Skip to main content

Thinking Outside the Picture Book Stacks: Poetry at Storytime


I'd like to thank the person who suggested today's topic on my reader survey! It reminded me that I've been meaning to incorporate more poetry into storytimes I'm planning for our next session. I'm going to do a series of posts on using material from outside your picture book collection in storytime. This is the first one!

I love using poetry with this audience for a few reasons:
  • Richer language is used in poems as compared with some other genres
  • Preschoolers haven't learned to "hate" or be intimidated by poetry like many older kids (and adults) have
  • Poetry can make a quick transition between longer stories to regain the kids' attention or change the atmosphere of the storytime
  • A lot of parents don't read poetry to/with their kids
I've made some Flannel Friday posts about poems (and some of these are upcoming as well) 

Fifteen Animals by Sandra Boynton
Moose in Love by Diane Briggs
Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich by Shel Silverstein upcoming
Shadow Wash by Shel Silverstein upcoming
Signals by Shel Silverstein upcoming

Storytimes All Year 'Round
Add some poetry to your school visits with "The Library Cheer" from Shout! Little Poems that Roar by Brod Bagert. (Chorus is: Books are good! Books are great! I want books! I WILL NOT WAIT!") Other good ones suitable for storytime from this collection are "Snack Time," My Shadow," "The Spice of Life" (an ode to every kid's favorite condiment--ketchup), "Teddy Bear" (twist ending!), and "Little Dipper."

PJ storytimers, rejoice! There is lots of fun to be had in Maybe I'll Sleep in the Bathtub Tonight and Other Funny Bedtime Poems by Debbie Levy. 

Celebrate seasonal changes with Sharing the Seasons edited by Lee Bennett Hopkins, Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys by Bob Raczka, Come to My Party: And Other Shape Poems by Heidi Roemer. 

Preschoolers love to talk about getting dressed! To go along with a storytime on that theme, try Button Up: Wrinkled Rhymes by Alice Schertle. "Joshua's Jammies" is one of the best, but I think "Wanda's Swimsuit" is my favorite. 

January
Brighten the dreariest month with colorful collections like National Geographic's Book of Animal Poetry and His Shoes Were Far Too Tight by Edward Lear.

February
Valentine's Day programs aren't complete without a sample or two from Bear Hugs: Romantically Ridiculous Animal Rhymes by Karma Wilson. Celebrate Presidents' Day with older kids by sharing a selection of two from The President's Stuck in the Bathtub: Poems About the Presidents

March
March is Women's History Month, so let's pay special attention to female poets. Some of the ones you'll find in this post are Karma Wilson, Alice Shertle, Betsy Franco (actor James Franco's mom!), Heidi Roemer, and Debbie Levy, among others. Be on the look out for more and drop me a comment below with women to add! 

April
It's National Poetry Month, so go nuts! My suggestion here is to hit up and coming poets as well as older favorites like Shel Silverstein, Jack Prelutskey, and Alan Katz. 

May
Let's not forget the mom's! Celebrate them with "Peace" from Someone Used My Toothbrush and Other Bathroom Poems,

June, July, and August
Fun poems for Father's Day: "Bellowing in the Bathroom" from Someone Used My Toothbrush and Other Bathroom Poems

Flicker Flash by Joan Bransfield Graham has some quick little poems on campfires and fireworks that would be fun to perk up summer storytimes. 

September
Kids' poets seem to love the theme of back to school. Look for Countdown to Summer and Messing Around on the Monkey Bars

October
This actually is a picture book, but I can't help but throw The Spider and The Fly on here because really, what is a better book? Other poems great for the spookiest time of the year: "Clyde's Costume" from Button Up; basically anything from Hallowilloween: Nefarious Silliness from Calef Brown; and for upper elementary students, The Creation of Sam McGee by Robert Service.      

November
Try adding some food-themed poetry into your Thanksgiving storytime! A favorite of mine is Food Hates You Too.

December
I'm not going to surprise you with this suggestion, but "'Twas the Night Before Christmas" by Clement C. Moore has about a zillion editions. Also How the Grinch Stole Christmas by an obscure writer named Dr. Seuss. Outside of Christmas, I'd do some of the winter-themed selections from the seasonal collections mentioned earlier. 

