Tag Archives: storytime

Upcoming Storytime Themes

While I really love storytime, I’m not very good at planning ahead. I usually find myself the day of storytime looking at the kit and wishing I’d remembered to reserve that one favorite book I thought would be in there but isn’t. This is totally my fault because they give us the list of themes a long time in advance, but I never have the list with me when I’m thinking about it. No more! I’m going to post the themes here so I know what is when. It will also help me to get thinking of books. If anyone has any suggestions for titles that work well for pre-school storytime for these themes, suggest away!

April 7: Bunny Hop
April 14: Ha, Ha (I’m thinking funny stories)
April 21: Moms, Grandmas, and Aunts
April 28: Break Week–No Storytime!

May 5: Boo-hoo (I’m thinking sick days or injuries or crying or sad?)
May 12: Splish Splash (Bathtime? Water Fun?)
May 19: Letter G (things that start with G that sort of go together)
May 26: Far Away Places
June 2: Snakes
June 9: The Color Red
June 16: Dad’s, Grandpas, and Uncles

That takes us through the next eleven weeks of storytimes. Some of these themes leave a lot of wiggle room for interpretation, which is why it is hard sometimes to start thinking of them before the kit gets here. But it is a place to start! Any suggestions are welcome.


Circuses and Zoos

One of the downsides to having storytime kits is that sometimes a theme is selected that just doesn’t work. Most of the time it is just that it doesn’t work equally well for toddlers and prescholars, but a occasionally there is a theme that should just be retired never to surface again. Such is my opinion of having Circus as a theme. It didn’t help that I’ve had a cold this week, which made it hard to be as excited as usual. In order to make this work, I did circuses and zoos, or places you can go to see animals and have fun. Most of the finger plays were circus related and we talked about circuses, but I did read two books on zoos and two on circuses (I tried two different ones, changed for the second storytime).


Here are some zoo and circus stories, some of which I used for my circus/zoo storytime:

Circus Family Dog Circus Family Dog, by Andrew Clements, This was an ok story, but the ending falls flat. The kids didn’t seem to understand what was going on.

Olivia Saves the Circus Olivia Saves the Circus, by Ian Falconer, a better book, but not great for preschool storytime.

Circus Shapes (MathStart 1) Circus Shapes, by Stuart J Murphy. A nice toddler tale.

Where's Pup? Where’s Pup? Dayle Dodds, another toddler tale, lots of fun rhyme.

My Heart Is Like a Zoo My Heart is Like a Zoo, by Michael Hall. My heart could also be like a circus, lots of animals and we did different noises and made faces.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Phillip Stead. I LOVE this book, also I was sickish when I read it, so it made sense. Plus really this is a nice quiet book that has lots of lovey details.

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book Dear Zoo, Rod Campbell, bring the zoo to you!

Animal Strike at the Zoo. It's True! Animal Strike at the Zoo, it’s True! by Karma Wilson, this has such a fun rhyme. I wish I’d had it for the storytime, because it does mention a circus.

Never, Ever Shout in a Zoo Never, Ever, Shout in a Zoo, Karma Wilson, another rhyming zoo story.

From Head to Toe From Head to Toe, Eric Carle I used this one recently, it is all kinds of animals and the actions they make and at the end there is a zookeeper.

Baby Tamer Baby Tamer, Marc Teague. I used this one from the Babysitter’s kit (another theme that should be retired), but it features a three ring circus.

So a whole circus of stories! We talked about animals you might see in the circus, what else you might see at the circus, and what you might eat. I found some awesome fingerplays in an old kit from my old job, both were circus/zoo related.

5 popcorns popping in a pan, (dance your fingers on your other hand)
one got hot and he went “BAM!” (clap hands)

4 popcorns popping in a pan…

3 popcorns popping in a pan…

2 popcorns popping in a pan…

1 popcorn popping in a pan…

No popcorns popping in the pan,
but the pan got hot and it went “BAM!”

For the first group, we did a circus parade and pretended to be different animals and creatures in the circus, but by the time I got to the second group I was wiped out! So we did this other finger play, which was also counting down, but still fun:

5 little monkeys swinging on a trapeze,
one fell off and skinned his knees (slap hands on your knees)
mommy called the doctor and the doctor said,
“no more monkeys on the trapeze!”

