2020 Favorite Storytime Books

It’s book list season! I’ve read a lot this year, and I am excited to highlight my favorite releases of 2020. I’m thrilled to start this year’s lists with 2020 favorite storytime books.

These lists are personal. The storytime books that work for me may not work for you–and that is okay! We each have our own storytime preferences. Also, I very well may have missed some great titles that were released over the last year–so make sure to check out all of the great lists all over the internet.

I had so many favorites this year that I split picture books over two lists: storytime favorites and picture book favorites (coming Wednesday). Make sure to check back for even more amazing 2020 titles!

Which titles were your favorites of the year? Please share in the comments!

Check Out More Favorites of 2020

Coming soon!

2020 Favorite Storytime Books

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#Baby by Michael Joosten
Adorable baby photographs paired with humorous hashtags will make this a winner for both babies (who will love the close ups of other babies) and grown ups (who will appreciate the humor). Fun choice for virtual baby storytime.


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A is for Another Rabbit by Hannah Batsel
“A is for A Rabbit. B is for Bunny. C is for Can you believe how many rabbits are on this page?” A rabbit-obsessed narrator makes an owl angrier and angrier as this alphabet book fails to follow normal expectations. Try this out at an elementary school storytime.


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Animals Brag About their Bottoms by Maki Saito
Bottoms are cool. Animal bottoms are SUPER COOL. For toddlers, focus on identifying the animal by their bottom. For preschoolers, read through the story and talk about loving our bodies in all their unique shapes and sizes. Pair with a nonfiction book about animals, Whose Poop Is That?, or any Steve Jenkins title.


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The Babies and Kitties Book
by John Schindel and Molly Woodward Redd
A companion to the adorable The Babies and Doggies Book, this book features photographs of babies…and kitties! Wonderful photographs featuring diverse babies are paired with fun actions that work well in a storytime environment (climbing, hiding, jumping).


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Bedtime Bonnet
by Nancy Amanda Redd and illustrated by Nneka Myers
“In my family, when the sun goes down, our hair goes up!” A little girl shows us her Black family’s nighttime hair routines, but when it comes time for her to go to bed, she can’t find her bonnet! Where could it be? A fantastic own voices book that centers a diverse narrative in a bedtime storytime.


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Do Sharks Bark? by Salina Yoon
These lift-the-flap books are perfect for toddler or preschool storytime. Read them as they are written–opening each animal mouth for that sound–or try retelling them with puppets.


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Don’t Feed the Coos!
by Jonathan Stutzman and illustrated by Heather Fox
Coos are so cute! And they are begging you for a snack…but don’t give in! If you feed one, they will all come! Lots of humor and giggles about what happens if you feed pigeons (or seagulls or ibis or ducks depending where you live).


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The Elephants’ Guide to Hide and Seek
by Kjersten Hayes and illustrated by Gladys Jose
Elephants love playing hide and seek–but they aren’t very good at it. Consult this handy guide for tips and tricks to improving your hide and seek game. Ask storytime attendees to think of new places or ways for an elephant to try to hide–maybe even places in your library!


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Federico and the Wolf
by Rebecca J. Gomez and illustrated by Elisa Chavarri
A clever retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood.” Frederico tries to take food to his grandfather’s store, but a hungry wolf has other ideas. A bouncy rhythm makes this fun to read aloud. Spanish words are scattered throughout, with a glossary and pronunciation guide in the back.


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Fussy Flamingo
by Shelly Vaughan James and illustrated by Matthew Rivera
Lola is one fussy bird–she doesn’t want to eat shrimp like her fellow flamingos. She is determined to try any other food, and each of those foods changes the color of her feathers. Lots of repetitive text and humor make this a fun family read aloud.


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The Ghosts Went Floating
by Kim Norman and illustrated by Jay Fleck
A spooky Halloween story sung to the tune of The Ants Went Marching. Perfect for counting practice, with a catchy tune that will soon have everyone singing. The last few pages include a Halloween tie in with the spooky friends all attending a Halloween party, though those could be skipped.


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Going Up
by Sherry J. Lee and illustrated by Charlene Chua
Sophie and her dad are excited for Olive’s birthday party! Sophie pushes the elevator button, and they start the long journey up their building–but at each floor, the elevator stops, and more neighbors crowd in. Repetitive text helps keeps readers engaged as they meet the diverse residents of this apartment building.


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Hey Baby!: A Baby’s Day in Doodles
by Andrea Pippins
Lovely photographs follow a 1-year-old through everyday activities. The black and white contrast is great for young eyes (if a little busy for a virtual storytime setting). Great actions and motions to compare the baby’s day to your family’s day.


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I Love Me!
by Laronda Gardner Middlemiss and illustrated by Beth Hughes
Celebrate diversity, identity, community, and everything that makes you special. Rhyming text, vibrant illustrations, and the repeated “I Love Me!” makes this a great fit for toddler and preschool storytimes


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I Love My Fangs! by Kelly Leigh Miller
Little Dracula loves his two, pointy, beautiful fangs! But then–oh dear–one falls out. How can Dracula be a vampire with just one tooth? Why won’t it pop back in? Lots of humor and drama surround our adorable young vampire, including a hilarious battle with the tooth fairy. Bright, colorful illustrations will keep the youngest readers engaged. 


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Jules vs. the Ocean by Jessie Sima
Jules wants to build the best sandcastle ever! But the ocean has other plans, washing away all of Jules’ attempts–and eventually it takes her bucket too. A fun summer beach story filled with dry humor in both the words and illustrations.


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Lia & Luís: Who Has More?
by Ana Crespo and illustrated by Giovana Medeiros
Lia and Luís argue over who has more of their favorite snacks. A great way to include math concepts in storytime including measuring, counting, estimating, and weighing. Perfect for STEM programs!


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Llama Unleashes the Alpacalypse
by Jonathan Stutzman and illustrated by Heather Fox
I am a fan of everything Llama! While this sequel isn’t quite as amazing as the original, Llama gets into even more hilarious shenanigans in an effort to never have to clean his house again.


