Parachute ideas for all kinds of programs!

Stumped for ideas for using the parachute at storytime?

Think outside the picture books stacks!

Here are some great ideas for incorporating material from other areas of your collection.

Want to make your own clip art?

Here are a few tips and tricks to get you started!

Some easy ways to spice up your site!

Be sure to suggest your favorites in the comments!

Ideas for incorporating factual materials into storytime

There is lots of great nonfiction for kids out there. If I missed your favorite, leave a comment!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Published bibliographer!

I just wanted to say that I am so excited that a bibliography I put together for a teen display called "It Ain't Shakespeare (but it's close)" has been added to the "Recommended Reading" section of the Kent District Library's Web site. The books listed are either re-tellings of Shakespeare's plays or novels in which his plays play a role. One noteable exception is the addition of Reduced Shakespeare: The Attention-Impaired Reader's Guide to the World's Best Playwright, for those of us who like to compare plays to novels, but don't have time to (re)read the source material.

Here's the list:
So You Think Shakespeare's Boring? Think Again!

Some of my co-workers helped me out with the titles (Thanks Morgan, Susan, and Andrea) and I am very proud of how it turned out. Let me know what you think!

I just put this display up right before we closed on Saturday so I am excited to see patrons' feedback and how well the books circulate in the next few weeks.

While I am calling your attention to the KDL Web site, I would like to take the opportunity to point out one of my favorite of its features: the What's Next: Books in Series database.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tips for Storytime Success

Stroll on down to Saints and Spinners for Seven Tips for Satisfying Library Preschool Programs.

Lone Star Mama's comment especially struck a chord with me:
I agree about the rules. I most like librarians who most like kids. Our old children's librarian was great and we loved her, but I could tell she didn't have kids of her own by the frequency with which she redirected touchy toddlers. When she was promoted to branch manager, we got a children's librarian who is a grandma (she used to be the librarian at my older daughter's elementary school). She's not as giddy or silly or inventive as the career-focused youngsters, perhaps, but she gets kids and likes them. She's laid back and I think I like that better than any master-performer.

This is actually my major insecurity in youth services--how do I "make up" for not having kids of my own? Or even nieces or nephews? I do like kids, and there is definitely an element of silliness to my storytime, but I still struggle to "get" kids as much as I feel I should. It is definitely my main area of improvement that I have outlined for myself for the next year. Unless someone makes me branch manager first... just kidding.
Does anyone have any thoughts on the youth vs. experience question? What can a 20-something youth services staffer do to be just as good as a mom or grandmother?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Spider Poll

When you learned this rhyme, was it the "eensy weensy" spider or the "itsy bitsy" spider?

The eensy weensy (itsy bitsy) spider crawled up the waterspout.
Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Out came the sun and dried up all tbe rain,
And the eensy weensy (itsy bitsy) spider climbed up the spout again.

I learned "itsy bitsy" but all my preschool books say "eensy weensy," which I think is kind of hard to say. I am wondering if this is a regional thing, like Michiganders say "pop" and everyone else says "soda." I am curious to know what other people think, so please leave a comment!

Also, did you know this verse exists:
The eensy weensy (itsy bitsy) spider was climbing up the trees.
Down came the snow and made the spider freeze.
Out came the sun and melted all the snow,
So the eensy weensy (itsy bitsy) spider had another go!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fall Family Reading Night... Take 2

You might remember that my last family reading night was canceled due to severe weather (not unheard of for basically any time of year in Michigan). Well, I finally got a chance to perform tonight! Obviously, as the original date was 2 weeks before Halloween and the "rain date" happened to be the day after Halloween, I had to change the agenda a little. I decided to do a few Halloweeny stories anyway, especially because the word "Halloween" never appears in either, and I thought that they would appeal to the older audience.

