Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Read Across America Day - Changemakers

 A storytime celebrating brave and determined people who have worked to change the status quo....

  • Steadfast : Frances Perkins, champion of workers' rights by Jennifer J. Merz.
  • Frances Perkins witnessed NYC's Triangle Fire and made it her life's mission to aid workers -- she championed worker safety laws in NY then become FDR's secretary of labor - the 1st woman US Cabinet Member and the force behind the New Deal.
You don't need to be a grownup to make a difference:

I am Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges
When Ruby Bridges was aged just six, she became the first African American student to integrate an elementary school in the South. Based on the pivotal events of 1960 and told from her own point of view for the first time, this is a poetic reflection on her experience that changed the face of history and the trajectory of the Civil Rights movement. Also showed pages from The story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
Received too late to share but a great teacher resource: Dear Ruby, hear our hearts : letters to civil rights activist Ruby Bridges by Ruby Bridges

Sit-in : how four friends stood up by sitting down by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Opening the road : Victor Hugo Green and his Green Book by Keila V. Dawson

Greta Thunberg by Maria Isabel Sanchez Vegara ; illustrated by Anke Weckmann
he inspiring true story of Greta Thunberg, the environmental activist. When young Greta learned of the climate crisis, she stopped talking. She couldn't understand why people in power were not doing anything to save our Earth. One day she started protesting outside the Swedish Parliament, creating the "School Strike for Climate." Soon, lots more young people joined her in a global movement that shook adults and politicians alike. She had found her voice and uses it to inspire humans to action with her powerful message: "No one is too small to make a difference."  (Didn't discover until afterwards: Greta and the Giants : Inspired by Greta Thunberg's stand to save the world by ZoĆ« Tucker - a fictionalized but tells true story at the end - would make a good readaloud) or consider Our house is on fire : Greta Thunberg's call to save the planet by Jeanette Winter

Sang the inspiring words with the book: 

This little light of mine  illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Through the words of a well-known African-American spiritual dating back to the days of slavery, a little boy finds that through simple, kind acts he has the power to let his light shine and warm the world around him

Finished with the wise advice from: 

  • Be a king : Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream and you by Carole Boston Weatherford ; illustrated by James Ransome   "You can be a King. Stamp out hatred. Put your foot down and walk tall. You can be a King. Beat the drum for justice. March to your own conscience. Featuring a dual narrative of the key moments of Dr. King's life alongside a modern class as the students learn about him, Carole Weatherfor's poetic text encapsulates the moments that readers today can reenact in their own lives.
And asked the kids what they could do to make the world & in the future

Bedminster School 2nd Grade 2/28/24

Memory Cafe (YMCA) - Changemakers/Black History Month

I was invited as a storyteller for the Basking Ridge YMCA "Memory Cafe"  - a place of respite for adults with dementia & their caregivers. 


Read Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney  323.1196 PIN – Splendid writing filled with food metaphors telling the story of the  4 college students who inspired a movement with their patient wait at a Woolworth’s lunch counter for their order of “doughnuts & coffee & cream on the side.

Followed with us all singing together this beautifully-illustrated and affirming book - a good song for young and old to have in our hearts and minds for tough days... 


Book/Song: This Little Light of Mine illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Also talked about possible handprint art project - showed how they could trace a grandchild's hands on a piece of  of plain paper and have them decorate it - possibly including a note of something/someone that they are thankful or grateful for in the center heart section - great for Valentine's Day or Thanksgiving or really, any time...

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

Literacy Volunteers - Middle Earth "Snow" Storytime/Craft


Read: Snow by Uri Shulewitz (discussed Caldecott Medal – what it means)

Acted Out: The Mitten by Jan Brett (did with a large tablecloth mitten & sign/masks from details:

  • Talked about folktale (story retold over generations/centuries (define), then read Jan Brett’s  book with kids holding tablecloth and masks from at the “aachoo”, I grabbed the tablecloth and the kids scattered. Another possibility is to have two kids (or grown ups) hold hands and become each side of the mitten, then let the kids crowd in between. (from

Frosty the Snowman

Singable Book: Frosty
Booktalked: Raymond Brigg’s The Snowman (wonderful video available on Youtube) 

Snowflake Bentley

Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, illustrated by Mary Azarian (talked about Caldecott Gold woodcut illustrations, true book – would find in the Biography (bio=life, graphy =writing,stories section)

Singable/flannel: “In the Freezer” by Joe Scruggs – lyrics here.

