Mom Read It

If the kids are reading it, chances are I have, too.

Baby Storytime: A World of Love and Fun March 23, 2017

I’ve been enjoying my month of lapsit storytimes. Being part of a 3-librarian children’s room, March was my turn with the babies; for April, one of my colleagues takes over and I’ll have time to craft more storytimes. I’ve been using the same songs each week, which has been great; I’ve seen the parents get the hang of the songs and fingerplays and we’ve had a great time together.

I’ve been trying to stick less to a story-specific theme, more of an overall theme of using one concept book, one fun book, and one book that addresses diversity. This week, we read Shhh! This Book is Sleeping, by Cedric Ramadier; Wherever You Are, by Mem Fox; and A You’re Adorable, by Martha Alexander. The families loved the interactivity of Shhh! This Book is Sleeping. As I read Whoever You Are, there was plenty of opportunity for families to cuddle, and seeing my storytime group of families from all over the world playing not only with their own little ones, but the little ones around them, made my morning. I was amazed at how well A You’re Adorable went over: families repeated each verse after me, bouncing, kissing, and tickling their babies as we went along.

     

It’s been a lovely month of storytimes, and I’ve come away with an excited new perspective, thanks to Storytime Underground. I’ll be working on toddler and preschooler themes next.

 

 

 

Fun with Phonics: Phoebe Sounds It Out March 9, 2017

Phoebe Sounds It Out, by Julie Zwillich, (Apr. 2017, Owl Kids), $16.95, ISBN: 978-1-77147-164-0

Recommended for readers 3-7

Phoebe’s teacher announces that the children are going to learn to write their names today. All they have to do is sound it out. Phoebe doesn’t quite agree. First of all, Mama sewed her name on her school bag, and she’s convinced that she made a mistake: Phoebe’s name begins with a P, but that’s not the sound her name makes! She dawdles as the teacher encourages the class to sound it out, and finally, she gives it a shot. Her encouraging teacher tells her that it’s a great start – she did sound it out, after all!

I enjoyed so much about this book. I love that there’s a child of color main character and the diversity reflected in the classroom. One of the two teachers is also a person of color, and there is diversity in the classroom, including a classmate in a wheelchair. I enjoyed Phoebe’s thought process while the rest of the class works on their assignment: she fidgets, she goofs off, she “borrows” a letter from a classmate’s name to jazz up her name as she sounded it out. Kids will recognize themselves in Phoebe.

I’ve seen comments questioning whether a teacher would let Phoebe’s misspelling stand. I tend to say yes, especially for this first attempt. The point of the story is to sound out a word, and Phoebe does just that. When my older kids were in elementary school, the practice for teachers was not to correct spelling errors on similar assignments; the kids were expected to catch on eventually, and they did, through vocabulary words, spelling tests, and reading and being read to.

Denise Holmes’ art is rendered in ink and colored using Photoshop, and it’s very cute. There are bright colors and fun patterns, and sweet touches, like the children’s pictures on their cubby spaces and the handwritten children’s work.

This book presents a fun chance for a similar Sound It Out activity, complete with glitter glue to finish up your kids’ work. Let them sound out their names, or other fun words around them.

Julie Zwillich is a television personality with shows on Food Network Canada. You can see more of Denise Holmes’ illustration at her website.

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Spork shows readers that there’s a place for everyone February 25, 2017

sporkSpork, by Kyo Maclear/Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault, (Apr. 2017, Kids Can Press), $8.95, ISBN: 978-1-77138-805-4

Recommended for ages 4-8

One of the most maligned utensils in history has its moment in the sun with Kyo Maclear’s Spork. His mom’s a spoon. Dad’s a fork. And poor Spork doesn’t fit in with either group, no matter how hard he tries. He tries to cover up his tiny tines, to fit in with the spoons; he wears a pointy hat to emphasize those tines to hang with the forks – neither attempt works. Just as he’s resigned to languishing in the utensil drawer, someone comes along that shows Spork that everyone has a place and a purpose.

