Tag Archives: book list

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.

2020 Favorite Picture 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 share my 2020 Favorite Picture Books.

There were so many fantastic picture books released this year that this list is split in two! Make sure to check out my 2020 Favorite Storytime Books for even more amazing titles.

These lists are personal. The picture books that stand out for me may not be your favorites–and that is okay! We each have our own reading 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, and please share your favorites in the comments!

2020 Favorite Picture Books

All Because You Matter: Charles, Tami, Collier, Bryan: 9781338574852:  Amazon.com: Books

All Because You Matter
by Tami Charles and illustrated by Bryan Collier
Lyrical, poetic, beautiful, powerful, timely, and timeless–this brilliant book affirms that black lives matter. If you haven’t already added this to your library shelves, buy a copy immediately.

Antiracist Baby Board Book: Kendi, Ibram X., Lukashevsky, Ashley:  9780593110416: Amazon.com: Books

Antiracist Baby
by Ibram X. Kendi and illustrated by Ashley Lukashevsky
An overview of how to be antiracist in nine steps. Personally, I prefer the picture book to the board book–while the content is excellent, it is a bit dense for the smaller format (and not really meant for actual babies). A great read between a caregiver and preschooler (or older child).

The Best Worst Poet Ever: Stohler, Lauren, Stohler, Lauren: 9781534446281:  Amazon.com: Books

The Best Worst Poet Ever
by Lauren Stohler
Pug and Cat are both determined to become the world’s best poet–though they have vastly different poetic styles. A battle of wits and words ensues, with rapidly increasing hilarity, until the two realize that maybe they would work better as a team. Lots of laughs and an excellent book to adapt into a reader’s theater script.

Boys Dance! (American Ballet Theatre): Allman, John Robert, Lozano,  Luciano: 9780593181157: Amazon.com: Books

Boys Dance
by John Robert Allman and illustrated by Luciano Lozano
Travel through a day of ballet practice for a group of young boys. This book stands out by focusing on diverse, male ballet dancers, including highlighting real male ballet dancers from throughout history.

Catch That Chicken!: Atinuke, Brooksbank, Angela: 9781536212686:  Amazon.com: Books

Catch That Chicken!
by Atinuke and illustrated by Angela Brooksbank
Lami is the best chicken catcher in her Nigerian village, but when she hurts her ankle, her speed won’t help her succeed anymore. Can she figure out another way to prove her skills?

Danbi Leads the School Parade: Kim, Anna, Kim, Anna: 9780451478894:  Amazon.com: Books

Danbi Leads the School Parade
by Anna Kim
Danbi just moved to America from Korea, and she is thrilled to start school! Except, when she gets there, she doesn’t understand what her teacher or classmates say. Danbi is sure that she knows what to do at lunch, but even her food is different than everyone else’s. Can Danbi figure out how to make new friends?

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away: Medina, Meg, Sanchez, Sonia: 9781536207040:  Amazon.com: Books

Evelyn del Rey Is Moving Away
by Meg Medina and illustrated by Sonia Sanchez
Best friends Evelyn and Daniela have always done everything together until today–today is the day that Evelyn moves away. A beautiful story about friendship, family, and goodbyes.

Everything Naomi Loved: Yamasaki, Katie, Lendler, Ian, Yamasaki, Katie:  9781324004912: Amazon.com: Books

Everything Naomi Loved
by Katie Yamasaki & Ian Lendler
Naomi loves her street from the bodega to the big tree outside her building. One day, that tree is cut down because “They’re building something new. Something fancy.” Soon lots of things start to change–her best friend’s building is torn down. The stores close one by one. Naomi figures out a way to hold onto her home even while everything changes around her.

Freedom, We Sing – Flying Eye Books

Freedom, We Sing
by Amyra Leon and illustrated by Molly Mendoza
Lyrical words and beautiful illustrations inspire conversations about hope and freedom around the world.

