Top Ten Tuesday -Top Ten ALL TIME Favorite Singable Picture Books

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by the book lovers over at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is Top Ten ALL TIME Favourite Books of X Genre, and seeing as I’m a children’s librarian I’m going to share a few of my favourite singable picture books! These books are always on my story time shelf, and they’re some of my go-to books for pretty much any story time.

Singing has been shown to support the development of early literacy skills in young children:

Singing breaks up words into syllables, slowing down the sounds that words make and allowing your child to understand how to pronounce words they might not even know the meaning of. For instance, “Lon-don bridge is fall-ing down, fall-ing down, fall-ing down,” splits up the words into smaller, slower pieces, allowing your child to really understand how to mimic those sounds. Before children can learn to read, they need to be able to identify the different sounds that words make, and singing is a great way to introduce this, even if you’re off-key! 🙂 Herrick District Library

My story times are very high energy – I love getting kids moving, interacting, participating and having fun in my programs, and singable picture books are great way to get kids engaged in a story. They’re also a lot of fun!

So, in no particular order,

TOP TEN ALL-TIME FAVOURITE SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS

 I Love My White Shoes

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You cannot go wrong with this jazzy story about a positive cat who doesn’t seem to pay much attention to where he’s going… I absolutely love jamming with Pete as he introduces children to basic colours.

The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort

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Kids loving singing The Wheels on the Bus (over and over and over…) and kids love making animal noises. Put them both together and you’ve got a fun new take on a beloved children’s song.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More

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I love this book SO MUCH. The tune is ridiculously catchy, the protagonist is a cheeky little performance artist, and there’s a funny little line that will have adults in the audience cracking up. I LOVE singing this one with a bit of a country drawl for added effect (and extra ridiculousness).

Old Mikamba Had a Farm

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I love being able to shake up a classic and  give it a fresh spin, and this African retelling of Old MacDonald Had a Farm does just that!  Old Mikamba has quite the exciting farm, filled with new and wonderful animals to explore and imitate.

Five Green and Speckled Frogs

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Besides having a really fun tune, Five Green and Speckled Frogs can be shared as a finger play, a felt story and a picture book – learn it once, share it in multiple ways to engage different learners in different ways.

There was a Tree

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Rachel Isadora is back with another beautiful take on a classic children’s song. This time in the prettiest little tree that you ever did see is actually beautiful acacia tree growing in a beautiful African setting.

If You’re Happy and You Know It

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Jane Cabrera is a master of the illustrated nursery rhyme, and pretty much any of her books is guaranteed story time gold, but this animal-themed take on If You’re Happy and You Know It is one of my favourites. Kids can roar like a lion, squeak like a little mouse, and have lots of fun expressing their happiness in all sorts of active ways.

If You’re a Monster and You Know It

If You're a Monster and You Know It...

This spin on the traditional children’s song is so much fun! Kids roar, stomp, wiggle and more. If you’ve got a particularly wiggly group of kidlits, this delightfully silly story is the perfect way to harness that energy in a fun and interactuve way.Rebecca Emberley is the daughter of Ed Emberley, the creator of the beloved children’s classic, Go Away Big Green Monster.

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

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Like I Love My White ShoesFour Groovy Buttons is perfect for people who don’t necessarily feel comfortable singing in front of others, including nervous or reluctant caregivers. Most of the text can simply be read aloud, with only the insanely catchy refrain sung or chanted. It’s a great gateway book that can ease storytellers into singing with their audiences, as well as a fun introduction to the concept of subtraction.

Sing, sing, sing!

Family Story Time – July 17, 2015

This is my first experience running a summer story time series, and so far it’s been very interesting. During the school year our story time audience is largely made up of toddlers, with the occasional preschool group. Because school is out and our family story times have no upper age limit, I’ve had a very mixed group, with everything from babies to older school age siblings. It definitely makes for an interesting dynamic, and it can be challenging to find material that appeals to everyone! Here’s what we did this week:

Hello Song: Hello, Friends!

Book 1: I’m a Dirty Dinosaur / Janeen Brian

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Songs:

  • I wake up my hands with a shake, shake, shake
  • Old Macdonald had a farm
  • Open/shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat – I love my white shoes / Eric Litwin

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Action songs:

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom, zoom, zoom
  • Twinkle twinkle
  • Here we go a marching
  • The elevator song

Soothing song:  Mm-ahh went the little green frog one day

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends!

I like getting the most out of my felts, so I’ve been doing a lot of animal songs. Old Macdonald likes to have a varied collection of animals, so this week we had a snake, a monkey, a lion and an elephant join the usual pig, horse and cow, which the kids found hilarious.

Preschool Group Visit – March 26, 2015

Oh. My. Goodness.

All respect to preschool teachers – you guys are unsung heroes in our communities!

A local preschool group came to visit today, and this is pretty much how I felt afterwards:

By Umberto Salvagnin (originally posted to Flickr as Sleeping) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

I love preschoolers – they are so enthusiastic and curious and energetic, and they can handle more complex stories and activities than my usual demographic of toddlers and babies. Preschoolers will ask questions, and let you know clearly and often volubly if they approve or disapprove of your story time selections.

But the very attributes that make preschoolers so much fun to work with can also make them a bit of a handful, especially in large numbers! Preschool or daycare visits can also be markedly different from in-house story times because of the change in child:adult ratio. In my regular story times, the attendance ratio is typically one child for every adult, while a group visit can have around 7 children for every adult. This can sometimes make wrangling the group feel a bit like herding cats. Adorable, talkative cats who give you big hugs at the end of the program, but still, cats.

