Early Literacy Project is a program by PLA. Research has shown that public libraries are perfectly positioned to positively impact children’s readiness to read. Librarians can slightly alter their story times, incorporating information for parents and caregivers. The improvement in literacy skills covers all income levels, so all public libraries should be doing this. The site offers information on the research, brochures, background, and more.
I will be posting more on this subject in the future as I look for library sites that recommend materials to use in the new storytime formats.
I shared Gobble Gobble Slip Slop: A Tale of a Very Greedy Cat by Meilo So with preschoolers and kindergarteners this week. They adored this picture book based on a folktale from India. The greedy cat eats his friend the parrot, five hundred cakes, and then goes on to eat and eat and eat more and more people and animals. The kids gasped with amazement at each new eating feat, and then the ending had them completely spellbound and moaning.
Best of all, this is one of those folktale versions that actually works as a read-aloud for this age group. Often folktales can be too wordy to share easily, but this one really works. The pictures pay homage to India and the cat with red feathers flying in the air really grabbed them. I used it in a storytime about eating, but it could be used with all sorts of animal themes, folktales, or silly stories to make you groan!
I completed the school visits for our Summer Reading Program. This year our theme in Wisconsin is shared by many other states: Dragons, Dreams and Daring Deeds. I had huge success in 1st through 3rd grade reading poems aloud from The Dragons Are Singing Tonight by Jack Prelutsky. The kids paid attention amazingly well, and the poems served as the perfect cap to my speech about all of our activities. I read four poems: I Wish I Had a Dragon, I Am Boom, The Dragons Are Singing Tonight, and Once They All Believed in Dragons. (I am pretty sure those are the titles, but I am doing this without the book in hand, so they may just be pretty close.) They were all hits. I love to see kids respond to poetry so positively. In fact, it was so cool that I am considering offering to do poetry with the students up at school on a regular basis. Just reading and sharing poetry together is very powerful. Plus, all four poems are a joy to read! What could be more fun!
I just used That New Animal by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Pierre Pratt, in two storytimes: one for Kindergarteners and the other for a preschool class of four-year-olds. It was a hit both times. I really enjoyed the style of writing in the book, because it made it so easy to read aloud.
The book features the perspective of two dogs who are displaced when their family has a baby. “That Animal” is what they refer to the baby as. The reaction of the children when one of the dogs wants to eat the baby was wonderful. What a gasp went up! And then finally the ending where the dogs decided that it is really their animal: “To hate as much as they want to. And to like, just a little bit.”
Great read aloud fun for the kids, the reader, and the adults in the room.
Everything Preschool is a great site for children’s librarians as well as preschool teachers. If you have ever searched for theme ideas, especially very basic coloring pages, this is the site for you!
Theme Curriculum is a nice site filled with seasonal themes. Each theme has recommended books, fingerplays, recipes, related links, and crafts. This is the a great resource for folks looking for story time ideas.
Hungry Hen by Richard Waring, illustrated by Caroline Jayne Church, is another of my favorite preschool/Kindergarten read alouds. I usually read a more conventional chicken and fox story right before it, like Hattie and the Fox. Then I say that there are other ways for a book like that to end.
Hungry Hen is the story of a fox that waits and waits for the hen to get bigger and bigger. As he waits, he gets skinnier and skinnier and the hen becomes enormous. Finally, he can wait no longer, so he runs to the henhouse and… Well, you just have to read it. And the stunned silence that the kids give you after the end is so great. And then the laughter. I usually have problems taking the book away with me afterwards because they want to read it again and again.
I just adore Jez Alborough’s books, especially for story times. His books alone have led me to do more duck and bear story time themes than I really should. But his books are just so wonderful! First, there is exactly the right amount of text on each page for preschoolers to listen to. Second, the pictures are bright, big and bold so they project perfectly to a group. And finally, the stories are exciting and funny. Can’t beat that combo!
And best of all… You can save his books to be read last. If you do story times you will know how amazing that is. I always save his books for the finale, because they get even wiggly chatty kids to settle right down and be swept up into the crazy worlds of inept ducks and huge bears. They should be in all libraries and part of your list of story time books.