Good Old-Fashioned Sort-of-Scary Picture Books
Go Away, Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly (I did this one as a felt board--available through Lakeshore Learning--and got lots of help from the kids in attendance!)
The Spider and the Fly by Mary Howitt, illustrated by the great Tony DiTerlizzi in a gothic style reminiscent of silent movies.

Fall/Thanksgiving Titles
I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Pie by Alison Jackson (this one was a big hit--the illustrations really sell it)
Turk and Runt: a Thanksgiving Comedy by Lisa Wheeler

While looking for books that might work with this theme, I ran across one of the greatest titles ever for a squirrel-based picture book: Nuts to You by Lois Ehlert. "Nuts to you" is becoming one of my new catchphrases.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Family Reading Night: Autumnal Bliss

My one loyal reader (Hi, Mom!) might remember that during the school year I do a monthly outreach program with the local public school time. It is called Family Reading Night and it is one of my favorite programs that I put on at my job, mostly because it gives me a chance to see a lot of my favorite kids (yes, I play favorites) in their school setting, but in a storytime environment.

It also means I get to pick out picture books that will work with kids older than three, which is a lot of fun. This month is October, so of course the theme was going to be related to fall and Halloween. This is one of my favorite times of year, so I was glad to get the opportunity to share some really great autumn stories with some really great kids, until, of course, the program was canceled due to a tornado watch for the area. But... for posterity, here's what MIGHT have been, had Mother Nature not interfered.

There is a hilarious collection of poems with scary elements called Monster Goose by Judy Sierra. My personal favorite is "Mary Had a Vampire Bat," which probably tells you a lot about me.
Lisa Desimini wrote a cute story about two mean witches who set out to ruin Halloween, but fortunately for the local children, fail miserably. Oops, spoiler alert! It's called Trick-or-Treat, SMELL MY FEET!
David Ezra Stein just came out with a new story about a bear who hsa never witnessed fall and is very distressed when he sees his first fallen leaf in the not-too-heartwarming book, Leaves. The hibernation theme complements Nancy Tafuri's The Busy Little Squirrel quite well. This could also work with a younger crowd, if adapted, due to the repetition.
Marty Kelley's classic Fall is Not Easy illustrates the distress that trees have with all the pressure put on them by the media to have the prettiest leaf colors.
Brand new this Halloween season is The Three Bears' Halloween by Kathy Duval, which I am going to recycle for storytime next week (which, as a mere coincidence, has a theme of "threes" and folktales--I swear, I do not pick the themes!).

While Kidz Bop is not really my favorite, they did put out a Halloween CD, which I was plannting to bring along for mood music during craft/snack time.

I'll be able to use some of these titles when Family Reading Night is rescheduled, but the "rain date" is after Halloween, so I will have to throw in a few late fall/Thanksgiving choices as well. C'est la vie.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

(Hu)mans' Best Friend

Woof! If you joined us for storytime this week, you learned all about (hu)man's best friend, the dog! Here are some great stories about canines:
Good Boy, Fergus by David Shannon
Buster by Denise Fleming (a little long for my story-time audience--mostly 3-year olds--but a cute story)
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
How to be a Good Dog by Gail Page.
A Dog Needs a Boneby Audrey Wiood

And, of course, the classic Harry the Dirty Dog by Gene Zion

There are also some cute activities you could play with kids. Why not put them through a "puppy training" class where they have to learn how to sit, stay, lie down, roll over, etc.? Or pretend that a puppy has hidden a bunch of socks and the kids have to help find them?

Our craft was this dog mask from Enchanted Learning. I'm pretty proud of the way mine turned out!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dino Rhymes at Storytime

When I announced this week's theme at last week's storytime, one of my regular girls came up to me and said, "But Miss Annie we just did DINOSAURS!" Well, we had just done dragons, and I tried to protest that they were beasts of a different feather, but she was not having any of my logic.

Good dinosaur stories:
Tyson the Terrible by Diane and Christyan Fox.
If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen.
One I wish our library had: Dinosaur Stomp by Paul Stickland

A good song (with fun actions) is "I'm A Mean Old Dinosaur" (song to the tune of "I'm a Little Tea Pot"), which I found at Preschool Super cute.

