playing catch-up!

A quick post for today. I’m still here! Still doing baby storytime! Just busy, busy, busy, now that I’m preparing to begin an MLS program in about three weeks. Weeee!

As sometimes happens, there’s been a lull at storytime. My usual attendees fell out of the habit, and now I’m lucky when I get 4 or 5 babies. I know this too shall pass–a new crop of babies and their caregivers will inevitably start showing up regularly, and before I know it I’ll have a solid crowd again. But, that might take a while. As in, a couple months. Maybe more than that. I’m hoping not, but I know how hard it can be to make something like that a priority. Confession: I brought my daughter to story time three times (THREE TIMES) in her first year of life. I had the opportunity to go every week but I went three. measly. times. So, if anyone gets it, it’s me.

Anyway, the past few weeks have been hit-or-miss. Here are my book pairings from November and early December:

November 18th: (Beastly Babies by Ellen Jackson, Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley). I really enjoyed Beastly Babies (it’s a new one to our library). Great for baby time and the illustrations are wonderfully vibrant.


November 25th AND December 2: Nobody came the first week (day before Thanksgiving). But I had a cute one planned, so I re-used it the following week. Leaves by David Ezra Stein and Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. I think the Ehlert was a little too long.


December 9th (today!): Only four kiddos this morning (two sets of siblings), but the toddlers made it a little more fun, anyway. They did a great job guessing where little mouse was hiding! We read Stripes of All Types by Susan Stockdale and I Like Black and White by Barbara Jean Hicks. I’ll admit, I only read the first few pages of the Hicks when I chose it, but I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought it would. It has a nice little message at the end, with two children with different skin tones playing and dancing together. Stripes of All Types was fun because the pictures are bold and it’s a great introduction to children’s nonfiction.


I’m tending away from doing any mention of holidays at storytime. The truth is, kids are bombarded with holiday images everywhere, from daycare to the mall, to television ads and yes, even the main room of the public library. I want storytime to remain an all-inclusive space for children. I am only one librarian. I know that there are others who disagree (I work with some of them!). There’s never any harm in abstaining, while choosing to do holiday storytimes might very well leave someone out. And I don’t want to leave anyone out!


What would Pepe read?

Our library just got started with character book lists. That is, imagining what a character would read, if they were real, and then putting it into list form for patrons to take home. I think they’ll be turning them into book marks and maybe some nice displays.

In a moment of divine inspiration on Wednesday, I chose to dive into the mind and supposed bookshelf of Pepe the King Prawn.


I know plenty about Pepe from his appearances in movies (most notably Muppets from Space), but did some extra research to make sure I was getting him right. He hails from Madrid, he was a cook for a while, he has an affinity for dancing ballet in tutus, he claims to hang out with Ricky Martin, and he LOVES the ladies. I had to work with books we already own in our library’s collection, so that was a little bit limiting. I think I found some good ones. Let me know what you think!

I think the saddest part was that we don’t even have Pepe’s book in our collection, so I couldn’t add it to my list. Ah well.

The Ballet Companion – Eliza Gaynor Minden

Ballet Favorites DVD

Casanova: Actor, Lover, Priest, Spy – Ian Kelly

 The Dark Heart of Hollywood: Glamour, Guns, and Gambling: Inside the Mafia’s Global Empire – Douglas Thompson

Do Gentlemen Really Prefer Blondes?: Bodies, Behavior, and Brains: The science behind sex, love, and attraction – J. Pincott

From Clueless to Class Act: Manners for the Modern Man – Jodi R. R. Smith

Jim Henson: The Biography – Brian J. Jones

Made in Spain: Spanish Dishes for the American Kitchen – Jose Andres

Modern Romance – Aziz Ansari

Ricky Martin Live Black and White Tour CD

Ricky Martin, MTV Unplugged CD

Tapas Made Easy – Tomas Garcia

It Looked Like Spilt Pumpkin-Spice Lattes…

My next baby storytime is on Wednesday, and it’ll be my first day back of after a long weekend camping on the ocean with my parents (I’m prepared for some VERY chilly nights). This is the biggest leaf-peeping weekend of the year, and tourists from all over will be driving through my area on their way northward, towards the White Mountains. I love October as much as the next person, but for the love of all things holy, does EVERYTHING in October have to be about pumpkins, leaves, and pies? As a sincere lover of apple pies, an admirer of crunchy-leaf walks, and a pumpkin-carving enthusiast, I can honestly say that there is a time and a place for everything. Sometimes I think of storytime as a nice little vacation from all the holiday blahdeeblah that tends to take over Children’s Departments.

Now that you think I’m a total Grinch about fall (I’m not, I swear!), I’ll share my plans for next Wednesday’s baby lapsit storytime. I chose two books that I think are great for babies thanks to their bold graphics and brief text. I also think they share a message: using your imagination can be a lot of fun. I know that some parents, especially first-time parents with young babies, can often feel silly playing pretend. Or, maybe they’ve just forgotten how to access that part of their brain. I hope these books, and others like them (I’m looking at you, Not a Box!), help introduce a new focus on imaginative play for the families that come to storytime.

