Books

Storytime Spotlight: Favorite Reads

Here we go with another storytime spotlight roundup! At my library, we are still doing outdoor storytimes and because our crowd is so spread out, we are limited to the selections in our “big book” staff collection. These books tend to be older titles, that are not my ideal storytime selections with a few exceptions. So I am dreaming of the day when I can get back to reading all the latest and greatest titles in storytime. Here are a few of my current favorites.


Find past storytime spotlight posts here, and feel free to comment with your outstanding storytime shares!

Baby Storytime (ages 0-2)

Shhh! The Baby's Asleep; JaNay Brown-Wood;  9781580895224

Shhh! The Baby’s Asleep by JaNay Brown-Wood and illustrated by Elissambura

Terrific baby storytime books are hard to come by for many reasons. Oftentimes books with tremendous baby storytime potential are only published in board book format and, thus, are much too petite to share with even the smallest of audiences. Because baby storytime is my most beloved program (who doesn’t love sitting in a roomful of babies, amiright?) I am consistently searching high and low for great storytime content for our littlest patrons. Shhh! The Baby’s Asleep by JaNay Brown-Wood fits the bill for babies with a caveat – it is quite long to share with babies. But with a few paperclips, it can be easily abbreviated. In this title, a family is struggling with the age-old problem of staying quiet while its littlest member sleeps. The rhyming structure and the sound effects make this title more storytime-friendly than the average picture book and the repeating phrase of, “Shhh! The baby’s asleep!” will give ample opportunity for grown-ups to join in as you read.

Toddler Storytime (ages 2-3)

Hello, Moon: Downing, Julie: 9780823447015:  Amazon.com: Books

Hello, Moon by Julie Downing

Simply put, toddler storytime perfection. Its spectacular mixed-media illustrations are brimming with the cutest nighttime critters and each page spread features simple, yet vocabulary rich, description. This title could be accentuated in storytime by sharing puppets of the featured animals either during the reading or at the end. Also there are many lines throughout the book that lend themselves to action, “Stir awake, open eyes,” or “Thunder roars” (pat hands on the ground) “Raindrops splash” (pat hands on lap). Creativity is key if you are trying to engage your audience. Especially if that audience is full of twos and threes.

I Like Trains by Daisy Hirst

I Like Trains will tickle pint-sized train enthusiasts far and wide. It features large, bold illustrations and oversized font which can be seen from quite a distance – a storytime-sharing bonus. It will also give little ones insight into what it is like to ride on a train – an experience that would be foreign to some children. The train ride ends with a visit to grandma’s house and the playground. The size of both the illustrations and the font, along with the opportunity for saying a “choo-choo” or two make this one ideal for toddler storytime sharing.

Preschool Storytime (ages 3-5)

What I Am by Divya Srinivasan

Although Srinivasan’s signature illustrative style from Little Owl series and Octopus Alone is missing in this newest picture book, she chose an simpler aesthetic that is well-matched with this book’s subject matter. She addresses self-affirmation, touching on all of the aspects that make little Divya who she is. The strength with this work lies in its child-like illustrations and accompanying text. Each page spread would be easily visable from a distance making it an excellent one to share with a crowd. And although it focuses on a celebration of self, the pacing is quick so a big preschool crowd will be more apt to stay engaged. These are concepts that preschoolers and early school-agers are exploring almost daily in their lives – discovering their likes, dislikes, and ultimately their identity. There are lots of opportunities throughout to ask questions to get the kids thinking about how they would define themselves.

Chill Chomp Chill! by Chris Ayala-Kronos and illustrated by Paco Sordo

Chomp the dinosaur has some choices to make in this crowd-pleasing and highly engaging title. He is presented with a variety of negative behavior choices followed by the repeating phrase, “Chill, Chomp, chill.” This one will have preschoolers and their grownups answering with a resounding, “No!” each time they are asked, “Should Chomp ____?” Not only will preschoolers be invested in Chomp’s decision-making, but the brief pause to “chill” introduces little ones to mindfulness and its power in redirecting upsetting emotions. Storytime gold!

