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!

Review: Don’t Touch This Book

Don’t Touch This Book

Bill Cotter’s previous picture book, Don’t Push The Button!, became my unofficial book of the summer this year – I brought it with me to a couple of Summer Reading Club school visits, and ended up reading it aloud at least 10 times. It’s so much fun – few things in life are more tantalizing than a big red button, especially one that you’re not allowed to touch. Kids delight in watching Larry the monster wrestle with his conscience, and they love joining in with him as he finally snaps and starts pushing the button. I love doing a dramatic “1, 2, 3….BEEP” with the audience as we all push the red button together.

I was pretty excited when I heard that Cotter was coming out with a follow-up to Don’t Push the Button!, called Don’t Touch This Book! I was even more excited when I saw a bright red button featured on the front cover!

Well….I hate to say it, but I really prefer the original when it comes to this series of picture books. Don’t Touch This Book! has some really fun elements, but it lacks some of the charm that made me love its predecessor so much.

One of the things that makes Don’t Push the Button! so much fun is that the audience and the main character are always on the same side – neither side is supposed to push the button, but together they decide to break the rules, making them co-conspirators in a silly exercise.  In Don’t Touch This Book!, Larry is back, but to be honest he’s kind of a jerk this time around. As the owner of a cool new book, Larry is the one setting the rules, and he’s the one who decides who gets to touch his book. Larry tells the audience what they can or can’t do, coming across as kind of bossy in the process. We don’t get to see Larry hilarious wrestling with temptation like we did before, and we don’t feel like we’re on the same side with him against some mysterious, no-fun button-maker.

There’s a lot of interaction this time around, and it could be fun to get kids talking like a robot, roaring like a dinosaur and flapping their wings like a bird. But I miss the cheekiness of the original, which really capitalized on the thrill of breaking the rules and being just a little bit naughty. Kids’ lives are dominated by rules – they’re constantly being told what to do and when to do it, and have very little real control over their lives. There’s such a thrill in being able to break the rules, even if just in a story. In Don’t Touch This Book!, the audience spends the entire time being told what to do and following instructions, even if Larry does warm to them in the end. It’s still fun, but it’s just not quite the same. I’ll stick with the original.

Five Finds – Interactive Picture Books

Taking a cue from the rise in popularity of interactive storybook apps, these picture books encourage kids to tap, swipe, turn and shake their way through stories, often with humorous and eye-catching results.

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Press Here

The original, and some might say the best, this simple, extremely effective picture book really is a source of wonder, as children press and tap different colourful dots with fascinating results. Certainly proof that when it comes to picture books, less really can be more.

Tap The Magic Tree

This interactive picture book takes children through the different seasons, following a tree as it grows and changes over the course of a year. Simple, understated illustrations and a gentle narration makes for a quietly engaging experience.

Don’t Push The Button

From the calm and elegant we head right into the wild and wacky. Larry the Monster has been told not to push the big red button, but it’s just so tempting, and he simply can’t resist. Children will laugh as Larry finds himself in sillier and sillier predicaments, which can only be resolved by shaking, tapping and otherwise interacting with the pages.

Open Very Carefully

When a grumpy crocodile interrupts a retelling of the story ugly duckling, the ugly duckling takes matters into its own hands, and enlists the reader’s help in kicking the crocodile out of the book. There’s not as much interaction in this title as in other titles in this list, but the illustrations are very cute, and the story’s quite fun.

Warning: Do Not Open This Book

Monkeys and toucans and alligators, oh my! Like Don’t Push the Button, this is a story about giving in to temptation and breaking the rules, with hilariously madcap results. Opening the book releases a hoard of unruly monkeys, and the reader must follow the narrator’s instructions to help recapture all the escapees. As an aside, I once nearly gave a group of students heart attacks by slamming the book closed with a bit too much force – it certainly woke them all up…!

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…. 🙂

Preschool visit and story time – March 19, 2015

One of the things I love so much about being a children’s librarian is the variety that comes with the position – no two days are ever quite the same! We get to do so much outreach in our positions, and I for one am pretty passionate about getting out into the community, meeting our neighbors and being involved in what’s going on around us.

Today I had the opportunity to visit a local preschool and participate in their circle time. It was a bit of a last-minute arrangement, and due to scheduling constraints I didn’t have my usual thirty minute story time allowance, so I had to be a little creative with my program. As I’ve said before, that’s one of the things I love about doing on-call or drop-in story times – they’re perfect opportunities to spread my wings a little, branch out and try new things!

We had a small group – only 16 kids, but they were so engaged in the stories and so excited to participate.

Here’s what I did with the lovely little preschoolers I met on this super soggy spring day:

Book 1: Little Owl Lost / Chris Haughton

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Song: Roly poly

Book 2: Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons /  James Dean, Eric Litwin

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Songs: I wake up my hands

The itsy bitsy spider

Book 3: I’m a Dirty Dinosaur /  Janeen Brian & Ann James

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And just for fun: Here I am sitting in the neighborhood house with my books, waiting to make my grand entrance into the preschool –  a little bedraggled from the terrible rain, but ready to get this story time started!

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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…