Spork is adorable. It’s a story about standing out and finding your own value, just as you are. It’s a sweet story with a strong message about distinctiveness and the beauty of diversity. Isabelle Arsenault’s illustrations are soft, sweet, adorable; loaded with personality and feeling, love, and ultimately, joy.

Put this one in your collections, for sure. Read it, have a spork workshop where kids can personalize their own Spork. File down the edges – some of those plastic sporks can be a little sharp; for younger readers, print out a paper spork template, like this fun one from the Kingdom Hearts Wiki, or this really cute stock photo. Put out crayons, yarn, pom poms, stickers, whatever you have to let the kids personalize their Spork. Enjoy!

spork_6_1600x800px

Image source: KyoMaclearKids.com

Author Kyo Maclear has an author webpage with a book trailer for Spork and some fun Spork facts. Kids Can Press has great educator resources, including a One-of-a-Kind certificate you can hand out after your Spork workshop and discussion points for before, during, and after the storytime.

Previously published in hardcover, Spork received a starred review from Kirkus and multiple awards, including the 2011 Bank Street Children’s Committee Best Children’s Book of the Year and the 2010 Outstanding Book for Young People with Disabilities.

 

 

Baby Storytime: Imagination, Love, Fun February 22, 2017

We have honest to goodness baby storytimes here at the new library, so it’s challenged me to work with books and songs that will work for lapsits. It’s been fun, reading board book after board book and learning what will work with my littlest audiences versus my toddlers and preschoolers. I’m also keeping the Social Justice theme in my head as I put these together; making sure my books reflect the diversity in my neighborhood and introducing the kids and parents to other cultures. Since this community has a strong Asian, Southeast Asian, and Latinx community, I’ve introduced both Spanish and Chinese songs (so far), and they’ve gone over really well!

all-fall-down  look-look-again  tickle-time

I chose one book that reflected diversity, a fun fold-out book that challenges the way we see things, and finally, one of my favorites, that gets parents tickling and little ones giggling.

Hello song: “If You’re Ready for a Story”
If you’re ready for a story, take a seat
If you’re ready for a story, take a seat
Clap your hands and stomp your feet
Make your hands all nice and neat
If you’re ready for a story, take a seat
Source: https://storytimekatie.com/songs-rhymes/openingclosing-songs/

Hello song: “We’re So Glad to See You”
Where is [insert kids name]?
Where is [insert kids name]?
There s/he is.
There s/he is.
We’re so glad to see you
We’re so glad to see you
Peek-a-boo, Peek-a-boo.
Source: Storytime Katie

I was afraid when I first used this song, to be honest; I didn’t know whether the large group would get tired before I got through every child’s name, but it worked very nicely, and the parents all welcomed the little ones happily and with loads of clapping and hugging.

Action Rhyme: “Acka Backa”
Acka backa soda cracker, acka backa boo! (Rock or bounce your baby)
Acka backa soda cracker, I love you! (Hug your baby!)
Acka backa soda cracker, acka backa boo! (Rock or bounce your baby)
Acka backa soda cracker, up goes you! (Raise your baby up, or put their hands in the air)
Source: Storytime Katie

Story

Action Rhyme: “Choo Choo Train”
This is a choo choo train, going down the track (Bend your arms and move them)
Now it’s going forward, now it’s going back (Lean forward, lean back)
Now the bell is ringing, (Ring your bells!)
Now the whistle blows (Blow on your baby’s head!)
What a lot of noise it makes, (Cover your ears)
Everywhere it goes! (Spread out your arms!)
Source: The Essential Lapsit Guide

Song: Two Little Tigers (Mandarin)
Liǎng zhī lǎohǔ, Liǎng zhī lǎohǔ,
Pǎo de kuài, Pǎo de kuài,
Yī zhī méiyǒu ěrduo, Yī zhī méiyǒu wěibā,
Zhēn qí guài, Zhēn qí guài.

