Saturday, March 12, 2011

Weekly Story Time Wrap-Up Volume 7

What a week it was at story time!

The Tuesday morning Baby/Toddler sessions continue to be plagued by chatty grown-ups. In addition to that, this week, during the second session, a little girl hi-jacked my feltboard and distracted the entire room by holding up a cow and mooing loudly in the middle of Old McDonald (when it was not the cow's turn.) It was funny, and cute, in a way, but also seriously frustrating. On the bright side, though, our CD player has stopped skipping, I discovered a new counting song that became an instant hit ("Numbers are Our Friends" from 123 Favorite Kids Songs), and I picked three books that engaged almost every child in the room, even if I had to shout to be heard over their mothers and nannies. Here's what we read:

Birds by Kevin Henkes

I am on a Kevin Henkes kick lately, and I've decided to stick with it until the kids get bored, or I run out of books. I had a lot of twos and threes this week, which happens on occasion, and this book really got them interested. Henkes depicts different aspects of bird life - from singing outside  the window in the morning, to sitting on a telephone wire, to gathering in a tree, and flying away all at once. The book does a great job of using page turns to build suspense and create excitement. The entire room gasped with joy, for example, when I turned from a page where birds rested calmly on a telephone wire, to the next page, where  they have all disappeared. This happened in both sessions, and it was a really good feeling, having people so involved in that way. The kids also really liked the pages where Henkes imagines what birds would look like if they were clouds, and several of the kids flapped their arms as though they were wings as we approached the end of the story. There is something about Henkes's style that draws kids in. And I am slowly learning to let down my guard and read with exaggeration and enthusiasm, which I like to think is helping a little bit, too.

Bugs! Bugs! Bugs! by Bob Barner

This book is nothing new, really, but it is brightly colored and the text is fairly simple, which are two key things I look for when I'm choosing story time books. It wasn't the kids' favorite, but we did our best. From a librarian's point of view, I appreciated the information at the back of the book - the insects featured in the story are shown at actual size, and a chart compiling and comparing bug facts would definitely intrigue bug enthusiasts just a little bit older than the kids at this session. But the two best things about reading this book this week were that 1) the illustrator managed to draw a daddy long-legs that didn't scare me and was almost cute, and 2) in the first session, when I read, "I want to see bugs!" an enthusiastic toddler in the front row called out, "Me too!" I'll use this one again for sure, based solely on that reaction.

All of Baby, Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler

As much as I like it, this book was too long. It didn't look that long to me when I picked it up, but there are a lot of words on each page, and I read it third, so almost all attention spans were gone by then. The really good thing, though, was that the book has a refrain. The spreads alternate - first the text discusses an aspect of the baby's body - eyes, nose, toes, tummy, etc. - and then asks, "Who loves baby's eyes/nose/toes/tummy/etc.?"  On the next spread after the page turn, a grown-up relative is with the baby, and that grown-up says, "Me! I do!" I pointed to myself each time, and some of the parents and three year olds were doing it with me by the end. I would use this book again, too, but probably as the first book in a session, or maybe even the only book in a session. And I'd try to slow it down some and really involve everybody in what's going on. I didn't think of it until now, but it would have been good to sing Head Shoulder Knees and Toes as a lead-in to this book, too. Next time, hopefully.

This week was also my first experience with Baby Lap Time. I had some toddlers as well, since the second they hear the hello song, they come a-running, but it was mainly geared toward infants, and it was a nice, calm experience with lots of singing and thankfully, many parents who were willing to sing along. We only did  two books, but they were both just right for the age group.

I Love Colors by Margaret Miller

I had Margaret Miller in mind for this program from the start because she photographs real children for her books. It turns out this was a  wise decision. Babies love to look at baby faces, and I definitely got a warm-fuzzy feeling when the babies smiled at the pictures. There's not much of a story to this book - just a list of what each baby is wearing in each photo. But I remembered a song we used to sing when I worked in nursery school - Raffi's Mary Wore Her Red Dress - and used that tune to sing this book. "Baby wore her red bow, red bow, red bow. Baby wore her red bow all day long." Etc, etc. The only problem I ran into - which was minor and wound up giving all of us a good laugh - was that "Baby wore her yellow feather boa" is nearly impossible to sing three times in a row. But we persevered, and everything was fine. I'm going to look for more board books like this that can be adapted to songs and things like that.

5 Busy Ducklings by Scholastic Books

This second book was not as exciting, but again used real photography. The parents seemed pretty pleased by the choice, and they laughed when I quacked. I especially liked the page where the ducks are looking at the reader, because it almost looks like they have facial expressions. I also just think kids are fascinated by baby animals - especially when they are bright yellow. This also made a great segue into Old McDonald Had A Farm, where the second animal we sing about is always the duck.

Next week, we have a full story time schedule, including Monday Family Story Time, Baby/Toddler Story Time on Tuesday, three class visits, and Baby Story Time on Friday. Check back on Saturday to find out what we read.
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