…storytime, books, and ideas

Archive for the ‘programs’ Category

Information, please! Favourites of 2018

Two posts in one month? A December miracle. Here’s some of my favs of the year in the “informational” category. There sure are some gorgeous non-fiction books out bloomthere, folks! My whole list is RIGHT HERE, and I can’t possibly tell you about all of them, so here are some highlights.

First, Bloom : a story of fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli  by Kyo Maclear ; illlustrated by Julie Morstead. What a team, Maclear and Morstead. Look at the cover! It is so pretty, it invites me right in. And there’s great information in there. I learn so much from these books. In fact, when I found myself at the Victoria & Albert Museum,  standing in front of a black velvet evening gown, I said, “Hey, that’s a Schiaparelli!” . Kid-lit makes me smarter.

In The elephant by Jenni Desmond, short text and lovely illustrations give you a quick natural history lesson on elephants. Did you know that tusked elephants favour a right or left tusk? They wear down the one they use most. Wow!

The cover gives you a hint of the gorgeous art inside this book. Wab Kinego showw celebrates his heroes, from astronauts to hockey players, from well-known names to many unsung. Take a look at Go show the world : a celebration of Indigenous heroes  by Wab Kinew,  illustrated by Joe Morse, and discover the heroic folks inside.

I love Giselle Potter‘s style, so when I see a book illustrated by her, I always take a second look. I’ve heard Temple Grandin’s story before, and this version for kids is just right. Enough information to build empathy, and to let kids who feel like Temple know they are not alone. What an interesting story! –How to build a hug : Temple Grandin and her amazing squeeze machine by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville ; illustrated by Giselle Potter.

beastsThis book is just , well, lovely. Just like the title says! Lovely beasts : the surprising truth by Kate Gardner ; illustrated by Heidi Smith will make you take a second look at spiders, gorillas, and more. Take the “scary” out of animals and look for the lovely with this book.

Do you know who made polka-dots famous? After you read this book you will. There’s a lot of picture-book artist biographies out there these days, and I love finding out about them from kid’s books! Check this one out and try your own dot art. Yayoi Kusama : from here to infinity by Sarah Suzuki ; illustrated by Ellen Weinstein ; with repoductions of works by Yayoi Kusama.

That’s all for this year! Enjoy these books, and more from your local library . If you are reading this in the Annapolis Valley, place holds on the books right from this post. And if you want to come see stacks and stacks of awesome books in January, I’ll be at the Bridgetown Library on January 25, from 6:30-8:30 for a Caldecott Pre-Game Party. Books, cookies, and tea. How can you resist?



Play with Words!

Book cover: recipes for playThis post is to supplement a workshop I am doing at the NSCC for Child Care Providers. Below are links to resources for the workshop, Play With Words! Other readers might find these links useful. Enjoy!

Be Fit Kits: Play and be active  AVRL currently has Be Fit Kits for borrowing, and is working on Be Fit Kits 2.o, which will be launched in March 2017.

Time to Play – AVRL Booklist for adults. Place holds on the books directly from the list!

AVRL – Play in the Library (PDF) This has resources on why play is important in the library setting. Applications to child care settings are similar.

Zero to Three – Videos, research,  resources, and articles on the connections of play and early learning.

Zero to Three video on play and thinking skills

Let’s Play : Free app from Zero to Three  — searchable, and has age levels as well as selected activity locations (bed & bath,  chores, etc)

Full-colour booklet on the Power of Play. Intended for parents, but has lots of good tips  for care providers as well.

Really Rosie play workshop guide. Tips & activities for adult learners.

Center for Childhood Creativity: Research, articles, tips, blog posts.

Importance of Play (PDF) Whitepaper from  Association for Library Services to Children.

Child’s Play: a 4-page handout good for quick tips and sharing with parents.

Center for Excellence for Early Childhood Development (Canadian). Lots of resources here.

Blog Post: Modeling Pretend play

How to do a Fort Night (or day) – blog post from Jbrary

Photos of AVRL fort night on Facebook

Jbrary YouTube Playlist: songs for every occasion and then some.

Knife, Fork, Spoon song from Jbrary

Physical Literacy is like reading literacy: 10 ways they are similar (article)

Active play for the early years from Participaction

Words at Play— Philadelphia  Free Library initiative using literacy as basis for play experiences.

Stories to Act Out: Beyond the Book Blog- play with story, and also this blog has loads of tips on using puppets.

Storytime Underground Resource Depot: The Importance of Play

Blog Post: How to do Life-size Candyland – great game idea!

Drive-in Movie using boxes as cars.

Baby Dance Party (blog post on how to do it, includes playlist)

All things STEAM  (science play) from “The Show-Me Librarian” blog

Box Town – create a whole city from boxes! Blog Post from “Tiny Tips for Library Fun”

Flannel Friday on Pinterest: a bazillion ideas

NOTE: If you have other great resources or blog posts, add them in the comments!

The Night Before Christmas StoryWalk

???????????????????????????????When I read THIS POST about creating a Halloween StoryWalk, I was enchanted.  I loved the idea of an indoor StoryWalk with craft activities and using felt boards. Brilliant. And a day later, one of our branch library staff called and asked for help putting together something for the Town Christmas party. Last year they had over 100 kids in a very tiny library, and the celebration was moving to a bigger location this year. So I immediately thought, why not do a Christmas book? That was before the whole Holiday Ban-Wagon kerfuffle exploded. I had already started cutting apart the books for our StoryWalk by the time that conversation flooded the scene. I don’t want to dwell on that — but I must say, writing this post has taken me a while because I sure don’t want to be yelled at for creating a Christmas StoryWalk. So I am going to just focus on how I did it and how we’ve used it.

