Author Archive: Storytime Stuff

Share This Book: And Then It’s Spring

51hFMsVLF0L._AA160_And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano. New York: Roaring Brook Press, 2012.

After a long winter, a boy and his dog decide to do something about the brown that is all around, they plant a garden! Simple text and illustrations tell this delightful story of a boy waiting for spring to arrive. The boy looks all around at the brown, plants seeds, worries about his seeds, wishes for rain, and waits. As time goes by, the illustrations show that the weather is warming, the brown is changing, until one day it’s spring!

After the winter we’ve had, we can all sympathize with the boy’s watchful waiting!

Celebrate National Grilled Cheese Month with These Silly Rhymes

20140317_123111April is National Grilled Cheese Month!  Why not invite a few of your favorite nursery rhyme characters to storytime to celebrate?  Kids will love these silly variations on classic Mother Goose rhymes.  Encourage creativity and writing skills by working with children to come up with their own crazy grilled cheese sandwich rhymes!


Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet,

eating a yummy grilled cheese.

Along came a spider

And sat down beside her

And said, “Could I have some, please?”


Old Mother Hubbard

went to the cupboard

to fetch her poor dog a grilled cheese.

He gobbled it up,

that hungry pup,

and shared the crumbs with the fleas!


Old King Cole

Was a hungry old soul,

And a hungry old soul was he.

He called for his bread,

And he called for his cheese,

And he called for his cooks three.

Each cook, he had a fine pan,

And a very fine pan had he;

Hiss-hiss, went the grilled cheese,

Hiss, went the grilled cheese,

Hiss, went the sandwiches three.

Oh, there’s none so rare,

As can compare

With old King Cole and his grilled cheeses three!

Tricky Rabbits

51gkShUMD-L._SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_ Though the Easter Bunny is known for leaving candy-filled eggs, children’s literature has a tradition of rabbits who are bit more devious.  Meet the latest batch in the hilarious Buddy and the Bunnies in Don’t Play With Your Food by Bob Shea (New York: Hyperion, 2014).  Buddy the monster is set on eating the little bunnies, but each day they trick him into playing with them through a series of clever stalling tactics – offering cupcakes until he is too full, going swimming (everyone knows you can’t eat before swimming, right?), taking him to the carnival (who wants to eat after riding on spinny, whippy rides?)…and then they unleash their secret weapon: everyone knows you’re not supposed to play with your food. Shea’s wacky text and anarchic, joyful illustrations make this a boisterous storytime read. Share this book in storytimes about food, play, friends, tricksters, or just plain silliness, or pair it with Candace Fleming’s Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! (New York: Atheneum, 2002) and the Brer Rabbit tales of Joel Chandler Harris for a storytime built around trickster rabbits.

51eygTDMeQL._SX258_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_               61yLkyr3kDL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_

Share This Book: Take Me Out to Yakyu

Cover of Take Me Out to the YakyuBaseball season is here!  Celebrate by sharing Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon (New York: Atheneum, 2013).

In this winsome picture book, a little boy describes going to the stadium to watch baseball with his American pop pop, and to the dome to watch yakyu with his Japanese ji ji.  Clever split-page illustrations compare and contrast the American and Japanese experiences of getting to the game, buying souvenirs and snacks, and cheering for the team (tellingly, American fans shout “Win! Win! Win!”, while the Japanese fans chant, “Do your best!”). A glossary of story-related words in Japanese appears at the end of the book, and an author’s note gives more details about how baseball works in American and Japan.  With brief text and vibrant illustrations, this is a great read-aloud for storytimes about sports, exercise, summertime, or families around the world.

Sign This!: “The Little Spider: A Rhyme from the Philippines”

Put a spin on a familiar favorite by sharing this rhyme from the Philippines:

The little spider, the little spider

Climbed up the branch.

The rain came down and pushed it away.

The sun came out and dried the branch.

The little spider is always happy.

Now watch this video to learn how to share this rhyme with American Sign Language:

Multicultural Storytime Magic coverFor more engaging multicultural fun for any storytime, check out Multicultural Storytime Magic by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker.

Sign This! (Baby Storytime Magic Edition): Three Jellyfish

Three jellyfish,

Three jellyfish,

Three jellyfish sitting on a rock.

Zoop! One jumped off!

Two jellyfish…

One jellyfish…

No jellyfish…

But then . . . zoop! One jellyfish jumped back on.

Zoop! Another jellyfish jumped back on.

Zoop! Another jellyfish jumped back on.

Let’s count them! One. . . two. . . three!

Three jellyfish,

Three jellyfish,

Three jellyfish sitting on a rock.

Literacy bit (Share this with caregivers!): “Using basic signs with songs helps your child not only develop manual dexterity, which will later be important for grasping and holding things and for writing, but also make connections with concepts and language. This song uses a simple story to emphasize opposites.”

Baby Storytime Magic cover

Look for more active fun for baby storytimes in Baby Storytime Magic: Active Early Literacy through Bounces, Rhymes, Tickles, and More by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker, coming soon from ALA Editions.

