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Listen up! Audiobooks for NSLA Conference

Are your ears ready to read a book? This post is all about audiobooks, written to accompany the audiobook session at the 2019 NSLA Conference, presented by Francisca Goldsmith and Angela Reynolds (that’s me)!

First, I want to tell you about a new format that I got to test. Have you heard of Wonderbooks? It is a new format from Playaway, with the audio built right into the book. It even charges up with a USB cord, so no need for batteries. The buttons are easy to navigate, and the instructions are read aloud, so children can easily operate the book. There’s a read-along mode as well as a learning mode, which has good questions that can serve as models for adults or adult learners sharing books with children. I listened to an easy reader and a picture book. Both had high quality audio recordings, and the page turn signal did not interfere with the enjoyment of the book. Thanks to Live Oak Media for a couple of review copies of this awesome new way to share read-along picture books.

For some examples of how AVRL uses and promotes audiobooks, see our Teen SRC, Book Club in a Bag, and booklists for kids and teens.

And now, for the links and resources!

Sound Learning – Lists, articles, and information on how audiobooks promote literacy

Article: End of Audiobook Snobbery

How to book a Skype visit with a narrator (and other resources for libraries)

AudioFile Magazine – Reviews, blog, and podcasts

The Audies (award winning audiobooks)

The Odyssey Award

Ears on the Odyssey (Mock Odyssey blog)

Notable Recordings for Children (ALSC)

Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults (YALSA)

Audiobook SYNC (free audiobook downloads during summer)

Thanks for listening!




The year of picture books!

It has been a very long time since I’ve posted here. Embarrassingly long in blog-world time. But I’ve been busy, I’ve been reading books like mad (are you following me on Twitter @annavalley?) So, here are some of my favourites from 2018, as well as a couple of lists I’ve created.

First, the lists:  ***Favourite Picture Books *** Favourite Informational Books ***Favourite Chapter Books ***Favourite YA

And now, some of the best books I’ve come across this year, with links to place holds.Please note I said SOME. There’s not time or room to feature all of the books I think you should look at. Go up to those lists and see how many more there are!


Adrian Simcoxboats on the bay book cover does NOT have a horse / written by Marcy Campbell ; illustrated by Corinna Luyken Using white space to the utmost, this story of imagination and acceptance will make you sigh when you get to the denouement. Open this one up, enjoy the whole book, and see what that wrap-around cover tells you .

Boats on the bay  words by Jeanne Walker Harvey ; pictures by Grady McFerrin.  The text is easy to read, and a good way to build some maritime vocabulary. But the illustrations are what make this book rise to the top. The watercolour illustrations fit so well with the watery theme, turning each boat into a work of art.

book cover with two childrenBuilders & breakers by Steve Light.  With deceptively simple text this book might get passed over. But take a look at the excellent book design here. The story begins on the title page, is deepened with end papers and a secret look on the board covers. What a grand example of illustration advancing the story!

Deep underwater by Irene Luxbacher. I’m currently obsessed with mermaids underater sceneand underwater stories, so this one really spoke to me. I love the whimsy and watery scenes in this book. Lovely.


Drawn together , written by Minh Lê ; illustrated by Dan Santat. If you are a regular reader of this blog you might think I am a big fan of Dan Santat, and you’d be right. I have to include this one because it is just a brilliant example of illustration fitted in with a heart-warming story of inter-generational understanding.

Hansel & Gretel by Bethan Woollvin. I am also a huge fan of Bethan Woolvin. She has some sort of alien connection to fairy tales, where she is able to perfectly turn them on their heads every single time. Funny, wry, and feminist, her stories are taking these old tales to a new level. Huzzah!

I don’t want to go to sleep,  written by Dev Petty ; illustrated by Mike Boldt. Reluctant hibernating Frog made me laugh out loud. Good enough reason to include it in my favourites. boy inmermaid costume

Julián is a mermaid by Jessica Love. Remember what I said about mermaids? Well, Julian is obsessed with them, too, and his grandmother is happy to cultivate that obsession. I just love this book so much, I hug it every time I read it. If you have not seen it yet, place a hold on it right now. Not only is the story a good one, the illustrations are delightful.

Look by Fiona Woodcock. Never have two O’s next to each other been given such a fantastic treatment. Balloons, food, and a trip to the zoo make this my ballons and textchoice for the best illustrated vocabulary and language arts book of the year.