I also made dinosaur feet out of cardboard that I cut in the shape of a dinosaur's feet (even though my co-worker said it looked more like a duck foot, honestly!), painted green, and then used book tape to apply a half-Kleenex box for the foot to go. It was pretty fun to see the kids walk like dinosaurs.

I also saw some cute dinosaur-themed activities at Kids Party Fun, which my Googling skills uncovered, and which I will be bookmarking for future storytimes. The February 2006 issue of LibrarySparks had some cute songs as well.

Quote of storytime:
Boy: "Annie, you're a saurus!
Me: "I am? Am I a librarosaurus rex?"

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Swine Time @ Storytime

This week's theme is pigs. Of course, there are some great stories that feature "some pig(s)" to borrow a saying from E.B. White. I had a hard time narrowing down the list to these:

Today I will Fly by Mo Willems (my favorite picture book writer)
The Long Nosed Pig by Keith Faulkner.
If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff

I didn't read this one, but a great parent/child story would be You Are to Me by Rebecca Doughty.

Oh, and if you're wondering where a certain favorite porcine series character is on this list, I must confess that Olivia (by Ian Falconer) earned her own program earlier this year (not hosted by me due to a workshop I attended being held the same day) and so was left out of this program (and thus I could not blog about it!).

Sample Craft:

Gaming (unplugged) @ your library

I would like to thank my brother-in-law for introducing me to several games that I have been incorporating into the teen book club at this branch, which is really more of a teen advisory board (TAB) in terms of its incredibly loose organization and that we rarely talk about the book for more than 15 minutes.
The first game I played with them is already popular with the families in the area, and I know of several other libraries that utilize this game in teen events. It is, of course, Apples to Apples. We are actually running a programming-session long Apples to Apples Tournament (probably through Thanksgiving) at our weekly teen meeting. Most of the teens play individually, but several of them chose to pair off (generally the younger ones). There are some really good players. I like this game because it encourages creativity and silliness at a time in life when those qualities are not necessarily rewarded in teenagers' daily lives.
Yesterday I threw in a new game to mix it up a little bit, Fluxx. It was pretty chaotic in the room, as Fluxx is designed for no more than 6 players, and we had 12 (in teams of two). The neat thing about Fluxx is that the rules are always changing, so it stresses concentration and focus. It also has a huge element of strategic thinking, which the teens who stayed after the official end of Book Club to try and play against me decided to turn into "How can we play so Annie doesn't win?" I still won though. If I were making this a regular occurence, I would want to pick up another pack of cards or two, so we wouldn't all be playing one game and I could walk around and mingle a bit more.
I think next week we will try Nanofictionary, and I will probably let the teens who are more shy start a game of Fluxx while those brave enough for public performance wrestle with yet another game. I like the Nanofictionary says right on the box: "Some imagination required"

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dragon Storytime...Redux

I was a little apprehensive when I first saw another dragon storytime coming up on my list, but since my crowd this fall is a lot different from when we did dragon storytime earlier this summer, I thought that it might be OK. And it was more than OK, even though we read some of the same books, the activities were different.
Before I read the first book, If I Had a Dragon by Tom Ellery, I had the kids practice making dragon noises. This was accomplished by me holding a dragon and making different farm animal noises, as in: "Does a dragon go 'oink' or does a dragon go 'moo'?" Once the kids "taught" me how to make dragon grunts and such, we practiced "breathing fire" by blowing bubbles.
Then we read The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch, one of my all-time favorites, and Who Wants a Dragon? by James Mayhew. Both of those books had been read at the other dragon storytime I did this year, but because different children were in attendance, it worked out fine.
Our craft project was making Chinese New Year's-style dragons out of construction paper and tongue depressors, which made look like they were moving when the kids moved their hands. It was pretty fun.
All in all, I think everyone had a great time.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Outer Space Storytime... Out of this galaxy!

