Storytime Essentials: Picture Books for a Deserted Island


I absolutely love playing the game that begins with this question: “If you were on a deserted island and you could only have X amount of X, what would you take?”

So, for today’s post I’ll write about the ten picture books I’d want on my deserted island. You know…in case it’s not really deserted and there’s a colony of children just craving a storytime!


Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr.
Colors, animals, rhythm — this really is one of the most versatile books. As a bonus, it can be sung to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, so it could work as a lullaby as well in case I need to lull the children to sleep.

Butterfly, Butterfly by Petr Horacek
Whether it’s an insects storytime or a colors storytime, the surprise pop-up butterfly at the end will clearly thrill children. And there’s a chance that perhaps a predator might be scared of the pop-up and it could be used as self-defense, right?

Can You Make a Scary Face by Jan Thomas
With this interactive book, we’d burn off the multitude of calories acquired by drinking coconut milk and eating berries (read: very little amount of calories), and we would definitely be laughing as we did. Bonus points: practicing our scary faces for protection.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin, Jr.
Besides the relating to our tropical environment, this great rhythmic story would be comforting to the children because it’s a story that nearly every kid in my library knows. Plus, we’d need to learn our ABCs somehow, right?

Clip-Clop by Nicola Smee
A bounce, an adventure, and a safe tumble in the hay await us here. We’d also have a nice break from all of the jungle animals with these sweet domestic animals. Also: I’ve never known this book to flop, especially if I get all the kids to jump with me.


Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (pop-up)
This simple story will remain us of simpler times when we could send the animals that scare us back to the zoo and away from us. The pop-up edition will give us more than enough bang for our buck and while kids may know the answers to the animals after a few re-reads, they will love the book all the same.

Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd
Another title that can used for a multitude of themes: colors, counting, dogs, baths. It also can be substituted as a bedtime and since I’m betting money that I don’t have my flannelboard collection, I would absolutely need a visual to tell this story.

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
Again: we have to exercise sometimes! This is another book that is great for identifying animals and also has Eric Carle’s amazing illustrations. (I tried really hard not to repeat authors, but you can see that I failed on several occasions.) This fun, engaging book will keep all the kids around no matter how distracting the island may be.

It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle
We’re definitely going to relate to this book in the jungle. (But whereas, the main character is more scared of tigers, I’d be more scared of the snakes!) I think it would be a great read for my island kids and hopefully remind us that scary things can sometimes work out in our favor.

Press Here by Herve Tullet
This would be a great read and fun for the kids even as they grew up. While I mostly picked preschool & under books, this is one of the ones that would carry us through the grade school years. Plus, we could rotate turns and the kids would look forward to the day when they were the star of the story!

I hope that I won’t be lost anytime soon, but even without the deserted island question, these are ten of my favorite storytime books that I am proud to own in my professional collection!

Leave a Comment

ALSC: Keeping Storytime Fresh for You!


Now that we’re heading into summer reading, here’s a few tips on how to keep storytime fresh for you if you’re feeling burned out. Check it out on the ALSC blog.

Leave a Comment

Flannel Friday: Ten Babies

These adorable babies were inspired by Melissa of Mel’s Desk!


To make a template, I blew up Melissa’s picture in Publisher so that I could just cheat off her genius.

I used this in several storytimes, including a baby storytime as my hidden Shape Game object and in a family themed storytime for my toddlers this spring. For the families, I used Melissa’s rhyme:

Five Little Babies
by Melissa Depper
Five little babies sitting in their cribs
The first one said, “I need another bib!”
The second one said, “I wish I had my ball.”
The third one said, “I wish that I could crawl!”
The fourth one said, “Oh, when can we play?”
The fifth one said, “It’s been a busy day.”
Then Shhhhh went the mommies and out went the lights,
And five little babies said goodnight.

Cate is hosting the round-up today! You can also check out our website, Pinterest, or Facebook!

Leave a Comment

Babies: Babies (Haha)

For more information on how I plan and prepare my baby storytimes, check out this introduction post. And for a complete list of the baby rhymes/bounces/lifts/etc., visit this post. I starred the materials used in the plan; multiple stars indicate use for more than one session.

