LOVE Storytime

Image result for hug machine Image result for love monster Image result for my heart is like a zoo

STORYTIME FOR: Dowagiac District Library (In-House)

Hello/Goodbye Song

We Say Hello/Goodbye Like This (with ukulele)
(Tune: The Farmer in the Dell)
D                                                          A7
We wave hello like this… with our friends in storytime, we wave hello like this.
D                                                         A7
We clap hello like this…with our friends in storytime, we clap hello like this.
D                                                           A7
We stomp hello like this… with our friends in storytime, we stomp hello like this.

Why These Books?

Hug Machine by Scott Campbell.  One of the things that drew me to this story is how it tries to defy stereotypes, putting a boy in a pink book.  And did I mention he loves giving hugs?  He hugs his parents, his pets, and even random objects on the street.  I think that’s what made this book such a big hit, even with the little boys (correction: ESPECIALLY with the little boys).  It’s silly, and it also makes you feel great.  This is a great book for valentine’s day…or any day, because it’s all about sharing love and joy!

Love Monster by Rachel Bright.  This is another book that puts two opposing ideas together.  Love and monsters?  Monster lives in a world filled with cute things, which makes him stand out, and not in a good way.  So he goes searching for someone to love him.  This worked well for storytime, because we did actions with monster (he looked high, he looked low), and also, even though the author tells you differently, monster is adorable.  He really tugs at your heart strings.  He even wears a little purple heart.  This is sure to be a storytime favorite.

My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall.  We ended storytime by getting back to basics.  Who doesn’t love the zoo?  Animal books are always a hit with my storytime kids, and all the animals in this book are made up of heart shapes!  The text is simple, so we spend more time enjoying the illustrations and talking about sounds that animals make.


The More We Get Together (sign language song)
The more we get together, together, together,
the more we get together, the happier we’ll be.
When your friends are my friends, and my friends are your friens.
The more we get together the happier we’ll be!

See my awesome mentor for Skokie Public Library, Holly Jin, teach this song in sign langauge.

Skinnamarink (ukulele song)
Skinnamarink-y-dink-y-dink, skinnamarink-y-doo, I love you.
Skinnamarink-y-dink-y-dink, skinnamarink-y-doo, I love you.
I love you in the morning, and in the afternoon,
I love you in the evening, underneath the moon,
Skinnamarink-y-dink-y-dink, skinnamarink-y-doo, I love you.

If You’re Happy and You Know It (Egg shakers)
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your egg.
If you’re happy and you know it, shake your egg.
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really wanna show it,
If you’re happy and you knot it, shake your egg.

How It Went

We had a good balance of boys and girls today, who really got into the books and songs.  I was a little wary of using Hug Machine, because I thought it might be too long or too pink, especially for the boys, but they really engaged with it.  We talked a little before storytime started about what you do on Valentine’s Day, like giving presents or hugs, which lead nicely into Hug Machine.  The shaker eggs were a hit, and the parents and kids also loved the sign language song.  I did it once at the beginning and once at the end, and the kids picked it up quickly.  Those who didn’t just clapped their hands, which was totally ok!


Writing Dialogue

Today for Writing Wednesday at the library, we’re talking about dialogue.  This can be tricky to write sometimes.  How much is too much?  How much is too little.  I tend to rely more on dialogue, because I’m not as strong with setting.  One of the first things I recommend to people is to think about writing a play or a script.  In a play, there’s no exposition, no narrative voice or tone.  It’s what the characters say that move the story forward.  So how does that work?

Dialogue reveals something about the story or the situation.

As with everything in writing, dialogue should move the story forward.  What a character says or doesn’t say reveals something.  If a vampire comes on scene and your main character says, “Oh, not again,” that tells you that she’s faced vampires before and, in fact, thinks they have become a little tiresome.  But if your character starts stammering or maybe says, “OK, take out the plastic teeth,” that tells you something else.

Dialogue should add tension.

While it’s important to have realistic dialogue, there’s a difference between ordinary dialogue and interesting dialogue.  In real life, we have to work through social pleasantries before we get to the meat of conversation.  But in fiction you can spice things up.  Would you rather read about two people making small talk?  Or perhaps one person is confronting the other?

It doesn’t have to be straight forward.

While dialogue should reveal, it doesn’t just have to be backstory.  In real life, people make snide comments, and that tells us about your characters, too.  Interruptions, commentary, and exclamations all add to interesting dialogue.  Everyone has their own agenda, so even if your character is looking for answers, other characters might be trying to get in her way.

There should be beats between dialogue.

