Ready, Set, Read!

The ABC's of being a children's Librarian

Library Craft: Paper Bag Pirate Puppet

photoYesterday we’re did a Paper Bag Pirate Puppet craft at my library. It was a fun and timely program. Talk like a Pirate Day is this Friday Sept. 19th.

The craft itself is incredibly simple, but does have a lot of moving parts.


  • Paper lunch bags
  • Construction Paper (black, yellow & brown)
  • Red & White striped paper cut into rectangles
  • Bandana-print paper cut into rectangles
  • Pirate features pattern (beard, ponytail)
  • Scissors, Glue & Markers

The rest is pretty simple. Cut out the pieces, then glue onto the paper bag.

This craft was very successful at the library today. We had about 40-50 people (parents and mostly kids 10 and younger) come in to participate.

Parents could very easily recreate this craft at home, albeit with less materials. I would opt for markers for the eyes, nose, moustache and beard as well as old pieces of fabric for the bandana. This craft does come with a lot of little pieces and does require a lot of prep work. I think many of the small pieces can be replaced by simple imagination with a marker. This is my puppet below. Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with crafts at the library. I love their intrinsic artistic value, the ability for kids to practice their fine and gross motor skills, and the levels of fun and frivolity in the library that accompanies the craft. I hate the prep work, and the set-up. But I guess its all worth it in the end when you have 40+ happy kids talking like pirates with their puppets. I also set up a cute little display of pirate themed books for kids to peruse and take home after the program.

photo (1)  back

I also made a fun display of some of our pirate books to go along with the craft. The books didn’t really check out though. I don’t think they were in the best location.


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Storytime Thurdsay – Bugs, Bugs Bugs!

This week’s storytime theme is bugs.

The books:

I Love Bugs by Emma Dodd

Emma Dodd has long been a favorite of mine for storytimes. Her books work well for Baby/Toddler and Preschool storytimes. This one in particular is fun. A young boy describes all the different types of bugs that he sees and loves. The “brightly-colored-wing bugs and stripy swipey sting bugs.” The book is enourmously fun to read aloud, although I did trip over the words a few times. The illustrations are colorful and endearing, with lots of focus on the insects.


Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!

Bugs! Bugs! Bugs!

Bob Barner is another storytime favorite. This book is no exception. Its a very good compliment to I Love Bugs, although I wonder if its too repetitive? Either way, its a quick, short look at bugs, perfect for the baby age range, while I Love Bugs is more appropriate for the toddlers. Its a good compromise for my mixed up storytime audience. The images are very eye-catching, with bright illustrations. Although this book is rather small in size, the colors stand out so that people can see the images in the back. I tend to lean towards larger books because my storytimes have such a large crowd. The the story is concise enough to keep everyone’s attention.


I kept my same selection of songs, although this week I added Here is the Beehive.

Here is the Beehive, (make a fist, tuck thumb inside)

But where are the bees?

Hidden inside where nobody sees.

Here they come out of the hive (pop out thumb)

One Two Three Four Five (pop out remaining fingers)


© 2014 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

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Storytime Thursday – Good Morning!

Although theme story times tend to go over the heads for a baby/toddler group, it does make selecting books for each week easier for my planning purposes. Since today marks the revival of my library’s baby/toddler story time, I thought I’d go with an appropriate theme of “Good morning.” That being said, good morning books picture books are hard to come by. Especially for the 0-3 age range I am focusing on. I did settle on two titles, although I came across a couple others that are great, just too wordy for my group. I’ll have to keep them in mind for a future booklist.

Wake Up, Big Barn! by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood

Wake up, big barn! This is a fun book, with delightfully artistic, although sort of scary illustrations. I like that the text isn’t your usual prose. Its musical, and really brings the barn animals to life. The illustrations are…interesting. I like them, but I wonder if they might evoke some nightmares in the smaller kids? Thank goodness I have a large crowd, and no one can really see the pictures anyway.

Wake Up, Me! by Marni McGee

Wake up, me! This one is the best. A little boy wakes up every body part, from ears and eyes to his nose and chin and greets the day with a ready smile. I love this book because the little kids can totally relate to the story. A little boy wakes up, eats breakfast, puts on his shoes and jacket and heads out the door. Its perfect. The ending is so open-ended, that it leaves much up to the imagination. The text is short and perfect for a baby/toddler storytime. The illustrations are warm and cuddly.