820274 perfect square


-Good Morning Song

-Shake My Sillies Out, from More Singable Songs by Raffi

Bounces/ Rhymes/Songs:

-I Bounce You Here

-Toast in the Toaster

-When Ducks Get Up in the Morning

-I’m a Little Teapot


-Two Little Blackbirds

Read: It Looked Like Spilt Milk – Shaw

Bounces/ Rhymes/Songs:

-Here is the Beehive

-Hello Little Babies (new this week for me, from KCLS)

-Can You Clap?

-Stretch, Stretch, Stretch (also new for me this week from KCLS)

-This is Big, Big, Big

-The Tiny Mice

Read: Perfect Square – Hall

Shaker egg song:

-“Corner Grocery Store – Raffi

-“You Must Really Like Me” – Parachute Express

Little Mouse Activity

Goodbye + Bubbles:

-“Twinkle, Twinkle” from the album Catch the Moon, by Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell

… I’m still worried you think I hate this magical leaf-turny time of year. Here is a pic I snapped on my lunch break today, before I even knew I’d be badmouthing pumpkin-spice-everything on a blog. You can’t deny the beauty of this short season!




Messy Art Club: First Meeting!

Wee!!! We were brainstorming all summer about the best way to get those older elementary-aged kids into the library, and so far our mini-clubs are doing the trick!

So that you can understand the enormity of this triumph, let me just say that in a typical 4-week month, we offer 24 programs (storytimes) for children birth-6. Many of those have their own age breakdowns (ex. birth-12 months), but they are all for the younger set. Typically, that same month we might offer 3 additional afterschool programs–and we were targeting that SAME age group! I think it’s because we knew they would come. Many of those youngsters are library regulars. We know them by name. We know their favorite books and board games. But, our children’s room goes up to age 11! The only thing those older kids were doing regularly was playing Minecraft on our computers (and that’s awesome, but we offer so much more!).

Naturally, we had to think about what would get more of those 8-11 year-olds in the door. While most of our afterschool programs were listed for ages 6-11, we found we were still only getting 4-7 year-olds on a regular basis. These programs were typically based around a story with a corresponding craft or snack (our morning storytimes do not have crafts, so this was supposed to be the big draw). The head of our department wisely made the decision to forgo the story portion, and aim the afterschool programming towards children around 4th or 5th grade. What she was saying was risky, because we might be alienating our fan base and sending an anti-literary message. Not so! Today’s activity proves that there’s a willing crowd (I had a waiting list!), and now we know the demand is there. And of course, there’s no such thing as anti-literary when you’re in a room literally stacked with books. 🙂


Today’s installment of Messy Art Club revolved around pendulum painting and baking soda/vinegar painting. Of course, the pendulum was the main event!


it was awesome to see some kids I hadn’t seen in a few years, and also some new faces in the mix. A mom approached me after the club to tell me how happy she was to see an event specifically geared toward this age-group. She and her daughter were feeling that they had “aged-out” of the activities in our department, but being 9, she still isn’t ready for teen programming. That felt good to hear! Again, the demand is there (shame on us for not seeing it sooner).

And this was SO fun, and SO messy! All the participants were surprised at how messy they were allowed to be. I can’t lie, though. I did try to reign it in…to no avail. Once you get that messy train started, it is tough to put on the brakes!


Each piece of art is a reflection of the artist. Some kids chose to push the pendulum (a 16 oz. water bottle topped with an Elmer’s glue twist top, hung from a cymbal stand) wildly, while others had more controlled nudges. One person just held onto the pendulum the whole time, directing the lines where she wanted them to go. All were fascinated by it. I tried a few times to get everyone to stay in their seats unless it was there turn, but the draw was too great–they crowded around, excited to see what other people were doing with their art. It was a very social affair!

Of course, many libraries are already doing awesome programming like this for their patrons. Still, it’s so nice to see in person how important it is to provide artistic opportunities, especially those that might require special equipment or supplies, for children in a public library setting. Not only are we encouraging them to be well-rounded and creative, but we’re encouraging them to be human, to share their hearts, to cooperate, and to find beauty in unexpected places.



I kept the canvases and we’ll be putting them up as a temporary exhibit in the children’s room once they are dry. The artists will get their paintings back in a month or two. I can’t wait to see them all up on display, beautifying our room!


preschool storytime: bears!

Normally my co-worker Kathy does the preschool storytimes, but today she was taking a day off, so the task fell to me. Luckily I knew in advance, enabling me to plan an action-packed story hour. I’ve been finding that themes help me when I’m planning for the older crowd (since my usual audience might not even be crawling yet, 4 and 5 year-olds seem “older” to me!). I didn’t want to go with a school theme, but bears seemed on-target for the cooling weather, the turning leaves, and the all-around feeling that hibernation is drawing near (despite the fact that it’s still in the mid-70s).