The Plan

For baby time, my library passes out individual copies of board books to each caregiver/child pair. I typically keep two or three to the side of me in case a baby tries to grab my copy. I read face out; caregivers read to their children.


Babies on the Bus by Karen Katz*
Grow Up by Nina Laden*
I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy**

Early Literacy Tip

Babies love to look at themselves and at other babies. If tummy time is frustrating, try to angle a mirror so your baby can lift their head to see themselves.

Flannelboard: Shape Game

I hid a baby today. It was from my family set that I used in “Knock Knock” story.

Repeating Extension Activities

  • Cheek Chin*
  • Icka Bicka Soda Cracker*
  • Milkshake**
  • Open, Shut Them*
  • Round and Round the Garden*
  • Tick Tock**
  • Wake Up Toes**

How It Went

Tuesday morning
“I Kissed the Baby” inspired great interactions between child and caregivers. Lots of tickling, kissing, hugging, etc. And the babies were absolutely spellbound during “Wake Up Toes” — that song is the biggest winner ever!

Thursday morning
When I said that we were going to do “Tick Tock”, several of the walkers/wanderers raced oved to their caregiver’s laps. That is definitely their favorite movement activity. The babies were remarkably well behaved today and we were able to do so many activities. One of the little girls walked to the middle of the rug and modeled our ending routine motions for everyone. It was very endearing.

Leave a Comment

Shake, Shimmy, & Dance: 7/8

For the first time in our library’s history, we ran our own summer reading program — Make Some Noise! What better opportunity to do a bi-weekly music and movement dance party? This program was advertised for ages 0-7 and their families.


The Plan

Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin
Scribble, scribble, mix, dance, and wiggle: what a great chorus and what a great set of new vocabulary for our youngest kiddos to learn! This book gives more than enough opportunity to move around while being read, but also teaches color recognition. One of my favorite new reads of this past year!

Shaker Eggs!

The Playlist

Hello & How Are You? — Old Town School of Folk Music
Jumping With Variations — Ella Jenkins
Skip to My Lou — Old Town School of Folk Music
Let’s Dance Now — Jim Gill
Shake Your Sillies Out — The Wiggles
Fruit Salad Salsa — Laurie Berkner
Shake With You — Eric Litwin and Michael Levine
Shake Hands With Friends — Ella Jenkins

How It Went

I really enjoyed “Skip to My Lou” because the kids decided to play follow the leader and made a line behind me. I was personally exhausted after the first three songs — jumping, skipping, and dancing was a LOT for me to do. And “Jumping With Variations” turned out to be a much longer song in actuality than when I was listening to it in my work space.

(For an example of the Powerpoint and handouts that I made for each Shake, Shimmy please visit the original post.)

Leave a Comment

Toddlers: Bears

For more information on how I plan and prepare my toddler storytimes, check out this introduction post. And for a complete list of the repeating extension activities, visit this post. I starred the materials used in the plan; multiple stars indicate use for more than one session.

The Plan



About a Bear by Holly Surplice***
Baby Bear’s Chairs by Jane Yolen
Bears in the Bath by Shirley Parenteau**
Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson*

Early Literacy Tip

Learning through play is relaxed, fun, and creative. Through “Sleepy Bear”, children are learning to take turns and follow directions.

Theme Extension Activities

Flannelboard: “Brown Bear, Brown Bear”**

Flannelboard: “Ten Teddy Bears”***

Puppet: “Sleepy Bear”**
(Tune: “Thumbkin”)
Where is bear? Where is bear?
Here I am. Here I am.
How are you this winter?
Very tired, thank you.
Go to sleep. Go to sleep.
(Have kids shout “WAKE UP BEAR” to do the song again.)
Credit: Preschool Education Music & Songs : Animals > Winter

Fingerplay: “Two Little Bears”***
Two little bears sat on a hill, (hold up two fingers)
One named Jack and one named Jill. (wiggle each finger)
Fly away, Jack; fly away, Jill, (put fingers behind your back)
Come back, Jack; come back, Jill. (bring fingers back)
Credit: Childhood

