Steve. Bomb: The Race to Build-and Steal-the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon. Flash Point, 2012. 272 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1596434875

A nonfiction thrilling story of the development of the first atomic bomb.


Age Range 12-17

5 out of 5 for quality

National Book Award Nominee, 2012; Newbery Honor Book, 2012; ALA Notable book for middle readers, 2013; YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction, 2013; Silbert medal, 2013.

Bomb is an exceptional kind of nonfiction that draws the reader along to find out what happens next. It follows many narratives: spies working to undermine the German atomic program, scientists working in the United States building the bomb, and spies in the US sending secrets of these weapons to the USSR. Each storyline looks at the different historical figures who worked on the frontlines of science and espionage. Slowly the story develops as the bomb develops; the writing is clear and the science behind the work explained in enough detail for the reader to understand some of the problems, success and turmoil that surrounded this project. Amidst all the discussion of the bomb, Shenkin looks into the lives and actions of the spies who worked on behalf of the USSR, and gives the context of why American scientists would choose to send plans of the atomic bomb to the country that would become America’s #1 enemy in the years following World War II.

This book was a surprise, as it was a subject matter I was wary of and I had concerns about the potential glorification of the atomic weapons program. I came away very impressed with the discussion of the perceived need for the development of the weapon as well as the horror of the weapon completion. Despite being a book intended for teens, Shenkin is willing to lay out all the hard choices and shades of grey that enter into discussions like this. I certainly came away with better insight and greater appreciation for the complexity of the atomic weapon issue.

Other books of interest:

Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes by Eleanor Coerr and Ronald Himler


Author Website http://www.stevesheinkin.com/

Caldecott Honor Books

caldecott medal

“The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” From the Website http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/caldecottmedal/caldecottmedal



Caldecott Honor Books

Becker, Aaron. Journey. Candlewick Press, 2013. 40 pages. $15.99 ISBN-13: 978-0763660536

A young girl journeys through magical lands with the help of her red crayon.

Age Range 4-10

Fantasy, wordless picture book

5 out of 5 for quality, 5 out of 5 for popularity.

Caldecott Honor, 2014

Imagination takes us outside ourselves and into beautiful worlds, as it does for a girl, bored of life in an urban city and ready for adventure. Drawing a door for herself on her bedroom wall she enters an enchanting forest filled with lights and a river that takes her to a city full of domed cathedrals and a system of aqueducts. All along the way she travels through the power of her red crayon, making boats, hot air balloons, and a flying carpet. She helps to save a beautiful purple bird who eventually leads her back to her home, but also to a new friend with an imagination to match her own. Without words and full of incredibly detailed and magical drawings, this book tells an adventure story that reminds one of a detailed Harold and the Purple Crayon (which is emphasized even more when the boy she meets in the end has a crayon that is purple). Although the illustrations range from simple to detailed, the geometry and use of color infuse the whole work with emotional content. Any page this book is opened to tells a story and makes it an irresistible book.


Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Free Fall by David Wiesner

Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman

Book Discussion

  1. Is this book about an imaginary journey or is the girl in a fantasy land that is real to her?
  2. How does the author use color to tell the story?


Great book for pre-readers as it has no words and allows for a lot of interaction. Adventure, Friendship, magic, imagination.


Author website http://www.storybreathing.com/

Author interview


dave the potter

Hill, Laban Carrick. Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. Little Brown and Company, 2010. 40 pages. $18.00 ISBN-13: 978-0316107310

A poem about a slave who made pots and inscribed them with lines of poetry.

Biography picture book, poetry

Age Range: 5-12

4 out of 5 for quality, 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Coretta Scott King Award for Illustrator, 2011

Caldecott Honor, 2011

“To us, it is just dirt…” begins a picture book that imparts the brief things we know about the life of Dave the Potter. Born a slave, almost all the information about him comes from the simple lines of poetry he inscribed on the huge ceramic pots he made. This story is told in poem as well, to further illustrate the power poetry has to describe a life, whether it is telling it autobiographically on pots or historically in a picture book. It is also the story of how pottery is made, clay thrown on a wheel, shape curved with hands and arms. The illustrations are done by Bryan Collier, whose normal collage style is toned down, focusing more on the detail illustrations and using some collage to give the images extra dimension. Especially beautiful are the illustrations of Dave’s hands as they work the clay into a pot. The color palette for the whole work is earth tones, the tans and browns of clay and pottery. This is a unique, beautiful biography of a man who has an unusual place in American history.


Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom By Carole Boston Weatherford

Carver: A life in Poems by Marilyn Nelson

Ellington was Not a Street by Ntozake Shange

Book Discussion

  1. Why is it important that we learn about Dave?
  2. What made Dave different from other slaves?


Author Website http://www.labanhill.com/

A video showing a pottery vase being made.


william blake

Willard, Nancy. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers. Illustrated by Alice and Martin Provensen. Harcourt, 1982. 45 pages. $16.60 ISBN-13: 978-0812404661

A series of poems in the style of William Blake describe a fantastical inn full or marvelous creatures.

Poetry Picture Book

Age Range: 5 and up

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality, 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Newbery Medal, 1982

Caldecott Honor, 1982

Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Picture Book, 1982

The introduction tells the story of the author hearing a poem by William Blake as a child and becoming enchanted. In this book, beautifully illustrated with muted earth tones of an old-fashioned style, is Willard’s tribute to her beloved Poet. Clearly written with imagination and fancy, each poem has a different rhythm, but all work to describe some aspect of the amazing inn run by William Blake with the help of tigers, dragons, angels, and the King of Cats. The reader is continually confronted with amazing journeys to the stars, fantastic flying carriages, and dragons making bread juxtaposed against cozy images of Blake at his writing desk or in a study with a warm fire in the fireplace. The city, too, makes appearances, regularly in surreal images of rooftops and rooms clustered among geometric buildings and architecture. The poems are refreshing and feel beautiful and silly and charming, and give nod to Blake’s imagination and need for breaking away from rationality.

“He gave silver shoes to the rabbit

And golden gloves to the cat

And emerald boots to the tiger and me

And boots of iron to the rat.”

The magic and imagination infused in this book make it perfect for reading to children and enjoying alone.


In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

Omnibeasts: animal poems and paintings by Douglas Florian

Red Sings from the Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman

Book Discussion

  1. What do you think this book tells us about the poetry of the real William Blake?
  2. None of the humans seemed surprised by what is happening in the pictures, whoudl you be surprised?

Book Talking

Would you like to visit a place where angels make the beds and dragons bake the bread? Where a nature walk is through the stars? How about if you had to cuddle a bear for a bed?


Author Biography from the Poetry Foundation http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/nancy-willard

A brief movie about the real William Blake