Friday, December 25, 2009

Better Late Than Never

I suppose I should have posted this yesterday or the day before, but I just plain didn't have time. I read holiday stories for Preschool Storytime last week, and if you particularly liked a couple, but couldn't remember the titles, here they are:

My First Kwanzaa, by Karen Katz. This tells about Kwanzaa in very simple terms.

The Hanukkah Mice, by Steven Kroll. A girls gets a dollhouse and its contents on the eight days of Hannukah, and a family of mice get to enjoy it.

Wake Up Santa Claus, by Marcus Pfister. Santa has a bad dream that everything goes wrong on Christmas Eve and he can't deliver presents.

Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear, by Don and Audrey Wood. The little mouse first wants to protect his presents from the Big Hungry Bear, but then decides to share Christmas with him.

Who Is Coming To Our House, by Joseph Slate. The animals prepare the stable for the visit from Mary and Joseph. (I read this only on Wednesday.)

The Story of Christmas, by Vivian French. This is a retelling of the birth of Jesus. I'm afraid it had the kids rugrolling. It might be more successful one-on-one at home with your child. I've had a hard time finding an interesting age appropriate retelling of the first Christmas. If you know of one, please let me know in the comments.

I should have thought of posting this earlier, but if you're at a bookstore and they're having a good clearance on Christmas books, here are some of my favorites (besides the ones above). Most of them are for older children, but yours will be ready for them before you know it.

A Small Miracle, by Peter Collington. This is a wordless book about a poor old woman and the Nativity set people who come to life to help her. It's much cooler than it sounds.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss. A classic everyone needs to have.

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, by Susan Wojciechowski. A woodcarver makes a Nativity Set for a boy and his mother and learns to find joy in the holiday again.

The Christmas Bear, by Henrietta Stickland. A young bear accidentally falls into Santa's workshop and gets a tour. Absolutely gorgeous illustrations.

Carl's Christmas, by Alexandra Day. One of the wordless Carl series, it has fabulous illustrations, as usual, and a subtle message of helping one another.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Barbara Robinson. This is a chapter book that I read every year to my girls. Yes, even this year. It's one of our holiday traditions that we love. I have the first paragraph memorized, "The Herdmans were absolutely the worst kids in the history of the world. They lied and stole and smoked cigars (even the girls)...." It has seven chapters, and each can easily be read in one sitting. It's such a funny, yet touching story about some troubled kids having Christmas "come over them all at once." Maybe you've watched the movie or seen the play, but nothing takes the place of the book.

I hope your Christmas Day was wonderful. Mine was. See you next week.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Have a blessed holiday. Hug your kids, hug your spouse, take a deep breath and enjoy the good parts. Ignore any not-so-good parts for now. There's time to deal with that later. Pour yourself another cup of something yummy.

Thank you all for making my job so much fun. I may lead the storytimes, but you make it work by bringing the little ones, encouraging them, applauding them and loving them.

I invite you to the Christmas Eve services at my church, Countryside Church, where my whole family is involved this year. I'm directing the drama, my girls are singing and acting, and my husband leads the band. You can look up service times here if you'd like to come.

Now I must do some wrapping so I don't have to stay up late on Christmas Eve!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Regular Storytimes Over the Holidays

Just a reminder that Preschool Storytime, Toddler Time and Baby Time will go on as scheduled over the two week holiday. See you there!

The Newest Thing

Lately I've been hearing about the new trend in child-raising. It's called "Slow Parenting" or "Simple Parenting". It's a backlash against the high-stress, overly scheduled lifestyle we sometimes impose on our children by insisting they be involved in every activity that could possibly benefit their brains, bodies or social skills. "Let's see, little Johnny needs music lessons for his artistic side, soccer for his athletic side, scouts to learn social skills and service to others, spanish, Lego Robotics, plus twice a week in childcare at the YMCA while I work out, add in the membership to OMSI and the Zoo that we have to make use of and, what's that? How old is Little Johnny? First grade."

All those activities are wonderful in and of themselves, but when does Little Johnny get to play? Free play is essential for growing a creative, problem solving mind. Boredom is not something to be avoided at all costs. Boredom is what teaches our children to amuse themselves, to try something new, to pull out those toys and actually (gasp!) use them in a way they were not intended to be used. And that's a GOOD thing!