Essentially, what makes characters are reactions.  And sometimes your character might react by not saying anything at all.  You also want to give your characters beats to react internally.  Just like in real life, your characters may be saying one things and thinking another.  This is one way to add tension.  It also helps to slow down the scene.

Said is silent.

The best way to tag dialogue is with the word said.  Tags are really only there to tell us who is speaking, and said is generally invisible to the reader.  Use too much of sighed, exclaimed, grunted, groaned, and more, and you will draw your reader away from the action of the scene. That said, sometimes “he groaned” is the perfect word choice.  Just use it sparingly.  This advice goes for adjectives after said as well.  I love adjectives possibly a little more than the next person, but used too much and they become tiresome.

EXERCISE: Try writing a scene in only dialogue.  This means you won’t be touching your character’s internal reactions so much, but it’s just an exercise.  For the beats between dialogue, write them in like you would in a play [beat].

Sensory Snow Slime

This past weekend, our library participated in the Dowagiac Ice Festival with a sensory craft in the library.  Downtown businesses invited the people of Dowagiac to make crafts, get food and drinks, and more.  We invited families to make Snow Slime with us.  I originally got this idea from Sarah at Frugal Fun for Boys.

The kids had fun with this projects because it was messy, but little did they know that they were engaging in a sensory activity!  According to PBS, “Spending time stimulating their senses helps children develop cognitively, linguistically, socially and emotionally, physically and creatively.”  There’s something about the mixture of glue and fake snow that just feels weird and a lot of kids had great reactions.  Parents talked to their kids about how it felt and why.  Some of the younger ones didn’t like getting messy, but participating in this projects encouraged them to reach outside of their comfort zone.

This is also a little bit like process-based art.  There’s no exact science to this project.  You just kind of have to figure out how much liquid starch to add, how long to mix, and how to adjust your method if your slime is too stringy or if it’s sticking to much with your hands.  It takes a while to get it to form, and you have to try a lot of different things.  So kids are learning how to sit at a project for a while and sustain focus, but they are also using problem solving skills.

To do this project all you need is 1 bottle of glue, a cup of fake snow (that you can get at a craft store or on Amazon), and 1/2 cup liquid starch.  Mix the glue and snow, then slowly at little bits of liquid starch.  You have to mix the glue, then shape it, knead it, and fold it until you get it to be the consistency you want.

Knit to Learn

I’ve never been a knitter.  So it came as quite a surprise to me (as I’m sure it did to many) that knitting turned out to be an incredibly useful project for our makerspace.  We tried knitting for the first time at our library this past summer by participating in World Wide Knit in Public Day.  I had helped out with WWKIP Day at my previous library, so I knew a couple simple projects already.  We used yarn to make pom-poms, and I fashioned looms out of toilet paper rolls and craft sticks.

According to this article by the New York Times, knitting is proven to reduce stress and has health benefits for people with depression, eating disorders, and chronic pain.  It also helps with cognitive skills and memory.  Aside from these benefits, knitting is a great way to connect STEM and the arts in the library, because knitting helps develop basic skills that can transfer to other (sometimes high tech) projects.  It gives kids the opportunity to practice measurement, prediction, and sequencing–skills that are needed for both reading and coding.

We brought knitting back recently for a makerspace project.  It was fun to see how different kids adapted to learning how to knit.  There were some kids who needed to be guided for a while, and others who understood exactly what to do after the first knot.  And while there were some kids who got frustrated and gave up too quickly, there were still others who became entranced in the knitting process and lost track of time.

Because knitting does take so much time, we have knit kits that can be check out.  They come with a loom, some yarn, a picture book, a non-fiction book so that kids can learn more on their own, and a picture book. Click this link to see our tutorial video on how to knit with a circular loom!



Halloween for Picture Books

It’s been a while since of blogged, and Halloween feels like the perfect time to start back up. There are plenty of things to love about Halloween (candy, monsters, scary stories), but since I became a storytime librarian two years ago Halloween picture book ranks at the top. Just take a look at this list and you’ll see why. Stop back soon for a blog post on my favorite Halloweens for tweens and teens.


Image result for crankensteinCrankenstein.  Samantha Berger, illus. Dan Santat.

Crankenstein doesn’t like to get up in the morning, or go to school, or do a lot of other things.  And all he has to say is, “Mehhhhh.”  Until one day…he meets another Crankenstein?  Dan Santat’s dramatic and colorful illustrations perfectly encapsulate the mindset of a cranky preschooler.  The tie to Halloween is obvious, but this is also a book that will help children talk about feelings, make connections to their every day lives, and laugh out loud.


Image result for skeleton hiccupsSkeleton Hiccups.  Margery Cuyler, illus. S.D. Schindler.