Grandmother School: Singh, Rina, Rooney, Ellen: 9781459819054: Amazon.com:  Books

Grandmother School
by Rina Singh and illustrated by Ellen Rooney
In Phangane, a remote village in India, grandchildren walk their grandmothers to a special grandmother school. As children, these grandmothers watched their brothers go to school. As mothers, they sent their own children-sons and daughters-to school. Now, as grandmothers, they are finally learning to read and write themselves.

Grandpa Grumps: Moore, Katrina, Yan, Xindi: 9781499808865: Amazon.com: Books

Grandpa Grumps
by Katrina Moore and illustrated by Xindi Yan
Daisy is so excited to meet her Yeh Yeh (grandfather), visiting from China for the first time. She has so many great ideas for all of the ways they will have fun together…but he seems really grumpy.

Hot Pot Night!: Chen, Vincent, Chen, Vincent: 9781623541200: Amazon.com:  Books

Hot Pot Night!
by Vincent Chen
Delicious and full of rhythm! Diverse neighbors come together to cook a yummy, communal meal. Everyone adds ingredients to make the meal extra delicious.

How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion:  Shiraishi, Ashima, Xiao, Yao: 9781524773274: Amazon.com: Books

How to Solve a Problem: The Rise (and Falls) of a Rock-Climbing Champion
by Ashima Shiraishi and illustrated by Yao Xiao
To a rock climber, each new mountain is a problem to be solved. Shiraishi’s methods to approaching each new problem can be applied to kids’ everyday challenges–both small and big–to give them the courage to move forward.

I Am Every Good Thing: Barnes, Derrick, James, Gordon C.: 9780525518778:  Amazon.com: Books

I Am Every Good Thing
by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James
A beautiful book emphasizing the creativity, strength, courage, smarts, humor, and kindness of our main character–and Black children everywhere. Gorgeous illustrations and a wonderful message.

I Will Dance | Book by Nancy Bo Flood, Julianna Swaney | Official Publisher  Page | Simon & Schuster

I Will Dance
by Nancy Bo Flood and illustrated by Julianna Swaney
Eva longs to dance. But Eva is in a wheelchair because she has cerebral palsy. While she stares longingly at professional dancers on stage, she can’t imagine she will ever be able to join them. But one day, she finally can, when she learns about the Young Dance Company, a dance studio for young people of all abilities (and a real organization).

Kamala and Maya's Big Idea: Harris, Meena, González, Ana Ramírez:  9780062937407: Amazon.com: Books

Kamala and Maya’s Big Idea
by Meena Harris and illustrated by Ana Ramirez Gonzalez
Kamala and Maya want to turn the empty courtyard in their apartment complex into a playground. They are told no, again and again, but after a lot of teamwork and persistence, they finally get that no changed to a yes.

The Little Mermaid by Jerry Pinkney

The Little Mermaid
by Jerry Pinkney
Mermaid princess Melody loves catching glimpses of the world above. When she finally breaks the surface, she discovers a girl standing on the beach. After a tempting offer from the sea witch, Melody agrees to give up her voice for a chance at legs and making a new friend.

Magnificent Homespun Brown: A Celebration: Doyon, Samara Cole, Juanita,  Kaylani: 9780884487975: Amazon.com: Books

Magnificent Homespun Brown
by Samara Cole Doyon and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita
Poetic language paired with an inspiring message and amazing illustrations. A bit more for adults than kids, this is still a beautiful book to be shared as a family.

My Maddy: Pitman, Gayle E., Tobacco, Violet: 9781433830440: Amazon.com:  Books

My Maddy
by Gayle E. Pitman and illustrated by Violet Tobacco
A fun, adorable story about the love between a child and their parent–made all the more powerful by featuring a nonbinary parent. Back matter gives caregivers suggestions for ways to talk to kids with a transgender or nonbinary parent.

My Rainbow: Neal, DeShanna, Neal, Trinity, Art Twink: 9781984814609:  Amazon.com: Books

My Rainbow
by Trinity and DeShanna Neal and illustrated by Art Twink
During playtime, Trinity realizes that she is a girl–and she wants beautiful long hair like her dolls. Her family accepts Trinity and works to find her the perfect wig. A beautiful own voices story depicting intersectionality–Trinity is black, autistic, and transgender.

