IMWAYR – October 24, 2016

It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date, and adapted by Kellee at Unleashing Readers and Jen at Teach Mentor Texts with a children’s/YA focus. The Sunday Post is hosted by The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. These weekly roundups are a great way to discover new blogs and bloggers, share titles, and add to your ever-growing to-read list.


I love babytimes.

I love toddler times.

I love family storytimes.

But preschool storytimes must just be my very favourite storytimes of all.

Shh…don’t tell the other storytimes!

I’ve been covering for a colleague’s preschool storytimes for the past few weeks, and it’s been an eye-opening experience. I’ve worked predominantly with babies and toddlers for the past two years of story times, and preschoolers are a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. They’re bright, curious, engaged and oh so very chatty, making them a whole lot of fun to work with.

A lot of the stories I shared with my preschoolers this week have been old favourites, but I have discovered a couple of new-to-me favourites as well!

The Watermelon Seed


A little crocodile loves watermelon more than anything else in the world. But when he accidentally swallows a watermelon seeds, he becomes convinced that it’s going to grow and grow in his tummy and turn him into a watermelon! He eventually burps out the seed (my preschoolers’ favourite part of the story), and all is well. A silly little story with limited text and fun illustrations that are sure to make kids giggle.

Rex Wrecks It


This is a fantastic story for sharing at a preschool or daycare because it centres on learning to play respectfully and to empathize with others. Rex is a little dinosaur who loves to wreck things, much to the dismay of the other little critters in his preschool. How will they ever learn to get along? This is another very simple story with limited text, but it’s great for starting conversations with children about respecting the needs and feelings of others, as well as inferring those needs through observation and conversation.  

And just look at those critters! There’s a robot, a monster, and a unicorn rabbit – something for just about every preschooler! 😉


Stop Snoring, Bernard!


Bernard the otter loves his life in the zoo. He loves playtime, mealtime, and most of all naptime! But when his loud snoring upsets his fellow otters, Bernard sets off to find a place where he can sleep without disturbing anyone. Having grown up with a dad whose snores register on local seismographs (hi, dad!), I can’t help but sympathize with poor old Grumpy Giles, the otter who finally snaps and sends Bernard packing. Can you spot Grumpy Giles?


There’s a great repetitive refrain – stop snoring, Bernard! – that kids will love chanting along with, and the illustrations! Oh, the illustrations!! Zacharia OHora has a distinct, immediately identifiable illustration style that brings so much heart and charm to the story. The little otters are absolutely adorable, and my preschoolers just couldn’t get enough of them!

So many fun new favourites!

Have a great week, everybody!


Tips for Shy Storytime Groups


I filled in for a colleague’s toddler storytime at a local daycare centre, and my goodness, talk about a tough crowd. Imagine a room full of adorable little toddlers staring at you as if you have two heads, shocked into complete silence by your terrifying visage.

Being the teacher I am, my first thought (after “woah, tough crowd”) was – this would make a great teachable moment!

And so, without further ado, here are a few thoughts on warming up shy storytime groups!


Sharing names can be a great way to break the ice with a shy group of kids. One of my favourite name songs is Heckety Peckety Bumble Bee, because it gives you a lot of opportunities to practice the children’s names, but if the location you’re visiting has a favourite circle time name song, that’s even better. Being on a first name basis can warm up a frosty crowd, and can help make children feel welcome and included in the program. If the kids are too shy to tell you their name, they can whisper it to their group leader to say aloud for them, or ….


A cute and friendly puppet can do wonders for winning over a nervous audience. A strange grownup might be scary, but a soft-spoken, fuzzy puppet can act as a non-threatening intermediary, especially if the puppet is shy too. Children who are too shy to speak directly to an unfamiliar adult might be willing to whisper their name to a cuddly stuffed animal, or whisper it the answer to a question. This leads nicely into another suggestion:


Singing audience members’ favourite songs can be a great way to help elicit any kind of response from a group that feels practically catatonic. The tide in my shy toddler time started to turn when one of my little toddlers whispered to the puppet that he loved the alphabet song. Once again, shy kids can whisper their favourite songs to their group leaders or to the friendly puppet.