Storytime Spotlight: Favorite Reads

I am always on the hunt for the best upcoming or recently-released storytime books. I love getting suggestions from other librarians or storytime presenters when they have discovered a  winning title. I have been presenting storytime in some form or fashion for ten years, and there is nothing worse than a book that falls flat by either not engaging the kids or being too long. That can lead to unwelcome storytime chaos and having a real Ben Stiller/Bueller moment, where I really lose the crowd.

I’ve certainly learned some lessons while presenting books in storytime. This series will regularly spotlight books that really work for storytime (at least for me). In Storytime Spotlight, I will focus on titles for Baby Storytime (ages 0-2), Toddler Storytime (ages 2-3), and Preschool Storytime (ages 3-6), as well as some titles that may work for kindergarten and first grade audiences. Feel free to comment with your recent favorites as well!

Find past storytime spotlight posts here, and feel free to comment with your outstanding storytime shares!

Baby Storytime (ages 0-2)

Close Your Eyes: A Book of Sleepiness: Houran, Lori Haskins, Hanson,  Sydney: 9780807512715: Amazon.com: Books

Close Your Eyes: A Book of Sleepiness by Lori Haskins Houran and illustrated by Sydney Hanson

This book is part of series by Houran and Hanson that features the most adorable baby animals doing extremely cute things. It is a smaller format picture book, so it would be a challenge to share with a large baby storytime audience, but when shared with a smaller group or even as a virtual storytime title, this one cannot be beat. I am a huge fan of Syndey Hanson’s illustrative style which is featured in one of my all-time favorite preschool storytime titles, Escargot by Dashka Slater. The illustrations in Close Your Eyes are truly the star of the show, but the text is simple and lends itself to great grown-up/baby interaction—cuddles, bouncing, making animal sounds.  All of this supports early literacy, an added bonus.

We Love Babies!: Esbaum, Jill: 9781426337482: Amazon.com: Books

National Geographic Kids We Love Babies! by Jill Esbaum

This National Geographic Kids title features photography of animal babies (clearly I like animals in my baby storytime books).  The size of the book and the formatting of the photography and text are ideal for sharing in baby storytime. The first segment features some animal opposites (big and little, fast and slow) followed by the second segment which features animal body parts (snouts, trunks, stripes).  The third and final segment focuses on animal movements (crawling, climbing, pouncing, swimming).  All three of these themes lend themselves well to storytime movement and the book is easily shortened, if needed.  This one would work very well for toddlers too.

Toddler Storytime (ages 2-3)

Early One Morning | Book by Mem Fox, Christine Davenier | Official  Publisher Page | Simon & Schuster

Early One Morning by Mem Fox and illustrated by Christine Davenier

No one knows about writing children’s books like the titan Australian author Mem Fox. Early One Morning is no exception from her regularly stellar work. This plot is very similar to Rod Campbell’s Oh Dear! but it does have a few key differences.  It features a little boy who is searching for eggs on the farm. He comes to various farmyard objects (trucks, tractors, haystacks) and, alas, finds no eggs anywhere. Then he encounters some farm animals (cow, pony, sheep) all the while being followed by a pesky little hen. He ends his journey at the chicken coop realizing  that his travel buddy was actually the critter he was seeking the entire time. I like this title for its repetition of phrase and vintage-inspired illustrations. It is simple and provides many opportunities for question-asking and participation in toddler storytime. 

The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round: Shang, Wendy Wan-Long, Shang,  Wendy Wan-Long, Tu, Lorian: 9781338621198: Amazon.com: Books

The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round by Wendy Wan-Long Shang and illustrated by Lorian Tu

Book text that is set to a familiar tune is absolutely ideal for storytime sharing. The Rice in the Pot Goes Round and Round is written to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus. It features a multigenerational Chinese family sitting around the table for a traditional meal. Each family member is spotlighted and, prior to sharing in storytime, I would encourage a listen to Mandarin pronunciations of typical family names if you are unfamiliar (Nai Nai, Ge Ge, Jie Jie). The author was kind enough to provide phonetic pronunciation in the back of the book but I find that it helps to listen to pronunciations as well. Toddlers and grownups will chime in with the tune immediately. When sharing, the phrases could be repeated  twice so everyone can join in with singing.

