Resilience Storytime Theme

Tuesday Tales is my library’s preschool storytime. We also have a toddler storytime (Little Explorers) for 2 and 3 year olds and a baby storytime (Baby & Me) for under twos. Where before one person did all the toddler and preschool storytimes, last fall we transitioned to each person in my department doing this program on a rotation. I’m loving having a chance to do so much more with the older preschoolers!

This month I decided to go for a pretty broad theme – resilience, or how to react when bad things happen to you. Two of my favorite books from 2017 (A Perfect Day and After the Fall) had this theme in common so I started with those and everything came together really well.

Opening Song: The More We Get Together

16650268The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

I love Pizzoli’s artwork and this one about swallowing a watermelon seed is tons of fun. I had a shy group that took a while to warm up but I could tell they really liked this one. Then we sang the Watermelon Seed song:

The Watermelon Seed
(to the tune of “Are You Sleeping”)

Oh, No! (Oh, No!)
I just swallowed, (I just swallowed)
A watermelon seed, (A watermelon seed).
Will I grow a watermelon (Will I grow a watermelon)
Inside me? (Inside me?)

No, no. (No, no.)
The seed can’t grow (The seed can’t grow)
In my tummy, (In my tummy).
There’s no rain or sunshine (There’s no rain or sunshine)
Inside me, (Inside me).
Source: Adventures in Storytime (and beyond) 

28965128A Perfect Day by Lane Smith

Looove this book. After reading it we talked about how it feels when something ruins a perfect day and what can you do about it. Then I brought out some little Beanie Babies and had them choose a friend. We laid on the floor with the Beanie Babies on our tummies and practiced taking deep breaths while watching the friends rise and fall with the motion of our breath. I don’t remember by source for this activity but I have seen it several places as a way to practice mindfulness with kids. I talked about using that technique at home a bit and them parents loved the idea.

51GwAu5aW8L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_Good News, Bad News by Jeff Mack

I got out the parachute and some raindrop-shaped bean bags. We made a storm and shook all the raindrops off the parachute like the storm in the story. Then it’s time to throw the raindrops back on the parachute and do it again and again!

And then its spring by Julie Fogliano513vTLq4TqL

Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree – I stole this song from my childhood at church. Fellow Mormons will know it well. It’s copyrighted so you can see the words here. I printed a picture to show the kids apricot blossoms and how they look like popcorn and we had fun singing the song.

I made sure to recite Humpty Dumpty a few times with the kids before introducing the next book:

51FbQPDILOL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_After the Fall by Dan Santant

After reading this inspiring story about overcoming your fears – we were on to the STEAM activities! First we got out Mega Blocks and plastic Easter eggs and I challenged each child to build a wall that an egg could balance on. Great engineering/problem solving activity that they really had fun with!

Then, we returned to the first story to make watermelons! They were just paper plates I cut in half and had the kids color to look like a watermelon. The seeds were mini chocolate chips! I had cards with numbers on them and they picked a card and practiced counting out the number of ‘seeds’ to match their card.

watermelon seedsThis storytime was just such a good mix of different types of activities and stories but it still felt cohesive. I loved sharing a message about resilience I think is important to share with kids. I know I will use this storytime plan again.

Humpty Dumpty Walls


Allison’s Favorite Reads of 2017: Part One

28954189Scythe by Neal Shusterman

I read this way back in January and it still tops the list as one of the best books I read this year. And I’m not the only one who has love for this book. It won a Printz Honor, we included it on the Young Hoosier Book Award Middle Grade list, and when I booktalked it at a middle school the students were clamoring to get their hands on it. Shusterman has imagined a future world where there is no death. To manage population control, society has come up with a system. There are people called Scythes who must arbitrarily decide whose time it is to be gleaned (i.e. killed). Two teens are chosen to be Scythes-in-training and what follows is story that manages to be thrilling and action backed AND extremely thought-provoking. Everyone I know who has read this liked it. As long as you can handle some violence, I say get your hands on this one immediately. Also, I just discovered book number two comes out January 9!

28965128A Perfect Day by Lane Smith

As soon as I read this one I said to myself, “This right here is a perfect picture book.” This book surprised me, delighted me, and made me want to read it to everyone I know. The illustrations alone are masterful and I will be shocked if it does not win some Caldecott love. I’m not even going to say anything about what it is about but you should read it based on the fact alone that it made me laugh out loud in the best possible way.