If your audience members are reminiscent of deer caught in headlines, now is probably not the time to roll out your shiny new material, complete with complicated lyrics and hand actions. Think of yourself as a ’90s popstar on a comeback tour – audiences want to hear your classic material, not your new songs. Familiar, much-loved, well-known songs can be comforting and soothing for nervous little ones.


My normal storytime approach is pretty high energy. I’m loud, I’m active, I bounce and jump and sing and make a lot of noise. With a shy group that’s already wondering where their beloved regular librarian is, my usual over-the-top, boisterous approach can lead to stunned silence at best, and terrified screams at worst (come on, who hasn’t made a kid cry in storytime?) Read the tone of the audience, and if your audience is quiet and nervous, like mine was, a quieter, gentler approach might be in order. It’s remarkable what a soft voice and a gentle smile can do to engage a reticent audience.

So, good luck to all my fellow substitute storytimers, and remember, sometimes your storytimes rock the house, and sometimes they…..don’t!


To Theme or Not To Theme


When it comes to story time planning, do you theme, or do you freestyle?

The library technician at my branch plans beautiful family story times around themes like “firefighters” or “rabbits” or “spring”.

Themes have never really suited my style.

I don’t really like being tied to my outlines – I always plan my story times, but I don’t always stick to my plans. My groups can vary wildly from week to week, and I never really know who will be sitting on the carpet waiting for me when I arrive. I often change my plans around to suit the makeup and the mood of the day – if it seems that everyone’s feeling really bright and energetic we’ll do more movement songs, but if everyone seems sleepy or we’ve got a few kids who are feeling under the weather, we might keep things more low key. Sometimes I’ll have a big group show up, and sometimes I’ll just have a handful of parents and little ones. I like being able to switch things around at the last minute, without worrying about deviating from the day’s theme.

I know that some people do fantastic themed story times, and I really admire their creativity. I also know that there are different ways to use a theme – some people use the same songs and rhymes every week but just change up their books to suit their weekly theme, while other people follow a theme from hello song to goodbye song.


There are lots of different ways to plan a story time, and different approaches and styles suit different people’s skills and abilities. There’s no right or wrong way to do story time, as long as you’re always putting your families at the heart of your programs.

If you do children’s programming, how do you like to plan? Do you like to work around a theme, or do you freestyle your programs? I’d love to know!

Baby Story Time – April 14, 2016

Hello Song

Hello, Friends

Tickles / Fingerplays

Eyes, nose, cheeky cheeky chin

Head and shoulders

Slowly, slowly, very slowly

Book 1: This Little Chick


A Smooth Road

Up up up in the sky like this

A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book 2: Peek a Moo

Movement Songs

London Bridge is Falling Down

Zoom Zoom Zoom

The Elevator Song

Cool Down Songs

Haru ga kita (where is spring?)

Good Bye Song

Goodbye, Friends

I had a mother with a one-month-old baby come to story time for the first time today – my youngest baby ever! We also had two mothers from Japan, so I pulled out one of the few Japanese children’s songs I know, and they helped me teach it to the group. The very new mother came to thank me afterwards – she’s been terribly homesick, and she was so thrilled to hear her own language being used in the library, even if we did sort of mangle most of the words…

I highly, highly recommend trying to include other languages in your story time programs whenever possible. Ask your families what languages they speak at home, and try to learn a simple, traditional children’s rhyme or song that the families who speak that language can help you share with the group. Baby time, more than any other program, is very much about supporting new parents, and when you’re far away from home, just being able to share a piece of your culture with new friends can really mean a lot.

Summer Reading Club Kindergarten Visit – June 11, 2015

We’re still in the thick of Summer Reading Club promotion, but instead of going out to visit a class, a kindergarten class came to me! A local kindergarten class of about 16 children came to spend an hour at the library and learn a bit about summer reading club.

