Bookgarteners: Overview

An illustrated classroom with two adults (one female, one male) reading to children.

The creation of Bookgarteners came from a lot of different factors:

  • Most of the schools are now doing full-day kindergarten. Only one district does half-day. Which means that my preschool storytime is not supporting those K learners.
  • Many of the caregivers had begun requesting preschool/kindergarten programming in the afternoons.
  • I wanted to plan preschool/kindergarten programming to support state early learning standards. Illinois’s early learning standards are available online.
  • I really wanted to make caregivers aware of their ability to support the state early learning standards.
  • And I, personally, needed to do something new and exciting…other than a storytime.

(I think it’s really okay to say that you need to do something other than a storytime. Storytime is GREAT, of course, but early literacy is more than storytime. We are more than storytime.)

So, what IS Bookgarteners?

It’s a forty-five minute author/illustrator study program for ages 3-6. I choose a different author each class and plan different activities around their books. The first fifteen minutes are devoted to learning about the author, reading one of the author’s books, and then re-telling that story as a class. The second fifteen minutes, the kids are invited to go through activity stations on their own direction. The last fifteen minutes, caregivers are invited to join their kids for more activity station time.

Afterwards, everyone gets a take-home brochure and activity packet. The activity packet includes stuff like scissor practice paper, matching games, draw your owns, and more — much of this is taken from pages offered on the author’s website!

Two pieces of paper, one being a take-home packet and the other being a folded brochure.

The aforementioned Take-Home activities and Brochure.

At the end of the brochure, I have this summary available for caregivers:

Bookgarteners was developed to help preschool children and kindergarteners practice the early learning standards for the state of Illinois. This will help prepare preschool children for school and will re-enforce the skills for kindergarteners.

Each activity chosen supports one of the state’s learning standards, but each activity is also designed to be fun and engaging for the children. Their learning really presents best as play at this age.

In addition, in Bookgarteners we are working on other learning standards like interacting with peers, following directions, participating in group activities, and more.

Together, we are growing their minds!

I’ve done six Bookgarteners programs since this spring. I have three more planned for this Winter. The authors I’ve done thus far are: Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, Donald Crews, Karen Beaumont, Mem Fox, and Mo Willems. Up for this winter are Jan Brett, Ezra Jack Keats, and Herve Tullet. (Currently in the planning stages for spring with Kevin Henkes, Christian Robinson, Jan Thomas on the list!)

The program has been very successful for all of the targets I’ve set for myself. Attendance was slow to start, but has picked up and the fall classes’ registrations were all full. I hope it continues for the winter session!

16 comments on “Bookgarteners: Overview

  1. Miss Jean
    February 21, 2018 at 8:18 am #

    Katie, I love love love this idea! I too, have been struggling with a way to reach these children. In Pennsylvania, we have been trying to promote the Cruise into Kindergarten program, but I was getting toddlers when I offered it. I do make visits to two Pre K classes and one local kindergarten visits the library weekly but I am still missing a lot of children. I think you have come up with an awesome solution. I have been a children’s librarian for over 23 years and am still learning something new every day! Thank you!

    • Katie
      March 1, 2018 at 1:53 pm #

      Thank you!!

  2. Stacey
    February 21, 2018 at 9:29 am #

    Do you find that the age range of 3-6 works well for this program? Or did you tweek that as you went along?

    • Katie
      March 1, 2018 at 1:53 pm #

      It’s stayed that way for a year now, Stacey. It’s perfect for our library.

  3. Marian
    February 21, 2018 at 11:18 am #

    What great ideas you have to support your community and early learners. Thank you for sharing!

    • Katie
      March 1, 2018 at 1:53 pm #

      Thank you for reading!

  4. Amy
    February 23, 2018 at 4:44 am #

    Would you mind sharing your brochure and activities? I struggle with this group. Thank you!

  5. Meg
    February 24, 2018 at 7:59 am #

    Thanks for sharing this great idea. We recently added a program for ages 3-5, which includes a traditional half-hour story time and a half-hour of play with educational toys and activities geared to the Pennsylvania learning standards. Will you be sharing details of your Bookgartners plans with us?

  6. Miss Julie
    February 28, 2018 at 5:27 pm #

    Nice stuff! Reminds me a bit of my long defunct Beginning Reader storytimes.

    • Katie
      March 1, 2018 at 1:55 pm #

      Definitely! I modeled my Growing Readers storytime at my old library on your Beginning Reader storytimes. 😀


  1. Bookgarteners: Eric Carle – storytime katie - February 28, 2018

    […] For an overview of the Bookgarteners program, please visit this post. […]

  2. Bookgarteners: Lois Ehlert – storytime katie - March 14, 2018

    […] For an overview of the Bookgarteners program, please visit this post. […]

  3. Bookgarteners: Donald Crews – storytime katie - March 12, 2019

    […] For an overview of the Bookgarteners program, please visit this post. […]

  4. Bookgarteners: Karen Beaumont – storytime katie - March 26, 2019

    […] For an overview of the Bookgarteners program, please visit this post. […]

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