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Lift by Minh Lê and illustrated by Dan Santat
Wow! This book is visually gorgeous, but also contains serious storytime potential. Iris tapes a broken elevator button to the wall of her room. When she pushes the button, a new world opens up. A great book for older readers paired with an activity where kids create their own imaginary worlds that they would like to find behind magical elevator doors.


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On Account of the Gum by Adam Rex
A poor kid wakes up with gum in their hair, and their grown up is determined to get the gum out. Instead, they make things much, much, much worse along the way. Lots of laughs.


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One of These Is Not Like the Others by Barney Saltzberg
Three cows and one elephant–one of these is not like the other! A great read-aloud for toddlers practicing similarities and differences (and celebrating both). Easy to skip spreads to shrink the length of the book.


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Our Favorite Day of the Year
by A.E. Ali and illustrated by Rahele Jomepour Bell
Musa’s kindergarten teacher, Ms. Gupta, proposes a yearlong show and tell, where each child shares with their classmates about their favorite day of the year. As a class, they celebrate Eid Mubarak, Rush Hashanah, Christmas (with some Lantinx cultural elements), and Pi Day. A great way to have a conversation about holidays without focusing on one religion (or, in the case of Pi Day, any religion at all).


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Sloth Went
by Adam Lehrhaupt and illustrated by Bensom Shum
Is there ever an audience where poop books don’t get a good laugh? Encourage young sloth to climb down a tree for his weekly poop. Pair with fascinating facts about how sloths poop in the wild, or a conversation about bathrooms and potty training.


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Smug Seagull by Maddie Frost
Smug Seagull can snatch more snacks than you! But…who is this new crab? How is crab so good at swiping? Is there enough room at the beach for two snack snatchers? A perfect read aloud to pair with Mo Willems’ Pigeon.


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Speak Up
by Miranda Paul and illustrated by Ebony Glenn
When you see something that doesn’t feel right, when you make a mistake, when you can help someone in need, use your voice and speak up! While this book’s message is simple, it approaches kindness, activism, and using your voice in a tone perfect for preschoolers, kindergarteners, and first graders. 


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Turtle Walk by Matt Phelan
“Turtle walk! Nice and slow. Here we go. Are we there yet? No.” This repetitive story is delightful. Adorable turtles make their plodding walk, exploring the wonders of the world, slowly making their way through the seasons to the cave where they will nap for the winter. Lots of fun to read aloud with a great refrain to repeat as a group.


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Twinkle, Twinkle, Diaper You
by Ellen Mayer and illustrated by Ying-Hwa Hu
Mama changes baby’s diaper in this simple board book. While the action is straightforward, the book excels in modeling ways a caregiver can turn a small exchange, like changing a diaper, into an early literacy experience by singing a modified version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, practicing animal sounds, identifying body parts, and more. A great board book to highlight in a virtual storytime.


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Unicorns Are the Worst! by Alex Willan
Unicorns are the worst! Goblin is not happy when unicorns move in next door with their glitter and tea parties. Why are unicorns so well loved while goblins are so underappreciated? Funny story perfect for fans of unicorns, magic, humor, and new friendships. Bright illustrations will draw in young readers and also make this a good book to share virtually.


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We Will Rock Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates is one of my favorite storytime books–and I am so glad Penelope is back for more fun! She is excited to play her guitar at the school talent show until she hears a classmate say that dinosaurs can’t rock and roll. Her classmates have a lot of opinions about what dinosaurs can be…does Penelope have the courage to show off everything she is capable of? A great elementary read, especially to start a conversation about bullying and microaggressions with kindergarteners and first graders.


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Welcome to the Party
by Gabrielle Union and illustrated by Ashley Evans
This is a baby storytime win! Beautiful illustrations, wonderful rhymes, and perfect actions for a group of babies or toddlers.


What Color Is My Hijab?: Hudda Ibrahim, Meenal Patel, Meenal Patel:  9781643439204: Amazon.com: Books

What Color Is My Hijab?
by Hudda Ibrahim and illustrated by Meenal Patel
A simple book that highlights both colors and diversity as a little girl chooses what color hijab she will wear today. Great choice for toddlers or preschoolers.


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What Will Fit? by Grace Lin
Grace Lin’s new series of math board books are perfect for introducing simple math concepts for toddlers. Make sure to check out the whole series!


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When We Are Kind
by Monique Gray Smith and illustrated by Nicole Neidhardt
Celebrate kindness with this beautiful book by a Native author and illustrator. Perfect for talking to preschoolers and kindergarteners about being kind and helping others.


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Your Name Is a Song
by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow and illustrated by Luisa Uribe
A girl tells her mother how frustrated she was after her teacher and classmates couldn’t pronounce her name. Her mother teaches her that her name is a song as well as how to embrace your name and identity. A beautiful book perfect for elementary school conversations about the importance of pronouncing names correctly.

Storytime: Flannel and Magnet Activities

Flannel and magnet activities are a staple of storytimes–especially my virtual storytimes! While I’ve always enjoyed these activities, we typically had very large in-person storytime audiences. I’ve never had the best vision, and I was always the kid (and adult) who was stuck in the back of a crowded room and who couldn’t see the tiny shapes on a flannel board or magnet board. I have some tricks to still make flannel and magnet activities work in a large crowd–mostly giant magnet and flannel pieces on a board I’m holding up high–but I like the intimacy of a virtual storytime where everyone can see everything I am doing.

While I love the cuteness of a high quality flannel set (Mister Keith is the flannel making king), I personally lean more towards magnet sets. I can stumble my way through making a nice flannel set I am happy with, but more often I try to find high quality images to create my own magnet sets. These can be printed over and over and laminated for reuse. Magnets stick a bit better for me (on a cookie sheet I hold up) are are generally less likely to fall off than flannel board pieces.

Looking for more flannel and magnet activities for your storytimes? Your one stop shop is Flannel Friday. Their Pinterest boards are regularly updated and filled with a world of cuteness.

Looking for more storytime tools? Check out our Storytime Resources page for links to more content.

Flannel and Magnet Activities

B-I-N-G-O

There was a farmer who had a dog
And BINGO was his name-o
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
B-I-N-G-O
And BINGO was his name-o


Brown Owl, Brown Owl, What Do You See?

