Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reading with Little Miss Muffet: February 2015

New Book Behaviors

  • Stacking and unstacking. Little Miss Muffet has started to discover that items can be piled on top of one another - blocks, cups, pieces of paper, and naturally, books. As pleasing as it is to make a pile, it's even more exciting to knock one down, so usually by the end of the morning, the living room floor is carpeted with picture books and Miss Muffet is slipping and sliding all over them as she walks to the kitchen for lunch. 
  • Frustration. Miss Muffet is also beginning to understand that books have certain limitations. End papers are often fastened to the front and back covers, library book jackets are taped and glued in place, and the flaps in life-the-flap books have to be moved  a certain way in order to get them to open. When things don't work as she expects them to, Miss Muffet gets frustrated and pounds on the book or throws it to show that she is angry and/or wants help. 
  • Orientation. Within the past couple of weeks, Miss Muffet has started to notice when she is looking at a book upside down, and she will turn it around to make sure everything is facing the right way. In one case, there was  an animal on a page who was intentionally upside down, and she actually turned the entire magazine she was reading upside down so she could see him going in the right direction. 

Five Current Favorites

  • Blue on Blue by Dianne White, illustrated by Beth KrommesI picked up this book for myself because I had heard good things about it, but had not yet seen it. Little Miss Muffet loved it from the first reading, and it was her most requested read-aloud for the duration of the time it was checked out from the library. Her favorite illustrations were of the two dogs, at whom she would bark every time they appeared. Because she loved it, I read the book so many times that I starting reading too much into it and making up entire subtexts that were not implied by the author or illustrator! This is definitely the book I have read to her the most times in her life so far. 
  • Angus and the Ducks by Marjorie FlackWe have acquired some of the books I had as a child, including many I received from the Children's Choice Book Club when I was a preschooler. Angus and the Ducks is one of these. Miss Muffet loves to say "woof" and "quack" so this is an ideal story for her. It's also just short enough that she can sit through the whole thing once before losing interest and demanding to hear something else. 
  • You... by Emma Dodd
    This is the UK version of a book that was published in the US as More and More. It features a pair of monkeys - a parent and a baby - and Miss Muffet is obsessed with their faces. She especially likes one page where the monkey sits with his hand on his head, and she likes to point out the moon in the nighttime scene. Though I have read this book a fair number of times, this is one she also frequently looks at on her own. 
  • First 100 Words by Roger Priddy
    In the interest of exposing her to words other than animals and their sounds (which she has mostly mastered), we purchased the oversized version of this board book for Miss Muffet. She loves to name the objects she recognizes and point to others so that I will tell her what they are called. We liked this book so much, we also bought a second one by the same author: Colors, ABC, Numbers.
  • All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
    This is one of my favorite picture books, and I really didn't expect to be sharing it with my child until she was at least in preschool. It turns out, though, that she loves pointing out all the people in the illustrations, and looking for things like the ball left behind in the rain and the man standing alone on the dock as the sun goes down. 

One Tip from Mom 

  • Keep some of the books you own in reserve. My husband and I are both librarians, so we buy lots of books and receive lots of books as gifts. At any given time, Miss Muffet has access to probably half of the books that are appropriate for her current developmental stage. The rest are kept in a cabinet. I do a rotation of her books periodically, mostly to add some variety to my read-aloud repertoire, but I have also been known to pull out a long-forgotten interesting book to curb crying when she doesn't want to be in the playpen, but I need her to stay in there for 10 minutes. At this age, her memory is pretty short, so every time we bring out a book that has been hidden away, it's like we bought a brand-new one. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

4 Story Time Themes for St. Patrick's Day

Having trouble finding books to suit a St. Patrick's Day themed story time? Think outside the box and try one of these related themes instead.


Many Irish legends talk about looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, so rainbows are a perfect St. Patrick's Day topic! A rainbow theme can incorporate almost anything having to do with colors, so every children's librarian can use this theme, regardless of location or collection size.

Suggested Books:

Extension Activities:

Orange, White, & Green 

Orange, white, and green are the colors on the Irish flag. Using this theme, you can add a little Irish flavor to what is essentially just a color-themed story time with a specific focus.

Suggested Books: 

Extension Activities: 

Magical Creatures 

Irish folklore is filled with leprechauns, fairies, unicorns, and other mythical beings. Connect your story time to Ireland by focusing on these fantastical creatures.

