Category Archives: Storytime
Looking for a fun, interactive picture book to use for story time (or any time)? Christie Matheson’s debut picture book, TAP THE MAGIC TREE, fits the bill perfectly. TAP THE MAGIC TREE combines the magic of the changing seasons with the magic of turning a page as the reader taps, pats, claps, and wiggles to make leaves grow, blossoms bloom, apples appear, and leaves swirl away with the autumn breeze.
As you may have heard, 2013 marks 50 years of the beloved, mixed-up housekeeper Amelia Bedelia. Our celebration continues with this heartwarming video featuring Herman Parish, footage of Peggy Parish, illustrators Lynne Avril and Barbara Siebel Thomas, Gretchen Siebel, editor Susan Hirschman, and everyone’s favorite dressed chicken. Hear about the history and evolution of Amelia Bedelia from the people who created her and those who have continued her legacy, and reminisce about your favorite moments from the books. (Dressing the chicken? Stringing the beans? Hitting the road? It’s tough to choose, but our favorite might be the “surprise shower.”)
In case you’d like to share the video with students or others whose attention spans are more suited for brevity, here’s a shorter (but equally warm and fuzzy) version:
Don’t forget to download an Amelia Bedelia Party Kit and join the celebration! Here’s to 50 years of hilarity and delicious baked goods.
Ms. Bird, a seasoned librarian who has put on many a storytime event, has kindly shared with us some great ideas for hosting a dance party in your library, classroom, or store that will get everyone moving and grooving. We hope you’ll use this guide to throw your own Giant Dance Party for your little giants. And don’t forget to check out the book, which Kirkus Reviews called “Full of pep and verve and enthusiasm . . . Sheer joy.”
Many thanks to Betsy Bird, and happy dancing to everyone!
From Betsy Bird:
In GIANT DANCE PARTY, we see what happens when some furry blue big ’uns cut loose on the floor. Now here’s your chance to have your very own Giant Dance Party in the comfort of your own store, school, or library. When hosting any kind of a dance event, it is important to remember the four essential elements of any good party involving kids:
- Loud music
- Fabulous snacks
- Fun costumes
- Goofy adults
You’re responsible for the goofy adults. For all other items, here are some ideas for having a GIANT DANCE PARTY to beat all other giant dance parties.
Food: It Gotta Be Blue
Are you the kind of person who quails at the thought of providing delicious, healthy, and one-of-a-kind snacks at a party? Well, quail not. Kids love specialized foods, but what they like even more is filling their bellies. And since the giants in GIANT DANCE PARTY are as blue as the sky above, try serving treats of a similar hue. Here are some simple party ideas that can be fancied up if you’ve a yen to do so.
Blue ice pops—In GIANT DANCE PARTY, Lexy turns into the human equivalent of an ice pop whenever she’s called upon to dance. Consider making some ice pops of your own.
Blue juice—Time to get nice and cozy with the Kool-Aid man, yet again. Find your favorite blue version and make up a nice big pitcher.
Blue popcorn—It can be done! Combine butter, oil, salt, corn syrup, and blue food coloring in a big bowl. Next, microwave the mixture for 30–40 seconds, just until butter melts. Stir to combine, and then add the unpopped popcorn kernels and stir so that the kernels get completely covered with the syrup mixture. Spread them out evenly in the bottom of the bowl. Then just cover the bowl with a vented lid and microwave on high for 3–5 minutes, or until there are 1–2 seconds between pops. Instant blue popcorn awaits you!
Cupcakes—Consider blueberry cupcakes with blue frosting and M&Ms for a topper. Healthier alternatives can include blueberry muffins or just big bowls of blueberries.
Suggested Tunes for Little Monsters
The number one most important thing you need when you host a dance party? Dancing! Now that you’ve gotten them hepped up on sugar, it’s time to let those kiddos strut their signature dance moves on the floor. Trust your gut when it comes to great music. If it has a beat, the kids will be able to dance to it. Some recommended selections include:
“Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now),” by C&C Music Factory
“Girls Just Want to Have Fun” (Cindi Lauper’s version)
“Walk Like an Egyptian,” by The Bangles
“Hey Ya!” by OutKast
“La Bamba” (Los Lobos version)
“Twist and Shout” (the Beatles’ version)
The Kidz Bop albums—You may roll your eyes when you hear the oddly infantilized versions of the latest songs on the radio. But hey, if it comes down to the dirty real lyrics and the ones Kidz Bop comes up with, you may as well go for the safe and secure, if only to avoid the glares of irate parents.