Retelling of Brown Owl, Brown Owl, What Do You See?, a spooky book adaptation of Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.


Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Retelling of the book Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.


Dear Zoo

Retelling of the book Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell.


Dog’s Colorful Day

Retelling of the book Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd.


Down Around the Corner

Down around the corner at the bakery shop
Were five yummy cupcakes with sprinkles on top.
Along comes a _
With a dollar to pay.
She picks out a cupcake and takes it away.

Continue with: 4, 3, 2, 1
Animals: pig, flamingo, blobfish, axolotl, dragon


Five Fancy Peacocks

One fancy peacock feeling mighty fine
Spreading his tail in the bright sunshine.
Another peacock has come to play.
Now two fancy peacocks have a great day.

Continue with: 2, 3, 4


Five Ferocious Lions

Deep in the jungle, what did I hear?
Five ferocious lions roaring loud and clear.
ROAR! said the lions.
SCAT! said I.
And one ferocious lion ran away…
Goodbye!

4, 3, 2, 1…


Five in the Bed

There were five in the bed,
And the little llama said
“Roll over! Roll over!”
And they all rolled over
And one fell out.


Five Little Bats

Five little bats sleeping in a tree
Hanging upside down
Where no one else can see.
The sun sets and the moon shines bright,
And one little bat flies out of sight.


Five Little Ducks

Five little ducks went out one day.
Over the hill and far away.
Mother duck said
QUACK, QUACK, QUACK, QUACK!
But only four little ducks came back.

Continue with: 4, 3, 2, 1


Five Little Fishies

Five little fishies, swimming in the sea
Teasing Baby Shark – “You Can’t Catch Me!”
Along comes Baby Shark, as quiet as can be…
And SNAPS that fishy right out of the sea!

Continue with: 4, 3, 2, 1


Five Little Owls

Five little owls sitting in a tree
Shouting “hoo, hoo, hoo”
As loud as can be!

One flew away,
And then there were…
1, 2, 3, 4!


Five Little Penguins

Five little penguins playing in the snow,
Slipping and sliding to and fro.

One looked up and yelled “Oh no!”
“I see a great big ball of snow!”

Rolling down the hill it stopped with a splat,
All that’s left is a fuzzy hat.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…

Five big snowballs wearing fuzzy hats,
Rolled back home dressed just like that!


Five Little Pigeons

Five little pigeons jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head!
The driver called the doctor, and the doctor said
No more pigeons jumping on the bed!

Continue with: 4, 3, 2, 1


Five Sharks in the Bathtub

Five sharks in the bathtub,
Going for a swim.
Knock, knock.
Splash, splash.
Come on in!


Froggy Gets Dressed

Retelling of the book Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London.


Go Away Big Green Monster

Retelling of book Go Away Big Green Monster by Ed Emberly.


Goodnight Moon

Retelling of the book Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown.


If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Retelling of the book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff.


I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean

Retelling of the book I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry.


Is Your Mama a Llama?

Retelling of the book Is Your Mama a Llama? by Deborah Guarino.


The Little Old Lady Who Was NOT Afraid of Anything

Retelling of the book The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams.


L-L-A-M-A

There was a llama who wore pajamas,
And Llama was his name-o!
L-L-A-M-A
L-L-A-M-A
L-L-A-M-A
And Llama was his name-o!


Llama Llama Playing Hide and Seek

Little Llama, Little Llama
Playing hide and seek.
Are you behind the __ bed?
Let’s take a peek!


Little Crab, Little Crab

Little crab, little crab,
Where do you hide?
Are you in the…shell?
Let’s look inside!


Little Fox, Little Fox

Little fox, little fox
Are you in the YELLOW box?


Little Mouse, Little Mouse

Little mouse, little mouse,
Are you in the….
RED house?


Little Snail, Little Snail

Little snail, little snail,
Are you in the _ pail?


Little Spider, Little Spider

Little spider, little spider,
Playing hide and seek!

Is spider behind the __ leaf?
Let’s take a peak!


Marco the Polar Bear

Marco the polar bear
As white as the snow
Sat on the ice
Where the cold waters flow

“Lunch! I need lunch!” he said.
“I’ll make a wish!”
He stuck out his paw
And came up with a fish!

What color is it?


Move Over, Rover

Retelling of the book Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont.


Old Brass Wagon

Circle to the side, old brass wagon.
Circle to the side, old brass wagon.
Circle to the side, old brass wagon.
Now there’s one my darling!

Continue with:
Oval to the side
Square in the middle
Triangle up high
Rectangle down low
Heart to the back
We’ll stop at six my darling!


One Dinosaur Went Out to Play

One dinosaur went out to play,
On a giant fern one day.
She had such enormous fun,
That she called for a friend to come…
OH DINOSAUR!!


One Elephant in the Bathtub

One elephant in the bathtub,
Going for a swim,
Knock, knock (clap)
Splash, splash (slap knees)
Come on in! (wave)

Continue with: 2, 3 – all fell in!


One Elephant in the Bathtub (Elephant & Piggie)

One elephant in the bathtub,
Going for a swim!
Knock, knock! (clap, clap)
Splash, splash! (slap legs)
Come on in! (wave)

Continue with: 2, 3, 4


Our Friend Rocky Has Some Tools

Our friend Rocky has some tools, E-I-E-I-O.
And with those tools he had a hammer, E-I-E-I-O.
With a bang, bang here and a bang, bang there.
Here a bang, there a bang, everywhere a bang, bang.
Our friend Rocky has some tools, E-I-E-I-O!

Continue with:
Saw…see-saw
Wrench…turn-turn
Screwdriver…twist-twist
Pliers…pinch-pinch
Drill…zzzz-zzzz


Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Retelling of the book Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean.


Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

Retelling of the book Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean.


Pete the Cat Playing Hide and Seek

Pete the Cat, Pete the Cat,
Playing hide and seek.
Is Pete behind the __ shoe?
Let’s take a peek!


Piggie, Are You in a Book?

Piggie, piggie, where so you hide?
Are you in the __ book?
Let’s look inside!