I used my old favourite, “If you’re happy and you know it”, as my instructional song, providing a bit of structure and routine throughout the visit. We started with:

If you’re happy and you know it sit on your bums

If you’re happy and you know it sign hello (we practiced the ASL sign for hello)

If you’re happy and you know it say hello

If you’re happy and you know it hands in your laps

It was awesome! Who knew that an old standby could come in so useful?

Because the theme of this year’s SRC is “Build It”, I started off our visit with a robot story:

Boy + Bot / Ame Dyckman


The kids got a kick out of my robot voice, and we had a nice little discussion about what we might do to help our robot friend. It’s not the most fun choice for story times, but it did tie in nicely, and the illustrations are pretty cute.

In keeping with the “Build it” theme we then sang a song about high rise buildings – the elevator song!

Finally it was time to talk about Summer Reading Club!

I love getting the kids to guess the correct answer when talking about SRC:

How much do you think it costs to join Summer Reading Club? 1 million jellybeans? Two thousand nickels?”

“What do you think you get at the end of Summer Reading Club, after you’ve read for 50 days? A goldfish? A sock?”

“How many minutes a day should you read during Summer Reading Club? At least a million? Zero?”

I opened the floodgates a little when I asked for some suggestions of good books to read during Summer Reading Club. It turns out everyone had multiple favourite books they were desperate to tell me about! But, that’s ok, if the conversation is going to get sidetracked, I’m happy if it’s because of an extended book discussion. 🙂

After a bit more information about SRC it was time to pick out some library books.I once again turned to that trusty tune.

If you’re ready for some books, stand up! / If you’re ready for some books, stand up! If you’re ready for some books, if you’re ready for some books, if you’re ready for some books, stand up!

If you’re ready for some books, line up! / If you’re ready for some books, line up! If you’re ready for some books, if you’re ready for some books, if you’re ready for some books, line up!

This was the most disciplined, orderly kindergarten class I had ever encountered – it was almost eery how quiet and well behaved the were! They descended upon the readers section like a very quiet horde and picked it clean.

I’m always interested in what the kids zero in on in the stacks, and today there seemed to be a run on Biscuit books.


After a few minutes of book selecting and silent reading, it was time to line up and walk to the check out counter.

It was a great little visit, and hopefully the children will be back to sign up for SRC.

Family Story Time – May 16, 2015

Remember what I was saying about variety being the norm for a children’s librarian?

I arrived for my on-call shift at the children’s department of the central branch to discover that I was scheduled to deliver the morning’s family story time. Surprise! Thankfully I am a bit of an old hat at last minute story times by now.

One of the nicest things about doing on-call story times is that you can cheat. You can bust out your favourite songs and story books, the really popular ones that everyone loves and that you’ve already done to death with your own group. Today’s family story time was a bit of a greatest hits edition, but no Pete the Cat, as I couldn’t find a copy in the story time closet…

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: I went Walking / Sue Williams


Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Old MacDonald Had a Farm / Jane Cabrera


Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom zoom
  • The wheels on the bus
  • Toast in the toaster
  • The elevator song

Cool Down Songs

  • The itsy bitsy spider
  • Open shut them

Goodbye Song: Goodbye Friends!

I had some very enthusiastic caregivers in today’s small story time group who were happy to belt out all of the songs, which took some of the pressure off my voice, which was still a little strained after the program-heavy day before.

Impromptu Mother Goose – May 15, 2015


As I’ve said before, one of the best parts of being a children’s librarian is the variety – you never know exactly what each new day will hold.

I had just finished my story times for the morning yesterday when my manager asked if I would be able to fill in for a sick colleague. Another branch was looking for a co-facilitator for a Mother Goose session. Having previously co-facilitated a MG session I was familiar enough with the format and content, and I am always ready to take on another story time.

Unlike my MG session, which had taken place at the library, this program was being held at a local community center. Fortunately the location was easily transit accessible (hooray for the people’s chariot), as my lack of a vehicle can sometimes make last-minute plans a bit more complicated.