Two little tigers, Two little tigers,
(They) run very fast, (They) run very fast,
One has no ears, One has no tail,
Very strange, Very strange.
Source: http://www.fluentu.com/chinese/blog/2015/03/18/chinese-songs-for-kids/

This was my first attempt at singing a song in Chinese. I watched a lot of YouTube videos to get the rhythm and pronunciation right, and the families were very generous with me. 🙂 This one will stay in the rotation.

Story

Action Rhyme: “Dos Manitas/Diez Deditos”
Dos manitas, diez deditos,
dos manitas, diez deditos,
dos manitas, diez deditos,
cuéntalos conmigo.

Uno, dos, tres deditos,
cuatro, cinco, seis deditos,
siete, ocho, nueve deditos,
y uno más son diez.

It was nice to get back to a song I knew! This one always goes over well, no matter who the audience is. Waving hands and wiggling fingers makes lapsitters happy!

Song: “Yo te amo”
Yo te amo, yo te amo, all day long, I sing this song to you,
Yo te amo, yo te amo, darling, I love you.

Wo ai ni, wo ai ni, all day long, I sing this song to you,
Wo ai ni, wo ai ni, darling, I love you.

Āmi tōmāẏa bhālōbāsi, all day long I sing this song to you,
Āmi tōmāẏa bhālōbāsi, darling, I love you.
I love you, I love you, all day long, I sing this song to you,
I love you, I love you, darling, I love you.
Source: Jbrary

I’ve added Bengali in here, but haven’t had the chance to sing it yet – hoping my upcoming storytime will be the charm. In the meantime, more chance to practice!

Fingerplay/Song: Zoom, Zoom, Zoom!
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon.
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon.
If you want to take a trip
climb aboard my rocket ship.
Zoom, zoom, zoom
We’re going to the moon.
In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1
Blast off!
Source: Jbrary

Nursery Rhyme/Song: “Baa Baa Black Sheep”
Baa, baa, black sheep, have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!
One for the master,
One for the dame,
And one for the little boy
Who lives down the lane
Baa, baa, black sheep,
Have you any wool?
Yes sir, yes sir,
Three bags full…

Gotta have an original classic in there! This one is a favorite, everywhere I go.

Story

Closing Rhyme: “With My Little Hands”
With my little hands I go clap, clap, clap
With my little feet I go tap, tap, tap
With my little arms I wave bye, bye, bye
With my little legs I kick high, high, high
With my little eyes I play peek-a-boo
With my little mouth I say “I love you”
Source: Storytime Katie

Closing Rhyme: “Tickle the Clouds”
Tickle the clouds
Tickle your toes
Turn around
And tickle your nose
Reach down low
Reach up high
Storytime’s over
So wave goodbye!
Source: Storytime Katie

I think I’m off to a good start. I’ll swap in three new books every storytime, and keep most of the songs and rhymes, introducing a new one and swapping it back and forth with a previous one, to give the families familiarity with them, so they can do them at home.

 

Black History Month: The Youngest Marcher, by Cynthia Levinson February 14, 2017

youngest-marcherThe Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist, by Cynthia Levinson/illustrated by Vanessa Brantley Newton, (Jan. 2017, Atheneum Books for Young Readers), $17.99, ISBN: 9781481400701

Recommended for ages 5-10

In May 1963, children in Birmingham, Alabama, trained in peaceful, civil disobedience, marched to protest segregation. Nine year-old Audrey Faye Hendricks was the youngest marcher, fully invested in civil rights and aware that she would likely go to jail. She spent a week in juvenile hall with flimsy blankets and no toothbrush, but she persevered and made history. Nonfiction author Cynthia Levinson tells the story of the youngest marcher, with illustrations by Vanessa Brantley Newton, here for younger audiences, assuring children that no one is too small, too young, to make a difference in the world.

