Every Child Ready to Read

Storytimes are over until June and I’m so busy working in the garden that I’m not reading. So, sorry for the lull. But! Today I presented an Early Lit: Every Child Ready to Read training for my colleagues with my Early Literacy Teammates. I was in charge of role playing exercises, which I know are not everyone’s favorite things. However, they are important. I thought it might be nice for my fellow Early Lit experts to take a peek at what I came up with for role playing exercise for their own future training or for their own practice.

“Don’t kids learn to read in Kindergarten and First Grade? Why do we need to focus on learning to read when my child is a baby? She can’t even hold her head up!”

  • Children who are read to have a higher vocabulary and better language skills when they start school
  • Children get ready to learn to read long before they officially start school


“I’ve tried reading to my toddler but he won’t sit still. I’m about to give up on storytimes.”

  • Reiterate the importance of songs and play
  • Suggest reading activities while on walks (reading street signs, discussing colors, what words rhyme with stop when you see a stop sign etc.)
  • In my case, one of my more antsy storytime attendees remembered me after she “graduated” from toddler storytime and would do “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” or “Open Them, Shut Them” when she saw me in the library.


“I make my child read with me every night for 20 minutes before bed time, but now she’s acting up before bed, and I think she hates reading.”

  • Reiterate the importance of songs and rhymes
  • Give suggestions for different songs—sing familiar songs to different tunes to switch it up
  • Make up your own song or have child make up their own song
  • Include the child in picking out of books–mix it up, some chapter, some picture, some graphic.


“My two-year-old can’t hold a spoon correctly, what’s the point of trying to teach him how to write?”

  • Remind parents that early coloring and “writing” is great practice for fine motor skills and the ability to hold a pencil and pen once their child gets to the age where he or she learns to print.
  • Reiterate that early writing or scribbling also has meaning to the child, which is important for reading and writing since the concept of letters or markings holding meaning/definition is beginning to form.


“I work two jobs and am a single parent. I don’t have time to devote hours a day to teaching my child how to read.”

  • Give parent suggestions for short exercise and rhymes that can encourage reading in small bursts
  • Suggest audio books while in the car instead of the radio


You’re running a program for parents and caregivers on Every Child Ready to Read and you’ve already discussed the basics of sing, write, talk, play, read. What other suggestions do you give? How do you incorporate STEM or other learning models into your program?

  • Counting
  • Hypothesis type of questions, “if x happens, what do you think will happen next”


A teenager comes into the library looking for books and resources on babysitting. In addition to babysitting books, what tips do you give the teen in regards to ECRR?

  • Links to websites with storytime and rhyme collections?
  • Tips for songs and rhymes i.e. repetition; speeding up/slowing down;


While at an outreach event (say, farmers market) an older patron asks for picture book recommendations because toddler aged grandkids are coming to visit. What books do you recommend and why?

  • Do the titles have rhymes? Do they promote play?
    • Example: The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear—can make small voices, big voices, repeats etc
    • Bear Books by Karma Wilson has rhyme and repetition
    • Hooray for Hat the hat changes and can child and caregiver can easily discuss “what will happen next?”
    • Pete the Cat each reader can make up their own tune to the songs- sing fast, sing slow etc.
    • Jan Thomas- Can you make a scary face? Is Everyone Ready for Fun?
    • Wordless picturebooks: children can make up own stories based on pictures- still reading (reading the pictures)


You’re talking to a local newspaper about the importance of storytime and Every Child Ready to Read. What is your “elevator speech” on the importance of ECRR?


Worth Reading: Kid Lit

What Classic Picture Book Fills You With Dread?

This post is geared more towards parents, with examples like:

“Marjorie Flack’s “The Story About Ping” also fills me with anxiety. One evening, the little duck Ping fails to hear the call in time to return home to the family boat, gets stuck on shore, and has horrible adventures until he finally manages to get home, to a spank, the next night. I don’t think I ever once read this book to my daughters.”

But, it’s an interesting idea.

I sent it to my mom, asking her if she had any books like this she refused to read to me or my brother. She couldn’t think of one. The only one I can think of is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I don’t think it’s the best idea to teach our children to give themselves completely to another person and I don’t understand people’s fascination with the book. If you’re interested, there are many others who dislike The Giving Tree and you can read all about it here and here.