Big on Costumes
Everyone has a different idea of what a giant looks like. In GIANT DANCE PARTY the giants are huge (as per usual), furry, and blue. But leave yourself open to a range of different giant interpretations. Here are some great giants in pop culture you might want to consider replicating:
The giants in GIANT DANCE PARTY—Furry-and-blue is the name of the game here. Don’t want to go all out with a hot and heavy costume? Consider going to Etsy and purchasing a pair of furry blue boot covers for the legs alone. They’re sure to gussy up any outfit.
The Jolly Green Giant—The nice thing about this guy is that he doesn’t require fur. Just a toga of green, maybe some green tights, and some makeup for the skin. Toss in a little green dye for the hair, and voila! Instant giant.
Hagrid from the Harry Potter series—This is for your future motorcycle tough guy. All you need is a ginormous beard and maybe an old bathrobe, and it’s Hagrid in the flesh.
Finn MacCoul—He’s the most famous giant in Ireland, so run to your local library to pick up some books on him (we recommend Finn MacCoul and His Fearless Wife, by Robert Byrd, or Fin M’Coul, by Tomie dePaola). Next, construct an outfit. You can go all out with a kilt or just find some plaid fabric to make an appropriate sash.
Your standard Fe Fi Fo Fum giant—Bad teeth, warts, raggedy clothes, and maybe a club for grinding men’s bones into bread. Extra points if you bring along your own beanstalk.
King Kong—Who says all giants have to be humans? Go ape by dressing up as everyone’s favorite Empire State Building ascender. Consider attaching a couple of paper airplanes here and there for the kids to swipe at for fun (and don’t forget to carry a Faye Wray-esque doll around, too!).
Most important of all, have fun! There’s no wrong way to throw a Giant Dance Party. Each one, like each giant, is unique in its very own way.
Getting ready for Poetry Month? We’ve got some brilliant activities for Jack Prelutsky and Carin Berger’s STARDINES SWIM HIGH ACROSS THE SKY, brought to you by picture book and flannelboard maven Storytime Katie. With Jack Prelutsky’s signature sense of humor and Carin Berger’s stunning collage, shadowbox, and diorama illustrations, this fantastic new poetry collection can be paired with SCRANIMALS and BEHOLD THE BOLD UMBRELLAPHANT or used on its own for a rollicking Poetry Month celebration.
Many thanks to Katie for these great activities, and happy (almost) Poetry Month to all!
From Storytime Katie:
In STARDINES SWIM HIGH ACROSS THE SKY, Jack Prelutsky and Carin Berger team up to create an unforgettable recording of sixteen brand-new species unseen by humans before! To celebrate this amazing new book from Greenwillow Books, readers are invited to try their hands at these activities.
1. Create Your Own Animal. In STARDINES, Jack Prelutsky creates animals by combining two words with at least one similar syllable. For example, a panda who plans becomes a planda. Plan + Panda = Planda. Try making your own animal! If you get stuck, you can try using two of the words in the following lists:
Panda: Fan, Land, Sand, Stand
Buffalo: Fluff, Muff, Stuff, Tough
Butterfly: Blue, Flew, Mutt, Nut
Make sure to write out the definition of your new animal. (For example, a Bluetterfly is a butterfly who only lands on blue flowers!)
2. I Spy. In Carin Berger’s collage illustrations, she includes a lot of details to demonstrate each animal’s environment and personality. Can you find all fifteen items listed below in the pictures throughout STARDINES?
Items to find: Apron, Broom, Cactus, Clock, Feather, Fork, Guitar, Mushroom, Pretzel, Red Shoes, Rocks, Sailboat, Spoon, Tuba, Umbrella
3. Collage Art. Make your own collage using a variety of paper, found objects, and creativity. You can use whatever can be glued down on a piece of paper, as long as you have permission to use it! Try using milk caps, cardboard boxes, and newspaper to make a truly Earth-friendly recycled craft.
4. Animal Discoveries. While the creatures in STARDINES may not be real, new animal species are discovered regularly in our world. Do some research about when your favorite animal was discovered and find out who was responsible for the discovery. Write a poem about how your favorite animal was discovered—be imaginative!
Although I must confess that I’ve never have been able to see a man in it, the moon is not only beautiful, but mythical and magical, especially for little ones. Imagine our excitement when brainstorming a storytime theme that could include our brand new beautiful picture book MOONLIGHT when we realized that the perfect answer was staring us in the face: the moon!
Oh Mister Sun (how sweet is the “Mister Moon” verse?)
Have kids create their own moonlight scene using chalk (or oil) pastels on black construction paper. The bright marks made by the pastels are the highlights of moonlight on the nighttime scene.