Just like 5 little monkeys on the bed it counts down until all the monkeys have fallen.

We had a really fun lion mask the kids made at the end, and all the kids went around ROARing.

Frogs, Frogs, Frogs: Picture Book Round Up

Storytime this week was actually all things beginning with the letter F, which is fun, fantastic, and frustrating. Mostly the later. Because so many things start with F, including four-letter things, I like to focus (which also starts with an f) on one thing from the kit. This week it was Frogs, which was perfect because it was a frog friendly day, rainy and cool. We did talk about the letter F and all my little friends (sorry I always try to use lots of words that start with the letter of the theme during the story time) would shout out when we used a word starting with that letter.

Some fun frog tales, a few of which I read in storytime:

Fine As We Are Fine As We Are, Algy Craig Hall. Frog Family of two, finds they can be fine as two or as many.

The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale The Green Frogs: A Korean Folktale, Yumi Heo. A Folktale about two disobedient frogs and their mother.

Jump, Frog, Jump! Jump, Frog, Jump! Robert Kalan, Fun cumulative story with refrain, “Jump, Frog, Jump!”

A Frog in the Bog A Frog in the Bog, Karma Wilson. Such a good read aloud, I just want to chant it!

Froggy Gets Dressed Froggy Gets Dressed Jonathon London. In my mind, the best of all the long Froggy series, plus underwear humor.

City Dog, Country Frog City Dog, Country Frog Mo Willems, Jon Muth. I wish I didn’t care about copyright and could swipe some images from this book for my blog. Dogs AND frogs!

A Place for Frogs A Place for Frogs Melissa Stewart, Higgins Bond. Amazing illustrations, simple text.

Down by the Cool of the Pool Down by the Cool of the Pool Tony Mitton. A great candidate for repetition, a frog leads off a dance.

Green Wilma (Puffin Pied Piper) Green Wilma, Tedd Arnold. What if you woke up one morning and were a frog?

The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A POP-UP BOOK The Wide-Mouthed Frog: A POP-UP BOOK, Keith Faulkner. A good book to have as an office/reference title, because it is great for storytime, but lousy as a circulating title.

And one title to have on hand to share the pictures, if not the text:
Frogs Frogs, Nic Bishop.

We also did a rousing rendition of Five Little Speckled Frogs, shoo fly don’t bother me with our egg shakers, and I did a fold and tell story of the rainhat. Lots of fun for a rainy day!

Moving and Grooving, a Picture Book Round-Up!

Though I have no rhythm or grace, I still like to dance my heart out in storytime at least twice a week. I once had a staff member who would watch me and laugh at me, which bothered me, but generally I don’t mind kids and parents watching me, especially because I want them all to join in. This week we not only did our normal dancing, but read stories about dancing, and even did a dancing finger play. It was a celebration of dancing!

So here are some books to get you moving. I didn’t use them all, some were checked out, and some I didn’t think of in time.

Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance Frank Was a Monster Who Wanted to Dance, Keith Graves. A little gross, but fun!

Hop Jump Hop Jump, Ellen Stoll Walsh. Moving like leaves twirling through the air the frogs learn to dance!

Harriet Dancing Harriet Dancing, Ruth Symes. Dancing is for everyone, no matter the size!

Down by the Cool of the Pool Down by the Cool of the Pool, Tony Mitton. All the animals dance around until they jump in the pool!

Barn Dance! (Reading Rainbow) Barn Dance, Bill Martin. Late at night the animals on the farm get grooving!

Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp Saturday Night at the Dinosaur Stomp, Carol Diggory Shields. I like this one, but you have to really practice the dinosaur names or it will trip you up, and some kid will interrupt to insist it be said right and give you the whole history of dinosaurs. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

And, while not dancing per se, Doreen Cronin’s movement books are great:
Wiggle (Bccb Blue Ribbon Picture Book Awards (Awards))


We paired our books with egg shakers and new wrist streamers to dance the hokey pokey and do free form dancing how ever the kids wanted. In addition, we danced our fingers around.