Pinkalicious, Where Do You Hide?

Pinkalicious, Pinkalicious,
Where do you hide?
Are you in the pink __?
Let’s look inside!


Tickle Monster

Retelling of the book Tickle Monster by Edouard Manceau.


Tip Tip Dig Dig

Retelling of the book Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia.


Very Hungry Caterpillar

Retelling of the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle.


Walking Through The Jungle

Walking through the jungle,
What do I see?
I think it was a….elephant!
Trumpeting at me!


We’re Going on a Bug Hunt

We’re going on a bug hunt!
We’re gonna catch a bug one!
What a sunny day.
Are you ready?
Okay!

Oh my! A ladybug!
A red and black ladybug.
Crawling on a leaf.
Crawl, crawl, crawl, crawl.

Continue with:
Bumblebee…buzzing through the air
Grasshopper…hopping through the grass
Dragonfly…darting across the sky
Butterfly…fluttering through the air
Spider…spinning its web
Time to go home…Goodbye!


Who Stole the Cookies

Cat stole the cookies from the cookie jar.
Who me?
Let’s see!

Couldn’t be!
Then who?


Zuma, Are You in a Boat?

Zuma, Zuma, where so you hide?
Are you in the __ boat?
Let’s look inside!

Little People Big Dreams Storytime: Rosa Parks

As part of our virtual programming, I run a monthly school age storytime, designed for ages 6-8. This program highlights a different diverse individual from the Little People Big Dreams book series. In November, I featured Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycotts in my Little People Big Dreams Storytime.

Each program features 1-2 books on the famous individual (one book being their matching title from the Little People, Big Dreams book series). I also highlight music from a diverse artist and include a link to an at-home packet to continue the fun and learning.

Explore More Little People, Big Dreams Storytime Outlines:

Ella Fitzgerald

Watch the full storytime here:

In the event description, I included the link to the printable at-home activity packet.

Storytime Outline

Intro: Teddy Bear by Jazzy Ash

First Book: Rosa Parks by Lisbeth Kaiser (Little People Big Dreams)

Rosa Parks (Little People, Big Dreams): 9781786030177: Amazon.com: Books

Music Break: Leap Frog by Jazzy Ash (with shakers)

Second Book: Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romitto

Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott:  Romito, Dee, Freeman, Laura: 9781499807202: Amazon.com: Books

Closing Rhyme: See You Later, Alligator

See you later, alligator
In a while, crocodile
Give a hug, ladybug
Blow a kiss, jellyfish
See you soon, big baboon
Out the door, dinosaur
Take care, polar bear
Wave goodbye, butterfly!

Next Time: Harriet Tubman

Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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The Cat Man of Aleppo by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha (picture book)
Gr. 2-4. While many were fleeing war torn Aleppo, Mohammad Alaa Aljaleel stayed behind, working as an emergency responder. In addition to saving human lives, he soon realized that the cats of the city also needed help. Abandoned when their families fled or were killed, the pets were desperate and hungry. Alijaeel used the little resources available to create a sanctuary for lost animals and a spot of joy in the city.

A moving, beautiful, true story showing the strength and kindness of people around the world.

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Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo (teen)
Gr. 8+. Camino Rios loves the summers she spends with her father when he visits the Dominican Republic. They both spend hours at the beach, enjoying the water and talking about Camino’s dreams to go to college in the United States and become a doctor.

Yahaira Rios doesn’t see her father as often as she would like. They used to be close, particularly when practicing for Yahaira’s highly competitive chess tournaments. But a few months ago, Yahaira discovered a marriage certificate in her dad’s papers–a marriage certificate between her father and a woman who isn’t Yahaira’s mother.

Their worlds collide when their father’s plane crashes on its way to the Dominican Republic. While mourning their father and comforting their loved ones, Camino and Yahaira learn about each other–their father’s other daughter. Emotions soar as the girls re-examine their world through the lens of the very complicated man that they both loved.

Elizabeth Acevedo is brilliant. The emotions depicted in her verse carry an amazing story–from both girls’ mourning to their fears for the future and their confusion, hurt, and hope when they discover one another. The connections to a very real plane crash make this all the more meaningful. A must read!

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The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar (teen)
Gr. 8+. Nishat’s parents tell her that Muslim girls simply aren’t lesbians–so liking girls isn’t an option. Nishat is angry about hiding who she is, but she also doesn’t want to lose her family. Nishat is struggling to figure out how to make her parents come to terms with her sexuality, but things become much more complicated when Flavia moves back into town. Flavia and Nishat knew each other when they were young, but now that they are older, something more than friendship sparks between them.

Flavia is cousins (and friends) with Nishat’s sworn enemy though, and the two girls struggle to have a conversation. Nishat is trying to come up with a way to make things work when Flavia decides to create a henna business for a school competition. Flavia is appropriating Nishat’s culture for profit, and Flavia doesn’t see the problem. Soon, a budding romance turns into a business war filled with sabotage and anger.

I loved the representation in this book, including Nishat’s struggles with her identity and her family. The nuances of Nishat’s relationship with her sister and her friends, as well as her feelings for Flavia, carry the book. I did struggle with the discussion (or lack thereof) of cultural appropriation. Nishat is rightfully upset about Flavia making a business around something that is attached to a culture she doesn’t belong to, but Nishat never fully explains her feelings. This issue is wrapped up with a little bow when Flavia apologizes–but the apology also doesn’t make it feel like Flavia completely understands (she makes no effort to actually correct the problem).

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How to They/Them: A Visual Guide to Nonbinary Pronouns and the World of Gender Fluidity by Stuart Getty (nonfiction)
Gr. 6+. Learn about the differences between sex assigned at birth, gender identity, and sexual orientation in a fun, humorous guide.

This book was delightful! The book is designed in a way that is appealing to look at and makes you want to keep reading. The text is humorous and disarming–not here to preach but here to teach and engage (though preaching is sometimes needed when talking about pronouns). While the guide feels simple, its content is deep and centered in the idea that everyone deserves the freedom to be themselves.