I guess I'm old enough to say that back in my day, things were different. I belonged to Camp Fire Girls for three or four years, and it was just okay. I took piano lessons from third grade until I graduated from high school. I had a horse (which was a family pet, nothing fancy) and a swimming pool, so that was great exercise, but of course it wasn't scheduled activity. That was about all. I remember being on a summer softball team in middle school once and I hated it. I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. I built my own skateboard and hung on to my horse's tail while she pulled me around. I rode her to the library and Seven-Eleven. I entered neighborhood just-for-fun horse shows. I read books. My friend and I put on our own dog show. I explored the hills endlessly by myself. It was fantastic, and I still graduated from high school and college even without having my life directed for me by my parents.

There are some great articles out lately about this movement to slow down and simplify. You can read an interview with the author of the book Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children From the Culture of Hyper-Parenting here. Nancy Gibbs' article in Time magazine about "helicopter parents" created some buzz. You can read that one here. Definitely some food for thought.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

This Week at the Library

Baby Time

Our little babies are growing so fast! We get to watch each other's little ones finally sit up, start tracking the bubbles floating past, crawl, stand, until finally they graduate to Toddler Time. Moms share tips and trials along the way, even discover they're relatives! (Yes, that happened.) I see so many pregnant moms at Toddler Time, I hope you'll give Baby Time a try!

Toddler Time

We learned a couple of new rhymes today. (Actually, I just brought them back after a hiatus.)


Now I'll be a lamppost, standing straight and tall.
Now I'll be a jellyfish. I can't stand up at all.
Now I'll be a kangaroo, hopping on the ground.
Now I'll be a spinning top, spinning round and round.
Now I'll be a monkey, climbing up a string.
Now I'll be just me. I can be anything!

I'm a Little Snowman
(Sung to "I'm a Little Teapot")

I'm a little snowman, short and fat.
Here is my broomstick.
Here is my hat.
When the sun comes out I melt away.
Down, down, down, down.
Whoops! I'm a puddle.

We read Machines at Work, by Byron Barton, and Cat's Colors, by Jane Cabrera.

Preschool Storytime

We got to learn the difference between a crocodile and an alligator this week. The simplest difference is in their teeth. An alligator has all of his lower teeth on the inside, while a crocodile has his lower teeth showing on the outside of his jaw, especially two big teeth like lower fangs.

We read:

Clarabella's Teeth, by An Vrombaut. Poor Clarabella takes ALL DAY to brush all those teeth and misses out on all the fun. Then her friends surprise her with a huge toothbrush.

There's an Alligator Under My Bed, by Mercer Mayer. This is like a sequel to There's a Nightmare in My Closet. The little boy decides to take care of that alligator once and for all.

Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile, by Won-Ldy Paye (no that's not a typo). So funny when Mrs. Chicken proves to the crocodile that she's her sister!

The flannelboard story was "The Monkey and the Crocodile" where the monkey is the smart one, and the crocodile is foolish. Then we sang "Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree" and the monkeys are the foolish ones. (Of course I can't use the "s" know - stupid)

The song goes like this:

Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree

Five little monkeys swinging in a tree
Teasing Mr. Crocodile
"You can't catch me. No you can't catch me."
Along comes Mr. Crocodile as quiet as can be
And SNAPS that monkey right out of that tree.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Storytime During the Holidays

Just want you all to know that all Storytimes will go on as scheduled next week and the week after. I'll be doing holiday stories at Preschool Storytime next week. I finally found a cute Hanukkah book, and am working on a good Kwanzaa one. The market could really use some fun read alouds on those subjects. Most of them seem so boring or didactic. If you know of good Hanukkah/Kwanzaa preschool books, please let me know!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Wild and Crazy

Whew! I'm back from an INSANE day shopping - both for Christmas and for groceries. I think the whole world was out trying to beat the coming precipitation. So it was wild and crazy on the roads and in the stores.

It was also wild and crazy at Storytime this week, and I loved it! Instead of having a theme at preschool time, I just chose books I love and that I knew the kids would love. Here they are:

Preschool Storytime

The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas. Such a fun twist on the Three Little Pigs!
How Many Bugs in a Box? by David Carter. The long-necked bugs in the thin box gets them every time. Wish you could have seen their faces when I slammed the book on the saw bugs!
Opposites by Robert Crowther. This is a fantastic pop-up book. But the happy/sad turning face seems a little creepy sometimes.
Little Pea by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. See my last post about this book.

We also played Greg & Steve's Freeze Game with the batons. Not a single one destroyed!!

Toddler Time

We read Cookie's Week by Cindy Ward (Cookie fell in the toilet! Oh no!!), and My Car by Byron Barton.