© 2014 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

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Oliva Loves Halloween by Maggie Testa

Olivia loves Halloween

Olivia Loves Halloween by Maggie Testa

Easy Reader: Level 1

Age: K-1st grade

Genre: Halloween

Find this Book at your local library

Halloween is coming up at Olivia’s school and she is excited. She wants to decorate with red, but is told by her Francine that only orange and black are Halloween colors. Then, Olivia must decide what her costume will be. There are so many options, what will she choose?

I love the Olivia books. I kind of wish these easy readers were written by Ian Falconer though. There is an element of sarcastic whimsy that is missing from the picture books in the easy readers. Olivia is such a multi-layered, creative character. The easy reader Olivia comes off as two-dimensional at times. Nonetheless, I liked this book. It has a happy ending, with the perfect Halloween costume for Olivia (an artist).

It’s a fairly wordy book. About 18-20 words per page. There is a lot of good vocabulary in this book too, lots of polysyllabic words for kids to practice with. It’s a great starter book for talking about Halloween and Halloween costumes with the kids. It’s already a great way to talk about what kids want to be when they grow up. One of the characters, Julian, dresses up as a musician because that’s what he wants to be when he gets older.

© 2014 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

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Doc McStuffins: Brave Dragon


Disney’s Doc McStuffins: Brave Dragon

Easy Reader

Ages: Pre-K to K

Genre: Playground Safety, Disney

Find this book at your local library

Stuffy the Dragon gets hurts on the playground playing with friends and is afraid to play, for fear of getting hurt again. Will be overcome his worries?

I’ve never actually seen the Disney Doc McStuffins show on Disney, but based on the book, it seems like a cute little cartoon for kids. I like that Doc McStuffins isn’t your typical blue-eyed, blond-haired little girl. Doc and her animal friends are playing with all sorts of toys and playground equipment when Stuffy the Dragon gets hurt and doesn’t want to play. The only thing that bothered me was the short of refrain of “be a brave dragon.” As a book for pre-K readers, the text is very short. 1 to 3 word sentences on each page. The illustrations are very colorful and animated, and do a great job of carrying the story. I like the list of playground safety rules on the last page.

I had a mom come in last week asking for books on general safety for pre-school kids and this would have been a perfect selection for her. Unfortunately, it was on the New Books cart at the library today, so I’ll have to keep it in mind if I see her again. It’s a good book for parents to discuss playground etiquette as well. Playing with friends, making sure everyone has a turn, tips about playing safely on the swings and slides. Granted, kids are going to get bumps and scrapes at the park, they’ll get excited and trip over own two feet (my little one does this all the time). I like the message in this book. That even if you get hurt, its okay to be a little hesitant about playing again. Just be sure to get back on your feet if you want to enjoy the day.

© 2014 by Nari of Ready, Set, Read. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @TheNovelWorld or at my Tumblr.

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Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino

Doug unplugged

Doug Unplugged by Dan Yaccarino

Picture Book

Age: 3+

Genre: Learning

Find this book at your local library

Doug is a robot. His parents want him to be the smartest robot, so every morning they plug him in and start a download of new facts. On the day that he is learning about the city, Doug decides to learn about the city in a different way. So, he unplugs himself and begins his adventure outside of the house.

This book is a great example that people can’t learn everything just from computers and technology. Somethings you learn the tactile way.

Doug learned many more things about the city, like:

Wet cement feels squishy under your feet.

Fire engine sirens are loud.

Some garbage cans are smelly.

Manholes are dark.

What I like about Doug’s unplugged exploration is that he uses all five senses to learn about the city and its inhabitants. He even made a new friend and learned how to play. Kids are always curious and eager to learn everything about their world. The best way for them to really understand is to be out of the house, exploring, touching, tasting, smelling and just experiencing life. This is a great book to use when talking to kids about why there on restrictions on how much TV they can watch or computer games they can play. Granted, the audience for this book is really young. The 3 to 5-year-old range. But the message still applies and is a good one to send early.

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Watch Your Tongue, Cecily Beasley by Lane Fredrickson

Watch your tongue, Cecily Beasley

Watch Your Tongue, Cecily Beasley by Lane Fredrickson

Picture Book

Age: 3+

Genre: Manners

Find this book at your local library

Cecily Beasly is a rude and rowdy girl. She doesn’t share her toys and she especially likes to stick out her tongue. At Bernard’s birthday party, she rudely sticks out her tongue only to find that its frozen that way! The mockingbeak tongue-snatcher has a nest and laid some eggs on her tongue. Now Cecily has to wait and wait until the eggs hatch before she can use her tongue again.