I’m not a mother, but I don’t give this book as a baby shower gift, for the reason Laurel Snyder describes: “When you give a new mother ten copies of ‘The Giving Tree,’ it does send a message to the mother that we are supposed to be this person.”


Black Kids Don’t Want to Read About Harriet Tubman All the Time

Not only do we need #diversebooks, but those books about diverse characters need to be diverse. I can think of a few recent book about non-historical characters, but there certainly aren’t many. Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley and Grandma’s Tiny House: A Counting Story by Janay Brown-Wood come to mind.

“Regardless of what the publishing industry seems to think, our babies don’t spend their days thinking about Harriet Tubman, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and black bodies swinging; they’re excited about what the tooth fairy will leave under their pillows, contemplating their first ride on the school bus, looking for dragons in their closets.”



Harry Potter Day!

A coworker discovered Bloomsbury’s Harry Potter Book Night promotional materials, so we decided to have our own Harry Potter program. We all love Harry Potter, so it was a no brainer. The official Harry Potter Book Night happened to fall on a February 1st, school night, so we postponed until Saturday. Which also happened to be the day before the Super Bowl (only tangentially important).

Most of the resources from Bloomsbury focus on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, since the new movie is coming out soon. The resources are also geared towards older kids and the super obsessed. Even I didn’t know the answers to most! So I picked through the resource book and made my own program.

First, I found a house sorting system using a cootie catcher, or fortune teller (this is dependent on age and where you grew up). I thought about the Pottermore quiz, but I couldn’t take that long to sort everyone via an online quiz. However, showing second graders how to fold the fortune teller was a lot more difficult than I had anticipated. Thankfully a few grownups stayed to enjoy the party. We also had one attendee who was still in Kindergarten and can’t read, so having her mom there was very helpful.


Once sorted, we had 2 Slytherins, 2 Ravenclaws, and 1 Gryffindor (the kinder) so I joined her team. As you can see, the Slytherins won handily.

house points

Then we played Pictionary. I came up with the phrases and tried to vary it between easy and hard, as I wasn’t sure what age group would show up. I included: Scabbers, Snape, Hagrid, Bertie Bots Ever Flavor Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Potions class, the Elder Wand, The Burrow and a few more that I can’t remember. Then we moved on to Jeopardy. This is where things got tricky. A lovely volunteen made our Jeopardy board, but all the questions from the Bloomsbury Handbook were about Fantastic Beasts, and the questions were hard! And of course, the kids all went for the 150 point questions, and only one team got a question over 50 points right. So I did feel badly about that. But, in my defense, the program was geared and advertised towards middle and high schoolers. Not in my defense, I should know by now that our programs attendees skew young.


By the time we finished Jeopardy, our program hour was almost over. We quickly cut out the template for the corner book marks, and I sent them home with supplies to decorate and Harry Potterfy their bookmarks. Then they took home the word search and draw your won beast pages from the Bloomsbury Guide.

All in all, it was a fun program, and I got to capitalize on the fun Superb Owl meme, with the most superb of Superb Owls.



Look up the hashtag #foundinabook sometime, and you’ll find some interesting things! These are much more inspiring than what others have found.

One reader thought Amina’s Voice was so good, she (I’m assuming she) had to let everyone know just how good it is.


This lovely bookmark was found in a book a while ago and I love looking at it at the desk, so I decided I had to share. IMG_5935

The Princess in Black

I mentioned previously that I like to dress up as characters from children’s books for Halloween. This year I was Princess Magnolia, or better known as The Princess in Black.


The only thing I had to do was cut a piece of black felt to an appropriate cape size (I don’t recommend felt though, it was very heavy. But it was all I had on hand) and draw a flower, cut it out and pin it to my shirt. Easy Peasy.

Bookish Halloween

Since becoming a librarian I’ve rediscovered a love of Halloween. I love dressing SELRES_f3d44d3f-4bd0-4388-8a7e-2ba8fd04891bup like some of mySELRES_f3d44d3f-4bd0-4388-8a7e-2ba8fd04891b favorite books and book characters. Of course, they’re pretty much all kids books since I work with children. But, really, they’re more fun anyway!