25733990Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

I listened to this one on audiobook which is the best way to go with a story like this. It is told mostly through interviews with the various characters involved in the style of World War Z. There is a full cast of narrators and they do a really great job. I was sucked in right away to this world where a mysterious giant sculpture of a hand is discovered followed by various body parts around the world that are eventually assembled to put together something inexplicable and impossible. This one is a fast read and once you start it you won’t be able to put it down.

33245396I’m Just No Good at Rhyming: and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups by Chris Harris

This is a book of poetry for kids that feels like Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends for a new generation, but I would argue is even better. The poems and wordplay are so clever. I was laughing at nearly every page. This book is not only funny, however. There are a lot of poems that are thoughtful and bittersweet and made me contemplate childhood and growing up in new ways. I highly recommend this one for readers of all ages.

30037874Train I Ride by Paul Mosier 

There were A LOT of adult books I read this year that I really loved; not as many YA and Middle Grade for some reason. It might have something to do with reading for an award committee – probably over half the YA/MG books I read this year were assigned committee reading. BUT, Train I Ride by Paul Mosier rises to the top of the list for me. I completely related to the main character Rydr. My heart went out to her from the first page. This story is told in just three days and is completely contained on an Amtrak train from California to Chicago. The characters on the train really came to life for me and there were so many funny moments, but also sweet and sad ones too. I know I’ll be recommending this one to all the young readers I come across this year. A fabulous book.

Ruby’s Favorites: a list of picture books for 2 year-olds

Here are ten or so picture books my two year-old daughter has checked out multiple times from the library and has asked me to read again and again during our bedtime stories. As a parent and a librarian, I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone reading with two-year-olds.

18222766Hooray for Hat! by Brian Won

Elephant wakes up grumpy but cheers up when he finds a present on his doorstep – a fabulous hat! He goes to find his friends and shares his hats to cheer them up as well. This really helped Ruby learn about emotions and she loves to act it out. Sometimes she still brings imaginary hats to cheer us up!

293595Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault

One of my very favorites from my own childhood so I am so glad Ruby loves it too! A classic alphabet book with such good rhythm and sounds it begs to be read again and again.

12886238I’m Fast by Kate McMullan

There is a whole series of these books about different vehicles and even some dinosaurs. We recently discovered they also made a TV show on Amazon Prime based on the books called the Stinky and Dirty Show. Ruby loves this one in the series about a train and the firetruck one “I’m Brave!” the best. This one has more of a plot line than some of the others – a train and a speedy red car race from California to Chicago.

11556479Duckling Gets a Cookie? by Mo Willems

All the Pigeon books by Mo Willems are fabulous but this is the one requested by Ruby again and again. Pigeon is outraged that Duckling gets a cookie and he doesn’t and I know all kids this age can relate. Plus the ending is just so cute.

2023524Firefighters!: Speeding! Spraying! Saving! by Patricia Hubbell

Firetrucks are second only to trains in Ruby’s world. This book does an excellent job describing what firefighters do and is simple enough that it works for toddlers or young preschoolers. Ruby absolutely loves it.

6949680LMNO Peas by Liz Baker

Another alphabet book and also another book in a series. The little green peas go through the alphabet with different occupations and things they can be for each letter. There is a nice flow to it and the illustrations are a lot of fun to look at. If you can find the Weston Woods DVD with this story and Chicka Chicka Boom Boom I recommend it.

24611941Llama Llama Gram and Grandpa by Anne Dewdeney

I swear by Llama Llama. For read-out-louds to groups of preschoolers, there is no better author. Anne Dewdeney does two things extremely well. She is able to evoke the emotions of a young child and talk about and resolve difficult feelings by the end of the story, and she also has a beautiful way with rhyme and rhythm. I love all her books and Ruby is especially attached to this one about what happens when Llama forgets his stuffed animal on an overnight at his grandparent’s house.

24879310Where’s Walrus and Penguin? by Steven Savage

I don’t often do wordless picture books but Ruby has a thing for penguins and she really, really likes this fun one by Steven Savage. Walrus and Penguin escape from the zoo and take on various disguises to hide from the zookeeper. This is perfect for the very young children who love to point out where the animals are hiding in plain sight. I also highly recommend Supertruck by the same author.