Preschool Storytime (ages 3-5)

Benny's True Colors: Paulson, Norene, Passchier, Anne: 9781250207715:  Amazon.com: Books

Benny’s True Colors by Norene Paulson and illustrated by Anne Passchier

Benny the bat doesn’t feel like a bat—he loves the sunshine, cannot imagine sleeping upside down, and craves vibrant color. Benny knows that although he is a bat on the outside, he most definitely a butterfly on the inside. He knows that in order to truly be himself, Benny must make the transition from bat to butterfly. This is a perfect Pride month storytime book as it has LGBTQ+ themes.  Benny is an endearing character who will have preschoolers rooting for him to live his best butterfly life. The illustrations are peppered with a vivid, neon pink against a less vibrant—but still rich—color palette. I have an 80s-childhood-nostalgic love for the use of neon pink in any context.

Strollercoaster: Ringler, Matt, Third, Raúl the, Bay, Elaine:  9780316493222: Amazon.com: Books

Strollercoaster by Matt Ringler and illustrated by Raύl the Third and Elaine Bay

This title feels fun, fresh, and cool. The artwork by the wife-husband team of Raύl the Third and Elaine Bay is the highlight and is characteristic of their illustrative style. The “strollercoaster” makes its way through the  big city streets and sees all the sights and sounds of a metropolitan area—the street art, the basketball courts, the playground. All the while the strollercoaster climbs and soars with lots of lively storytime movement opportunities.  And after the exciting journey, our rider Sam is tuckered out and ready for a nap.  Relatable and well-suited for preschoolers and their grownups.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (6/21/2021-6/27/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Everything Else:

Thoughts & Updates: Last post from me for a while! Wrapping things up with a few great chapter books and some cute picture books too. Don’t worry about blog content — Sarah has plenty of great things to share. I’ll still be lurking even while I don’t actively post during my Caldecott term, so feel free to comment and send emails. I’d love to still chat with all of you! This blog helped keep me grounded during the pandemic, and it has been such a wonderful platform to meet and learn from so many fantastic librarians and creators across the world. Until next time!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 15 Books Read This Week
    • 10 Books with Main Characters of Marginalized Backgrounds (67%)
    • 8 Books by Authors of Marginalized Backgrounds (53%)

Favorites of the Week:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (6/14/2021-6/20/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Everything Else:

Thoughts & Updates: Powering through the picture books as blog posts slow down for a while. Some new graphic novels this week too. Listening to the new Rick Riordan presents title, which is good, but doesn’t quite live up to my love of Cece Rios. I feel like I am just absorbing as much information as I can while I learn about my new job and how things work in my new library. One more week of book updates before I take a break for a bit!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 45 Books Read This Week
    • 21 Books with Main Characters of Marginalized Backgrounds (47%)
    • 11 Books by Authors of Marginalized Backgrounds (24%)

Favorites of the Week:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (6/7/2021-6/13/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Everything Else:

Thoughts & Updates: I’m finally into the new job which is very exciting! I’m still wrapping my head around all of the nuances of my new library. It is always so interesting to see how different each library is — even when moving between two systems that serve similar suburbs of the same city.

Reading has held steady, with many picture books and a few chapter books. I absolutely loved Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls, and Stamped (For Kids), the newest adaptation of Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning, is well done for the intended age range, even if I am still partial to Jason Reynold’s version.

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 22 Books Read This Week
    • 11 Books with Main Characters of Marginalized Backgrounds (50%)
    • 8 Books by Authors of Marginalized Backgrounds (36%)
    • 6 Books by Own Voices Authors (27%)

Favorites of the Week:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (5/31/2021-6/7/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Graphic Novels:

Everything Else:

Thoughts & Updates: It’s a big week! I’m starting my new job today (eek!) as the Youth Manager at Upper Arlington Public Library (still in central Ohio). Between that and my Caldecott appointment starting soon, I will be slowing down on posts in a few weeks. My last program post is coming this week — one more Book Club in a Bag kit, featuring Lumberjanes! And there will be more content to come from my co-bloggers. Make sure to check out Sarah’s Storytime Spotlight post from last week. I read a lot, and there were many new-to-me titles on that list!

For reading this week, I finally made it through most of the backed up graphic novels and first chapter books that have been piling up. Of course, more books continue to be published, and I’m woefully behind on my audiobooks, but I will have a commute again now, so I’m sure those will pick back up.