Baby Time

It's so nice to have the relaxing time to chat after we do our rhymes and songs and bubbles and books. The group is still pretty small, so tell your friends and neighbors to come join us!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Wonderful Trio

I'm all excited about an amazing trio of adorable picture books. They would make an awesome Christmas gift to those who like to give books to little ones. In fact, Amazon has the three in a boxed set. But of course, we'd rather support our local business and buy them at MudPuddles!

Little Pea, Little Hoot, and Little Oink by Amy Krouse Rosenthal are about as perfectly written as a picture book can be, and the illustrations by Jen Corace are delightful as much for adults as for children.

Little Pea is about a little, yes, pea, who hates to eat candy, but must eat five pieces in order to have his favorite dessert: spinach! Little Hoot hates to stay up late, but must play for one more hour before he is allowed to go to bed. Little Oink hates to be messy, but must make his room a proper pigsty before he can play his favorite game - house - where he can clean and scrub to his heart's content.

The beauty of these stories, from my point of view as a story reader/teller and aspiring author, is not just the humor and twist on age old parent/child conflicts, but the structure and pattern each story follows. In each book, the child says "When I grow up, I'll let my child (fill in the blank) whenever he wants!" He does what the parent asks, but when he says "Now can I (fill in the blank)," they answer with "Ten more minutes..." or "Five more pieces..." and the child counts "One, two, three..." Finally the child is released to do what he wants, which is the opposite of what any normal, redblooded American child would choose.

These books are entirely satisfying and comprehensible to the age group they're aimed at. I love the colorful illustrations that have little hidden surprises. It's one of those times when after you've read lots of picture books you think, yeah, that's okay, but something doesn't sit quite right. Then you read something like these little books and you think "That's it!! A perfectly written story!!" (And the little voice in me says "Why can't I do that?!")

Okay, I'll tuck my envy away now. Sigh... Maybe someday....

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This Week at the Library

Preschool Storytime

"Bedtime" is one of my favorite themes. There are so many fun stories about bedtime, naptime, and all variations of wanting/not wanting to go to sleep. I could easily do an hour-and-a-half storytime with all the books I like, but I don't think the little ones would care for it. I did manage to get through six stories and two songs thought, so that was great.

Just Go To Bed, by Mercer Mayer - All the ways a child can avoid the inevitable.
Little Hoot, by Rosenthal - "Mom, can I PLEASE go to bed?" "No, not until you play for another hour." Hilarious.
Bye, Bye, Crib, by McGhee - The little guy thinks sleeping in a big bed is scary until his blankie and pillow lead the way.
Mortimer, by Munsch - Mortime drives everyone crazy with his bedtime singing.
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by Yolen - The illustrations are definitely what make this book so appealing.

My flannelboard story was The Napping House, by Audrey Wood. The book is just as good. She's a master illustrator.

We sang 10 In a Bed and Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear from the "Wee Sing" CD.

If I'd had more time I would have read Good Night Moon (of course), Bedtime by Blos, Are You Ready For Bed by Saltzberg, The Bunnies are Not In Their Beds, by Russo (though I just read that for "Rabbits" week), No Nap, by Bunting. So many good books, so little time!

Toddler Time

I'm really looking forward to adding the new time in January. This week our Tuesday group was only about 18 kids and it was such a good sized group. I'm hoping they'll all be about that size.

One rhyme to add to the list is

There is Thunder (to the tune of Frere Jacques)

There is thunder
There is thunder
Here it roar
Here it roar
Pitter patter raindrops
Pitter patter raindrops
I'm all wet
I'm all wet

We read How Do I Put it On?, by Watanabe. They really got into the humor of seeing shoes on ears and hats on feet. And we read The Chick and the Duckling, by Ginsburg. I liked it today when the chick had sunk in the water, and the duckling pulled him out and said "I'm going for another swim." I asked the kids, "What will the chick say this time?" One girl said, "Cocka-doodle-doo." Makes sense, I guess!

Baby Time

I love baby laughter! Whether it's squeals, belly laughs or big grunts, it's so infectious.

We had some good talks on sibling rivalry today and shared a few good ideas.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Great News!

I've gotten approval to start another Toddler Time! We've gotten so crowded that it's become difficult to do some of the fun things I like to do with toddlers - like blowing bubbles and Ring Around the Rosie - so I asked to start another time slot and the wonderful Friends of the Library are supporting it. Our new time will be Tuesdays at 9:30am starting in January. The library will not be open at that time, so coming in on the parking lot side of the building will be best.

I'm excited to be able to make our times a little more personable and less intimidating for parents and kids both!