Chicken Preschool Storytime

My boss came to observe this storytime, and I was pretty nervous. I actually recorded myself doing the storytime in advance so I would have plenty of practice, and so I would make sure I was panning and pacing correctly. That was a really good experience, and periodically I will do this if I’m worried about a flannel or activity. Fortunately my boss had lots of good things to say, just suggesting I make sure the volume on the CD player was high enough to reach the back of the room.

Opening Song: Jump Up, Turn Around, Jim Gill

Intro: Chicken puppet and eggs! (the chicken puppet actually laid eggs, we talked about vocabulary, and we had an egg in a shell puppet to talk about how chicks hatch from eggs)

Book: Cock-a-Doodle Quack! Quack!, Ivor Baddiel Cock-A-Doodle Quack Quack

Song: Milkshake Song, Songs for Wiggleworms

Book/Flannel Little Red Hen Little Red Hen Big Book
(First we read the book, then the children helped me tell the story with the flannel, and I told the parents about the importance of ready to read narrative skills, and encouraged the children to tell the story at home.)

Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It!

Flannel Where’s the Chicken? (I omitted this, as we were running short on time)

Book: Hungry Hen, Richard Waring Hungry Hen

Craft: Chick in Shell (children cut out shapes that came together to make an egg shape, which were hooked together with a brad, so a baby chick popped out)

Overall, this storytime was a lot of fun, and the excitement was added to when the flannel board unexpectedly came crashing down when I went to start the “Little Red Hen” flannel. The entire room of 65 children (mostly preschool age, but some toddlers and infants) and parents went dead silent, and fortunately no one was hurt, not even the flannel board. Everyone recovered quickly–and since I had everyone’s attention, we were able to continue with the story!

Non-fiction Read Alouds for Kids

I’ve never been much of a non-fiction reader, at least not for enjoyment, though I’ve read more then my fair share for school. But since I begun working in youth services I have discovered some really enjoyable non-fiction, particularly aimed at younger readers. Many have stunning illustrations, interesting information, and quite a few are suitable for reading out loud to a group or together at home. Since I love picture books, it is not surprising that I would enjoy these so much. Today’s new book cart was chock full of delightful non-fiction, which I thought I would share!

The first is a hilarious book for pre-k and up that is PERFECT for reading aloud because it invites participation. It is Where Does Pepper Come From And Other Fun Facts and it includes a wide range of facts, from why flamingos are pink to the difference between whales and fish. First a silly statement is made explaining why these things are so, such as “Flamingos are pink because they are embarrassed!” Then a child says “No! Silly” and then the facts are explained. Children will love to say “No!” to the silly stories and pictures, and will not be confused by the facts explained.

Another fun book that came in today is Ape , the illustrations are stunning and the text is simple. The book presents the five great apes and provides a bit of information about each and where they live. It might not be for every family, as the ending presents the fifth ape as humans, and there is definite preservation angle. However, the images and lyrical simple text make this a book that is definitely worth recommending as a read aloud.

Continuing the theme of animals, this is an interesting story for a bedtime theme: Water Beds: Sleeping in the Ocean It pairs simple words with peaceful text that provides information about the sleeping habits of aquatic mammals. Another good themed storytime bookPumpkins –this time for a fall/harvest/pumpkin theme, this non-fiction book has incredible pictures, simple text, and good proportions for sharing with a group.

Oddly, one of the hardest categories for non-fiction read alouds is folk tales, which are particularly hard to find for younger readers. Most of the time a storyteller can modify them to keep attention using dramatics, props, or just voice modulation, but simple folk tales are excellent for sharing aloud. Today, I found The Ghost Catcher with the new books. It is a simple tale of trickery and humor, involving ghosts and generosity that will not frighten children. This is suitable for k-2 grades.

What I have really discovered is that there is a lot of non-fiction that can be incorporated into our story telling in the library, and that rather then just focusing on fiction picture books, we can introduce our children to the world around them from an early age. I hope to find even more amazing non-fiction books–so any suggestions would be appreciated!