I set up a lot of school visits in the course of the year, but few warm my heart as much as the annual Adopt-a-School visit. The Adopt-a-School Initiative is a collaboration between the American Association of Publishers, the Children’s Book Council, the NYC Department of Education, school librarians, and publishing houses. The program sends well-known children’s and young adult authors into New York area schools. We at HarperCollins Children’s Books take great pleasure in connecting our authors with these deserving schools. Authors generously donate their time and energy, and we support the visit by sending classroom sets of books to the participating schools. This past December the wonderful Audrey Vernick enthusiastically agreed to follow in the footsteps of past participants such as Walter Dean Myers, Robert Lipsyte, and Maryrose Wood. Audrey’s picture books include SHE LOVED BASEBALL: THE EFFA MANLEY STORY, IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN?, and TEACH YOUR BUFFALO TO PLAY DRUMS. We asked Audrey for a first-hand account of this very special school visit… and homecoming.
-Tony Hirt (Our Author Visit Coordinator Extraordinaire- tony.hirt(at)gmail(dot)com)
When I was asked by HarperCollins if I’d be interested in participating in the CBC/AAP’s adopt-a-school week, during which authors visit public schools throughout New York City, I asked, almost as an afterthought, if it might be possible to visit the elementary school I attended—P.S. 184 Queens. I was pretty sure this wasn’t the kind of thing one could ask, but something pushed me to try anyway.
And then, thanks to the persistence of AAP’s Becca Worthington, and the cooperation of school principal Dora Pantelis and media specialist Adriana Tibbetts at P.S. 184, it all came together. On December 13, 2011, I returned to my elementary school.
I graduated from P.S. 184 in 1976, a time when all the fire hydrants in our town were painted red, white and blue in celebration of the bicentennial. In the decades since, my elementary school memories have not dulled. (Don’t ask me about junior high school, high school or college. But you can ask me to name the kids in size order in my first-grade class and I’ll get nearly every one.)
I walked in that building and knew its geography. The smell in the cafeteria was unnamable but profoundly familiar. The faces on the kids were different, the computers in the classrooms looked ridiculously out of place—especially with a lot of the same old furniture—but more than anything, it felt like something very close to home.
I met with kids in kindergarten, first and second grade. I read to the kindergarteners and talked with the first- and second-graders about where I find my story ideas and where they might find their own. I encouraged them to listen to the stories around them and to be curious. They listened, they laughed, they agreed that I looked like I was “from history” when I showed them my own first-grade picture. (I didn’t tell them that I borrowed that term from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, but in the interest of giving credit, that is the whole truth.)
The kids asked smart questions, as kids always do. As I drove home later, I finally accepted the fact that I can no longer be someone who is unable to select favorites, as nearly every question demanded a favorite be chosen: Which is your favorite of the books you’ve written? What was your favorite subject when you went to school here?
They also wanted to know how long it takes to write a book (anywhere from an afternoon to six years). Who inspired me? I had to high five that kid, because he gave me a chance to talk about my mother. How many books have I written (prompting a brief discussion of books written and not published and those in the pipeline and coming out in the next two years).
Were there pre-kindergarten students here when I attended (no, but it was K-6, not pre-K-5). They could have asked questions all day—turns out I didn’t need to tell them to be curious. Their teachers were friendly and helpful. It seemed like everyone in the building really knew how to do this school-visit thing.
So it came as quite a surprise to learn I was the first author to visit their school in a very long time, if ever. They were so happy to have me. And I was so happy to be there.
I love that this program exists, that a school I remember with great affection was able to take part in this initiative. They were lovely hosts—decorated a hallway in my honor (Audrey Lane!) and had the students paint a buffalo and his yellow pigtailed sidekick with a sign that said simply, Welcome back, Audrey.
I felt way beyond welcome. I felt like a part of that school. The principal, media specialist and I talked about my return someday. I bet it will always feel good to go back.
Visit http://www.publishers.org/press/54/ for more information on the AAP/CBC Adopt-a-School Initiative.
A little more on Audrey and the program from the United Federation of Teachers.
Visit Audrey Vernick’s site for more info on her books and appearances.
I know, it seems crazy to talk about the holiday season already. But this is also the point where we start putting in book orders for the latest titles and replacing old books as well. So let’s jump in and talk about some of the newest books for the holiday season:
A CHRISTMAS GOODNIGHT by Nola Buck, illustrated by Sarah Jane Wright (On-sale now). In its starred review, Publishers Weekly said that this book “serves special status, to be kept off-season with other holiday decorations and then brought out each year at Christmas.”
