Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Camp Visit, 7/5

The challenges just keep on coming! This camp has approximately 25 children, ages 5 to 15, and what they asked me to do today was a story time for their younger kids, and a craft for their older ones. I planned my story time for ages 5-8 (with 8 being almost too old for the books I chose), but when the group arrived, they decided to keep the entire group together, since not all of the kids came to camp following the holiday. So I wound up reading the books I chose to a group ranging from age 5 to age 10 or so. We also did one song.

Book: We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems
I picked this one because I think these books are entertaining for any age, and I could tell, from the moment I held up the cover, that the kids were pretty happy with my choice. The oldest kid in the group was the most engaged, I think. He wanted to know if the book actually ended on page 57 as Piggie mentions. (And of course it does!)

Book: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
I chose this because half this group asked me for it when they were here for their own private reading time last week. And again, they were absolutely glued to the pages. The teacher says they have heard it too many times before, but I don't think you can ever have enough Seuss in your life.

Song: Taba Naba
This was a big hit. Just difficult enough that the oldest kids had to try hard to get it perfect, and easy enough that the youngest kids could do at least half of the movements.

Book: Loose Tooth by Anastasia Suen, illustrated by Allan Eitzen

This was a third book I didn't really intend to read once I saw the age range of the group, but the other two were done so quickly, I wound up throwing it in there anyway. And they liked it. Again. I think it was the basketball stuff more than the tooth stuff, but still.

At the end of this session, the teacher informed me that the books I read were not "mature" enough, or "engaging" enough. Despite the fact that the kids were dead silent, staring at me and listening not just politely, but interestedly, I would say that they were plenty engaged. Sure, easy readers aren't going to be great for ten-year-olds, but I didn't know ten-year-olds were part of this until a minute beforehand! But she said that even for the younger kids, it needed to be more interactive, and more exciting. So now I'm on a quest to find books that can be read to the entire group next week - ages 5 to 15 - that won't bore anyone. Which basically means I'm on a wild goose chase, because the interest levels are so different for a five year old and a fifteen year old.

But I'm trying anyway. I had some suggestions from Seth, Mary, and Sharon on Twitter (thanks, guys!), but I'm still working on compiling a list of longer picture books that are funny, if at all possible. This is what I've got so far:

Princess Hyacinth: The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated by Florence Parry Heide, illustrated by Lane Smith (This is my standard go-to book for mixed-age story times, and it's been successful with other groups, but I'm iffy about it for this one. This teacher has made me so paranoid!)

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach, illustrated by David Small (I thought I had read this, but realized I have not. It seems pretty laugh-out-loud funny, but

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean (This book is creepy, but some kids like that. If  they have nightmares, the teacher will know better than to say "mature.")

Dear Mrs. LaRue by Mark Teague (I have read this with kindergartners before, at my previous library, and the humor went over their heads. These kids are a bit older than that, so maybe they'd get it.)

Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave by Marianna Mayer, illustrated by K.Y. Craft (I read this to my wonderful fifth graders on their last visit of the school year and they loved it. But I look at the youngest ones in their group, and I know it's not going to work for them. *sigh*)

I've also considered short stories (my boyfriend's suggestion), and maybe some sort of call-and-response story, but haven't investigated those any further so far. Sharon also suggested story telling, but I have never done anything like that without a book, so I'll probably have to take longer than a week if I want to learn a story well.

What do you read to "big kids?" What would you read to this group?


  1. Isn't it nice when people are so encouraging and helpful? (insert gigantic eye roll).

    What about reader's theater? That would be a way to have the older kids participate in something at their level, and wouldn't require you to learn a whole story on the fly. A former coworker adapted Karma Wilson's Bear Snores On for a RT workshop program and I remember it being a bit hit with the audience (it was performed by the kids at a family storytime). I also found a lot of scripts were available online.

    If you're looking for participatory stories, try the Scouting Bear website. The stories are meant for Boy/Girl Scouts so some would maybe not be appropriate for the library setting, but I've used one where you have different people/groups make bug sounds.

    The CCBC Website (from UW-Madison) has a book list of picture books for older readers that includes a section (scroll way down) on humor: http://www.education.wisc.edu/ccbc/books/detaillistbooks.asp?idbooklists=259. Just glancing through it, I notice a lot of fractured nursery rhyme/tale types, which might actually be a neat way to go.

    Hope some of this helps spark a few ideas-- its so hard to plan something when you feel so boxed in by someone/thing else.

  2. Hi, Amy. Thanks so much for commenting! I am definitely joining you in that eye roll. Haha.

    Reader's theater definitely sounds like a possibility. I'm going to keep that in mind, for sure. I won't have much prep time between now and next Tuesday, but I wonder if it's something I could pull together for a future visit. (They'll be here every week through July.)

    And scouting stuff was exactly what I was looking for! Thanks for that site. And fractured fairy tales - another great idea! I am definitely going to work on exploring these ideas some more when I come to work tomorrow. :-) Thanks so much!

  3. I know some good call and response stories. Let me know if you are interested. Did the lady tell you in advance that you should do stories and a craft. She sounds ungrateful. You saved her a hours worth of programming at the camp.

  4. Wow. I can't believe she said that to you! I would have offered to cancel the other scheduled programs. I think you did a great job considering they told you one thing, you planned for that, and then they changed their plan at the last minute.

    I do tend to not put up with shenanigans from adults though. Ask me about the time I told a Junior Library Guild salesperson never to contact us again as she implied collection development was too hard for me to do (Hello--it's my job!?!)

    By the way, this kind of flip-flopping is super common and drives me bonkers. I know camps and daycares have to be flexible with the kids that show up that day, but don't blame the library staff for trying to accommodate it.

    Readers theater is genius! Maybe you could do a simple puppet show also.

  5. Thanks, Anne. This particular camp has been very trying thus far, and it's teaching me a lot very quickly. As a newbie to bigger libraries, I haven't had to deal with these particular issues before, and I'm trying to figure out where to draw the line with people who push my buttons like this teacher did today. I'm learning not to just cave in and give them whatever they want, because when you give people an inch in my community, they take ten miles. But it's a fine line. And my manager specifically asked me to collaborate with this camp, so I feel like the pressure is on.

    I'm going to see if reader's theater might work. At least if she complains again, I'll know I did the best I could. And thanks for reminding me that a lot of camps are like this. It makes it easier when I know it's not just me!

  6. Michelle - She did tell me what she wanted in advance. A week ago. And then changed the format of the entire thing when she arrived - 30 minutes late, no less. I don't think she's ungrateful, so much as entitled. We have a lot of that here. People think their needs are the only ones that matter.

    I'd love to hear some of your call and response ideas, if you're willing to share!

  7. UGH! I would be just hopping mad! Sounds like you did a GREAT job with the things you chose!


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