And so I was off on the bus to Kilarney Community Center.

kilarneyStepping in to an established program at the last minute can sometimes be a little stressful, depending on the personalities involved, but my co-facilitator was experienced, friendly, and very relaxed, which is always a plus! I wasn’t familiar with some of the songs they sang, but she was happy for me to teach the group some new material.

The group included babies, toddlers and even a preschooler or two – it was definitely more like a family time than the baby time I had expected. But the children knew what to expect in the program, and were happy with any bouncy jumpy songs we picked. 😉

I did learn a great new (to me) song that I can’t wait to share with my toddlers and preschoolers –

Hurry, hurry drive the firetruck

Hurry hurry drive the firetruck

Hurry hurry turn the corner

Hurry hurry climb the ladder

Hurry hurry spray the water

Slowly slowly drive the firetruck


It’s sung to the tune of “what do we do with a drunken sailor”, and includes fire tucks, ladders and hoses – perfect! I can’t stop singing it now, and I’ll be busting it out whenever I get the chance.

Family Story Time – May 15, 2015

For this our last story time of spring, I wanted to go out with a bang, so I tried to plan an extra-special story time that would include all of our favourite songs and activities. To make it extra-special, we did almost the entire story time standing up! We sang our hello song as usual, then sang “when cows wake up in the morning (including a lion and a dinosaur, of course), and then it was up and moving around, even during the stories!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Song: When cows wake up in the morning

Book 1: From Head to Toe / Eric Carle


Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Jump / Scott M. Fischer


Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • The wheels on the bus
  • Here we go a marching
  • Toast in the toaster
  • Elevator song

Cool-down songs:

  • Grr-grr went the little brown bear one day (with puppet)

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

I know my audience, and what my audience loves best is jumping! So, we jumped to the moon, the people on the bus went up and down, we went a jumping, our toast popped, and our elevators went up and down. Even our second book was all about jumping! We had a delighted, if exhausted crew after story time today, and it was a wonderful note on which to finish off the session.

Baby Story Time – May 15, 2015

Yesterday was our last spring story time session – we’re on a bit of a break now until July. We had a full house again, and interestingly we had a few new faces in the crowd. I’m also pleased at how many dads we have attending story time – it’s great to know that we’ve created a space in which all different kinds of caregivers feel welcome.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Well hello everyone, can you touch your nose?
  • Grr grr went the little brown bear one day
  • Slowly, slowly
  • Head and shoulders
  • Slice slice the bread looks nice

Book 1: All of Baby Nose to Toes / Victoria Adler



  • Giddyup horsey
  • Gregory Griggs
  • Pudding on the plate
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book Two:Noisy Farm


Movement Songs

  • London bridge is falling down
  • Up, up, up in the sky like this
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Come under my umbrella
  • Orca whale

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends

I shorted “Nose to Toes” a bit – there’s a lot of text on each page, which is lovely, but I have a large group of squirmy babies, so I often have to make some adjustments to my picture books to make them fit my audience a bit better.

“Noisy Farm” is an awesome baby book – simple text, bold illustrations, flaps to lift, and animals noises to make, what could be better in a baby book? 🙂 I also have a very obliging group of caregivers who don’t bat at eye at being asked to oink like a piggy!

I also had a few new faces in the audience who had never attended any story times before, so I tried to pick short, very repetitive songs whenever possible, and we sang everything at least twice, to help the newbies get the hang of things.

I can’t believe we’re wrapping up until July – some of my little guys will have grown so much by then, they’ll be graduating into family story time!

Baby Story Time – May 8, 2015

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Slowly, slowly
  • Round and round the garden
  • Wake up feet

Book 1: Animal Opposites / Petr Horacek



  • Giddyup horsey
  • I wish I were a little bar of soap
  • The hostile baby rocking song
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book Two: I Spy Pets / Edward Gibbs

i spy

Movement Songs

  • What shall we do with lazy Katie?
  • London bridge is falling down
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Twinkle twinkle
  • Orca whale
  • Yo Te Amo

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends