Read Sing Play

Adventures in early literacy

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REaD Any Good Books Lately?

When I started at my library there was an empty shelf range with a slat wall behind it. It just seemed sad, this bare wall and bare shelves, and with shelving space always an issue it almost seemed a crime to leave it empty. For a quick fix, in December I threw up a Newbery poster (Thanks, Amy!), a couple of signs about the various Youth Media Awards and pulled all our Newbery winners and honors to live there until February. It made the space look better, but it wasn’t highly used. I’m honestly not sure many patrons even noticed there was a display there. Of course they didn’t. What is so new and exciting about a Newbery display? Nothing. I mean, sure, it’s cool, but not very flashy for your average 10 year old. I really wanted something interactive so I hit Pinterest hard. After pinning a bunch of stuff I landed on a color display and since it would begin in February…RED! Thanks again to friends, I decided on “REaD Any Good Books Lately?” for the display wording.

red display

But to kick it up a notch and get that interactive piece, I placed red paper folded in half to look like a book on the shelf below the sign. Patrons were instructed to write the name of a favorite book on one of the red paper books and give the paper to a staff person. Then I hung them up so others might get some reading suggestions from their peers. All ages could participate and we had suggestions from Corduroy to The Notebook. 42 suggestions in all!

Everyone loved this display but because I have so much to do and not much time to do it, I will only be able to change them about every 2 months. I’ll be putting up a Poet-tree next. to stay until May and then maybe Summer Reading?

What kinds of displays have been successful in your library? Give me ideas!

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Self Care Sundays: Why Self Care is an Important Part of Your Job

To this day I am still realizing the importance of self care in professions dealing with the public. As librarians we don’t see nearly the kind of heartbreak and horror social workers, child counselors, public health nurses and even teachers do every day, but we see enough. Every person through our doors has a story and many feel obligated to share their stories with the person helping them find necessary information. Others desperately need someone to talk to and at the library they mostly find kind, welcoming people happy to listen (ok, so maybe we aren’t always really happy, but we do a great job of hiding that from them, right?) and help them find whatever and whoever they need.

All this listening and helping and searching is taxing on the heart and soul, especially when it’s so often for tough situations like divorce, disability, child custody, children in prison, and failing health.  And especially when we don’t receive the same level of training for dealing with people (of all kinds) as we do for locating information. And how can we even begin to help people if we, ourselves, are not in the best shape? We cannot provide the best possible service to our community if we are so stressed and exhausted that every person who visits our desks annoys us. We should not be faking it more than we are genuine. Last week I witnessed a coworker genuinely enjoying their interaction with a patron, one faking it unbeknownst to the patron, and another flat out and obviously annoyed by and uninterested in a patron (who had various mental health issues but overall had simple, doable requests, as I discovered when I helped them later on). My first thought was that the last coworker must have had a rough week.

So, after a particularly trying week myself, and not wanting to ever be like the last coworker, I’m making a pact with myself. Every Sunday I will take a break from all things libraries and focus on some major self care. To keep myself on track, and because I truly think this will help me be an even better librarian, I will be documenting my Self Care Sundays here.

Since baking is my happy place (and I get to use STEM!), this Sunday I made epic Coconut Cream Pie from the latest Food & Wine. I have been super sick the last week or so and now my husband has the ick. He has been eyeballing this pie, and requested it. I’m not a big coconut fan, but looking into his glassy eyes I couldn’t say no. The pie took ALL DAY. Partly because I’d never made a cream pie quite like this and partly because it has to chill for a total of 3 hours. But, you know what? WORTH IT. And I apparently LOVE coconut cream pie. It is currently difficult for me not to walk into the kitchen, grab a fork, open the fridge and dig in. The struggle is real.

Get the recipe here: Coconut Cream Pie

Here are some pics to make your mouth water and see the process.

Some of my prep space. I forgot to take a picture of the whole mise en place. My kitchen is super tiny now so I have this block and the stove, basically. That’s oobleck in the bowl in the front left corner. GO STEM!!


Cooking, and then straining the filling to get the vanilla beans out.

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Filling goes in a bowl with plastic wrap on top. Then, after it cools down a bit, into the fridge for an hour.