"Street cats (1)" by Rodrigo Basaure from Santiago, Chile - Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Street_cats_(1).jpg#/media/File:Street_cats_(1).jpg

Here’s what we ended up doing – it’s not really what I’d planned, but it’s what ended up working for this frisky group.

Book 1: Bark, George! / Jules Feiffer

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Songs:

  • I wake up my hands
  • The itsy bitsy spider

Book 2: Pete the Cat I Love my White Shoes / Eric Litwin

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Action Songs:

  • Head and Shoulders
  • Tick tock tick tock
  • The elevator song

Book 3: The Wheels on the Bus / Jane Cabrera

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Action Songs:

  • Zoom zoom
  • If you’re happy and you know it

If You’re Happy and You Know It is a great transition/instruction song. I used the tune to sing “If you’re happy and you know it wave goodbye”, “If you’re happy and you know it find your partner” and “If you’re happy and you know it line up now” – it was a perfect transition into the next portion of their visit, which was a book exchange.

Preschoolers really aren’t my typically demographic, but they’re a lot of fun! If anyone has any suggestions for great books or song to use with preschoolers, please please share!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to have a bit of a lie down after all that cat wrangling…. 🙂

I Survived Mall Story Time

On Saturday and Sunday I packed up some of my favourite story time books, grabbed a stamp, set up a folding chair and some floor mats in a shiny, cavernous hallway, and delivered my first ever mall story times – four of them, to be exact – as part of a library fundraising and outreach event.

Following my own advice I initially planned a simple story time that would feature lots of familiar songs and action rhymes and two books I knew like the back of my hand. I brought five books so I’d have a bit of flexibility, but I expected to spend most of each thirty-minute session on my feet moving around.

Well, as Robbie Burns said, the best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley. Instead of rowdy groups of bouncing preschoolers, I peered into the serious faces of school aged children, who sat criss-cross-apple-sauce in front of me in rapt silence. And what did my little audience want, you ask? Did they cheer when I announced it was time to wake up our hands with a shake, shake, shake, or jump with joy for Zoom Zoom?

No. No they did not. For the first story time, I did try to incorporate some singing, some rhymes, and even the Elevator Song, but the response was lackluster, at best. You know what my audience did keep saying?

“Read us another story! Read us another story!”

They didn’t want to sing. They didn’t want to dance. They didn’t want to jump up and down. They wanted to listen to me read them stories.

At first I read two stories, interspersed with some singing and movement. Then I read three, with fewer interruptions. For the final story time I began with a hello song, finished with a goodbye song, and read four books in between. I’m pretty sure I could have read even more, if I’d had the time!

The small group sizes (usually 10-12 kids) allowed for very intimate, interactive story times. When we read “Bark, George”, for example, we all made delightful animal noises, mimicked George’s mother’s priceless expressions, and reached deep, deep down like the vet. For “Dear Zoo” we debated whether or not we should keep each animal or send it back, and suggested reasons why a camel or a lion might or might not make for a good pet. It was interactive, it was engaging, it was hilarious, and the kids didn’t want it to end.

Side note: The absolute highlight of the whole story time experience was a little boy who experienced “Dear Zoo” for the first time. Every time I dramatically revealed what was behind each flap, his whole body just shook with excitement, and his whole face lit up with joy. I think he could have watched me read that book all day.

As a colleague of mine suggested, as children grow older, they often don’t get read aloud to as much anymore. The children in the audience obviously relished the simple joy of experiencing a story together, and I saw several children twice or even three times over the course of the weekend (they didn’t seem to mind that I read several stories several times!).

Here are the books we shared, to much delight and audience approval:

pete go away big green monster dear zoo bark george

 

 

 

Sing it again!

I love to sing. In the shower, on the bus (quietly), while shopping (again, hopefully quietly), I am one of those people who always seems to be humming a merry little tune. So it’s no surprise that I love picture books that can be sung! Singable picture books are a secret weapon that I like to pull out towards the end of a story time, when the children are getting wiggly and just want to keep singing Zoom Zoom Zoom over and over again.

I also like to use singable picture books to show caregivers how much use they can get out of a picture book – read it, chant it, sing it, turn it into a felt story, act it out with stuffed toys – get as much bang for your buck out of that story as you can! Plus, kids thrive on repetition, and odds are the caregiver will be sick of the story long before their child is….

Here are just a few of the singable picture books I’ve used in my family story times.

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I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More – Karen Beaumont

Colour, colour and more colour! A mischievous little boy is determined to use his body as a canvas for his riotously colourful abstract works. Sing this one to the tune of the boy scout campfire classic, “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More”.

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The Seals on The Bus – Lenny Hort

One of many versions of this children’s classic, Hort’s version is one of my favourites because of its wonderful illustrations and hilarious cast of noisy characters – a perfect book for encouraging audience participation.

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Old Mikamba Had a Farm – Rachel Isadora

Another spin on a familiar classic, Rachel Isadora’s beautiful collage illustrations introduce children to a host of African animals, from the familiar lion to the adorable little dassie. Expand your story time horizons in a way that is still very accessible.

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Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes – Eric Litwin

What more is there to say? This is a great introduction to singable picture books, as it’s really only the jazzy refrain that gets sung. While many children already know this book, most are more than happy to sing it again….and again….and again…