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I’m Not a Girl by Maddox Lyons (picture book)
Gr. PreS-2. Nobody understands that Hannah is not a girl. His parents get frustrated when Hannah doesn’t wear cute, frilly outfits. His friend tells him he is a tomboy. But with courage, Hannah talks to his parents and gets them to understand who he really is.

Based on the author’s own story, this own voices picture book is a simple, but great choice to begin a conversation about gender identity with a child. Add this to your library shelves!

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King and the Dragonflies by Irene Latham and Karim Shamsi-Basha (picture book)
Gr. 5-8. Teenage boys don’t suddenly die of heart attacks–but that is exactly what happened to King’s older brother. King is convinced that Khalid is now a dragonfly, and King regularly visits the nearby swamp to feel closer to his brother. But while he desperately misses his brother, King is also a little confused and a little mad–a few months before he died, Khalid told King he shouldn’t hang around with another local boy, Sandy Sanders. Because Sandy was gay, and “You don’t want anyone to think you’re gay too, do you?”.

King listened to his brother and stopped talking to his best friend. Now, Sandy is missing, and King discovers not just Sandy’s hiding place, but the reason Sandy ran away in the first place. King isn’t sure what to do anymore–about the secrets he holds, what he is learning about his own identity, or his growing feelings for his best friend.

Heartbreaking, poignant, and sweet. I spent the whole book wanting to give King (and Sandy) big hugs. Author Callender does an amazing job creating this small town world, digging into King’s fears and emotions, and the added complexity of being both black and queer (particularly in a small town in the south). Lovely, quiet, and impactful.

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The Ocean Calls: A Haenyeo Mermaid Story by Tina Cho (picture book)
Gr. 1-3. Dayeon longs to be a haenyeo “mermaid” just like her grandmother. Generations of Korean women–mostly in their 50s-80s–dive off the cost of Jeju Island, with no breathing equipment, as deep as twenty meters, looking for various sea creatures they catch and cook or sell. Dayeon is nervous about diving so deep and being able to hold her breath as long as she needs to.

A physically beautiful book that uses brilliant color to show the world above and below the ocean (including the changing time of day). The illustrations are paired with a unique story based on the real women who dive twenty days a month, hunting for octopuses, sea cucumbers, abalone, seaweed, snails, sea urchins, and more.

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Our Little Kitchen by Jillian Tamaki (picture book)
Gr. K-2. Neighbors come together to feed their community, preparing a plethora of dishes using ingredients they have on hand or were donated. You can hear the hustle and bustle of the kitchen, and even with little text, you get a feel for these characters in the nuances of the illustrations. Tamaki’s illustrations reflect real people living and giving back. Unique endpapers are always a delight, and these feature visual recipes for vegetable soup and apple crumble.

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Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Dee Romito (picture book)
Gr. 1-2. Georgia Gilmore had already been boycotting the Montgomery buses when Rosa Parks was arrested. Now that the movement was much larger, Georgia wanted to do her part. She organized a group of secret bakers–women who made delicious foods that Georgia sold to local businesses and families to raise money for the cars and gas needed to sustain the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

A wonderful picture book biography that partners well with a book about Rosa Parks or completes an elementary storytime about the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Gilmore is a fantastic, lesser known activist with a fantastic story (paired with beautiful illustrations).

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Seven Golden Rings: A Tale of Music and Math by Rajani LaRocca (picture book)
Gr. K-1. In ancient India, Bhagat travels to the city hoping to change his family’s fortune by being selected as a singer for the rajah. He takes his family’s fortune with him–one rupee and a chain of seven golden rings. But the innkeeper wants a ring for each night Bhagat stays there, and every broken link costs one rupee. How can Bhagat break the chain, pay for his room, and never give away more than he has to?

A fun story mixing the feel of a fairy tale with math. A great choice for an elementary classroom or a storytime where kids stop reading when Bhagat is faced with his math problem and try to figure out a solution themselves.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (11/16/2020-11/22/2020).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books & Readers:

Everything Else:

Rambling Thoughts: Some fun news this week–my name is on the 2023 Caldecott Ballot! What?!? It is an honor to just be on the ballot and a dream to someday be on a Caldecott committee. It feels weird to talk about on here, but it has been a bright spot in the last few months, and I can finally share with the world.

Make sure to stop by on Tuesdays for short reviews of some of these titles!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 27 Books Read This Week
    • 18 Books with Diverse Main Character (67%)
    • 13 Books by Diverse Authors (48%)
    • 12 Books by Own Voices Authors (44%) (to the best of my knowledge)

Favorites of the Week:

Michala’s Reading

Note: No updates this week!

Virtual Baby Storytime: Week 17

My last Baby Storytime for 2020! (Well, maybe, you never really know until the year is done.) Storytimes are a bright spot in my weeks as everything pandemic picks up here in Ohio (and around the United States and much of the world). This is a hard week. My library just reclosed to the public for browsing and computers, which takes a bit of the pressure off. Good luck to everyone out there–we all need it.

Links for More Storytime Content:

Find additional content at the links below:

Baby Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme
(Wake Up Toes and We Clap and Sing Hello)

Early Literacy Tip & Book: What Is Baby Going to Do? by Laura Knowles

Amazon.com: What is Baby Going to Do? (Flap Flap) (9780711250598): Knowles,  Laura, Perdomo, Juliana: Books

Early Literacy Tip: Looking for ways to keep your little one engaged? No need to purchase fancy toys—make great DIY activities from around the house objects. Check out our YouTube channel for ideas.

Song: Hands Together, Hands Apart by Rainbow Songs

Action Rhyme: Well Hello Little Baby

Bounce Rhyme: Hippity Hop

Find more Baby Bounce Rhymes. —

Bounce: Bouncing, Bouncing

Find more Baby Bounce Rhymes. —

Song: Shake Your Sillies Out by Rainbow Songs

Puppets: Do Sharks Bark? by Salina Yoon

Find more Book Retelling activities. —

Manipulative: What Shall We Do With The Sleeping Baby? by Rainbow Songs

Closing Song: Skinnamarink

Virtual Program: Weird But True Trivia

Does anyone know why all of the Weird But True books have been checked out with long holds lists since the pandemic started? I know Disney+ expanded the National Geographic TV show, and these books have always been popular, but our books have been checked out for months, and nearby larger systems also have very high circulation rates. If you have an idea why, let me know in those comments–otherwise, read on for everything Weird But True Trivia!