The crust. Shredded coconut and vanilla cookie goodness. Nilla Wafers have high fructose corn syrup so I subbed for these instead. NO REGRETS.

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Coconut whip cream goes in the filling and on top.

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Topped with whipped cream and into the fridge for 2 more hours.

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I didn’t have toasted coconut so I toasted the regular stuff myself.

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Flannel Friday Guest Post Palooza: One More Thing Magnet Board

Today Jeri is here to share a super awesome magnet activity. Thanks for being a guest on the blog, Jeri! And Happy Birthday, Flannel Friday! Hard to imagine we ever survived without you. <3

You can find this week’s round up at What Happens in Storytime…

Hi! My name is Jeri and I work in the Kids Library at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library. I’m so happy to be a “guest poster” for Flannel Friday’s 4th anniversary Guest Post Palooza! I have to say a great big thank-you to those of you who have posted on Flannel Friday. My colleagues and I have found many great ideas on your Pinterest site.

I love to use stories with repeating phrases. Kids really get involved with the story and that makes storytelling so much fun! “One More Thing” is just that type of story. I adapted it from a story in an old periodical called “Storytime Treasures.” This story comes from the June 2002 issue.

I drew my own girl, tub and dresser. The tub has a slit along the front rim for the sticks to slide in. The bubbles are made from a blue plastic report cover cut into circles and glued onto paper.


One More Thing

Synopsis: Cassie has been playing outside all afternoon and needs a bath. Mom calls her in to the bathroom where she has filled the tub with warm water. “Time for your bath, Cassie. Hop in the tub.” Cassie says alright, she will, but the tub needs ONE MORE THING (the repeating phrase). “What?” asks Mom. “Bubbles,” says Cassie. So Mom pours bubbles into the tub.


Each time Mom asks Cassie to get in the tub, Cassie says “Okay, but the tub needs ONE MORE THING!” Cassie gives clues like “something to get me clean” or “something to wash my hair with.” The children guess what it is and I add the item to the magnet board. I like to use three-dimensional or real objects if I can. For the soap, I shaved off the back half of a travel-sized bar and glued a disc magnet on the back. For the shampoo, I emptied a travel bottle, cut it in half and glued on a magnet.


By the time you’ve added the bubbles, soap, shampoo, washcloth and rubber duck, Mom is getting pretty insistent, and the cries of “ONE MORE THING” (by the children) are getting louder and stronger. Finally, Mom says, “Now Cassie, it’s time to get in the tub!” Cassie once more says, “Okay, but the tub needs ONE MORE THING!”  “Yes,” says Mom, “you!” And she plops Cassie in the tub with a splash!


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When Someone Steals Your Storytime Bag

Never thought I’d be talking about scrambling to put together a storytime because someone stole my storytime stuff. But, it happened this week. On Fridays I present storytime in a different branch than the one where I usually live. So, on Wednesdays I pack all the stuff I’ll need into a bag and take it home with me. This way I can just start my day in the other library. This Wednesday, I left this bag in the front seat of my truck, which was parked on the street in front of our house. We live in a pretty urban area with lots of foot traffic and plenty of transient population scavenging in garbage bins and so on. One of those folks must have spied the bag and acted. When I went to the truck in the morning the driver side door was slightly open (sometimes the seat belt gets in a spot where the door doesn’t close completely but the alarm fob will still beep like it locked it-we’re guessing this is what happened) and my storytime bag and all it’s contents were nowhere to be found. Well, crap.

The loose plan for the storytime was to share some of the books in the bag (Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig, If You’re Happy and You Know It by Jane Cabrera, Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown, and This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne), blow bubbles, play Little Mouse, Little Mouse Are You in the ____ House?, and play with the parachute. None of this was going to happen.

While I drove to the library wondering what I’d be able to find to pull off storytime, I briefly considered going book-less like Mel talks about, but alas, I couldn’t think of a darn story to tell and I was in such a yucky mood it just didn’t feel right. Luckily, the branch had lots of great titles to choose from.


And in the closet I found miracle bubbles (a poor substitute for Gymboree and really I should have just skipped them) and some finger puppets. They don’t have any other props in that branch so the parachute will have to wait until next time (if I can remember where I put my personal one!).

