“Oi, Frog!” – Keeping the joy in reading

Summer is here (though you wouldn’t know it from the Junuary days we’ve been having recently) and for many librarians that means only one thing – Summer Reading Club! My days have been filled with promotional visits to local schools, where I hype up the program as much as humanly possible, and try to get kids excited about reading on their summer vacation (challenge accepted).

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Books are fun, kids! Honest!

My secrets weapons in helping kids get excited about joining the Summer Reading Club are funny books – I always bring one or two humorous titles with me to share at each school visit, which I hope will help remind kids that reading over the summer is supposed to be about having fun. This isn’t a school program, so there’s no suggested reading list – kids can read whatever the heck they like, and for lots of kids, that means reading something silly.

One book that I’ve been having great success with recently is Oi, Frog! by Kes Gray and Jim Field.

A very bossy cat (of course) lays out which object each animal is supposed to sit on – frogs sit on logs, cats sit on mats, weasels sit on easels, etc. The story gets more and more ridiculous with each page – lions sit on irons, lizards sit on wizards, apes sit on grapes and more.

Kids find the whole things hilarious, and it’s fascinating to observe how long it takes different groups to catch on to the fact that this is a rhyming book – I love it when the eyes go wide and kids shout out “hey, it rhymes!”

There’s a delightful twist ending that will have kids in stitches, and the illustrations suit the text pretty much perfectly. The word bottom is also mentioned, which is an added bonus when reading with a group of school kids – laughter is pretty much guaranteed.

Books like Oi, Frog! are so important because they help kids associate reading with positive emotions, and build positive memories. How many of us can name a couple of books that were absolutely ruined for us because we had to read them in school? English or Language Arts classes can unfortunately suck the joy right out of reading, leaving a negative impression on kids that can last a life time. By reminding them just how much fun reading can be, silly, humorous books like Oi, Frog! can help rekindle a child’s love of reading, and keep it glowing throughout life’s ups and downs.

Do you have any favourite lighthearted or funny books for kids? I’d love to hear about them – I’m always looking for new titles to share and enjoy!

NOTE – HOLD THE PRESSES! As a colleague just pointed out to me, if you’re American, Oi, Frog! might look a little different at your local bookshop or library. Apparently publishers aren’t sure you guys can handle British slang and think you might be confused by the expression “Oi” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone anyone?).

Spring Booktalking: Part II

I recently visited an all-boys private school and shared some stories with the grade 1 and 3 boys. I decided to stick with picture books, because I just love sharing picture books with older children. They really seem to enjoy the experience of being read aloud to, and you can have some pretty awesome discussions with kids about the stories and the images in the different picture books.

Here’s what I shared with the Grade 3 boys:

Moo! / David LaRochelle

I adore this book, I absolutely adore it. The listener response to this story was fantastic. Without any prompting the kids all joined in with me as a I read, and we became an enthusiastic chorus of mooing cows. It was a really neat experience as a librarian to see the kids join in so confidently and naturally.

Warning: Do Not Open This Book / Adam Lehrhaupt

Who doesn’t love ignoring directions and going against the rules? The kids loved this one too, though I think I startled them half-to-death when I accidentally slammed the book closed at the end with considerably more force than I’d meant to…..

Oi Frog! / Kes Gray

Silly rhymes make this another hilarious title for sharing with a group. Lots of opportunities to ham it up, though you have to be a bit creative with your pronunciation at times to make the rhymes work – sofas and gophers and lions and irons!

Here’s what I shared with the Grade 1 boys:

Open Very Carefully / Nicola O’Byrne

This title’s similar to Do Not Open This Book in that the narrator speaks directly to the reader, who then has to participate in fixing the story and saving the book. Cute, funny, and not too scary, this is a great read-aloud for younger audiences.

Gigantosaurus / Johnny Duddle

Dinosaurs!  Rhyming text! Six/seven-year-old boys! Yeah, sometimes I go for the low-hanging fruit and take the path of least resistance, what can I say.