My live audience was small for this one, though it slipped past me that this event didn’t have a Facebook event or any advertisement beyond our website. My handful of players definitely spanned all ages, so this had a different kind of appeal than some of our past trivia events.

Discover More Trivia Fun:

Disney Trivia
Dog Man Trivia
Pokémon Trivia

Weird But True Trivia Content

I shared the questions via screensharing a PowerPoint on Facebook Live (details below under Logistics). Twenty questions, followed by going back through the twenty questions faster to review the answers.

As always, if you would like any editable files, please send us an email at bookcartqueens@gmail.com or comment below.

Watch the full video here:

View and Download the PowerPoint below. I used Century Gothic and Cartoonist fonts:

Download the full PowerPoint here.

More links:

Weird But True At Home Fun Printable Packet

Reserve Weird But True Books

Weird But True Printable Answer Sheet

Weird But True Trivia Certificate

Weird But True Trivia Logistics

Like many of our live school age programs, Weird But True Trivia took place on Facebook Live, though this could easily be translated to whatever platform your library is using for virtual events.

There are many great tools out there for trivia. Kahoot is a particularly popular tool that I’ve seen used frequently. That tool asks participants to play along on their phone or another device while watching the livestream, and the system times the questions and ranks participants. While I like that concept for an adult or maybe teen trivia, when there are no prizes involved, I don’t like that system for kids. Plus, it involves a second piece of technology, and for families playing along, it may be especially difficult to have each kid play individually.

I added the questions to PowerPoint, shared to Facebook using their livestreaming screenshare technology. Some detailed tips for those interested in trying a program this way:

  • Make your slides “widescreen” so they fill up the viewers full computer, phone, or TV screen. Do this by going to Design – Slide Size in Microsoft PowerPoint.
  • I don’t like the clunkiness of viewers seeing me open my powerpoint after going live. To always just have the powerpoint shared on your screen:
    • In PowerPoint, start the “Slide Show” mode, making your PowerPoint full screen.
    • Use the Windows key (not ESC) to exit the Slide Show presentation view. This key leaves the presentation open in the background.
    • Start your Facebook Livestream. Instead of sharing your entire screen, just share one application — the Slide Show view of PowerPoint.
    • Return to the Slide Show view to change slides for your participants. Always use the Windows key to exit. If you use the ESC key, you won’t be able to restart the slideshow without creating a new livestream.
  • Using the steps above, you cannot easily see the comments during the presentation without toggling back and forth (and creating the risk of you using the ESC key and having to start a new stream). I have my phone nearby with the livestream running, allowing me to see questions and comments as they come in. A coworker posts links and types responses to the comments, and I respond verbally as I can.

These are supposed to be 30 minutes, but I talk too much, and this, like previous similar programs was closer to 45 minutes. An easy way to shrink the length of the presentation would be to run through all of the answers immediately after the questions, instead of going back through them again later.

Book Review Tuesday

Lots of great books this week! Read the book reviews below, and learn more about my favorite reads:

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Always Anjali by Sheetal Sheth (picture book)
Gr. K-2. Anjali is so excited for her new bicycle. She immediately rides it to the carnival with her friends, and they are all excited to buy matching license plates with their names on them. But none of the premade plates have Anjali’s name. An older boy starts making fun of her name, and other kids join in. Anjali runs home determined that she wants to change her name for good, until her parents teach her that her name was chosen especially for her.

While I don’t have the cultural attachment to my name, this book hit home because I was also one of those kids who never had a nameplate or keychain or gift store item that had my name on it. A lovely story that will speak to kids from many backgrounds.

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Box: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford (biography)
Gr. 3-5. Henry Brown faced countless atrocities as a slave. After watching as his family was sold far away, Brown felt that nothing else was left for him. He looked for a way to escape, but instead of running from place to place on the Underground Railroad, he packed himself in a box and shipped himself to freedom.

Carole Boston Weatherford’s beautiful poetry frames this story. Each poem is just six lines–each line representing a side of a box. Brown’s words and writings are scattered throughout, allowing his voice to shine through. The story continues after Brown’s box is delivered to a free Northern state, following his journey abroad to escape the Fugitive Slave Act. Wood’s mixed media illustrations make the reader want to keep turning the pages.

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Dave the Unicorn: Team Spirit by Pip Bird
Gr. 2-4. Mira has finally gotten used to Dave, her rather unusual unicorn best friend forever. Now it is time to return to Unicorn School for Field Day! Mira isn’t convinced that Dave is the most athletic unicorn, but she is determined to help her team achieve victory so they can go on the Magical Rainbow Quest.

But from the very beginning of the day, everything goes wrong. None of her teammate’s alarm clocks go off. Their rainbow track suits go missing. Banana peels randomly appear on the field, and their equipment is swapped out for candy substitutes. The school staff seem to think Mira is just making excuses, but she is convinced that someone is sabotaging them.

Dave the Unicorn is a funny, lighthearted series that will appeal to kids who like the humor of Diary of a Wimpy Kid but might not be ready for middle school drama (or kids who are looking for a more text-heavy Dog Man readalike). When you think about the magical unicorn universe too much you are left with a lot of questions and some plot holes, but this series will be well loved by its intended audience.

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Dear Justyce by Nic Stone (teen)
Gr. 7+. Quan is in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. He isn’t too surprised he ended up there. After all, while he and his childhood friend, Justyce, weren’t that different, Justyce was always on a path to success at an Ivy League school while Quan was just doing whatever was needed to keep it together and take care of his mom and his siblings. Quan–feeling more than a little ridiculous–starts writing letters to Justyce, inspired by Justyce’s letters to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Just like Dear Martin, this is an outstanding book. It depicts the corrupt justice system, particularly in its treatment of black kids and teens. The story unravels through flashbacks and Quan’s letters to Justyce, as well as new scenes from Justyce’s point of view. Nic Stone’s reasoning for writing this story–after hearing from black teens about how Justyce’s story isn’t their story–makes this even more poignant.