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert (had kids look at the collage art –> art project)

Snow creatures (inspired by Ehlert’s book) – Materials: White & colored construction paper, markers, scissors, glue, pompoms, buttons, feathers, etc.

Finished with: Snowball fight using plastic bag snowballs, to the music “Sleigh Ride” by Leroy Anderson (on album Season’s Greetings)
Making snowballs:
1) Gather a white plastic grocery bag into a long, skinny tube-like length with the handles on one end.
2) Fold the length in half, then in half again.
3) Wind a rubber band around the middle until it is tight.
4) Cut open both ends to remove any folded areas.
5) Then fluff out pieces
Idea courtesy of:  Susan Dailey, librarian, speaker and author of "A Storytime Year"

Optional Additional Craft : Cut out paper snowflakes (could use large tissue paper) (booktalked Snowflake Bentley – another Caldecott)


Friday, January 19, 2024

2024 Mock Caldecott - Bedminster School K-2

2024 – I conducted 4 Mock Caldecott elections with a total of about 200 K-2nd* graders at Bedminster School. I used the books and ideas from this blogpost: and the basic procedure here (using Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes and Tuesday by David Wiesner as samples of previous winners and mentioning how the Caldecott Committee is meeting in secret and no one knows which books they are considering – we are all guessing!).  

*Because of snow days, 3rd grade had to bow out.  Here are the results:

Kdg Winner: Big by Vashti Harrison
Honors: In the Night Garden by Carin Berger
The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker
Once Upon a Book, illustrations by Grace Lin
Also Read: Remember Illustrations by Michaela Goade, Words by Joy Harjo
My Powerful HairIllustrations by Steph Littlebird

1st Grade Winner: If I Was a Horse by Sophie Blackall
Honors: Big by Vashti Harrison
The Skull by Jon Klassen
Once Upon a Book, illustrations by Grace Lin
Remember Illustrations by Michaela Goade, Words by Joy Harjo
Also Read: In the Night Garden by Carin Berger
This is a Story, by John Schu, illustrations by Lauren Castillo

2nd Grade Winner: The Skull by Jon Klassen
Honors: Evergreen by Matthew Cordell
The Tree and the River by Aaron Becker
Jumper by Jessica Lanan
Nell Plants a Tree, illustrations by Daniel Miyares
Also Read: In the Night Garden by Carin Berger
If I Was a Horse by Sophie Blackall
Remember Illustrations by Michaela Goade, Words by Joy Harjo

All the books we considered are discussed here:

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Literacy Volunteers Virtual Storytime - Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs


Read: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett about a town which gets its food through precipitation, then followed with some Thanksgiving-themed food stories & songs

Towel Folding Story: The Case of the Missing Turkey -- Rhonda Turley   Piedmont, OK via PUBYAC. Video:  (or search youtube for towel and chicken).
Other Thanksgiving ideas and songs can be found here: Pre-School Storytime/Craft: Thanksgiving

"Last year, I was in charge of cooking the family thanksgiving turkey.I set my alarm for early in the morning so I could pop it in the oven to cook for our family dinner.

When the alarm went off, I got up, put on my fuzzy slippers and shuffled out to the kitchen to get the bird.  I opened the fridge, and…IT WAS GONE!
Where could it be!? (this is where the towel folding starts…lay the towel out flat)
I looked everywhere!
I rolled up the living room rug (roll one end of the towel to center)…it wasn’t under there.
I pulled down the covers on my bed (roll other end to the center)…it wasn’t there.
I turned over the couch cushion  (Flip rolled towel over so rolled ends are underneath)…it wasn’t there.
I looked under the chair (fold towel in half end to end, and hold upright like a bouquet of flowers)…it wasn’t there.
I looked in the flower vase (peek in end of one tube and pull up the corner of the towel)
I looked in the umbrella stand (peek in end of one tube and pull up the corner of the towel)…it wasn’t there.
I even looked in the trash can  (peek in end of one tube and pull up the corner of the towel)...thankfully it wasn't there!
Finally, I looked in the cookie jar  (pull up last corner of the towel)
(here’s the finale…grasp two corners with one hand, the other two corners with the other hand, and pull them apart…resulting in what looks like a plucked bird.)
…And there it was!"

Prop/Song: I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie – based on the book by Alison Jackson (great song for helping kids work on their memory skills – try to have them remember the different foods in the countdown; can also use rhyming reminders (phonemic awareness) as clues.) (We use a cardboard old lady with a plastic see-through stomach panel and a cardboard box mounted behind for the food items.) Lyrics and more images:

Song: The Turkey Shot Out of the Oven (words: Jack Prelutsky, chorus: Cathy Darby)
Tune: “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” Check it out on Youtube, subtitled in Chinese! 