THE LITTLEST EVERGREEN by Henry Cole (On-sale now). School Library Journal calls this “a fine Christmas choice with an environmental message.”
Need to replace books in your collection? Here are some possible titles that you may need to re-order:
- AMELIA BEDELIA TALKS TURKEY by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Lynn Sweat (An I Can Read book). Download the teaching guide.
- THE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER by Barbara Robinson
- A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens, illustrated by Brett Helquist (Picture book edition)
- CHRISTMAS COOKIES by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Jane Dyer
- DANCE, SING, REMEMBER: A CELEBRATION OF JEWISH HOLIDAYS by Leslie Kimmelman, illustrated by Ora Eitan
- FLETCHER AND THE SNOWFLAKE CHRISTMAS by Julia Rawlinson, illustrated by Tiphanie Beeke
- HANUKKAH LIGHTS: HOLIDAY POETRY by Lee Bennett Hopkins, illustrated by Melanie Hall
- IF YOU TAKE A MOUSE TO THE MOVIES: A SPECIAL CHRISTMAS EDITION by Laura Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond
- IT’S CHRISTMAS by Jack Prelutsky, illustrated by Marilyn Hafner (An I Can Read book)
- LI’L RABBIT’S KWANZAA by Donna Washington, illustrated by Shane Evans
- THE LUMP OF COAL by Lemony Snicket, illustrated by Brett Helquist
- MERRY CHRISTMAS, AMELIA BEDELIA by Peggy Parish, illustrated by Lynn Sweat (An I Can Read book)
- MERRY CHRISTMAS, SPLAT by Rob Scotton (Download the activity sheet)
- MERRY NAVIDAD! by Alma Flor Ada and F. Isabel Campoy, illustrated by Vivi Escriva
- MERRY UN-CHRISTMAS by Mike Reiss, illustrated by David Catrow
- MY WEIRD SCHOOL #14: MISS HOLLY IS TOO JOLLY! by Dan Gutman, illustrated by Jim Paillot (Download the teaching guide)
- THE NUTCRACKER by Susan Jeffers
- STANLEY’S CHRISTMAS ADVENTURE by Jeff Brown, illustrated by Macky Pamintuan
- THANKSGIVING IS HERE by Diane Goode
- THIS IS THE FEAST by Diane Z. Shore, illustrated by Megan Lloyd
WARNING: Be prepared to have this song in your head all day! Especially after using it in a storytime!
See what librarians and teachers are saying about PETE THE CAT: ROCKING IN MY SCHOOL SHOES by Eric Litwin and James Dean:
“The text invites students to sing along with Pete as he rocks in his new school shoes. It also invites them to jump in with the place in the school where Pete is doing whatever it is he is doing. A perfect book for young children at the beginning of the school year. So many possibilities!” ~ A Year of Reading
“This book is a perfect fit for preschoolers through early elementary, and potentially as fun for the reader as the listener (I suggest belting out Pete’s song right along with him in your jazziest voice!). It might be a comfort to kids who are experiencing first-day jitters, as Pete’s sense of calm and cool is a tad infectious. And just like this cat, school IS cool, after all! My grade for Pete, the coolest cat around? A+.” ~ Book Talk (King County Library System)
“PETE THE CAT: ROCKING IN MY SCHOOL SHOES is the perfect back-to-school story for preschoolers through first graders. You better believe you’ll hear enthusiastic singing and clapping coming from my school library.” ~ Watch. Connect. Read (Mr. Schu)
PETE THE CAT: ROCKING IN MY SCHOOL SHOES
by Eric Litwin and James Dean
Check out the website!
Seriously, it is! Back-to-school? They’re back now and we’re looking ahead to holiday book ordering and displays. First up: Halloween! Here are some ideas to help you with your book displays:
PUMPKIN TROUBLE by Jan Thomas
LITTLE GOBLINS TEN by Pamela Jane, illustrated by Jane Manning
PUMPKIN CAT by Anne Mortimer
SCARY SCHOOL by Derek the Ghost, illustrated by Scott M. Fischer
ZOMBIE CHASERS #2: UNDEAD AHEAD by John Kloepfer, illustrated by Steve Wolfhard
JUNIPER BERRY by M.P. Kozlowsky
FROST by Marianna Baer (and read by Sasha Obama!)
FAT VAMPIRE by Adam Rex (now in paperback!)
POSSESS by Gretchen McNeil
What are your go-to recommendations for kids looking for scary books? Anything fun that you do for Halloween book displays?