Suggested Books: 

Extension Activities: 


Enjoy the luck of the Irish at story time with a focus on good luck!

Suggested Books:  

Extension Activities: 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Flannel Friday: The Little Bird (Song by Elizabeth Mitchell)

I have always loved Elizabeth Mitchell, but somehow only recently discovered her song, "The Little Bird." In three verses, it describes how a little bird hops in the bright green grass, sits in a strawy nest, and flies in the big blue sky. It would be a great action song, but because of its simplicity, it also makes a great flannel board, especially for babies and toddlers. Here is my clipart interpretation. (The song can be heard here on Spotify and on Elizabeth Mitchell's Blue Clouds album.) 

The little bird hops through the bright, green, grass 
and the bright, green, grass grows high.
The little bird hops through the bright, green, grass 
and the little bird sings oh my.
Oh my, oh my, the little bird sings oh my.

The little bird sits in a strawy nest 
and the strawy nest sits still.
The little bird sits in a strawy nest
and the little bird sings oh well.
Oh well, oh well, the little bird sings oh well.

The little bird flies through the bright, blue sky 
and the bright, blue sky floats by.
The little bird flies through the bright blue sky 
and the little bird says bye-bye.
Bye-bye, bye-bye, the little bird sings bye-bye.

Because the bird says something in each verse, another option is to add speech bubbles to your flannel board like this: 

Having the speech bubbles can help the adults at your story time know what to sing when, and it also provides an opportunity to teach kids - especially preschoolers - to recognize some simple sight words and letter sounds.

I am hosting Flannel Friday this week. The round-up can be found here.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Flannel Friday Round-Up for February 20, 2015

Happy Flannel Friday! We have a little bit of everything this week.

Three of us have birds on the brain!

Emily of Literary Hoots shares a treeful of noisy creatures who keep Owl from sleeping in her flannel board based on Pat Hutchin's picture book, Good-night Owl!  

Inspired by previous Flannel Friday posts by Sunflower Storytime and Falling Flannelboards, Rachel from Rachel's Reading Room made a set of bird houses for the magnet board which can be used to teach both colors and shapes.

Here at Story Time Secrets, I have flannelized a new-to-me Elizabeth Mitchell song, "The Little Bird".

Two of our resident Lisas have adapted favorite picture books.

Lisa from Libraryland has made a flannel board set based on Cookie's Week by Cindy Ward to be included in a literacy kit about days of the week, and Lisa from Thrive After Three shares her flannel set based on Douglas Florian's I Love My Hat, complete with a video demonstration.

We also have three contributions that can be used to teach various concepts.

At Storytime Extras, Jennifer presents a fruit-themed guessing game which can be used to discuss patterns, shapes, and same and different.

Melody from Storytime Bandit focuses on colors and sorting with Five Pairs of Dirty Socks.

Kathryn's contribution at Fun with Friends at Storytime also deals with colors, as she shares a story time about art, including a flannel board for Harold's Other Crayons (which was inspired by a post I made back in 2012!) 

Finally, Jane at Piper Loves the Library shares her thoughts on incorporating diversity into her use of story time props, along with some bonus tween programming ideas.

Thank you, everyone, for participating this week. I hope you will join the Flannel Friday fun again next week, when your host will be Nikki at Hey There Library.

For more information on Flannel Friday, check out the official website, Pinterest account, Facebook group and Twitter hashtag.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

15 Guessing Game Picture Books

Preschoolers and school-aged kids love to play guessing games. These picture books provide lots of fun opportunities to make guesses and find out if they're right.

Eggs 1 2 3: Who will the Babies Be? by Janet Halfmann, illustrated by Betsy ThompsonThis lift-the-flap book shows readers various birds' eggs, inviting them to guess who the babies will be when the eggs hatch.

Guess What I’ll Be by Ann Axworthy
On each spread, four clues and a peephole suggest to the reader what each creature will become when it grows up.

What’s Going on in There? by Geoffrey Grahn
In a strange neighborhood, nothing is as it appears. Silhouettes in the windows of the building indicate mundane goings-on, but the view from inside tells a totally different story.

Night Light by Nicholas Blechman
Lights of various colors and sizes appear as tiny holes in a field of black, then a page turn reveals the vehicle to which they belong.

Who was Here? by Mia Posada
Animal tracks left behind in mud, snow, and sand and rhyming text help the reader figure out who was here.

Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow? by Susan Shea, illustrated by Tom Slaughter
Fold-out flaps pose such questions as whether cubs grow to become bears or stools grow to become chairs. A great first lesson in living and non-living things.

Whose Shoes? by Stephen R. Swinburne
This book presents a series of photos of shoes and invites the reader to imagine what type of job the wearer might do.

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do by Kathryn Heling
By looking at clotheslines around the neighborhood, the reader figures out the job of each resident.

Spots, Feathers, and Curly Tails by Nancy Tafuri
Key features of farm animals appear on each page, and the child must guess each animal's identity.

The Foggy, Foggy Forest by Nick Sharratt
Who are these fairy tale friends in the foggy, foggy forest? Their shadows provide the clues.

Dancing Feet by Lindsay Craig, illustrated by Marc Brown
Listen to some fun beats and figure out which animal dances to each particular rhythm.

Guess Again? by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex
This book provides silly rhyming riddles that lead readers to make logical guesses only to surprise them seconds later with totally ridiculous answers. This book never fails to make kindergartners laugh hysterically.

Spot the Plot by J. Patrick Lewis, illustrated by Lynn Munsinger
Rhyming poems provide clever clues to help the reader guess the names of favorite children's books. This book is most appropriate for kids in grades 3 to 5 who have read a lot of the titles mentioned.

Look What I See! Where Can I Be? In the Neighborhood by Dia L. Michels
A baby falls asleep in various modes of transportation, and each time he wakes up, he has to figure out where he is now based on what he can see around him.

Who Has These Feet? by Laura Hulbert, illustrated by Erik Brooks
Animals are shown from the ankles down and readers must guess who they belong to.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

9 Easy Reader Series Starring Boys

Here is the boyish companion to my recent list of 9 Easy Reader Series Starring Girls.


by David A. Adler, illustrated by Barbara Johansen Newman
Book 1: Bones and the Big Yellow Mystery
Jeffrey Bones is a young detective who solves mysteries in his everyday life, often involving his friend, Sally and/or his grandfather.

Nate the Great 

by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat, illustrated by Marc Simont 
Book 1: Nate the Great
Young detective Nate the Great solves cases for his neighborhood friends and narrates them in his distinct, wry voice. 


by Stephen Krensky, illustrated by Susanna Natti
Book 1: Lionel at Large
In books divided into short episodes, this series tells of a young boy's daily adventures. Kids will see themselves in Lionel, who is very much like a real boy.

Life of Max

by Adria F. Klein, illustrated by Mernie Gallagher-Cole
Book 1: Max and the Adoption Day Party
A boy named Max introduces the reader to a variety of childhood experiences, including visiting the doctor, going to the grocery store, attending an adoption day party, taking the dog to the vet and celebrating Chinese New Year. Some titles in the series are available as bilingual (English/Spanish) books.

Best in Second Grade

by Katherine Kenah
Book 1: The Best Seat in Second Grade
Sam, Luna, and Ollie are students in Mr. Hopper's second grade class. These three books tell their individual experiences trying to be the best at something in second grade.

Andy Shane

by Jennifer Richard Jacobson, illustrated by Abby Carter
Book 1: Andy Shane and the Very Bossy Dolores Starbuckle
Shy Andy Shane must find a way to cope in school where bossy Dolores Starbuckle is constantly monitoring his activities and telling on him.

Little Bear

by Else Holmelund Minarik, illustrated by Maurice Sendak
Book 1: Little Bear
An imaginative little bear spends lots of time with his mother and other animal friends while his father is away at sea. Adventures include making birthday soup, pretending to visit space, and befriending a human girl named Emily.

Oliver Pig

by Jean van Leeuwen, illustrated by Arnold Lobel (and Ann Schweninger)
Book 1: Tales of Oliver Pig
Oliver is a big brother who loves to play outside, listen to stories, work in the garden, show off his tricks, and spend time with his grandmother. Books in this series focus on the little moments in the day-to-day life of a realistic, loving family. Early titles are illustrated by Arnold Lobel; Ann Schweninger took over beginning with book 3, Amanda Pig and Her Big Brother Oliver.


by Frank Remkiewicz
Book 1: Gus Gets Scared
This series about a small rhino is very easy to read. Stories relate humorous episodes from Gus's life, including his attempt to sleep outside all night, his disagreements with other kids in the playground sandbox, and building a snowman on a snow day. 
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