Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The End of the Season


We've handed out prizes, held raffles, stopped serving lunches and generally wrapped up shop. Most of the kids went back to school on Monday and for the first time in three months, we've been able to breathe.

So how did summer reading go? Well, at our little branch summer reading completion was up over 300% from last year. 300%! Sign-ups were also much higher. I talked to a few parents and they attributed this to Ms. E and me pushing summer reading harder than ever before, and the prizes being better too. It's hard to argue with that, when for the first time ever there was a Chipotle coupon for half-way finishers and everyone got an actual prize- a book- when they completed the program, in addition to being entered into the raffle for a Kindle Fire.

Our finisher wall

For the first time this year, we also had a separate program for the Read With Me crowd, ages birth to five.

Close up on the best ever way to spell "Dylan"

This program also went a long way to pushing up our numbers. It made absolutely zero sense for an 18 month old to be held to the same standard of "reading" as a 10 year old and, I'm convinced, turned off a lot of parents from participating in past years.

This year we had a game board with all sorts of activities promoting early literacy- we sang a song together, we talked about what we saw on a walk, we went to a library program, we practiced counting to 10 etc... 

Putting these sorts of things in an early literacy summer reading program not only legitimized/validated what a lot of parents are already doing with their child, it gave us a great way to talk more about the six components of early literacy and what programs at the library are focused on early literacy development.

All that being said, I'm super looking forward to fall and what back to school season has to offer. 

Sayonora Summer Reading, see you next year!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Theme Thursday: Miss Susie Had a Steamboat

That steamboat had a bell/ Miss Susie went to heaven/ that steamboat went to AND I think we all know where this is going.

Song: Good Morning

Flannel: Little Mouse

Finger Play: I had a Little Turtle

Book: Sail Away by Donald Crews

 Song: Row, Row, Row Your Boat

Book: Little Tug by Stephan Savage

 Song: 5 Little Sailboats
to the tune of 5 Little Ducks
5 little sailboats went out one day,
over the waves and far away
when the winds began to rock
4 little sailboats came back to dock

Song: Jumping and Counting from Jim Gill's Irrational Anthem and More Salutes to Nonsense

Song: Shake Your Sillies Out from Raffi's The Singable Songs Collection (20th Anniversary Special Edition)

Flannel: Let's Go Out on a Starry Night

Book: Splish-Splash by Nicola Smee

 Song: Turn Around from Hap Palmer's Getting to know Myself

Make and Take Craft: Shape Boats

-construction paper shapes
-glue sticks
-blue construction paper
-chalk (optional)

Process: Use the shapes to make a representative boat and use the chalk to color in waves or sea creatures. Crayons would also work, but chalk shows up beautifully on darker construction paper.

Time: Prep took about 5 minutes, the craft took 20.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Favorite Picture Books for Older Kids

Who says picture books are just for the pre-school set? Uh-uh, no way siree bob. I love using picture books with older kids, usually during school outreach visits, to stimulate discussion and keep the interest of everyone in the class, from the overachievers to the ones still struggling with reading. Everyone loves to be read to and watching older kids make connections between text and illustrations .

Since school visits are usually pretty short, no more than half an hour or so, I usually start with a spiel about the library and all the cool things that we have. Then I demonstrate with one of my favorite picture books and finish up by book talking a few of our other awesome options, either more picture books, great non-fiction titles, or chapter books depending on the age of the class and what I've been brought in to talk about.

Here are my absolute favorite picture books, titles that I've found work really well with large groups of kids with varying attention spans, all the way from 1st to 5th grade.

by Mac Barnett and Adam Rex

So the key that I've found is silly and random. Keep the kids guessing as to what is coming next, because the worst thing a read aloud in a room full of know-it-alls can be is predictable. When Billy Twitters doesn't clean his room, his punishment is a blue whale to take care of. But how do you take care of something so big it doesn't even fit in your house?

by Oliver Jeffers

Stuck is the story of an exceptionally strong boy and an exceptionally grabby tree. When Floyd's kite gets stuck in a tree, he throws item after item into the tree to try and free his kite. The escalation of items thrown and the misuse of seemingly obvious ideas (if you get a ladder, you climb it, duh) keeps kids guessing and groaning until Floyd is in bed, the entire adventure but a hazy memory.