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 30 Books Read This Week
    • 16 Books with Main Characters of Marginalized Backgrounds (53%)
    • 11 Books by Authors of Marginalized Backgrounds (37%)
    • 11 Books by Own Voices Authors (37%)

Favorites of the Week:

Storytime Spotlight: Favorite Reads

I am always on the hunt for the best upcoming or recently-released storytime books. I love getting suggestions from other librarians or storytime presenters when they have discovered a  winning title. I have been presenting storytime in some form or fashion for ten years, and there is nothing worse than a book that falls flat by either not engaging the kids or being too long. That can lead to unwelcome storytime chaos and having a real Ben Stiller/Bueller moment, where I really lose the crowd.

I’ve certainly learned some lessons while presenting books in storytime. This series will regularly spotlight books that really work for storytime (at least for me). In Storytime Spotlight, I will focus on titles for Baby Storytime (ages 0-2), Toddler Storytime (ages 2-3), and Preschool Storytime (ages 3-6), as well as some titles that may work for kindergarten and first grade audiences. Feel free to comment with your recent favorites as well!

Baby Storytime (ages 0-2)

Step By Step - By Guido Van Genechten (board Book) : Target

Step by Step by Guido Van Genechten

This is a large-format board book (which may not work for a big storytime crowd), but I love it for it’s simplicity. As the title suggests, it focuses on the steps involved in learning to walk. The cute twist is the narrator is coaching adorable animals on the foot and body position needed for walking. The animal element is great, especially because it lends itself to adding puppets to the story. Puppets are an excellent way to extend the story and actions beyond the page.  Babies can really engage with puppets as they are easy to see. Incorporating animal sounds as well supports early literacy because they are often some of baby’s first words. On the final page, we finally meet our baby who has a non-white skin tone. My storytime book choices feature all types of skin tones, ethnicities, abilities, and gender identities.

Applesauce Is Fun To Wear – LD Shoppe

Applesauce is Fun to Wear by Nancy Raines Day and illustrated by Jane Massey

Another baby title that features a diverse cast of characters; this one is made for baby storytime. It is currently published in hardcover, but I could imagine it will be released as a board book at some point in the future. The title features babies eating, and of course, making a huge mess. The illustrations are relatively delicate and simple, but they work because both the babies and the text are large in relationship to the overall size of the book. And this book incorporates an element that is always baby storytime gold—simple and relatable actions for caregivers to do along with their babies while reading. In Applesauce is Fun to Wear these actions focus on body parts. Being able to name at least two body parts by 12 months is a milestone for neurotypical kiddos. Parents and caregivers will appreciate the extra body part-naming practice.

Toddler Storytime (ages 2-3)

The Sea Knows: McGinty, Alice B., Havis, Alan B., Laberis, Stephanie:  9781534438224: Amazon.com: Books

The Sea Knows by Alice McGinty & Alan B. Havis, illustrated by Stephanie Laberis

Finding books for toddler storytime is always a challenge for me. I feel like it is somewhat of a market deficit to find books that truly suit the 2s and 3s in a storytime setting. The Sea Knows sits comfortably in that age range for several reasons. It deals with both concrete concepts (the ocean and it’s critters) and the more abstract (opposites). I find toddlers (especially 3s) are really able to engage with both as long as the idea is simple and the illustrations are vivid and bold. This book ticks both of those boxes. When read to a large group of toddlers, I would suggest shortening it with the old librarian trick of paperclipping pages together, especially towards the end (“The sea knows crash. The sea knows trouble”). This could be a juncture at which the toddler crowd may be lost as those are difficult concepts for toddlers to grasp.

One of These Is Not Like the Others: Saltzberg, Barney: 9780823445608:  Amazon.com: Books

One of These Is Not Like the Others by Barney Saltzberg

Barney Saltzberg is a favorite author, and this title is perfect for large crowd sharing. The background is entirely white, which allows the Sandra Boynton-esque animals to be easily seen from far away.  Older toddlers will  be able to identify the outlier on each page, and if there are preschool siblings in the toddler-preschool crowd, they will likely get the relationships between the creatures (i.e. sheep and a wolf, dogs and a cat). It moves quickly through the story, and the theme repeats throughout, which adds to the predictability of the story. Being able to predict what happens next in the story is an important early literacy skill that is important to highlight during storytime.

