Friday, May 25, 2018

Whoo-Whooo Loves Storytime?

I haven't seen anything inspiring lately, so today I ended up recycling a theme I've done before (owls), but found a couple of different books to use.  I also ended up having another library employee accompany me as part of a job shadow. 

We started with our welcome song, then I told them I was going to give them clues and see if they could guess our theme. I first told them our stories were about an animal that sleeps during the day and is awake at night. I fully expected to have to give them an additional clue, and just as I was about to after several incorrect guesses one little girl got it. We then talked about how owls are nocturnal, and they have such big eyes to help them see at night.

We sang our story song, incorporating flapping our wings and saying "Whoo-whoo", then read our first book, Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick Benson. 

This classic is one of my favorites. The baby owls are adorable as they wait for their mother to return, become more concerned the longer they wait, and little Bill wailing "I want my mommy!" over and over. Children can easily relate to missing their parents, and being excited to see them again.

Then we got to pretend to be owls with a song:

"Be Like An Owl"
(to the tune of "London Bridges")

Open your eyes up big and wide, big and wide, big and wide.
Open your eyes up big and wide, just like an owl.

Flap your wings and fly around, fly around, fly around.
Flap your wings and fly around, just like an owl.

Land on the ground and hop along, hop along, hop along.
Land on the ground and hop along, just like an owl.

Fly up in the tree and sit on a branch, sit on a branch, sit on a branch.
Fly up in the tree and sit on a branch, just like an owl.

Turn your head and say "Who, who", say "Who, who", say "who, who".
Turn your head and say "Who, who", just like an owl.

For our second book I chose one of Jonathan Allen's Baby Owl series, I'm Not Cute! This is a very cute series that is both funny and sweet. In this story, Baby Owl wants to be seen as the strong, fierce hunter he will be someday, and gets upset when everyone keeps saying how cute he is instead, saying "I'm not cute!" over and over. 

But when Mama Owl agrees with him, he gets upset because he now wants to be cute, and Mama knows he just needs a nap. This is a good opportunity to talk about how being tired can make us cranky and more prone to tantrums, and that's why sometimes we just need to go to bed.

I followed that with a pair of "Five Little Owls" rhymes, first counting up and then counting back down, using a different hand each time.

Five Little Owls, owl storytime

"Five Little Owls"

One little owl when the moon was new,
Along came another owl, and that made two.

Two little owls perched high in the tree,
Along came another owl, and that made three.

Three little owls flew to the barn door,
Along came another owl, and that made four.

Four little owls lined up side by side,
Along came another owl and that made five.

*Five little owls hooted "Whoo, whoo, whoo,"
Then they flapped their wings and away they flew.*

(*I skip this last verse  when I'm combining the two rhymes*)

Five little owls on a dark, dark night,
Five little owls are quite a sight.*

Five little owls!  Are you keeping score?
One flies away, and that leaves four.

Four little owls, as happy as can be.
One flew away, and that leaves three.

Three little owls calling, "Who, who, who."
One flies away, and that leaves two.

Two little owls, having lots of fun.
One flew away, and that leaves one.

One little owl, and we're almost done.
She flies away, and that leaves none!

I pause at the end of each verse and let the audience fill in the number.  If I hear several wrong answers, then we will stop and count them before moving on.

For at last book I found one that is a little funny and a little dramatic, Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise by Sean Taylor and Jean Jullien. Hoot Owl is hungry and on the prowl when he spies a rabbit. Being a master of disguise, he dons a carrot costume to try to lure the rabbit closer. When that fails, he then tries to get a lamb, followed by a pigeon. 

Despite his prowess, he is unable to catch any of them. Then, finally, he finds a unexpected target that can't run away. Kids will like name the disguises and predicting whether Hoot Owl will be successful or not, and the striking illustrations help keep their attention.

We finished up with our closing song and handed out owl stickers, having the kids identify the colors of their respective owls.

How It Went
The kids seemed to like all the books, but were most attentive with Hoot Owl: Master of Disguise, perhaps because of the slightly dramatic tone or maybe they had just finally settled down. The loved pretending to be owls with the song, but some got distracted during the counting rhymes.

Their reactions to our guest observer were funny and unexpected. I thought they would get excited, and mob her asking her name and such, but instead they just stared at her, some seemingly with suspicion. I'm really not sure why, other than the fact I've never brought anyone else before. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Seeing Things From The Other Side

So this month I started a new adventure that will give me a whole new perspective on public librarianship. Drum roll please.....

I am honored to be a newly-appointed member of my local public library's Board of Trustees!

So how did this come about? It's certainly not anything I had ever planned or even thought about doing. But one day I just happened to see a notice in the local paper that they had two openings to finish unexpired terms on the library board. I thought they might have trouble filling two spots, and maybe they'd like to have someone who had knowledge of library operations and ethics who had also been a long-time resident and library user. And for once, my age would not be a detriment as it is in job-hunting (everyone thinks children's librarians must be young, bubbly, and perky); compared to the typical board member I am on the younger side.

I wondered if it would be strange to have the employee of another library on the board, but when I posted the question to a librarian Facebook group, there was a surprising number of librarians who have served on other library boards, and all of them said it was a good experience. So I figured what the heck, it wasn't a huge commitment and could be a really good experience. So I sent in a letter of interest, interviewed with the board, and evidently they liked what I had to say, because this week I was sworn in and attended my first board meeting.

The oath I had to swear was a bit humorous. Not only did I have to swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution, the Constitution of the Commonwealth, and the by-laws of the library district, I also had to swear I had never participated in a duel and that I would not participate in any duels during my term of service 😂. Obviously duels were a big problem here at one point in history, and the oath has never been revised. 