Watch This: The Linguistic Genius of Babies

In this TED Talk, Patricia Kuhl, co-director of the Institute for Brain and Learning Sciences at the University of Washington, illuminates the sophisticated reasoning that babies use to understand the world.  Drawing on neurological research, she shows how babies and children master the elements of their first languages.  Early childhood educators will not be surprised at the critical importance of the early years in language learning: “Babies and children are geniuses until they turn seven, and then there’s a systematic decline.”

Baby Storytime Magic coverFind lots of great tickles, rhymes, bounces and more to enhance early literacy in your baby programs in Baby Storytime Magic: Active Early Literacy through Bounces, Rhymes, Tickles, and More by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker (ALA Editions, 2014.  $50.00).

Baby Storytime Magic

Baby Storytime Magic cover

Baby Storytime Magic: Active Early Literacy through Bounces, Rhymes, Tickles, and More

Order now!

by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker

ALA Editions, 2014.  $50.00

“This will be a go-to book time and again, for ideas, for planning, and for resources for any adult working with children under age 2, and sometimes older.” – Sara Marcus, American Reference Books Annual

“Whilst there are many storytime/rhyme time book resources available on the market, what sets Baby storytime magic apart is that each suggested title is accompanied by a ‘literacy bit’ – this is a suggested script for the facilitator to use to explain to caregivers the benefits of a particular activity and how to use it at home. This provides empowerment for caregivers, as they then have tools and resources to assist their child(s) literacy development not only during the storytime/rhyme time session, but at home too…This book is a smart purchase for any public library, early education centre or professional providing activities for babies.” – Sharon Uthmann, Australian Library Journal


Whether you’ve been presenting baby storytimes for fifteen years or fifteen minutes, you probably already know that the first five years of life are key for brain development and early literacy. Many public libraries have instituted baby and toddler programs, but finding exciting materials for baby storytime that go beyond nursery rhymes can be a challenge. Baby Storytime Magic is a treasure trove of new and exciting ideas for programs, all of which revolve around themes from a baby’s world. Inside this resource you’ll find

  •  Fingerplays, bounces, flannelboards, activities with props, songs, American Sign Language activities, and more, with items arranged by type of material
  • Tips for planning storytimes, with advice on logistical issues such as age grouping, scheduling, formats, and physical setup
  • Guidance on involving caregivers in baby storytimes, including suggested scripts for explaining the benefits of each activity and how to use it at home
  • Age-appropriate book recommendations
  • Information on the stages of early childhood development, plus an appendix of recommended additional resources
  • A thematic index to find the right storytime quickly
  • Links to full-sized, downloadable flannelboard patterns, craft patterns, and worksheets

Packed with ready-to-use activities, reducing prep time substantially, this book is a valuable early literacy tool for every children’s librarian.

Click here for a preview of material from the book.

Baby Storytime Magic: Sneak Preview

Taking turns is fun to do.

First it’s me and then it’s you.

Back and forth and to and fro.

Your turn, my turn, here we go!

Literacy bit (Share this with caregivers!): “Babies and toddlers live very much in the present, so the concept of waiting for a turn is difficult for them! The back and forth nature of this bounce and the sign TAKE-TURNS both emphasize that the turn is coming. Use the sign TAKE-TURNS in everyday interactions with your child to describe and cue desired behavior.”

Baby Storytime Magic coverLook for more active fun for baby storytimes in Baby Storytime Magic: Active Early Literacy through Bounces, Rhymes, Tickles, and More by Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker, coming Spring 2014 from ALA Editions.

Recommended Reading: Books in Motion

dietzelGlair300Books in Motion: Connecting Preschoolers with Books through Art, Games, Movement, Music, Playacting, and Props by Julie Dietzel-Glair.

(Chicago, IL: Neal-Schuman, 2013)  $55.00.  ISBN 978-1-55570-810-8.  Available at

Using a wide variety of clever activity, prop, and movement suggestions, Books in Motion offers practical suggestions for children’s librarians, teachers, and childcare providers to get kids moving during the reading of books, not just in between stories. Though this may seem a radical suggestion to some, incorporating games, scavenger hunts, and hands-on activities in the reading of stories addresses multiple intelligences and serves to engage children on many levels.

Dietzel-Glair reviews 500 picture books published since 2000, with each entry offering an annotation and detailed suggestions for activities to use while reading. The best word to describe the books chosen is “diversity” – both of well-known and lesser-known authors, and in the cultures and characters represented. Each chapter focuses on one of the categories mentioned in the subtitle, along with group management and logistical tips. Some of the suggestions derive directly from the text, such as the directions for acting out the actions of the frog in William Bee’s Beware of the Frog (Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2008), providing a good guide for storytime leaders who don’t naturally tend to movement in storytime. Many more of the suggestions, however, bring in unusual angles on the text, such as assigning motions to the refrain in Emily Gravett’s Orange Pear Apple Bear (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2005), playing “Pass the Peanut” during Petr Horáček’s My Elephant (Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2009) by having the kids wear socks on the hands as “trunks” and pass a peanut around the circle, or using juggling scarves as superhero capes in Bob Graham’s Max (Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2000). Best of all, many of the creative suggestions can be adapted to other stories as well. Patterns for craft activities are included in the appendix, and books are accessible by author, title, and subject index. This is a great addition to your storytime resource shelf.