Back to the StoryWalk! In case you don’t know the origins of this fabulous idea, please go to THIS LINK to find oust walk 5t. We decided this time to do the “buy two copies and cut the book apart” method. Mainly because we did not have time to request permission to photocopy, and we wanted to use Barbara Reid’s lovely version with those darling clay Santa Mice. So, I got two copies, and started cutting the book apart. Let me tell you– this is a bit unnerving. I wanted to make sure the pages still looked nice, so I used a sharp blade I borrowed from the folks who do our mending. Once I had the first book cut apart, I realized I needed to figure out where the pages would go. I took pictures of each spread of the book I had not yet cut, to use as a guide. It took a bit of fiddling around with glue and posterboard, but I finally got it all together.

I put post-it notes on the pages so I knew which activities went with which pages, and did lots ost walk 2f doust walk3ble-checking before I put the boards into the laminator. I had already cut apart 2 books, I didn’t want to have to sacrifice another! Finally, pages, posterboard, and activities came together for a really fun StoryWalk! We had activities such as Create a mouse to take along, hang a stocking on the wall, dress Santa on the felt board, count the felt reindeer, dash away to the next sign, and jiggle like a bowl of jelly. We’ve used it several times and it has been a lot of fun!

So on to how we used it: this has been a perfect fit for limicebrary outreach events. As I said, we created it originally for a town event– we’ve used it for a recreation party and even a combo indoor-outdoor StoryWalk event with the library and a local craft store.  It is a way for the library to be noticed at a bigger event and to take the “holiday” event outside the walls of the library. And such a classic story, kids love hearing it and parents, too. If you’ve never made a StoryWalk, I can tell you — this is a fairly easy way to do it, and it truly is a whole lot of fun!



On Saturday, July 12, we held one of the most awesome events of the summer. It lasted about 10 minutes, but it was worth all the prep, the phone calls, the radio interviews, the Tweets and Facebook reminders… worth every second of the time spent on it. Maybe that is how Anna Pavlova felt after performing a ballet. So, what was this amazing event? It was a Where the Wild Things Are STORYMOB!!!

Mobbers ready for action!

Mobbers ready for action!

For those unfamiliar with what a Storymob is, please visit the site of the originators of this amazing idea. Here’s a LINK to StoryMobs.ca. Gretel Meyer Odell and Roxanne Deans, both of Toronto, came up with this amazing idea. Basically, it is a FlashMob only done with a book. Mainly, done with a picture book. Add a touch of Mardi Gras, a whole lot of excitement, and you’ve got yourself a StoryMob.

Ok, I’ve raved about the FUN part. Yes, it is fun. It is so much fun I can’t even describe it. This is the second one we’ve done — last September we did Green Eggs and Ham in Wolfville. And that was amazing, too. But folks, it IS a lot of work, I won’t kid you about that part. It takes a lot of organizing and a lot of dedication to pull it off. It just looks like it is easy because of the behind-the-scenes prep.

The folks at StoryMobs have been very helpful. They came up with the idea, and they have worked out a great timeline and have tons of helpful tips. They even pulled off a simultanious StoryMob for the launch of Summer Reading– 13 StoryMobs in ONE DAY! So if you want to do one, and you want to do it right, you really need to contact them. Just follow THIS LINK to find out how.

So, the prep: We had the date and place long ago. Our bookmobile was scheduled to be at the Farmers’ Market, so we thought it was a good match for time & place. We got lucky and had a beautiful day for it (especially since exactly a week before, Tropical Storm Arthur hit our area pretty hard).  Three weeks prior to the StoryMob, we put out the call for readers. You can see our page HERE to see the information we had on the page. The date and time are not released until the day before, or, in our case, a few days before, because so many people were dealing with no power and storm clean-up, and really needed to plan ahead for this.

Ann_Royal_Storymob-3We called lots of local folks that we thought would be good for this: theatre groups, Arts groups, dignitaries. The Town Crier took a part. Our now-retired Regional Librarian who lives in the town took a part. We nearly had the Premier but he was away that weekend. So, you need so heavy-hitters and a few folks that you know have loud, booming voices. The other parts were taken by anyone who wanted to sign up. We had several children as readers, so really, anyone can do it.

Then, promote. We put it on Facebook, we put it on Twitter, we sent press releases, we got the local bookstore on board to have copies of the book and help promote it.  I was interviewed on CBC radio (Thanks, Mainstreet!). Promotion is key. And cross your fingers that a hurricane doesn’t drop by the week before and totally disrupt everyone’s lives. (Though we still pulled it off, so take that, Arthur!)



You also need props. It is what makes it flashy and all Mardi Gras. I love making the props! I found lots of ideas and gathered them on a Pinterest board. We had a Prop-making program, and made lots of masks and crowns and vines. These were available to anyone who showed up and wanted to take part.

On StoryMob day, everyone gathers early, gets signed in, grabs a prop or two, and does a practise run-through. Then you march down to the place where you are going to do the StoryMob, read the book with Wild Abandon, and then leave. Here’s a little video of our photos from the day, or you can find us on Facebook to see even more.

This was so much fun. So much work, but so much fun. And all in the name of literacy, folks, all in the name of making books come alive, of loving books so much that you’ll do just about anything to prove to the world that BOOKS are just about the most awesome thing ever invented. Except maybe StoryMobs.


**PS: After the Green Eggs and Ham StoryMob, I made a kit for storytime– we use the props to act out the story. It works great for class visits and for older kids especially. We will be doing the same with the props from this one. Nothing wasted!

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