The origin of day and night by Paula Ikuutaq Rumbolt ; illustrations by Lenny Lishchenko. Inuit publishing house Inhabit Media comes out with some beauties every year. The illustrations in this one put is up in my favs, but there’s a good story, too!

Winter is here / by Kevin Henkes ; illustrated by Laura Dronzek. I don’t really want Winter to be here, but Kevin Henkes almost makes me feel ok about it. Another beauty exploring seasons from the Henkes/Dronzek team.

A world of kindness / from the editors & illustrators of Pajama Press. This is the kind of book I want to buy for every classroom in all the elementary schools. With simple statements and a variety of artists illustrating them, it is a daily reminder of how to be kind. Couldn’t  we all use a little of that these days? hands in a heart shape

Ok, there you have some of my favourite picture books of the year. What are your favourites? What did I miss? I might (please note I said might) have enough time this month to do the same for informational books. Until the next time, follow me on Twitter and watch for the #PictureBookPile tweets! Happy reading.

Summer books

While summer seems to come and go here in Nova Scotia, I’ve found a pile of picture books to share with you. It is always sunny when we get new books! Here’s a few I think you might like. Where are you?

Where are You? by Sarah Williamson,  Alfred A. Knopf, 2017

The youngest in your crowd will enjoy looking for this pair of snakes — one green, one pink. Cleverly hidden in uncomplicated illustrations, each page is not only a seek and find, but also a mini-lesson in directional prepositions. (Where are you? In the grass. On a boat.) Fun for toddler or baby storytimes.

Little Plane Learns to Write by Stephen Savage, Roaring Brook Press, 2017

Up in the air, Little Plane does fine with his arcs and dives, but the loopity-loops gLittle Planeive him troubles. Just like any child learning to write, Little Plane practises until it becomes easier and finally he gets it! Child-friendly digital illustration pair well with this early writing lesson. Perfect for pre-school and primary classrooms, and should work well in storytime, too.

Firefighter Duckies by Frank W. Dormer, Atheneum, 2017

I am completely enamored with this book – – it has a fun secret cover (wee-ooo wee-ooo wee-ooo), its smells nice, and it has just the right amount of silliness for a great storytime book. These firefighting duckies rescue all sorts of cfirefighter duckiesritters, including gorillas in chef hats and rampaging centipedes. The book has loads of charm, good vocabulary, and fun illustration. It pays tribute to the strength and bravery of firefighters, and will sit just right on the Firefighter storytime shelf. But you really need to practise Wee-Ooing before you share it. Go ahead, try it.

This book will not be fun. by Cirocco Dunlap, illustrated by Olivier Tallec, Random House, 2017

You can kind of tell from the title what this book is all about. Not fun, that’s for sure. An odd little mouse insists that no fun will be had. Of course, how can you resist a Giant Zero-Gravity Dance Party FThis book will not be funilled With Impossible Creatures? You can’t. So get up and tap your toes, shake your bottom. But try not to have fun.


Out! by Arree Chung, Henry Holt and Co., 2017

A baby, imprisoned in a crib at night, is assisted by the family dog for a night-time jailbreak. Plenty of action occurs in this nearly wordless book, and kids will enjoy making up the story as you go along. While wordless books may be tricky at storytime, they are great for family sharing. Here’s a blog post to help if you want to try thiOut!s one at your next storytime, thanks to Melissa over at Mel’s Desk.


This is a ball by Beck & Matt Stanton, Little, Brown & Co., 2017

From the series called “Books that drive kids crazy”, This is a Ball could be a really fun read. You’ll have This is a ballto amp it up, though, and channel your best class-clown impersonation. It would pair well with the no-fun book above, and with The Book with No Pictures by B.J. Novak. So,why not make some kids shout in the library. It’s fun.

Picture Book Month: Carpool Book Club

If you just tuned in from Carpool Book Club, Episode Two, here’s the promised list of books we discussed. If you missed Carpool Book Club, quick, go watch the latest episode RIGHT HERE. I promise, I will give you the booklist, but first, a little about Carpool Book Club. The idea came about after an hour-long drive with a friend who loves picture books as much as I do. We spent the whole drive talking about books. And we thought it would be fun to turn that concept into a video. A img_5590year later, we’ve started to try it out — so far it has been Jai Soloy and myself, Angela Reynolds. But we hope to have guests in the future, and we hope to talk about all sorts of books. We are still working out technical and sound issues, but we are having fun with it.