Song: “If You’re a Bear and You Know It”***
If you’re a panda bear and you know it, clap your paws
If you’re a polar bear and you know it, show your teeth
If you’re a grizzly bear and you know it, growl real loud
Credit: Childhood

Repeating Extension Activities

  • Dance Your Fingers Up**
  • Open, Shut Them***

How It Went

Tuesday morning
It was a hectic storytime this morning because of Veteran’s Day. I had several visiting siblings in the group and that always changes the group dynamic. Puppets were really engaging today (I had a set for “Two Little Bears” and one big one for “Sleepy Bear” — the kids were mesmerized.

Tuesday afternoon
This was a hard storytime because I only had one family (with two kids) show up. We went through the activities so fast and I felt like I was stretching to keep them entertained for the whole thirty minutes. But! This little boy has struggled so hard to open up and enjoy himself and this week, he had a breakthrough. Patience is so important!

Thursday morning
The kids in this class have our opening and closing routine down perfectly at this point in the seven week session. Also, this class had a lot of great parent involvement which I always love to see. “Brown Bear” became a chant during the flannelboard as nearly every caregiver joined in. The only downside is that there were a lot of sniffly noses. It’s getting to be cold season!

Leave a Comment

Discovery!: Music


Full disclaimer: I have a heavy music background! I’ve been in choirs since preschool and took violin lessons (while in three different orchestras) seriously for ten years. I read music fluently in both treble and bass clef. I’ve self-taught imperfect technique piano and am working on the ukulele. I’m not sure I would have attempted this program without my background!

I broke the program into four sections: Rhythm, Sounds, Timing, Playing.



I gave a brief introduction about rhythm and beats by having each child tell me their name. I let the group guess how many claps they thought each name would have. I finally took them and then we clapped out every child’s syllables.

Similarly, after practicing with our names, I pulled out Tanka Tanka Skunk, aka one of the very best storytime books ever. The whole group clapped along with the animal names and I once again managed to make my arm bright red from slapping my arm to keep the beat with the kids while holding the book up.

We finished up this rhythm section by listening to our first song: Clap It! by Bari Koral Family Rock Band. This song asks kids to clap left and right, clap high and low. It’s fairly simplistic in terms of directions, but it has such a great rhythm to practice with with nice strong beats.



One of most memorable experiences as a child was when my music teacher taught about the difficult instruments in the orchestra using “Peter and the Wolf”. I knew that I had to find a way to do that without the scariness for my three-year-olds.

I thought about “Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin!” It introduces the instruments. But I wanted to have that experience when the kids would hear the instruments as well. And bam! I found “Those Amazing Musical Instruments” with a interactive CD-Rom. I was able to use the clips of instruments from this book to create my own version of “Peter and the Wolf”.

Then it came time for a demonstration: my real-life violin!


(That was my very nervous face at home practicing the week before.)

I played some very short classical pieces for them (Bach’s Minuet in G — my first solo/ensemble piece; Beethoven’s Ode to Joy) before leading them in a sing-along of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. Then, I sat down on the floor with my violin in my lap and let each child come up one at a time to pluck the strings. The kids were so precious and careful and respectful. I had to tell several of them to pull harder to make some sound!

[Sidenote: I also pulled a Meryl Streep and told them that there was a horse and a frog on the bow. That is one of my favorite music movies of all time. I still get weepy when I think about music education being cut in schools.]

Lastly for this section, I played Kathy Reid-Naiman’s “I Love to Hear the Sounds” and demonstrated to each child the instrument she was singing about. My library has an INCREDIBLE musical instrument collection; the only instrument I needed to buy was finger cymbals.


Now that the kids had basic knowledge of rhythm and sound, I wanted to talk about timing. We talked about how some songs are fast and some are slow. And to demonstrate, I put on Jim Gill’s “The Tempo Marches On” which we marched and ran around to.