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Finish the Fight! by Veronica Chambers (nonfiction)
Gr. 5-8. What names do you associate with women fighting for the right to vote? Susan B. Anthony? Elizabeth Cady Stanton? There were thousands of other women who often aren’t highlighted, but who fought, spoke up, marched, and led protests that led to women earning the right to vote.

Finish the Fight highlights the Haudenosaunee women who lived on the land of the Seneca Falls convention long before the town of Seneca was built–women who led a matrilineal society, who owned their own property, who led their clan. Finish the Fight shares the stories of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin, Elizabeth Piper Ensley, Mabel Ping-Hua Lee, Jovita Idar, and more women who were instrumental in helping women gain the right to vote in territories, states, and across the United States. Finish the Fight also talks about the women whose fight for the vote continued long after the 19th amendment was passed–women like Susette La Flesche Tibbles and Litikala-Sa, who continued to fight for Native American voting rights and more.

An excellent compilation, highlighting women who aren’t often mentioned in history textbooks. Filled with more names to research on your own and detailed backmatter, this book would be a wonderful classroom companion. It also feels particularly hopeful that the very last entry in the backmatter–a comparison of 1920 vs. 2020 of Women by the Numbers–is no longer accurate, just a few months after publication. While there were, and still are, zero women U.S. Presidents, that Vice President tally can finally be changed to 1.

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The Hanukkah Magic of Nate Gadol by Arthur A. Levine (picture book)
Gr. 1-3. Meet Nate Gadol, a magical Hanukkah hero who brings luck and generosity to those in need. Nate can’t make something from nothing, but he can help things stretch. Have just one piece of chocolate for a whole family? Nate can make that piece stretch for everyone. Need a little oil to last eight days and nights? Nate is there to help.

Nate takes a particular interest in the Glaser family, new immigrants to the United States determined to help their neighbors, even if that means that their Hanukkah might be a bit meager. Nate manages to help a struggling Santa, stretching Christmas joy to keep a sled flying high, in exchange for some presents that might make Hanukkah seem a bit more magical for everyone.

A beautiful new folk tale that will be a wonderful addition to Hanukkah collections for years to come.

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The Magnificent Makers: Riding Sound Waves by Theanne Griffith (first chapter book)
Gr. 2-3. Best friends and classmates Violet and Pablo are on a field trip to the City Science Museum! They can’t wait to explore the new exhibit all about the senses. When they get to the museum, they are excited to be partnered with Henry, a quiet boy in their class who is a little different than other kids. Henry has a sensory processing disorder. He struggles with loud noises and sometimes has a hard time paying attention in class.

Just like at school, Violet and Pablo discover a riddle that leads them to the Maker Maze. This time, Henry joins them, and the three work against the clock to complete three challenges in 120 maker minutes–learning even more about their senses and making sure they can beat the clock so that they can return to the maze for more science fun in the future.

Another Maker Maze book! This series does an excellent job combining science and friendship. The addition of a main character with a sensory processing disorder is a welcome addition. The eardrum challenge is particularly fun, especially since readers could replicate it at home. Looking forward to more!

My Furry Foster Family by Debbi Michiko Florence (first chapter book)
Gr. 2-3. Another wonderful addition in the My Furry Foster Family series. I love the simplicity, appeal, and diversity of this series. All of our young readers want more animal books, and this is a great introduction to a variety of pets (and fostering animals!). The everyday diversity in Kaita and her family plus small details, like taking your shoes off in the house, make this even more of a winner for me. Will be recommending to many young readers, though the books are already flying off the shelves.

Kingston the Great Dane: The Takano house has a new (GIANT) foster pet: Great Dane Kingston! Kingston looks a bit more like a cow than a dog, and he definitely doesn’t realize how big he is. He loves to copy everything the family dachshund does–like crawl under kitchen chairs, jump onto Kaita’s bed, and sit on Dad’s lap. Will the Takano family be able to find the perfect home for such a large dog?

Murray the Ferret: The Takano house has a new foster pet: an adorable, cuddly ferret! Kaita has done a ton of research, so she knows that ferrets can be fast and sneaky, but Murray is just adorable, floppy, and very friendly. But when things around their house start to go missing, Kaita realizes all the missing items can’t be due to bad luck…

Roo the Rabbit: The Takano house has a new foster pet: their first rabbit! Roo is absolutely adorable with his fluffy, floppy ears and always curious personality. Kaita can’t wait to cuddle with her new bunny–but Roo is super shy, and he doesn’t like to be pet. Will Kaita be able to teach him how to trust people, so they can find him his own forever home?

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The Next President: The Unexpected Beginnings and Unwritten Future of America’s Presidents by Kate Messner (nonfiction)
Gr. 3-5. We know the name of the current President of the United States. We might, if the timing is right, know the name of the next President. But we don’t often think too far past that point. Did you know that when George Washington became the first president, there were nine future presidents living their lives? Some of them may have already been thinking about becoming president themselves, but three of those future presidents were still kids. Of course, this trend continues through to today. When John F. Kennedy was sworn in as president, the next ten (eleven, as we now know) presidents were alive too. Some were in politics, another running a peanut farm, another was hosting television, a few were in their teens, and another was just born.

This book takes a fascinating approach to U.S. presidential history, always thinking towards the future. While we make general comments to kids that they could be anything they want when they grow up–even president!–the reality is that, most likely, at least ten future presidents are alive today, and at least three of them are kids. Those kids might be running for student government–but they might also be coding or dancing or reading this very book.

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Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park
Gr. 4-6. Hanna has spent much of her life moving from place to place since her mom died. Wherever they go, no one looks like Hanna, and the townspeople eventually push Hanna and her father out of town. Hanna is half-Chinese, half-white. While everyone seems willing to accept her white father into their community, they are always weary of his Asian daughter. Hanna desperately wants to go to school and complete her education, become a dressmaker at her father’s clothing store, and make a friend. These dreams seem impossible as Hanna deals with the racism and prejudice in her new town in Dakota territory. Hanna starts school, but the rest of the townspeople pull their children from the classroom. Hanna’s father is adamant that he doesn’t want Hanna to work in his shop (and he doesn’t really want to sell dresses either). And every time Hanna almost makes a friend, their parents quickly whisk them out of Hanna’s life.