The books! (if I have previously blogged about these, links go there – if not, links go to our library catalogue).

Are We There Yet? by Dan Santat


We Found a Hat by Jon Klassen


There’s a Part Two of this episode in the wings. Let us know in the comments if you want to see it!

StoryWalks & StoryMobs – taking Early Literacy beyond the library walls

Storywalk 003As part of the ALA session, Early Literacy beyond the Library, I am talking about our success with StoryWalks and StoryMobs. This blog post has the links to all the info I referenced in the session, plus a link to the Wiki for our session. Most of your questions about creating a StoryWalk or hosting a StoryMob, will be found on these links.  Here we go!

ALSC blog post about StoryWalk HERE

StoryWalk permissions and history: http://www.kellogghubbard.org/storywalk

StoryWalk easy version blog post on Valley Storytime

StoryWalk Video: Live action video  and photos

StoryWalk blog post from Curious City

StoryMobs website: http://storymobs.ca/               pp storymob 019

ALSC blog post about Green Eggs & Ham StoryMob

StoryMob Video: Live action Green Eggs & Ham

Still photos Wild Things

Pumpkin People StoryMob (photos)

StoryMob on ValleyStorytime blog


Summer reading!

Summer is upon us, and we’ve got a whole gang of new books to keep you reading. Try these for summer storytimes.

grasshopperGrasshopper & the Ants – by Jerry Pinkney. (Little Brown)
Aesop’s fables for a new generation come to life with Jerry Pinkney’s fabulous illustrations. This one has lilting storytelling to accompany the lush pictures. The illustration is very detailed and busy, so this one might work best with smaller groups. But don’t miss it—the beauty of the watercolors is a WOW!

Tommy Can’t Stop by Tim Federle, illus by Mark Fearing. (Disney Hyperion)
Tommy is a bundle of energy and his family is plum tuckered from dealing with him. When he goes to dance class, his energy is funneled into creativity. Share this to let the bounciest kids see that they can find their niche.

Troto amd the Trucks by Uri Shulevitz  (Margaret Ferguson Books, FSG)
Little Troto the car is made fun of by the Big Trucks until he wins the race. Big on lesson, but still a fun little romp with vehicles to add to your next transportation storytime.

Bear Counts by Karma Wilson & Jane Chapman  (Margaret K. McElderry/ S&S)
If you need to add some numbers to storytime, Bear can help. This a a fun little counting book that includes rhymes, new vocabulary, and of course, interactive counting.

My Cousin Momo by Zachariah O’Hora  (Dial Booksmomo)
Momo is a flying squirrel and his cousins (regular squirrels) can’t wait to see him do it. Fly, that is. Momo has his own ideas about things, though. For example, his idea of a Super Hero is “The Muffin Man”. This is a fun book about being true to yourself, with really fun illustrations. Have kids draw their own version of a Super Hero after sharing this book.

In by Nikki McClure  (Abrams Appleseed)
Exploring the concepts of in & out, McClure’s lovely papercuts follow a child who wants to be in, and then out, and then in. A quiet addition to storytime. Perhaps for an exploration of books with black and white illustrations? Opposites?

Bears Don’t Read by Emma Chichester Clark  (Harper Collins)
Everyone knows bears don’t read. Except, of course, Bear. A young girl wants to learn to read, too, so she & bear work out a compromise. A fun addition to storytimes where kids can sit for a longer story. Bear’s expressive eyes help carry the story right along.

Sea & Rex by Molly Idle  (Viking/Penguin)
Molly Idle’s familiarly shaped humans go to the beach with s couple of dinosaurs. This sunny, friendly story will make a fine addition to your summer storytimes.

you nestYou Nest Here with Me by Jane Yolen Illus by Melissa Sweet  (Boyds Mills Press)
A new Melissa Sweet book is always cause to celebrate, in my book. And this sweet little poem featuring all sorts of birds fits Sweet’s style perfectly. The book is charming, the illustrations are lovely, and the words work just right for storytime. Would also be a lovely gift for a new baby.