28363946Don’t Wake Up the Tiger by Britta Teckentrup

This is a really fun interactive picture book. Tiger is asleep and the other animals don’t want to wake her up but she is in their way. The reader has to help the other animals get past the tiger without waking her up. It is simple but very effective and has a great ending. This one is the winner of the 2017 Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. (Hooray for Hat! won in 2016!)

34023602Say Zoop! by Herve Tullet

In my opinion, this one should win the 2018 Firefly award. Tullet is best known for his interactive picture book Press Here that has been a bestseller and started a whole wave of interactive books. This is his latest and I have to say it is just brilliant. It is basically reading for pre-readers. Each of the dots in the book make a different sound so when you see the yellow dot for example, you say “Oh!” and it goes from there in different variations. Ruby was reading the book to me by the end of the week and we were both just having so much fun.

201126We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

It’s a classic for a reason. This book/chant is pure fun and begs to be read again and again. Another great one to act out as well. As soon as I get to the end Ruby says, “Again!” and we go right back to the beginning. Don’t miss it.






Allison’s Favorite Reads of 2016, Part Two

Part Two of my favorite reads is long overdue. I love to pick a variety of books for these lists and try to have books on here for every age – nonfiction, picture books, middle grade, YA, adult, fiction, graphic novels. I will admit I changed my mind about this list about 15 times. There were a lot of good books this year! But here are 5 more books I loved in 2016.

28114411Some Writer!: The Story of E. B. White by Melissa Sweet

Like many children, I loved E. B. White’s books growing up. I remember very fondly my teacher reading The Trumpet of the Swan to us in second grade. This biography by Melissa Sweet is a very unique book. Not quite a picture book biography, it does have chapters and feels a little thick. But the scrapbook-style illustrations are half of what makes the book so wonderful. Sweet’s description of this man’s life made me love him so much for the quiet, thoughtful man that he was. I was so touched I was brought to tears multiple times. I so appreciate E. B. White for being such a good man and one who truly loved words and nature and understood so completely the sensibilities of child readers.

11324722The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided By Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

I ended up reading this in November during and after the elections. It was very good timing. If you want to understand why some people are conservative and some are liberal, this book is an excellent look into that question. Haidt is a moral psychologist and has done several studies on morals and deeply held beliefs. According to him morality is not just being fair or doing good but there are 6 different moral foundations we all hold to one degree or another. Liberals place more importance on some of them and conservatives on others. He also talks about how humans are 90% ape and 10% bee and that ten percent is very important in understanding how and why we form groups and are happiest in groups of like-minded people. It’s just all so really fascinating and it changed the way I see a lot of things and I can’t wait to discuss it with my book club next month.

28763485The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

I enjoyed Yoon’s first book Everything, Everything but I didn’t love it. It was a fun read, but a little too fluffy. This book is leaps and bounds above her first. The Sun is Also a Star is a really, really sweet YA romance but it is also a look at the immigrant experience, both documented and undocumented. There are also lots of fun juicy philosophical discussions and debates between the two main characters, Daniel and Natasha. Daniel is a dreamer and a poet but is feeling the pressure of his first generation Korean American parents. Natasha is a realist, a scientist, who clings to facts. Her family is about to be deported back to Jamaica. Most of the story takes place in the one day where fate or destiny brings them together in New York City. I loved that these felt like real characters and they talked like real teenagers (ahem, ahem, John Green).

1466455Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

I am a huge fan of Liane Moriarty. I’m working my way through her backlist and of the 3 Moriarty books I read this year, this one was my favorite. It is about triplet sisters Lyn, Cat, and Gemma. They are each very different and their relationships with each other are volatile and complex. You know at the start of the book that during their 33rd birthday dinner they get into a huge fight at a restaurant and one sister throws a fork at her sister’s pregnant belly. Did I mention it was also hilarious? So we go back in time to see the events in their lives that led up to this big blowup. They are each dealing with very different issues but they are all super relate-able. And of course I extra loved it because I have two sisters myself so even though we aren’t triplets, I know how sisters can be. I listened to the audio of this through Hoopla and the narration with a slight Australian accent was absolutely perfect.