by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

Grumpy old men and silly, silly squirrel antics. Everyone can scream "THOSE DARN SQUIRRELS" as they shake their fists. Good times abound.

by Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri

Another Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri. This is actually the first book of theirs that I found. It's the randomness of this book that makes it so winning, tangents break off the main story line, mimicking a children's train of thought consciousness perfectly.  

by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

What constitutes a fair trade is a pretty solid discussion topic. Suspending disbelief for a second that anyone's father would abide by such a trade, are two goldfish worth as much as a dad that sits on the couch and reads his paper all day? What about an electric guitar? A gorilla mask? Bunny rabbits!?! The illustrations in this book add a lot to the story so it's worth passing the book around afterwards so everyone can see all the small details.

by Jonah Winter and Majorie Priceman

Of all the non-fiction books and bios I've tried as classroom read alouds, this one always plays the best. The text is sing-songy, call and response-y like a great jazz song and the story of Josephine Baker's life has different points of interest for kids at all different ages. The race riots section and the discussion of black face were useful with 5th graders talking about segregation while EVERYONE zooms in on the illustrations of her pet cheetah. 

Honorable Mention:

by Satoshi Kitamura

Millie's Marvelous Hats has such detailed illustrations that it's a pass around, point out kind of book for sure. The amount of imagination lends well to group discussion and dramatic play afterwards. It skews a little younger, say kindergarten to 2nd grade. 

by John Perry and Mark Fearing

I've talked before about my love of The Book that Eats People, I only include it in Honorable Mentions because it also skews younger. Children older than 3rd grade are sometimes too cool to be scared by a book like this and it looses it's effectiveness exponentially in grades thereafter. 

by Jonah Winter and Red Nose Studio

And finally, a great read that skews older. I usually use this one with 4th and 5th graders, due to the sheer length. In terms of readability, Jonah Winter once again proves himself as the master of short form non-fiction. Finding the obscure story of a boat filled with garbage, the poor man who had to haul it around and all the towns/cities/ports that rejected it was a stoke of luck. Winter wields a deft hand in making this call for ecological sustainability way more exciting than it is preachy.

And that's it for me. Have you got any favorite picture books that you use on class visits or with older kids? Tell me!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Theme Thursday: Fly Away Home

I got a pretty new dress for this summer's wedding circuit. It has lots of planes and clouds on it. I'm nothing if not an opportunist, so a flying story time to accompany my sweet new dress was only a matter of time.

Song: Good Morning Dear Earth

Flannel: Little Mouse

Song: The Airplane Song from Laurie Berkner's Whaddaya Think of That

Song: Open, Shut Them

Flannel: I had a Rooster

Song: Mi Cuerpo from Hot Peas 'n Butter's Best of the Bowl: Ingles y Espanol

Song: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

Baby Bounce: Criss Cross, Line, Line

Book: Moon Plane by Peter McCarthy

Song: Turn Around from Hap Palmer's Getting to know Myself

Make and Take Craft: Clothespin Biplanes

-popsicle sticks

Process: No prep for this sucker. Just let kids color the clothespin and popsicle stick with markers and then glue two large popsicle sticks to the front clothespin, on the top and bottom, and one small clothespin to the back for the tail.

Time: Prep was zero, the project took twenty and the ensuing plane-play took another 25. Kids love zooming.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Proactive Princesses

Princesses, princesses, princesses. Who doesn't love princesses? A lot of our parents, that's who. But at some point it's like a flip is switched and formerly mostly sane toddlers (sane for toddlers anyway) go completely gaga for things that are frilly, and twirly and princess-y. The main complaint I hear about princesses, at least in the Disney mold, is how complacent they are and how dependent they are on men to rescue them. They are static, flat characters and we want our girls (and boys) to be dynamic actors in their own stories.

So here's a visual guide of proactive princess books, where the lady in question takes matters into her own hands, with nary a prince, fairy godmother or glass slipper in sight. I mean, yeah, those three elements are often in sight, but not in a way that conflicts with out princess' autonomy.


Have I missed any super obvious ones? What are your favorite proactive princess picture books?