Jul 22, 2021

Miss Kari's Favorite Storytime Books

Our talented, lovely storytellers for the summer are Miss Maggie and Miss Katie, but I'll be returning to family storytimes in the fall. As I was thinking about potential themes, songs, and games this week, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite picture books that I gravitate towards again and again for storytimes. 

Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap
As a shy introvert, this book captured my heart immediately and remains one of my absolute favorites. Crunch is a very sweet but shy dinosaur, and he needs a little kindness and patience in order to warm up to new friends. Softly saying hello, maintaining a healthy distance, sitting quietly together, and even singing Happy Birthday (it's Crunch's favorite song) are all ways we can make him feel comfortable. What a gentle, interactive way to introduce the concepts of personal space and shyness.  

Polar Bear's Underwear by Tupera Tupera
Oh no! Polar Bear has lost his underwear! Is it that pair with the colorful stripes? No, that pair of underwear belongs to Zebra. What about the teeny tiny pair with flowers on it? Oops, those belong to Butterfly. Full of cutouts and silly reveals, this book works great as an interactive flannel board. Place Polar Bear on the board and give each child a pair of underwear. When their pair is revealed in the book, have them come up and see if the underwear is the right size or style for Polar Bear (Lots of laughs are guaranteed for Butterfly's underwear). The clever ending will keep your storytime littles entertained. 

A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
A very hungry lion meets an adorable group of animals. What do you think happens next? I have a particular fondness for this one since it was one of the first books I ever read for a storytime. I was filling in for a fellow librarian and she had this gem listed as a potential title for a zoo theme. I laughed out loud the first time I read it, and whenever I read it now it usually gets big laughs from both children and parents. In addition to being entertaining, it also works an example for an early literacy tip. Picture books use lots and lots of different words, words that tend not to appear in typical day-to-day conversations, like "dwindling." Instead of skipping over them or replacing them with easier, more common words, talking about what they mean is a great way to build a diverse vocabulary. Ask your storytime littles what they think the word means before starting the book, then ask again after they notice what's happening to the animals. If you enjoy Cummins' subtle, wry humor, make sure to check out her newest picture book entitled Vampenguin

Blanket: Journey to Extreme Coziness by Loryn Brantz
I have yet to use this book for an in-person storytime, but it was super fun to use for a virtual one this past winter. We grabbed our favorite blankets and followed along napping in burritos, hiding in igloos, and flying as beautiful butterflies. We're having a family fort night in the fall, and I'm thinking of testing this one out with a live, pajama-clad audience. Brantz writes with a lot of humor and positivity. This is a great title to illustrate how children can learn through play and imagination.  

One Red Sock by Jennifer Sattler
Hippo has quite the dilemma: She can't find a match for her red sock! From blue to green to gray to white, nothing matches. What's a hippo to do? Sometimes imperfection is perfection. And confidence is the best thing you can ever wear. Hippo is very expressive so young readers will be able to feel her frustration and panic. I really like how the book includes colors that aren't typical favorites of young readers (everyone likes red or talks about green). You can use this book as a flannel board, or create your own sock matching game to encourage pattern and color matching.

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe
There was the slingshot and other mishaps, but the biggest mistake Pokko's parents made was giving her a drum. After loudly drumming day and night, Pokko's father encourages her to take her music outside and soon Pokko attracts a crowd of musical followers. This book a gorgeous watercolor confection. The expressions of Pokko's parents and the deadpan humor in the text will have you chuckling out loud. I love using frogs as a storytime theme, but this picture book goes beyond frogs. Pokko is talented and a bold leader, and she perfectly illustrates the importance of marching to the beat of your own drum. 

Once Upon a Unicorn's Horn by Beatrice Blue
Flying horses, ice cream, an enchanted forest, what more could you ask for in a picture book? Do you ever wonder how unicorns got their horns? It all started when a little girl named June discovered a group of horses learning to fly. When one horse can't seem to get the hang of it, June and her parents come up with a magical solution. For whatever reason this book reminds me of the 1970 stop motion movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town; the movie explains the all mythology behind Santa Claus and Christmas traditions in fun, sweet ways, and this book is no different when explaining the mystery behind beautiful unicorn horns. 

Mice Skating by Annie Silvestro
I'm a fan of winter so I need no convincing of its beauty and fun, but the mice in Silvestro's book need a little encouragement. When Lucy decides to leave the cozy, warm burrow one winter day, she discovers so much joy in catching snowflakes on her tongue, making snow angels, and building snow mice. When she tries to convince her friends to join her, they quickly decline. What could Lucy do to get them to venture outside? This charming read encourages trying new things, and it recognizes the joy of a often dreaded season. Plus, Silvestro can write cheese puns like nobody's business. Be sure to check out another favorite of mine by Silvestro, Bunny's Book Club

Grumpy Pants by Claire Messer
Have you ever had a grumpy day for no reason? Penguin is in a very bad mood and can't shake his grumpiness. He stomps around and tries several things to feel better. After taking a bath, sipping some hot chocolate, and snuggling with his favorite book and stuffed animal, he starts to feel a tiny bit better and thinks that tomorrow won't be so bad. Ask your storytime littles what makes them smile on sad or grumpy days. A very sweet read about emotions and self-care. 

Dog's Colorful Day by Emma Dodd
Jam, orange juice, grass, ice cream, paint, what a mess! Dog is white with one black spot on his ear, but by the end of the day, Dog has several spots on his coat. Another book that works well as a flannel board, the spots always seem to end up on Dog's face or butt when we read this during storytime, making my giggly group even more hysterical. Simple illustrations, descriptive language, and tons of themes make this a versatile read: Count the number of spots together for a numbers storytime, talk about primary colors, the color wheel, or simply favorite colors for an art storytime, or use it when talking about messes!