One of my favorite things to do (now that I have an apartment that comes with its very own private porch) is to lay back in my hammock and look up at the stars. I was very excited to have Outer Space as our theme at story-time this week. It is our last before we take a nice, long break through the month of August and come back in early September, so I tried to make it count.

Astronaut PiggyWiggy by Diane Fox
Goldilocks and the Three Martians> by Stu Smith and illustrated by Michael Garland. I love Michael Garland. His Mystery Mansion is one of my favorites. I thought this was actually the more interesting of the books that we read today. I normally try to vary the age range, but since our friends from the daycare could not come today, this one was a little old for the children who were present this morning. C'est la vie, I guess.

One of my other favorite space-themed books that we did not read because it slipped my mind until I was going through some notes is by author/illustrator Oliver Jeffers, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite notables in children's literature. It's called How to Catch a Star.

-Planet toss (used decorated coasters as planets and tried to get kids to put them back "into orbit" by tossing them towards cardboard stars placed around the floor in the program room)
-Moon bounce race (basically a race of long jumps--this is one where I actually tried to win against small children and still lost. It's tricker than it looks and being bigger is not necessarily an advantage).

-Astronaut coloring page
-Design your own rocket ship

Friday, July 20, 2007

Art Storytime

When I was putting together this week's storytime, I was saddened by how few ideas were floating around on Ye Ol' Internet. There are plenty of craft ideas related to the theme of "art," but a lot of the books are too young for the kids who come to my storytime.

So here's what we actually did wind up doing:


The Dot by Peter Reynolds
Ish by Peter Reynolds (His books have been SO GOOD for my art self-efficacy)
I Ain't Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont

We made masks together. Perhaps not the most original thing, but it is a classic craft for a reason!

Sample Craft:

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Circus storytime

Our theme this week at the library was the circus. Storytime for us is usually a bit of a circus, but this time around it was a bit more deliberate.

-Tightrope Poppy, the Highwire Pig by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen.
-Clowns on Vacation by Nina Laden. (I don't know why the reviewers were so harsh on this one.)

-Clown Costume relay race (throw piles of different articles of clothing on the floor, have the kids "get dressed" and run back into line)
-Tightrope walk (you could use a jump-rope, masking tape, 2 by 4s, etc.)
-"Lion taming" (have the kids pretend to be lions and jump through a hula hoop--decorated to look like it's on fire with construction paper)
-Pin the nose on the clown (I used colored pom-poms, but you could use circles cut out of red construction paper)
-Gave out prizes for Best StrongMan impression, Silliest Face, Best Clown Costume, etc.

-Elephant Mask from

Monday, June 25, 2007

Baseball Storytime

I am a big baseball fan (Go TIgers!) so when I heard that the local minor league team would be sending a player to my branch for storytime, saying that I was very excited would be a bit of an understatement. While I think it could have gone smoother on both ends, the kids had a fantastic time.
We read a bunch of books on baseball and I read some of the baseball-themed poems out of Jack Prelutsky's new anthology, Good Sports: Rhymes About Running, Jumping, Throwing, and More. Incidentally, I remember reading a blog post that totally trashed this book (and sports poems) in general, because they are "all the same."
Another choice was The Jungle Baseball Game by Tom Paxton.

The big hit of the event was a nice, long game of frying pan baseball. The player (who was actually a pitcher, so this was especially funny to watch) used a frying pan to bat the "ball"--a bunch of grocery bags rubber-banded together--while the kids tried to catch it with pots.
Following that, we made fireworks in a glass (Fill a tall, clear drinking glass with room-temperature water, leaving about an inch of space at the top. Pour 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil into a smaller glass and add 1 to 2 drops each of red and blue food coloring. Gently stir the mixture once or twice with a fork to barely break up the beads. Pour the shorter glass into the water glass and watch. It takes about 30 seconds for the beads to burst through the oil, releasing miniature fireworks. We set three glasses of fireworks on the floor and let the kids stretch out in a circle around them to watch. This is an idea from the July/August 2007 issue of Family Fun magazine (last page).)

