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.

I hate bedtime

I hate bedtime. I am not going to lie; it is really my least favorite time of the day. Part of it is that I do want to snuggle with my sweet three year old and smell his neck and tell him I love him. But he wiggles. And Plays. And Tells stories. FOR TWO HOURS. I have homework, chores, and a desire to maybe watch another episode of Once Upon A Time. Many nights I succumb to sleep before he does so we kind-of both win, I guess. Despite our trials, what I do love about bedtime is the stories, so here are our top three favorites.

When the World is Ready for Bed by Gillian Shields and illustrated by Anna Currey. “When the world is ready for bed, the sky grows dark, the sun glows red.” So begins the bedtime routine of a lovely family of rabbits as they eat supper, tidy, bathe, and tuck into their beds. I like the part where they tidy up, finding puzzle pieces under the couch, but the sweetest part is when the three bunny siblings crawl under the covers and sleep under the shining evening star. The watercolors are beautiful and relaxing, and we love to have a book that tells the rhythm of the evening into night. We, of course, hoped that we could use the book as a pattern for J to get used to the evening routine. It worked to get him into a routine, but the routine fails to get him to sleep in a reasonable time frame. We love the story anyway and read it as often as we can, since it is one of very few books we bought brand new.

A few months ago, J started getting more and more scared in the night. Prayers help, but he needed one he could remember and relate to, so I brought home Prayer for a Child by Rachel Field and illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones. We found it at the library many months ago. Now that we have started reading it every night, J has memorized it quickly. Part of the ease of memorization comes from its rhythm and rhyme (which, I have found, three year olds LOVE: we read a lot of Dr. Seuss). Also, I think it is relatable for him, to thank God for things like milk and toys. It also has this lovely line: “Bless other children far and near and keep them safe and free from fear” combined with a picture of hundreds of children’s faces from around the world. J especially loves this picture, pointing out the ones with the funny hair. This book won a Caldecott Medal in 1945; the soft, sweet pictures are delightful. The Caldecott Medal is an annual award for art in children’s literature, presented by the Library Service to Children division of the American Library Association.

Finally, Can You See a Little Bear? by James Mayhew and illustrated by Jackie Morris. What initially drew me to this book is the beautiful fantasy land created by Jackie Morris. It is full of angel-fairies and hot air balloons, castles and a circus. The story follows a small polar bear as he wanders through the land, collecting a hat, and a toy, and seeing what there is to see. Finally though, the little bear’s parent comes and finds him and gathers him home for bed. The poem works by comparing the different animals: “Lions are yellow, peacocks are blue, can you see a little bear trying on a shoe?” J always likes to find the item in question, as well as the different animals.  We have another book illustrated by Jackie Morris as well; I can spend a long time looking at the magical details in each watercolor painting. This artist inspires me to cover my walls with children’s book illustrations, although I have yet to start that project. “Cats like the sun, and owls like the moon, Good Night, Little Bear – hope to see you soon.”


Field, R. (1941) Prayer for a child. New York : Simon & Schuster

Mayhew, J. (2005) Can you see a little bear? London: Frances Lincon Children’s Books.

Shields, G. (2009) When the world is ready for bed.  New York: Bloomsbury.

Worlds of Imagination

J is a fury of imaginative storytelling. He is equipped with an impressive vocabulary that includes words like ginormous, a well-developed sense of song, and an imaginary friend named Lucy. Lucy can do everything and does frequently, bending time and space to her and J’s will to combat dinosaurs, walk with wolves, and fly to mars.  Watching this imagination develop has been a joy, we encourage it as much as possible, asking follow-up questions about his travels with Lucy. We help him as best we can as he turns a box into a house, a cave, and a turtle shell through the course of a single hour. He can spend half a day in a dragon costume and the rest of the day in regular clothes pretending to be an entire menagerie of animals. I love books where children are encouraged to build a world out of their imaginations, and so does J, so here are the top three I have found so far.

Weslandia by Paul Fleischman and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes was one of the very first children’s books I bought brand new. I was probably 20 and the story of a boy who creates an entire culture from a plant that grows in his backyard was beautiful and exciting. Stories of invention and creativity are stories of hope. It is about a lonely boy, Wesley who, through his own creativity and spunk triumphs over the adversity of bullies and oblivious parents. The illustrations by Kevin Hawkes are rich and luscious, full of the vibrant reds  and greens of the ‘swist’ plant. What I love best about this book is that while Wesley creates his own culture and is true to his own interests and desires, he converts the other mean children over to his imaginative backyard paradise. I love a book about overcoming one’s enemies by finding respect and forgivness.

Next is a book written in 1967 by Doris Burn, Andrew Henry’s Meadow.  I found this on a shelf at my Dad’s house and we read it every time we visit. It is about a boy inventor, Andrew Henry, whose inventions get him in trouble with his family. Needing some place to build, he heads out to the nearby meadow to build his own home. Other children of the town follow, bringing with them the things that make them unique and strange and that their parents have told them to get rid of. Rather than giving up their passions, they build a community in the field with a unique house built for each child, one for bird-watching, another insulated for playing instruments.  Eventually the families come to find the children, embrace them and bring them home, along with their quirky hobbies. It is illustrated in simple pen drawings, but the detail makes it very magical, especially with the complex inventions Andrew Henry builds.

Finally a recommendation from my sister, Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran and illustrated by Barbara Cooney. This book tells the story of a group of neighborhood kids in Arizona in the early half of the 1900’s who build an imaginary city and playground on a hill covered with rocks, cactus and trash. Children love trash, especially the kind that can be made into treasures. These children use rocks and boxes to build homes and shops, cars and horses. This book is told like a memory, and although the oil paintings are muted and the writing quiet as well, J and I love it. We got it from the library and it is one of the top requests this week from the library stack that sits on the floor next to the couch. I think he is fascinated by the way children play and the rules they create between each other to build their imaginary games. It’s a hard thing to learn and takes a lot of trial and error to get other small children to agree on a game. Roxaboxen gives him a model of what play should be, can be, once he figures out how to communicate it.  In Roxaboxen there is even a boy’s against girl’s war described, with forts and bandits whooping. Despite J being a very sweet, loving, kind, imaginative little boy, he loves more these days than a pretend fight with swords, “gunnins” and perhaps even a dramatic death scene.

Burn, D. (1967) Andrew Henry’s Meadow. San Juan Publishing

Fleishman, P. (1999) Weslandia. Cambridge, Mass: Candlewick Press.

McLerran, A. (1991) Roxaboxen. New York: Lothorop, Lee & Shepard Books