26221428The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

I have not read the Mysterious Benedict Society series by this author but it always sounded like something I would love. So when this new series starter came out this year I snatched it up. It was a really fun Middle Grade read, especially for smart kids who love mysteries and puzzles. Our main character Reuben finds a watch with magical properties to make the owner invisible and he goes on a quest to find out more about this watch and where it came from. He makes some great friends on his quest but there are also dangerous men chasing him who want the watch for themselves. There is a family of lighthouse keepers who help him on his quest and a mansion with hidden passageways and trap doors. It was a pleasure to watch this mystery unfolded and I highly recommend it to all mystery and puzzle lovers who enjoy a good story.



Allison’s Favorite Reads of 2016, Part One

greenWhen Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons by Julie Fogliano

I recently weeded my library’s poetry section so I can tell you for a fact there are A LOT of books out there with seasonal poems for children. However, absolutely none of them compare to this stellar new collection by Julie Fogliano. I love Fogliano’s previous two picture books, And Then It’s Spring and If You Want to See a Whale. This is similar in tone but the poetry is just so, so good. Each poem is titled simply with a date. It starts and ends with the same poem at the beginning of Spring, March 20. Each poem is so evocative of a particular moment in time. You feel you are there with the smell of blossoms in the air, or the feel of the sand at the beach between your toes, or the silence of the snow falling out your window. Fogliano has an amazing gift for rhythm and pairing sounds in fantastic ways. For a small sample, here is the poem titled august 10: “just one seagull flying by/water/water/green grass/sky” Sigh. Reading this is just a beautiful exploration of the sounds of language and the passing of the seasons. My vote for Newbery this year is on this one for sure.


wildThe Wild Robot by Peter Brown

This is a really delightful little book. It is the perfect chapter book for second through fourth graders. It has short chapters and lots of really great black and white illustrations. This is Brown’s first chapter book, he has previously written picture books (lots of great ones, many also have a theme of wildness). Roz is a robot in a crate on a cargo ship. In a shipwreck, Roz is the only robot to survive and she lands on a little island populated with lots of animals but no people. Over time she befriends the animals and learns to survive in the wild. It is a really fun friendship story, survival story, animal story, and robot story all in one. It is a perfect readaloud and I am definitely putting it on my list of books I want to read to my toddler in two or three years.


illuminaeIlluminae by Amie Kaufmann and Jay Kristoff

More science fiction and artificial intelligence, but much darker and for a teen audience. This is my number one could not put down book of the year! I also read the sequel Gemina this year and it was just as thrilling. I don’t even want to get into a plot summary to spoil it for you. It is a really thick book but the story reads super fast because it is told through emails and chat transcripts and other ways full of interesting typography and things you have probably never seen in a book before. Seriously, just flip through the pages and you’ll see what I mean. It is. So. Cool. This book has everything. Fleeing spaceships, viral zombies, artificial intelligence, secret plots, hacking, and on and on. I can guarantee that once you start you will not be able to put this one down.


station_elevenStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

I read this in August and I already knew it was my favorite book of the year. That has not changed. This might be in my top ten favorite books of all time. It’s that good. Once again, we have science fiction but this one is a more literary post-apocalyptic story. What really stands out about this book is the characters and the way their lives are connected across time and distance in small ways and large. A virus has wiped out most of the population of the earth. Twenty years later the few survivors have formed tribes and some places are safer than others. We follow a group of traveling performers in one timeline (the after) and there are two other timelines that follow during the immediate aftermath of the virus and the life of an actor before the virus. It sounds disjointed but it is beautiful the way the storylines come together. This is a novel about art and love and what it means to be human. I loved every minute of it.


beingBeing Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande 

Atul Gawande is a surgeon and author. This book is a very important book and one that everyone should read. Gawande examines death and the way death is treated in the medical field. What is the goal of medicine when it comes to dying? What is the cost of prolonging life by any means necessary? Gawande makes a very compelling case for talking with your loved ones about their end of life wishes and addressing those difficult questions we would rather avoid. In many cases end of life care should be focused on quality of life rather than extending life. We really need to have a conversation about dying in our culture, and Gawande does an amazing job starting that conversation for us. This is an amazing book and I highly recommend it.



Baby Play Day

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This program is probably the one I had been looking forward to the most all summer. We had a 6 week series of regular Baby & Me and the seventh week we had Baby Play Day!

This program was mostly inspired by Brooke Newberry at Reading With Red and her fun Play, Baby, Play program. She also gave a fabulous webinar co-hosted with Kendra Jones at on Successful Programming for Babies and Toddlers.