Poetry Collections to Share with the Teachers in your Life
My best friend is a teacher, so I'm always on the hunt for books she can share with her inner-city students. Here are some suggestions for various content areas: 

Art: Many kids' poetry collections are illustrated by famous artists like Chris Raschka. Also be on the lookout for collections of concrete poetry. Two of my favorites are Flicker Flash, A Dazzling Display of Dogs, and Come to My Party.  Different poetic forms can be introduced with A Kick in the Head by Paul Janeczko

Language Arts: Look for collections using onomatopoeia or exploring new poetic forms such as Mirror, Mirror by Marilyn Singer.


Music: Song lyrics are closely related to poems, so really anything could work. One to keep an eye out for is The Carnival of the Animals


Science: Science Verse by Jon Scieszka


Ask the readers: Do you use poems in storytime? Which ones? How have they been received? If not, will you try some now? 

Comments

Don't forget AA Milne! "Pooh" has been dumbed down by Disney so people think it's all for little kids, and not enough people know "When We Were Very Young" and "Now We Are Six"!

Start with "The King's Breakfast"--and if you want to see how much fun it can be (I use hats for it) here's a link to Twiggy performing it on "The Muppet Show" long ago:http://youtu.be/IDdfFWWluoU
GrandmaGippy said…
This is awesome! I like the idea of the Flannel board poems. Thanks so much for the ideas!

Popular posts from this blog

Program Idea: Parachute Playtime

This summer I offered a parachute playtime for kids 2-3 and 4-5. The idea for this program came from the genius that is my close personal friend Miss Lisa, so make sure you stop by her blog to see what activities she includes in her parachute programs. In addition to her program, I also got ideas from Parachute Play by Liz and Dick Wilmes

I like to do a lot of nursery rhymes with the parachute for a few reasons:
Parents/kids are more likely to participate in activities where the content is already familiarI already know them so I don't have to learn a whole bunch of material at once (just being honest here)Easy for the families to replicate this activities at home with whatever props they might have. If they (or you!) don't have a parachute, a bed sheet or blanket can be substituted easily. Even a beach towel would work for one parent and one child to play together.  This is my mean reason and I tried to hammer this in at all three programs I did the past two weeks! Parachute …

A Year's Worth of Library Display Ideas (part 1 of series)

One of my favorite things to do in my library is create displays. I thought it might be helpful if I shared the calendar that I drew up to make sure I don't miss any of the "must-do" displays. It is so helpful if you can take people over to a seasonal display versus trying to look up in the catalog or find Easter books or whatever. I hope this helps any new librarians who might be overwhelmed by the process of marketing your collection!

As a general rule, I tend to keep displays up for about 3-4 weeks or if I run out of books all together. One tip I'd recommend if you have the space for multiple displays is to change one display in each space every week and rotate around the youth department like that. For example, one week you put up a new picture books display, then nonfiction, then YA/teen, etc. Don't forget to raid your CD and DVD collections for a multi-category display.

A great resource for making display is Chase's Calendar of Events, which is a prett…

"Sleeping Bunnies" on the Parachute!

Here's one of my favorite parachute activities! I actually mentioned it a few months ago when talking about my summer parachute playtime but it's become a storytime staple since. We've been doing this here at my 2 and 3 year old storytimes and it's a great activity that I thought deserved its own post. I learned the song "Sleeping Bunnies" from Mary and I had the idea to adapt it to a parachute activity.

We use the version from Kathy Reid-Naiman's Tickles and Tunes CD.

Here are the words:

Sleeping Bunnies
See the little bunnies sleeping til it's nearly noon. 
Come and let us gently wake them with a merry tune. 
Oh, how are still. 
Are they ill? 
Wake up soon. (Here I yell "WAKE UP BUNNIES!" and the kids shake the parachute.)

Hop, little bunnies, hop, hop hop! 
Hop, little bunnies, hop, hop hop! 
Hop, little bunnies, hop, hop hop! 

Then we say "good night" to the bunnies and repeat a few times.

Today's Flannel Friday is hosted by Cate!