Elementary School Story Time Celebrating Ezra Jack Keats
When no one showed up to my last-ever Read-Along Story Time, I decided to put one more school-aged story time on the calendar before my departure from the library. I chose to focus on Ezra Jack Keats because his books are kind of in a weird spot in our collection where they don't get much attention, and because I knew we had some Weston Woods DVDs of his books that would be fun to show. I was disappointed once again because only five kids came to the program, and only one in the target age range, but the kids who did come seemed to enjoy it, and I will remember this story time plan in the hopes of using it again whenever I return to the library world.
Introduction to Ezra Jack Keats and his Characters: I opened story time by showing the kids a picture of Ezra Jack Keats from Keats's Neighborhood. Since the kids were a lot younger than I expected, I only briefly mentioned that he is no longer living, and that he used collages to illustrate his books. Then I used the iPad to show pictures of the four characters we'd be focusing on and gave a brief description of each one.
Book: Jennie's Hat by Ezra Jack Keats
The younger girls in the room- maybe ages 2, 4, and 5 - were really into this book, but they wouldn't really talk to me about it after the fact.
Book: Louie by Ezra Jack Keats
I couldn't tell how well this book resonated with the kids, but I really enjoyed seeing Louie, who is somewhat shy and down in the dumps, receive a surprise gift from the other kids in the neighborhood.
Book: Over in the Meadow by Ezra Jack Keats
I wanted this book to serve as an interactive movement activity, but because of the small group and the fact that they seemed shy, I opted to just sing it to them instead.
Book: Maggie and the Pirate by Ezra Jack Keats
The kids got really into this one - possibly because of the mystery elements. They were not bothered by the cricket's death, and they seemed really invested in Maggie's story from beginning to end.
Weston Woods Videos: The Snowy Day and Whistle for Willie
I wanted to choose different stories, but our DVD player no longer has a remote so I could only play from the beginning. Therefore, we watched the first two stories on the disc.
I had some trouble coming up with a coloring activity, and ultimately decided to create my own, focusing on the characters, instead of on Keats's artwork. I divided a page into four sections and asked the kids to design a hat like Jennie's, decorate a puppet for Louie, catch a bug for Maggie and build a snowman with Peter. Hardly anyone stayed long enough to actually get the coloring sheet, but I think it would have been a great activity for some of the first and second graders if they had come.