Hanna’s perseverance and endless strength make this book a winner. Author Linda Sue Park was inspired by the Little House books, and this is a great book to hand to readers who enjoy historical fiction and to families looking for those Laura Ingalls Wilder titles. It doesn’t hide the racism of the era, while also allowing readers to catch a glimpse of Native American people in a more natural and kind light than other books that take place in that time. I’m glad I read this one before awards season, as I think it will have a lot of stickers on the cover in just a few months.

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Score for Imagination by Jonathan Eig (nonfiction)
Gr. 2-3. Lola loves practicing soccer with her mom every Saturday. But Lola doesn’t just love the time with her mom–she also really wants to get better at soccer. She knows she isn’t very good, and the boys in her third grade class won’t let Lola and the other girls play. How can Lola convince everyone that playing as a team will make them all better?

A fun addition to the Lola Jones book series. Lola learns all about imagination, friendship, and teamwork in a sports-focused book that will appeal to young readers.

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Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong by A.J. Low
Gr. 3-4. Sherlock Sam loves Sherlock Holmes and solving mysteries around Singapore. Sherlock invents a robot to steal his favorite cookies from the top shelf. (The fact that the robot is named Watson was an accidental coincidence.) When Auntie Kim Lian’s family Peranakan recipe book disappears, Sam is determined to retrace her steps and find the family heirloom–after all, no cookbook means no more delicious ayam buah keluak! Soon he is leading his friends all across the city, from the bakery to the local antique shop, the library, a cooking studio, and a new restaurant.

A fun mystery series great for readers looking for something a little bit more advanced than first chapter books. This book was originally published in Singapore, and various Singaporean words and dishes are sprinkled throughout. While the volume of words in another language feels higher than in similar stories, since most of the new words are types of food, the story will still be easy for young non-Singaporean readers to follow. A glossary in the back helps introduce some of these terms to readers.

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This is Your Time by Ruby Bridges (biography)
Gr. 4-7. The words of a grown-up Ruby Bridges, the first black child integrated into an all-white elementary school in New Orleans. In a letter to today’s kids and teens, Bridges reflects on her childhood experiences and compares the Civil Rights protests of the 1960s to the Black Lives Matter protests happening today.

Bridges’ moving words are paired with equally moving black and white photographs, both from her childhood and from people protesting today. The juxtaposition is sometimes eerie, with the reader having to pay close attention to the captions to know the difference in date. An excellent, intimate reminder that the fight for racial equality is not new, and it is not over.

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While We Can’t Hug by Eoin McLaughlin (picture book)
Gr. PreS-K. Hedgehog and Tortoise are best friends who aren’t allowed to hug. But they still know ways to show their love for one another–from making silly faces and writing letters to dancing, painting, and just being near each other.

This book is particularly useful in COVID times, when hugging another person could make them sick, but I like that this book doesn’t particularly address the pandemic. There are kids with autoimmune diseases who haven’t been able to hug their friends, or sometimes even their family members, for a long time. Other kids (and grown ups) don’t like hugs. There is a lot of emphasis right now on the loss of human touch, but for some people, this isn’t new. I like that this book normalizes that without only focusing on the pandemic.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We are joining the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (11/9/2020-11/15/2020).

Annamarie’s Reading

Picture Books & Readers:

First Chapter Books:

Everything Else:

Note: I’m starting to write my favorites of 2020 posts. If you’ve ever spotted my recommendations on Storytime Underground’s Facebook page, you’ll notice that I sometimes struggle to limit these sorts of lists. (There will be multiple. Of course.) I’m thinking that they will go live on Sundays? We will see. I read so much this year, and there are still so many more books in my TBR piles.

Make sure to stop by on Tuesdays for short reviews of some of these titles!

Stats for the Week:

  • 29 Books Read This Week
    • 20 Books with Diverse Main Character (69%)
    • 13 Books by Diverse Authors (45%)
    • 12 Books by Own Voices Authors (41%) (to the best of my knowledge)

This week’s reading highlights:

Michala’s Reading

Note: It’s that time of year, can you sense a theme in my reads? Although all my Halloween picture books just came in so next week I might be listing a few stragglers that make the cut for good reads.

Virtual Baby Storytime: Week 16

I’m starting to miss seeing the baby’s reactions. I know many people have been saying that for months, but I genuinely don’t mind–and in some ways really enjoy–virtual storytime. My nerves come from people staring at me, and, even though I am being seen by the internet, I can’t see the people watching, so I’m not self-conscious. The lack of feedback is hard, and it makes it difficult to really know if any of my new rhymes or books or animal activities are successful with my intended age range, but I am more willing to try new things because I won’t receive an immediate negative reaction. Does that make sense? Or am I just rambling as my brain tries to rebuild after election week 2020?

Links for More Storytime Content:

Find additional content at the links below:

Baby Storytime Intro Song & Rhyme
(Wake Up Toes and We Clap and Sing Hello)

Early Literacy Tip & Book: Baby Loves Fall by Karen Katz

Amazon.com: Baby Loves Fall!: A Karen Katz Lift-the-Flap Book (Karen Katz  Lift-The-Flap Books) (9781442452091): Katz, Karen, Katz, Karen: Books

Early Literacy Tip: Babies love to take things in and out of larger containers. This helps build understanding of spatial concepts like in, out, behind, under, and over—all of which are important for brain development.

Song: She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain by Old Town School of Folk Music

Action Rhyme: These Little Fingers

Discover more Fingerplays. —

Bounce Rhyme: The Bouncing Song

Find more Baby Bounce Rhymes. —

Bounce: Dump Truck

Find more Baby Bounce Rhymes. —

Song: Wiggle It! by Patty Shuka

Puppets: Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort

Find more Book Retelling activities. —

Manipulative: Shaky Shaky by the Wiggles

Closing Song: Skinnamarink

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