Counting Chickens by Polly Alakija  (Frances Lincoln)
Tobi’s hen lays eggs, and sits on her nest. Meanwhile, all the other kids in the village get to see their dogs have puppies, goats have kids, etc. In the end, the chicks hatch, and Tobi ends up with a whole flock of birds. Count them at storytime! (there are 50).

One Family by George one fmailyShannon, illus. Buy Blanca Gomez   (Frances Foster Books, FSG)
This is a lovely counting book about all sorts of families. The text, while simple, includes rhymes, good vocabulary, and a very nice message about how we can be different and yet the same. The families are diverse in many ways, reinforced by the retro-feeling illustrations. Lovely addition to storytime, or any time.

Duck’s Vacation by Gilad Soffer   (Feiwel & Friends)
Duck has gone to a nice, quiet island to rest and relax. At the turn of the page (which Duck begs the reader not to do), the peace and quiet is destroyed. Each page turn makes matters worse, until a band of pirates show up and Duck leaves the book. A fun summer romp.

Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo and Flo! By Laurel Molk   (Viking)
Five little mice tie a string around the toe of several different animals. The boys don’t want Flo to play along. But of course, she saves the day. Fun rhymes and illustrations.

Worm Races at Storytime

Our Wolfville branch does a Spring storytime each year featuring Worm Races. I asked them to do a write up about it, so here’s a guest post from Emily Leeson at our Wolfvlle branch:

frog craft

frog craft

Spring has finally sprung here in the Annapolis Valley! While the weather outside may still be unpredictable, it’s still the perfect time to bring a bit of spring into the library. The crew at the Wolfville Memorial Library recently welcomed the season with their fifth annual worm races during the monthly special Springtime Storytime held the last Tuesday of the month. This year, the theme had special significance as the library has also taken on a new gardening project. Through the generous support of the TD Friends of the Environment Fund, the Wolfville Memorial Library is now the proud site of a brand new pollinator-friendly garden. Throughout the summer, the aptly-named Pollinator Project will involve activities for all ages will be centered around the creation and management of this special garden.

The Springtime storytime is set for ages 3-5 years with their caretakers on hand. A good crowd gathered this year as the annual event is anticipated by many. Stories and songs set the tone for the Springtime festivities. These included:

Wiggle Waggle by Caroline Arnold, Jo MacDonald Saw a Pond by Mary Quattlebaum, and Bob and Otto by Robert Bruel. For even more wormy ideas, check our WORMS Pinterest board!

May the best worm win

May the best worm win

Alice set up the worms races by placing down a tarp marked with an inner and outer circle. The worms were placed in the inner circle, lightly sprayed with water to get them going and the crowd cheered as they inched their way towards the outer circle. The first one to pass was crowned the winner. After several heats, an overall winner was established and the entire crew sang, ‘You are the Champion’ (with a few wormy-words changed to fit the day) in his/her honour.

You are the Champion
(Wormy Mercury version)

You wiggled along
You won the race
Segments that pulled
Put you in first place

Back to the dirt
No hook for you
You squiggled and squirmed
And squirmed and squiggled
And you came through

Crawl on and on and on and on
You are the champion my friend
And you’ll keep on squirming ‘til the end
You are the champion
You are the champion
No time for fishing
‘Cause you are the champion of the worms

A simple snack was offered: Goldfish crackers acting as tadpole for the theme. A frog-themed craft was available and the storytime finished up with children planting seeds to be later transferred into the library gardens.

Blog break

Happy New Year! I will be taking a Blog Break for this year– 2014 is my year to serve on the Caldecott Committee, and I will be very busy with that. This is a self-induced Blog Break, as I am trying to find a few things that I can NOT do this year in order to free up some time for reading, reading, reading, and looking at a whole lot of art.  I am really looking forward to being busy with books!

I may do occasional posts, but will Tweet them if they happen.   Have a lovely year, folks, and come back and see me in 2015!

Summer holiday

…taking a break here at Valley Storytime! Summer is so busy with the Summer Reading Club and more. We’ll be back in September with some great books for you to enjoy. For now,  have a fun summer and read lots of great books!

To tide you over,  my favourite YA book this summer is CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth E. Wein,  and the picture book that I have most enjoyed sharing  is The Squeaky Door by Margaret Read MacDonald. Best audio? The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, with Enchanted by Alathea Kontis coming in a close second.

Have a great summer!

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