The first board meeting I attended was short and sweet, with no major issues to discuss or decide. I admit I felt slightly out of place, with a bit of imposter syndrome triggered by receiving a very disappointing (and unnecessarily harsh) job rejection the day before that left my confidence quite shaken, but I began to feel more at easy by the end. 

I think this will be a really good experience, and being able to see things from the administrative side will help me better understand things that go on in the system where I'm employed and make me a better librarian in the future, as well as giving me the opportunity to serve my own community.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Preschool Storytime - Rabbits

This storytime actually came from a plan I prepared for an assignment. The original plan called for Everybunny Dance! by Ellie Sandall, which is what I did for the interview, but since I had already done that book and Candace Fleming's Muncha! Muncha! Muncha! with this group recently, I used the alternate books from the plan I had prepared.

We started with our welcome song, then I introduced the topic with a non-fiction book, Rabbits, Rabbits & More Rabbits by Gail Gibbons to give them a few interesting facts about rabbits, and the difference between rabbits and hares. Then we moved on to our story song, with added bunny-themed verses.

For our first story I chose The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo by Jonathan Allen. This is a cute story of a little bunny who likes to try making the sounds of other animals, and the other baby farm animals all join in. Eventually, they all decide that while it is fun making other sounds, the like their own sounds best, except for the rabbit who surprises the audience in a twist ending. 

Kids love making the animal sounds, which helps with phonological awareness, and they can identify the animals. Short, simple text and very cute illustrations.

I followed that with a cute flannel board and rhyme. I used the "Shapes" tool in publisher to make a simple bunny pattern with ovals for the ears and circles for the head, body, and tail, then drew on mouth and whiskers and added googly eyes.

Five Little Bunnies

Five little bunnies playing on the floor;
One hopped away, and then there were four.

Four little bunnies hiding behind a tree;
One climbed up, and then there were three.

Three little bunnies wondered what to do;
One went to sleep, and then there were two.

Two little bunnies looking for some fun;
One jumped down a hole, and then there was one.

One little bunny, alone in the sun;
He hopped home to his burrow, and then there was none.

After the first time, I had the kids put the hand they used down, and use their other hand in order to be sure their non-dominant hand got some fine-motor exercise, too.

Our last story is one of my boss's favorites, Duck! Rabbit! by Amy Krause Rosenthal andTom Lichtenheld. This is an exercise in perspective and point of view as we have an image that can be seen as a duck or a rabbit.

Two unseen voices argue back and forth, each presenting different observations to support their opinion. In the end, they start to see each other's point of view. Then, look, there's an anteater! Or is it a dinosaur??

While reading the story, the kids will also argue back and forth about whether it's a duck or a rabbit. Afterward, we tried  to take a vote and graph it, but it didn't work out quite as well as I'd hoped. Three-year olds just can't really grasp the concept of voting, or making a choice and sticking to it. 

I tried a show of hands, I tried getting them to line up on different sides of the room, bu
t they would keep changing their minds. It was like an episode of Keystone Cops, LOL! We finally got them to stay on one side or the other, and I showed them how to do a simple bar graph of the results to work on pre-math skills.

After that, we sang our closing song and passed out stickers.

How It Went
Overall it went okay, though slightly downhill at the end. They really liked the first book and the rhyme. They didn't quite seem to get Duck! Rabbit!, although I did hear some arguing about whether it was a duck or a rabbit, and voting and graphing were just too much for them to grasp. While I really like the idea of adding math literacy to storytime, I think I will have to stick to sorting and grouping activities and shapes with the younger ones.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Non-Fiction Picture Book Review - Secrets of the Sea

Review of Secrets of the Sea, sea life, ocean creatures, plankton
Secrets of the Sea, October 3, 2017
written by Kate Baker
illustrated by Eleanor Taylor
Big Picture Press
96 pages, ages 8-12

I'm a little late on this one, as we did not get it in our library until February, and though it caught my eye immediately, I have not had a chance to sit down and write a review until now.

This is a large, beautiful coffee-table type book about sea life, that immediately brought to mind the previous year's Giant Squid by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohman. However, while both books cover things not often seen, this books focus on the small things, from microscopic plankton to tiny details or larval forms of larger creatures, brought to life with Eleanor Taylor's gorgeous mixed-media illustrations revealing minute details we would never be able to see in real life.

(click on any image to view full-size)

The book is organized by the zones of the ocean, starting with the shallows. There we see some familiar creatures, such as crabs, lobster, and sea stars along with some unfamiliar ones like the tiny daphnia, or water flea.

daphnae, daphnia, water flea

From there we head into the kelp forest that shelters many kinds of fish, as well as being home to sea urchins, nudibranch, and microscopic cyanobacteria and diatoms. Then the coral reef, where we find coral polyps, the pygmy seahorse, various zooplankton, giant clams, and more. After that, we head to the open sea, where we find the toxic Man-of-War and Blue Dragon, as well as the harmless moon jelly and "sea butterfly" snail pictured on the cover. Finally, we reach the deepest part of the ocean with it's most unusual and seldom seen creatures like the giant tube worms, bioluminescent jellies, squid, and octopus.


The full-page, full-color illustrations are accompanied by text that includes both the scientific and common names, size, and a description with interesting facts and significant characteristics. At the end of the book is a bibliography that includes print materials as well as several websites.


This book is intended for an older audience that Giant Squid, but I think younger kids would still enjoy looking at the pictures and having an adult tell them a little bit about them, though not the entire text. As a former microbiologist I really appreciate the inclusion of all the various microscopic plankton, larvae, and single-celled organisms, showing their intricate patterns and geometric shapes.

A really beautiful book that I encourage you to check out! (And if you haven't seen Giant Squid yet, be sure to check it out, too!)