Preschool Storytime (ages 3-5)

Mel Fell: Tabor, Corey R., Tabor, Corey R.: 9780062878014: Amazon.com: Books

Mel Fell by Corey R. Tabor 

As a snail owner, I am always seeking out snail stories like Tabor’s Snail Crossing (another terrific preschool storytime read), and I was anxious to read Tabor’s latest critter adventure. Mel Fell did not disappoint with its sense of humor and charming illustrative style. The concepts of book handling and print orientation are turned on their heads with this title. Preschoolers are just beginning to understand the significance of text and its placement in a book, so sharing Mel Fell will invite a conversation where they can “correct” your orientation of the book. What is even cooler about this idea is that it is flipped—literally—when our  protagonist Mel begins to fly instead of fall. Mel meets all kinds of critters that add potential for asides while reading (for example, Mel meeting the hive of bees gives an opportunity to encourage the kids to buzz like a bee). And of course, all preschoolers love a story of overcoming adversity and learning new skills. 

Amazon.com: Pigeon Math (9781943147625): Citro, Asia, Watson, Richard: Books

Pigeon Math by Asia Citro and illustrated by Richard Watson

Asia Citro’s first foray into the picture book world is a charmer. Unless you have a crowd of extremely precocious preschoolers, the math concepts will fly (pun intended) well above their heads. Nonetheless, the pigeons are silly and engaging enough to entertain preschool-aged kiddos.  The action of the birds can be extended easily by having the participants join in with what the pigeons do on their wire throughout the book.  And when reading to an older group of kindergarteners or early school-agers, the kids can shout out the answers to the math problems. All around, this one appealed to me for many reasons, and I’m always going to gravitate towards books about pigeons, the true underdog (underbird?) of birds.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (5/24/2021-5/30/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Graphic Novels:

Everything Else:

Thoughts & Updates: Well, I did some reading! I read a book just for me over my much-needed vacation, but I still got plenty of reading done around the trip too. If you are an adult historical romance fan, Sarah MacLean’s Bombshell was a ton of fun (read as an eARC). My vacation broke my audiobook habit, and I’m still trying to get back into that groove. Also, I’m finally chipping away at that stack of graphic novels on my nightstand!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 26 Books Read This Week
    • 14 Books with Main Characters of Marginalized Backgrounds (54%)
    • 9 Books by Authors of Marginalized Backgrounds (35%)
    • 8 Books by Own Voices Authors (31%)

Favorites of the Week:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (5/17/2021-5/23/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Everything Else:

Thoughts & Updates: I finished some really great audiobooks this week! I’m taking a mini-vacation for a few days next week, which could mean that next Monday’s update has very few titles — or it could mean that it has a ton of books, since my vacations typically involve some reading.

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 16 Books Read This Week
    • 13 Books with Main Characters of Marginalized Backgrounds (81%)
    • 12 Books by Authors of Marginalized Backgrounds (75%)
    • 12 Books by Own Voices Authors (75%)

Favorites of the Week:

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

We participate in the blog trend of Monday posts about what we have read during the last week (5/10/2021-5/16/2021).

Annamarie’s Reading

Board Books, Picture Books, and Readers:

Everything Else:

Thoughts & Updates: Mostly picture books this week as I wrap up things at my current library, plus one absolutely fantastic chapter book–Firekeeper’s Daughter. Lots of things to wrap up as I leave Westerville Public Library a little over five years to the day after starting my practicum there. I’ve got a short vacation planned in the upcoming weeks, so I may miss a week or two of posts (and generally have less reading to report). The rest of the world keeps turning at what feels like breakneck speed–sending best wishes to all of my fellow librarians who are figuring out what new mask rules mean for you and your patrons. I’ll be right back into that soon, but I am happy for a short break from it all. Keep an eye out for a few more Book Club in a Bag posts in the next few weeks!

Reading by the Numbers:

  • 14 Books Read This Week
    • 5 Books with Main Characters of Diverse Backgrounds (36%)
    • 5 Books by Authors of Diverse Backgrounds (36%)
    • 5 Books by Own Voices Authors (36%)

Favorites of the Week:

1 2 16