Storytime Katie has a couple of bear-themed storytimes on her blog, which I use often for inspiration. I saw Orange Pear Apple Bear surface in both of those storytime plans, but we didn’t have a copy in my library. I was lucky a library in our consortium had it available, because it is a delightful picture book by Emily Gravett! I love her, anyway, so I was happy to share something different by her. Where is Bear, by Leslea Newman, is a rhyming romp that the kids really enjoyed. It also has a little twist that they found pretty funny.

orangepearapplebear whereisbear






On to the plan:


-Shake My Sillies Out, from More Singable Songs by Raffi

-Ring Around the Rosie


-Going on a Bear Hunt (I hung up photos of each obstacle as a visual reminder for myself and for the kids. We talked beforehand about what each was, and that made it easier for them to recognize what was coming next).

-This is Big, Big, Big from Mel’s Desk

-Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

-Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear

Read: Orange Pear Apple Bear – Emily Gravett


-John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt,

-Two Little Blackbirds

-There Was a Little Turtle

Read: Where is Bear? – Leslea Newman

Shaker egg song:

-“I Know A Chicken,” – Laurie Berkner

Little Mouse Activity

Weston Woods Story Video: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by James Marshall

Coloring sheets

I should also mention that we have added a second storytime to the same day, for 4-6 year olds in the afternoon. Because I was the stand-in, I just used the same storytime twice, but I deleted the little mouse activity and added in a third book for the older crowd. The book I added was Bearsie Bear and the Surprise Sleepover Party, by Bernard Waber.


Under normal circumstance, I LOVE THIS BOOK. I forgot how long it is, though. I think it took me a full 20 minutes to get through all the animals. Sadly, only two kids showed up to this storytime. I can’t help but think that Bearsie Bear would have gone over better if there was a bigger group that didn’t mind getting a little wild (because it is so silly and fun!).

I don’t know. I think three stories is a lot for a storytime, especially if there is a longer book in the mix. I’m curious to hear how many stories other folks include in their storytimes for Kindergarten-aged children!


If You Plant a Seed

We just purchased a copy of this book and I can’t stop gushing over it.


Sometimes I find painted illustrations to be a little dated looking, but the vibrancy of the colors in Kadir Nelson’s If You Plant a Seed is just one of the many reasons to give this beautiful picture book a second look.

Centering on a rabbit and his mousey friend, the book’s sparse but meaningful text is the perfect accompaniment to the detailed illustrations. In many ways, the paintings tell the story.

The story itself has a simple message: you reap what you sow. And yet, it’s much more than that, too. The text reminds us that there are many types of seeds: there are vegetable seeds, of course, but there are also seeds of selfishness and seeds of kindness. I’ll leave it at that, but rest assured that even the youngest children will love the pictures, and a concept that can be hard to think about abstractly will become very concrete.

I can’t say enough good things about this book. Pick up a copy at your library and check it out yourself! I think it would make for a lovely storytime book.

Summer Reading Recap


Sorry for the summer hiatus, but if you’re a Children’s librarian you’ll understand why. From June 22 – August 14th, this library was abuzz with activity. Our young patrons were bringing in reading logs at a dizzying pace, and we scrambled to keep up with them! Thousands of raffle tickets, photo copies, and stickers later, and it’s all but a memory. Fall programming starts up on Monday.

This summer we tried to do things a little differently at my library. We opted out of small prizes that everyone receives at certain reading milestones (say, a spider ring for reading 10 hours, or a finger trap for reading 15), and instead went for fewer (but larger) prizes that would be raffled off at the end of the eight-week program. Most people were into it!

Of course, we also hosted some BIG events, and of those, my absolute favorite was the Fairy Tale Ball! Since then, I’ve seen photos of similar events at other libraries, and I’ve got some excellent ideas on ways to improve. Still, the event was a huge success! Girls and boys came dressed up in their fantasy gear to join us in what was essentially a giant dance party. I got to wear my prom dress from 2002, which is always a treat. 🙂 We had about 70 kids and their parents, so it was a full house. I always like doing evening programs for families with working parents. As a working mother myself, I’m very sympathetic to the difficulty in getting your little ones to daytime programs! This was one fantastic partay.

Over the course of the summer each member of the staff is responsible for one or two programs in addition to their weekly storytime. My other program this summer was a “Celebrating YOU!” -themed program, where we watched the Weston Woods video version of Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes and then painted our own self-portraits. Sometimes our story-themed programs don’t go over well (as in, poor attendance. People want parties and food, it seems), but this one was great fun! I was happy because Chrysanthemum is one of my all-time favorite books.

You really can’t beat a story about a little girl mouse named Chrysanthemum.


About the only things I got right were the moles and the brows.

I have to admit, it’s hard not to make fun of your own terrible self-portrait. But! In keeping with the spirit of the program, which was all about celebrating what makes you wonderful and being proud of our talents, I kept my trap shut. If I want kids to have self-confidence, I’ve got to show what it looks like, right? It was hard, though, because, um, the eyes, and the weird tiny shoulders, and the hunchy nature of the stance and and and… Like I said, the kids had a great time making their own self-portraits, and they did a FANTASTIC job!

Of course, we had tons of other awesome programs (Giant Candy Land! Live Animal Show! Balloon artist! Ladybug Girl crafts!), but these two were near to my <3.

And now it’s over! Congratulations to all my fellow librarians out there for another SRP in the bag. It’s my favorite time of the year. I’m curious: what are some SRP 2015 activities that you’re particularly proud of?