So without further ado, I present the last couple of years worth of bookish Halloween. I linked patterns and printables where I could, but some of these are quite old. This year, the plan is to dress up as Princess Magnolia from The Princess in Black series by Shannon and Dean Hale.

Luna Lovegood

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling

As you can tell, I majorly copied the look from the movies as there is not a lot to go off in the books. I found a printable for the specterspecs online and a cover for the Quibbler. I also found a pattern for making radish earrings out of beads and made my own design for the wand and butterbeer cork necklace. For the Ravenclaw crest I printed the copy I liked best, “laminated” it with packing tape and then used a safety pin to pin it on my sweater.

circa 2010


Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by C.S. Lewis

This was probably the easiest costume. I already had the blue dress and black bow headband and black shoes. The only thing to make was the apron and all I did was cut up an old white tshirt in a half-circle shape and tie it around my waist. I did write in puffy paint “we’re all made here” on the pocket I made out of the tshirt’s sleeve. I hot glued the pocket onto the apron.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2013

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Tree

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr.

A bit of advice, should you want to recreate this costume- don’t use a stretchy knit tunic. The letters would not stay on and I spent most of the day trying to tape, staple, and sew them on my sweater. To make the letters I typed the alphabet into word using a simple font and then cut them all out to use as a pattern. Full disclosure, my mom made the leaf collar. I have no idea how she did that- it’s far beyond my talents.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2014


How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

If I remember correctly, Astrid is not in the books, just the movie. But it counts because the movie is based off a book. And obviously I based my costume and my husband’s off the movie (he’s Toothless if you can’t tell). I found a bat costume intended for kids using a black zip up sweatshirt and modified it for Toothless. The ears were the hardest part (although you can’t really see the ears in this pic). You can’t tell, but I had skirt made out of brown felt strips (worn over shorts of course). I then drew with skull like shapes on with Sharpie to emulate Astrid’s skirt in the movie. The Viking helmet is left over from a previous costume, and since we live in MN the snow boots were no problem.

Bookish Halloween

circa 2015

Olivia the Pig

Olivia series by Ian Falconer

All the books are checked out at the moment, but I’m not 100% sure the version of the outfit I wore is ever seen in Falconer’s Olivia, or if it’s only seen in the TV show and the books based off the show. The only thing I had to make were the ears, which were a lot harder than I expected! I attached pipe cleaners to a stretchy workout style headband then tried to hot glue felt along the shape of the pipe cleaner, to give the ears the distinctly Olivia shape. That didn’t work so well, The felt ears kept detaching themselves from the pipe cleaner, and the pipe cleaner on the headband was really scratchy.
Bookish Halloween

circa 2016

New (to me) Picture Books


XO, OX: A Love Story written by Adam Rex, illustrated by Scott Campbell

I really wanted to like this one, but fell flat. Despite the wonderful illustrations. Ox loves Gazelle (who seems like a celebrity of some sort, and who we assume Ox has never actually met), and writes her love letters. At first Gazelle is annoyed and then Ox accidentally insults her, but they keep writing. By the end Gazelle has fallen for Ox. Maybe XO, OX is supposed satirical, but clearly many of us are not getting that intent. Instead, it reads like a creepy (stalkerish) story and is not sending a good message about consent and respect.


The Giant Jumperee written by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

I really liked the illustrations in this one, and the surprise at the end will sure to delight kids. I think The Giant Jumperee would work really well in a storytime setting. Although I always have to wonder where these stories take place. Do all these animals really coexist in areas around the globe? I guess this is what happens when you are married to a naturalist.


Not Quite Narwhal written and illustrated by Jessie Sima

Kelp is a unicorn born to a family of narwhals. This is super cute, but definitely playing into current trends/pop culture. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I don’t know how much of the praise is due to the story and how much is due to the unicorn love at the moment.

Overall, it’s a very sweet story about making family and being true to yourself.


A Greyhound, A Groundhog written by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Chris Appelhans

This is so sweet. I love the watercolor illustrations and the repetition. It’s very reminiscent of Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett. I also think this one would work well in a storytime setting. Maybe around Groundhog Day?