Skeletons does the same things as everyone else–he even has the hiccups.  How can he get rid of them?  This is an active story that will engage young readers and a storytime crowd with its friendly illustrations and funny storyline.  Schindler depicts Skeleton’s R.I.P headboard and everyday things with bright, contrasting color.  Skeleton’s face never changes, and yet somehow manages to convey his emotion at not being able to get rid of his hiccups.  Children will enjoy playing along with the story and guessing how Skeleton will get rid of his hiccups!


Image result for pumpkin eye bookPumpkin Eye.  Denise Fleming.

Setting the mood for children about to experience Halloween, Denise Fleming sweetly describes all the objects that come along with the spooky holiday in simple rhyme.  Fleming’s illustrations of colored cotton fiber and hand-cut stencils give a uniquely hazy, yet playful, impression of Halloween night.  The book will help children talk about the different things they might see on Halloween night and make connections to their own Halloween plans.


Image result for ghosts in the house!Ghosts in the House!  Kazuno Kohara.

In striking black, orange, and white illustrations, Kazuno Kohara tells a story of a little witch, whose house is haunted.  Not to be daunted, however, the witch and her cat set about catching the ghosts and putting them to good use (as tableclothes and curtains).  The contrast of the white ghosts on the dark pages give a textured, almost three-dimensional look.  Though the storyline sets itself up to be spooky and dramatic, the witch’s sweetness and cleverness will delight young readers in unexpected ways!

Wiggle Your Parts at Storytime


STORYTIME FOR: Dowagiac District Library

Hello/Goodbye Song

We Say Hello/Goodbye Like This (with ukulele)
(Tune: The Farmer in the Dell)
D                                                          A7
We wave hello like this… with our friends in storytime, we wave hello like this.
D                                                         A7
We clap hello like this…with our friends in storytime, we clap hello like this.
D                                                           A7
We stomp hello like this… with our friends in storytime, we stomp hello like this.

Wiggle by Doreen Cronin.  A dog wiggles all the parts of his body, outside and inside.

Can You Make a Scary Face? by Jan Thomas.  The main character, a ladybug, asks its readers to imagine what they would do if a bug was on their face, in their clothes, etc–until a giant frog shows up!

Where is Your Nose?  by Rookie Toddler.  This books asks kids to point to and move their body parts.


Hokey Pokey
You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out,
You put your right foot in, and you shake it all about.
You do the hokey pokey and you turn yourself around,
That’s what it’s all about!
Repeat: left arm, right leg, left leg, head

If You’re Happy and You Know It
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…
If you’re happy and you know,
and you really want to show it,
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.
Repeat: stomp feet, touch toes, say hooray.

Bean Bag Boogie
Play the bean bag boogie song by Greg & Steve.  The song has the kids put their bean bags on different parts of their body.  This is a great way to learn body parts and get moving as well!

How It Went

Both kids and parents really enjoyed this one.  Wiggle is a great book to start with because it get kids warmed up and moving their body parts, and they loved the silliness of Can You Make a Scary Face?  In addition to getting moving, the kids learned about the different parts of their bodies.  I have to admit that by the end of the second book I was exhausted!  I meant to end with “If You’re Happy and You Know It” on my ukulele, but I went for something more soothing–“The More We Get Together.”  Overall this was very successful.  Everyone had a great time!

Teens VERSUS Book Club

This month for book club, our teens and tween read stories about one group in conflict with another group.  This was inspired by one of our tweens, who wanted to share The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton.  Once we started coming up with ideas, we realized this is a great theme because it works for almost any genre.  The list below are some of the books that the teens and tween read, and some additional ones that they suggested.

The Darkest Minds.  Alexandria Bracken.

Children Vs. Adults

The Darkest Minds (The Darkest Minds, #1)

Inuyasha.  Rumiko Takahashi

Demons Vs. Humans


The Kiss of Deception.  Mary Pearson.

Kingdom Vs. Kingdom

The Kiss of Deception (The Remnant Chronicles, #1)

Maximum Ride.  James Patterson.

Genetically mutated kids Vs. Scientists

The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride, #1)

The Outsiders.  S.E. Hinton.

Greasers Vs. Socs

The Outsiders

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.   Seth Graham-Smith, Jane Austen.

Humans Vs. Zombies.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, #1)

Romeo and Juliet.  William Shakespeare.

Capulet Vs Montague

Romeo and Juliet

Skeleton Creek.  Patrick Carman.

Kids Vs. The Town

Skeleton Creek (Skeleton Creek, #1)

Throne of Glass.  Sarah J. Maas

Assassins Vs. Assassins

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)