Then it was time to get shaker eggs in their hands. This led to back-to-back songs that have great examples of timing. Just like “The Tempo Marches On”, The Learning Groove’s “I Can Shake My Shaker Egg” starts slow and gets faster and faster. It’s also set to Edvard Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King, another piece of classical music! Secondly, I played Laurie Berkner’s “Fruit Salad Salsa” which alternates between a slow tempo and a fast tempo. I challenged the kids to switch between the two which they did awesomely!


For this last section, I let the kids switch their instruments around. I had rhythm sticks, bells, shaker eggs, sand blocks, finger cymbals, and tambourines. The kids played whatever they wanted to the songs of “Ring Them On the Floor” by Kathy Reid-Naiman and “All You Pretty Babies” by Caspar Babypants.

Lastly, I pulled out our set of six gathering drums for our very last song “Drumming the House” by Jim Gill. We alternated using our fingertips lightly, our hands softly, and finally our mallets. This was definitely the loudest section of the day but 100% worth it!

How It Went

I had a few little girls who were AMAZING at identifying beats and syllables. And this activity really helped me finally learn everyone’s names this week. I think the most thrilling part of the day for the kids was touching my violin. They were so thrilled to actually touch a real professional musical instrument! I had so many compliments from caregivers about the recorded instrument samples being very educational. It made me feel like I had maybe just given a “Peter and the Wolf” experience to the next generation!

Leave a Comment

ALSC: Teaching Early Literacy to Staff


If you wanted more information about the YOLO: Early Lit 101 presentation that I wrote about a few months back, I talked more about the whole presentation on the ALSC blog.

Leave a Comment

Flannel Friday: Five Turtles

This post was inspired by Kathryn at Fun With Friends at Storytime!

Kathryn not only made these amazing felt turtles, but she also wrote a rhyme to go with them. Rather than re-print her work, visit her Google Doc to see the rhyme.

To make Kathryn’s turtles, I printed off a picture to get the idea of how the shell and turtle would work. I played around with colors and wound up choosing a gold piece of felt as the shell even though Kathryn’s turtles have an olive green shell and a tan belly. (My turtles are lacking their bellies!)

I will be using these at a family storytime this spring — frogs and turtles!

Mallory is hosting the round-up today! You can also check out our website, Pinterest, or Facebook!

Leave a Comment

Babies: Colors

For more information on how I plan and prepare my baby storytimes, check out this introduction post. And for a complete list of the baby rhymes/bounces/lifts/etc., visit this post. I starred the materials used in the plan; multiple stars indicate use for more than one session.

The Plan

For baby time, my library passes out individual copies of board books to each caregiver/child pair. I typically keep two or three to the side of me in case a baby tries to grab my copy. I read face out; caregivers read to their children.


Butterfly Colors and Counting by Jerry Pallotta**
Maisy’s Colors by Lucy Cousins*
Spot Looks at Colors by Eric Hill*

Early Literacy Tip

Talking about different colors is a great way to introduce new vocabulary. Don’t shy away from using words like “turquoise” and “gray” as well as the primary and secondary colors.

Flannelboard: Shape Game

I used a rainbow piece from my “Rainbow Stew” flannelboard. Once I revealed the rainbow, we talked about all of the different colors in the rainbow.

Repeating Extension Activities

  • Bouncing Bouncing*
  • Colors Over Me**
  • Rock the Baby*
  • Roly Poly**
  • Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear**
  • These Are Baby’s Fingers**

How It Went

Tuesday morning
During this storytime (I nearly always sit on the floor with the babies), I have two of the babies come over and start rubbing my back. It was really sweet and I have to admit, I could use a back massage! The babies were in love with the scarves today and “Colors Over Me”.

Thursday morning
We had a baby take FIRST EVER STEPS in storytime! He came over to get a book from me and I nearly cried along with his caregiver. But as amazing as this was, while we read “Butterfly Colors”, I invited families to read in their native language. I got to hear some Farsi, Hindu, Chinese, Polish, and Spanish. It was a great moment for me to hear all those great new words!

Leave a Comment

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,260 other followers