The turkey shot out of the oven
And rocketed into the air,
It knocked every plate off the table
And partly demolished a chair.
Oh my, oh me, why didn't I follow the recipe?
Oh my, oh me, why didn't I follow the recipe?

It ricocheted into a corner,
And burst with a deafening boom,
Then splattered all over the kitchen,
Completely obscuring the room. Chorus

It stuck to the walls and the windows,
It totally coated the floor,
There was turkey attached to the ceiling
Where there'd never been turkey before. Chorus

It blanketed every appliance,
It smeared every saucer and bowl,
There wasn't a way I could stop it,
That turkey was out of control. Chorus

I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure,
And thought with chagrin as I mopped,
That I'd never again stuff a turkey
With popcorn that hadn't been popped!

While the kids worked on their drawings of what foods they'd like to have rain down,
we played this video of Bridgewater author David Wiesner's story of mysterious floating giant vegetables, June 29, 1999


Friday, April 21, 2023

School Age Storytime - Earth Day


I Love Our Earth - Bill Martin Jr. - photographic celebration

Spring is Here - Taro Gomi  "Spring is here. / The snow melts. / The earth is fresh. / The grass sprouts." Taro Gomi's clever picture book about the change of seasons couldn't be simpler. The first spread shows a white calf against a hot-pink background. "Spring is here," it says. In the next spread "the snow melts." And indeed, the once snow-white calf is now spotted black and white! 

Song: This is the Way we Plant Our Seeds

Living Sunlight: How Plants Bring the Earth to Life - Molly Bang & Penny Chisholm  (572.46 BANG) -- this creative and memorable explanation of photosynthesis will stick with kids for a long time.

And the Green Grass Grew all Around (flannel) – lyrics here: 

Booktalk: The Great Kapok Tree

booktalk: The Camping Trip the Changed America

Dear Earth: From Your Friends in Room 5 - Erin Dealey When the kids in Room 5 write to Earth asking what they can do to help save our planet, they are delighted to get a letter back. This beautiful picture book is a celebration of every child's ability to connect with the environment and make a positive impact .

Action Book: Earth Dance by Joanne Ryder

Singable book: What a Wonderful World - Ashley Bryan

Mother Earth - Nancy Luenn Gorgeous watercolors accompany this extended metaphorical exploration of our planet

SN only:

Our Tree Named Steve - Alan Zweibel

No time:
Does the Earth Feel?  - Marc Majewki
The Water Hole - Graeme Base

Bedm/Paolino SN 4/19/23

Friday, March 17, 2023

School Age Storytime: St. Patrick's Day and Finding Treasure in Unexpected Ways


Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato: An Irish Folktale by Tomie De Paola. (Discussed meaning of folktale, compared retelling to game of "telephone.") Ireland's laziest man happens upon a Leprechaun and is given a potato that grows to huge proportions and creates humorous problems. 

That's What Leprechauns Do by Eve Bunting (Delightful illustrations from Caldecott medalist Emily Arnold McCully accompany a playful text written in a lilting Irish style about three leprechauns' mischief-making on their way to place the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.)

Speaking of looking for gold...

The Book of Gold by Bob Staake (Single name = author & illustrator.  Young Isaac Gutenberg isn't a curious boy . . . that is, until he meets an old shopkeeper who tells him about The Book of Gold. This special book, hidden somewhere in the world, holds all the answers to every question and turns to solid gold when opened. Isaac is determined to find the book and spends his whole life searching for it...discovering many other things along the way.

Another book celebrating the magic of discovery:

The Pink Refrigerator by Tim Egan ("Try to do as little as possible.” This was Dodsworth’s motto, until, one morning, on his daily trip to the junkyard, he discovers a pink refrigerator...)

Last, a book with no words...but a special kind of magic!

Chalk by Bill Thomson  (A rainy day. Three kids in a park. A dinosaur spring rider. A bag of chalk. The kids begin to draw...and then...magic! The children draw the sun, butterflies, and a dinosaur that amazingly come to life. Children will never feel the same about the playground after they experience this astounding wordless picture book and the power of the imagination.)

No time for:

If… by Sarah Perry (Imagine if cats could fly, leaves were fish, mice were hair, caterpillars were toothpaste, toes were teeth, or frogs ate rainbows…then imagine what else you can imagine!)  

Imagine a Day/Night/Place/World books by Sarah Thompson  (mind-bending images & poems)

Other books celebrating books, reading, and libraries:

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