For a craft, we made ball-shaped baseball cards and wore them around our necks.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Here there be DRAGONS!

I'm not a big fantasty fan (just not my taste!) but I have to say that there are a lot of great picture books that have a dragon theme or plot. So many, in fact, that I had an incredibly hard time picking out which ones to read. Poor me, right? Here are those that passed the cut, as well as how else we filled our time:

1) The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. (A CLASSIC!)
2) There's No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent (The kids loved the part where the dragon picks up the house and runs down the street in it.

Activity: Turned off the lights in the library, gave the kids child-sized lanterns, and had them go on a "dragon hunt" where they discovered 2 of the library's stuffed dragons hiding in the adult non-fiction (a very "cave-like" area!)

Craft: Dragon kites. Used template from SITE HERE and attached crepe paper streamers. Simple, effective.

"Friends" Storytime

This week was my first storytime ever! It had a friends theme, and even though we have a centralized programming department, we are encouraged to supplement the tubs they send to us with selections from our own branches's collection. So, without further adieu, here is a list of what we did.

-Welcomed the children and introduced myself.

-Introduced theme and encouraged children to pick a stuffed animal "friend" to share their carpet square during the storytime.

-Read Sean Bryan's A Bear and His Boy which is a hilarious story, and a really easy one to think of questions to ask the children while reading it. My favorite was when the bear and his boy are browsing the stacks at the libary, I asked the children if they'd ever been to the library and about half of them said no. Has a great rhyme scheme and rhythm.

-Read Yo! YES! by Chris Raschka. This was a lot of fun to perform, as I split reading duties with one of my teen volunteers. We each read one half of the dialogue (all of the text consists of dialogue between two strangers, and I encouraged my volunteer to yell the dialogue back at me). The kids actually had us read this story twice.

-Read Mo Willem's Leonardo, the Terrible Monster. I had the kids give their best "monster noises" when Leonardo tries to scare the "tuna salad" out of Sam.

-Talked about how sometimes you have to look to find friends. Compared pair of people (friends) with a pair of socks and took kids on a sock hunt through the library. Gave each child a sock and instructed him/her to find its match.

-Read Sean Bryan's Girl and Her Gator.Similar to a Bear and His Boy, but littered with great wordplay and French phrases and a strong "be yourself" message.

-Read Diane Stanley's Goldie and the Three Bears.
-Played the sock game again (thanks to my teen volunteers for their excellent hiding skills)

-Talked about how sometimes our parents are our friends and had kids make Father's Day cards for their dads or another loved one. With their thumbs in white paint, they created a bunny's body and head, then used their pinky to make the ears. The caption read "Thumb bunny loves you!"

My sample craft:

Saturday, May 19, 2007

"Get a Clue!" Mystery Storytime

I had my first official program duty at work today (a Family Reading Night at the school--a monthly outreach thing that we do). It was a mystery theme, to go along with (and promote) the Summer Reading Club. It was definitely a learning experience.

First of all, I learned that I perhaps have NOT picked the wrong career entirely as I had a great time and people seemed to enjoy themselves. The last book that I read, in particular, was a great crowd-pleaser.

Here is the general outline of what went on:
Introduced myself
Read Jake Gander: Storyville Detective in the Case of the Greedy Nanny by George McClements
Read Where's the Big Bad Wolf? By Eileen Christelow

Did craft (made detective hats and magnifying glasses)

Read The Search for the Perfect Child by Jan Fearly

Read Mystery Mansion by Michael Garland. This one was a big hit, and by the end of the book, I had what WERE very shy children at the onset of the program half-crawling into my lap to look at the illustrations. This would make a great gift and even teaches counting (as there are more than 400 animals hidden throughout the book)