Although this book means well, I really didn’t like it. I don’t think its something that translates well to explaining manners and common decency to kids. Cecily is cooped up in her room for 13 days with a bird’s nest on her tongue. When she finally ventures outside, she’s victim to public shaming akin to the Scarlet Letter. In the end, she does realize that she was wrong and writes an apology letter to Bernard, but I don’t feel as if she really learned her lesson. She just felt shamed into feeling guilty. Her parents most certainly didn’t sit down with her to explain what went wrong. In fact, they are almost absent throughout the entire book other than rushing her and her bird’s nest tongue to the emergency room.

There are better books about manners and bullies which actually discuss conflict resolution.

Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney

Following their teacher’s lead, Llama Llama speaks to Gilroy Goat and tells him he should not act like a bully on the playground.

Should I Share My Ice Cream? Mo Willems

Should I share my ice cream?

Gerald the elephant has a big decision to make, but will he make it in time?

How Do Dinosaurs Play With Their Friends by Jane Yolen

How do dinosaurs play with their friends?

Rhyming text and illustrations present some of the ways dinosaurs can play with their friends, from hogging the swings to sharing toys.

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Just A Minute by Yuyi Morales

Just a minute : a trickster tale and counting book

Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale & Counting Book by Yuyi Morales

Picture Book

Ages: 3+

Genre: Folk and Fairy Tales, Concept Book, birthdays, trickster tales

Find this book at your local library

On the morning of Grandma Beetle’s birthday, Senor Galavera (the skeleton of death) pays her a visit. Using her wits, she requests “Just a minute” to prepare for her birthday celebration. She sweeps one house, boils two pots of tea, etc. That is just the start. She counts up to 10 in both English and Spanish to track all of the preparations, delaying death for another year.

Yuri Morales is a gold standard for the San Jose library system and our large Spanish-speaking population. Her book seamlessly interweaves Spanish numbers with English text. The illustrations are vibrant, expressive and no spot of the page is left uncolored. Trickster tales are some of my favorites. Anansi is the most well-known trickster, but it is nice to read Trickster stories from other cultures and traditions. We usually read this book for a storytime for the Dia de los Muertos celebration, but this can be read at any time of the year.

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Too Many Cats by Lori Hashkins Houran

Too many cats

Too Many Cats by Lori Hashkins Houran

Easy Reader: Level 1

Ages: 5+

Genre: Cats

Find this book at your local library

Black cats, grey cats. Stinky, slinky, silly and chilly cats are just a few of the cats that are mentioned in this easy reader book. This level 1 book is a great start for new readers. The text is minimal, two to 4 word sentences. Cat is the most used word, the rest are just descriptors. This book is a great way to build vocabulary. There isn’t much of a story in this book, but at this stage of a child’s reading, they are really just learning how to read the words aloud. The story is very simple. Cats jumping over the fence to hear a woman play her cello. Joe Mathieu’s illustrations are full page color spreads that are eye catching and very detailed. Kids will enjoy pointing out all the different objects they see on each page.

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Why Today’s Kids Need to Know Nursery Rhymes

I won’t lie. I wish I came up with the idea for this post. But I’ll just do my librarian-duty and redistribute the information.

Why Today’s Kids Need to Know Nursery Rhymes via The Measured Mom

Anna Geiger lists 10 reasons why nursery rhymes are important for young children. The list can go on forever, but I think the main points come across very strongly:

They are the perfect first short stories. They teach children at a young age that stories have an intro, a middle and an ending. This will help them anticipate stories and lengthier books.

They can boost language development and foster a love of books. Speaking from experience, our nursery rhymes book is one of my son’s favorites. We act out the motions (rolling our arms with Jack and Jill, tumbling on our backs with Humpty Dumpty). We just have to say the title and he will open the book up to the appropriate page.

They help children become better readers by utilizing a variety of sounds that children otherwise wouldn’t hear in regular conversation. They pick up on the meter of the text and the flow of the rhymes which improves language comprehension and listening skills.

They can improve fine motor skills. The itsy bitsy spider is a tricky move for little kids. Getting their fingers to do these small motions is a fantastic development.



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