My second biggest planning resource was the awesome and essential book 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids by Asia Citro. This book has tons of recipes for play, everything from finger-paints to play-doughs to slimes. She labels which are taste-safe for babies which has been a huge help. I have made probably 5 recipes from this book (or the author’s website) without a single fail.


So for Baby Play Day I put out about 10 activities and we had unstructured playtime for an hour. These are the things we had:

Cloud Dough (similar to what some people call Moon Sand): Part flour, part sand, and some vegetable oil.bpd15_censored

Colored Rice: Dyed with food coloring and vinegar.

Ball Pit: 200 balls purchased on Amazon and a kiddie pool. I blogged about our first time using this here.

Crinkly Paper: Bright orange and green packing paper from a box from Mango Languages.

Tunnel: Brought from home, my daughter’s first birthday present.bpd14_censored

Texture Boards: Pieces of cardboard with bits of various textures hot-glued on.

Kleenex Box Scarves: Pulling colorful scarves out of tissue boxes.

Pom-Pom Chutes: Tubes taped to the wall to put pom-poms through.bpd3

Boxes: These were empty soda can boxes left over from when I did Giant Jenga with the teens a couple weeks ago. The babies loved stacking them and pushing them over. The boxes were nearly as big as them!

Dance Corner: Rainbow ribbons, shakey dggs, and bells. And music!

Books: I put out books from our Parenting section on play activities for babies and toddlers as well as a selection of Board Books.

Oh, and there were also bubbles, of course!

Even with all that, I worried that there wouldn’t be enough to do, or that parents would be expecting more structure or direction. I didn’t need to worry! They got right down to play and had a grand time. At the 30 minute mark, I did turn up the music and invite people to come on over and dance with me, but only a few took me up on it. Everyone was so engrossed in all the other activities. It was a really great time for all (even though I was completely exhausted the rest of the day from all the set up, clean up, and playing!). And I am already planning to do another one in November.


Movie Scavenger Hunt

I love scavenger hunts and teens always seem to enjoy them too.  In fact, during a recent Boys & Girls Club visit to the library I gave the Middle School kids a scavenger hunt and as the group was leaving, I overheard one of the boys (who had been acting too cool for school) say to his friends, “That was actually pretty fun.” I consider that high praise from a teenage boy!

But I have done a lot of scavenger hunts in the library, my friend. And they were starting to get a little stale. So when I started planning my April programs I wanted to try something a little different. And that is how I came up with Movie Scavenger Hunt! Really, my thought process when I came up with the idea was, “I need a draw to get teens to come to a scavenger hunt program. What do teens like? They like movies! I will do – A Movie Scavenger Hunt!” And I had no idea what that was but I had a few months to figure it out, so I went with it.

It turned out to be pretty cool! Here’s what we did. I selected several movies from a variety of genres that I like and hopefully teens liked too. I played clips from the movies and each movie clip helped solve a clue to find the next book in the library, which would have another clue and we would watch another movie clip and so on. For example, I showed the following clip from Toy Story 2 and the clue they were given was, “The aliens might need help writing what kind of note to Mr. Potato?”

And of course, the answer is “A Thank You Note,” which lead them to find a guide to writing thank you notes in our stacks. Preparing this scavenger hunt was lots of fun and also made me feel rather clever! Plus I loved revisiting some of my favorite scenes in some really great movies.

Read below for the rest of the scavenger hunt:

The Princess Bride: “If Fezzik runs out of rhymes, he might need this book to help.”

(Answer: A Rhyme Dictionary!)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: “What creatures should Harry prepare to meet in the next task?”

(Answer: A book about Mermaids)
Robin Hood (Disney version): “”Eww! They’re ______! If Skippy wants to know more about what he and Maid Marion did together, he could read this book.”

(Answer: A book about kissing)
The Lego Movie: “Find a biography of the latest actor to be able to say the iconic line, ‘I am Batman’.”

(Answer: A Ben Affleck biography)
The Wizard of Oz: “Oz is clearly very different from Dorothy’s home state. Find a book about the state east of where Dorothy is from.”

(Answer: a book about Missouri)
Guardians of the Galaxy: “Find a young adult novel about a girl with the same type of leg as ‘that guy’s leg’.”

(Answer: The Running Dream by Van Draanen)