Nana Akua Goes to School: Walker, Tricia Elam, Harrison, April:  9780525581130: Amazon.com: Books

Nana Akua Goes to School
by Tricia Elam Walker and illustrated by April Harrison
Zura is nervous about bringing her Nana Akua to school for Grandparent’s Day. Nana Akua is Zura’s favorite person in the world, but Nana Akua has tribal markings on her face from a family tradition from her childhood in Ghana. Sometimes, those marks scare strangers when Zura and Nana Akua go to the park or the store. What will her classmates think?

The Noisy Classroom: Shanté, Angela, Hawkins, Alison: 9781513262925:  Amazon.com: Books

The Noisy Classroom
by Angela Shanté and illustrated by Alison Hawkins
A child is nervous about her new classroom. She has heard about this room. While the rest of the classes are quiet, Ms. Johnson’s class is noisy. The kids sing and talk and aren’t always in their seats. Can she get out of joining this new class? Or will she discover she likes her new experiences after all?

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read: Hubbard, Rita  Lorraine, Mora, Oge: 9781524768287: Amazon.com: Books

The Oldest Student: How Mary Walker Learned to Read
by Rita Lorraine Hubbard and illustrated by Oge Mora
Mary Walker was born into slavery. While she was free at 15, life kept her busy–getting married, having children, and working many, many jobs. When she was 114, she was the last remaining member of her family–and she finally learned to read.

Overground Railroad: Cline-Ransome, Lesa, Ransome, James E.: 9780823438730:  Amazon.com: Books

Overground Railroad
by Lesa Cline-Ransome and illustrated by James E. Ransome
An African American family travels via the “Overground Railroad” from the south to New York City as part of the Great Migration in the 1930s. A combination of free verse poetry and vivid watercolor illustrations gorgeously makes Ruth’s journey jump off the page.

Papa, Daddy, and Riley | Kids' BookBuzz

Papa, Daddy, & Riley
by Seamus Kirst and illustrated by Devon Holzwarth
Riley’s classmates have all kinds of questions about Riley’s two dads. Where is you mom? Who is your REAL dad? Riley is upset–she doesn’t want to choose between her two dads. Papa and Daddy lovingly explain that families can look different because families are all about love.

Peanut Goes for the Gold: Van Ness, Jonathan, Reid, Gillian: 9780062941008:  Amazon.com: Books

Peanut Goes for the Gold
by Jonathan Van Ness and illustrated by Gillian Reid
Nonbinary guinea pig Peanut does things their own way. When Peanut decides to be a rhythmic gymnast, no one is surprised when Peanut comes up with a unique routine that is uniquely them. By a nonbinary author.

Salma the Syrian Chef: Ramadan, Danny, Bron, Anna: 9781773213750:  Amazon.com: Books

Salma the Syrian Chef
by Danny Ramadan and illustrated by Anna Bron
Salma misses her mom’s smiles. Ever since they moved from Syria, her mom seems busy, sad, and lonely. Salma decides to create her mom’s favorite Syrian meal–but nothing goes according to plan.

Too Sticky! (Hardcover) | Albert Whitman & Company

Too Sticky!
by Jen Malia and illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Holly loves science class, but she is nervous when she finds out her class is making slime. Holly is autistic and has sensory issues–she doesn’t like anything sticky, and slime is made with glue. Does she want to give slime a try? By an own voices autistic author.

We Are Water Protectors: Lindstrom, Carole, Goade, Michaela: 9781250203557:  Amazon.com: Books

We Are Water Protectors
by Carole Lindstrom and illustrated by Michaela Goade
So beautiful! An Ojibwe author and Tlingit illustrator create a breathtaking book calling for activism to protect the world’s water from oil pipelines. A sharp reminder that Native people are still here and standing for what is right.

You Matter | Book by Christian Robinson | Official Publisher Page | Simon &  Schuster

You Matter
by Christian Robinson
A lovely reminder that everyone matters–whether you are old or young, small or large, pesky (or even gassy).

I know there are always books that I miss each year, and some of the 2020 picture books I’m excited to explore soon are below!

The Paper Boat | CBC Books