I’ve been handing this book to kids coming in, looking for African-American biographies for their Black History Month reports for just this reason. I want children to see that they are important. They count. At a time when many feel marginalized, books like The Youngest Marcher, with its powerful words and images, offer representation and affirmation. Children have a voice, and with support and encouragement, they can use them and be heard.

Cynthia Levinson’s author website offers links to further resources, including curriculum guides and videos. Illustrator Vanessa Brantley-Newton was spotlighted by the WeNeedDiverseBooks initiative, for which she also created original artwork. For more information about the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade, visit Biography.com or the Zinn Education Project, offering information about the award-winning documentary, Mighty Times.

 

 

My Dad is a Clown heals bodies and souls November 17, 2016

my-dad-is-a-clown-coverMy Dad is a Clown/Mi papá es un paysaso, by José Carlos Andrés/Illustrated by Natalia Hernández, (Jan. 2017, NubeOcho), $14.95, ISBN: 978-84-944137-6-6

Recommended for ages 4-8

A boy with two dads is proud of what they do for a living, and wants to be like them both when he grows up. Both of the boy’s dads are healers: one dad, Pascual, is a doctor and heals his patients’ bodies; his other dad, whom he refers to as simply “Dad”, is a clown, and heals people’s souls. Pascual and the boy sneak into Dad’s rehearsal one day, where the boy realizes the hard work that goes into being a performer, and decides that he will combine the best of his fathers’ professions when he grows up.

This is a sweet story about a boy who loves and is proud of his parents. We also see a loving relationship between the boy’s parents, who happen to both be men. The cartoony two-color art, primarily black and white with reds added for visual interest and emphasis, is both sweet and dramatic. The family is tender with one another, unafraid to show affection. It’s a gratifying, emotional read, particularly when the family reunites after Dad’s rehearsal and they share happy tears.

This third edition of the story is a bilingual edition, translated into English and includes the Spanish text directly beneath the English text, both featured in a highlighted typewriter font that makes for easy independent and cuddle time reading. It’s good for English and Spanish language learners, and is a sweet story about family love to add to your bilingual collections and your storytime rotation. Put this 0ne on your shelves: there are families out there who need and deserve to have their stories told.

 

A teaspoonful of drama queen: Dara Palmer’s Major Drama June 27, 2016

dara palmerDara Palmer’s Major Drama, by Emma Shevah (July 2016, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky), $16.99, ISBN: 9781492631385

Recommended for ages 8-13

Dara Palmer was born to be a star: just ask her, she’ll tell you.  But when she’s passed over – once again – for a part in the school play, The Sound of Music, Dara wonders whether it’s because she looks different. Was she passed over to be Maria because she doesn’t look like a typical fraulein? It’s not, as she learns: she just can’t act. Or rather, she overacts. But this episode starts Dara thinking about her life: about being Cambodian, about being an adoptee, and about not seeing any actresses or models who look like her. And then, it hits her: she’s going to write a play about her own life. Because she has to be the star of that, right?

Emma Shevah nails it again. I loved her voice as Amber in Dream On, Amber; here, she captures another tween who’s facing some big issues: realizing the world doesn’t revolve around her, and feeling like one person “on the inside” while looking like a different person “on the outside”. As an adoptee, she wonders about her birth parents and the circumstances that led her to the Happy Family home where she ended up, ultimately being adopted by her British family. As she becomes more aware of who she is – beyond her daydreams of marrying her British actor crush – she notices that no one looks like her in Hollywood, or on the covers of magazines, and this motivates her to action. She also realizes what fair-weather friends are, and handles it with a minimum of angst, which is beautifully done.

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama has received a starred review from School Library Journal. Booktalk this with Shevah’s first book, Dream On, Amber, and  Nancy Cavanaugh’s Just Like Me.  A great add to reading lists and collections all around for its discussions about adoption, diversity, and ethnicity.