I have super cute nametag stickers, too, which were also in the bag. So, back to basics with scrap paper and tape.


My mix CD’s were also taken but Barenaked Ladies to the rescue (never thought I’d say THAT!).


So, we ended up reading Bear Snores On by karma wilson. Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker, and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star by Jane Cabrera. In between books we pretended to be popcorn and popped around the room to the Popcorn song on the album above. Then we were Jack in the Boxes and popped ourselves up instead of scarves. We made some Fruit Salad and Rowed our boats to see some animals friends.

In the end, it was a huge success! They missed Little Mouse, but I promised he’d be back next week and he will because… the bag was found! Thanks to my husband for scouring the neighborhood before asking across the street at the school. The Dean found the stuff and was drying it in his office. Most it’s contents were remaining. The parachute, storytime glove from Cory (WAAAAAAAHHH!!!!), nametags, CD’s, and my bestest water bottle are gone forever. You better be using the crap out of those things, thief!

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Moral of the story, thieves suck, and flexibility really IS the best skill to have where storytime is concerned.

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Ring in the Noon Year Party

It’s 2015! This post is late, but will be a good reminder of what went down for next year. This was a super fun event!


We started at 11:15 with the room set up with 3 sort of stations and space for a short storytime. As the kids arrived they decorated and wrote their names on a party hat. Once everyone was mostly settled we sang Hello Bubbles and Hands Are Clapping and I shared Bringing in the New Year by Grace Lin. We talked a little about how different countries and cultures and even households celebrate the New Year in different ways and for different reasons. A few of the older kids were really interested in the idea that Chinese New Year happens at a different time than our New Year. After all questions were answered we did some egg shaking and I explained the stations.

OMG learn how to take a non-blurry picture!

OMG learn how to take a non-blurry picture!


Station #1: bubble wrap popping. Self explanatory. Most loved activity.

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Station #2: scratch art glasses. Because you need bling to ring in the new year.

There were a ton of these glasses in the closet at my new job. This seemed like the perfect time to use some of them. And kids love scratch art! Honestly, if you are going to get scratch art, I don’t recommend getting them from Oriental Trading-these glasses left a lot of residue and were a little too easy to scratch, I think. I’ve used things from Discount School Supply with success in the past.

Station #3: pipecleaner firework rings and 2015 pipecleaner tiaras and/or glasses. Because see above.

Got the idea for this from this site and this site via Pinterest, thanks to Elizabeth (@libraryeliza -she claims to not care about kids stuff but then somehow always finds the best ideas…)

They had about 20 minutes to explore the stations and there were shakers, scarves and dancing ribbons in the center of the room and music going for those who preferred a dance party to the activities on the tables.

As we approached noon I passed out blowers to everyone in the room. Then, as we counted down I put down some more bubble wrap and got ready to pull open the bags of balloons for a BALLoon drop.

Then it was total chaos as everyone shook shakers, blew on noisemakers, popped bubble wrap (and balloons) and played with balloons and their bling. There were 85 people in the room. So yeah.







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I Resolve to Rock in 2015

The challenge was given at Storytime Underground, to set professional goals for 2015. So, here goes!

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This year, my resolutions are more about continuing in-progress goals. Because my career is very personal to me, most of these goals involve my whole self-personal and professional.


Building my confidence in myself has been an ongoing struggle for the past few years. Due to my tendency to try and please everyone, I have, in the past allowed others to walk all over me. Reminding myself continually that I am an intelligent, thoughtful woman who does, in fact, know what she is doing (or is wiling to learn) has helped me gather my courage to boldly go forth in many new endeavors from writing to presenting to programming. Having an amazing professional support system doesn’t hurt either, especially when I slip back to doubting myself (THANK YOU, ALL OF YOU).


Though I have loved the time spent on Storytime Underground and Storytime University, presenting, writing, and working, I am continuing to find a good balance between professional interests and personal ones. Part of this is due to my nature to always strive to be the best I can be. Realizing I can be the best children’s librarian for my community without needing to be known in the profession or taking away from my personal life. This year I’d like to spend more time traveling, hiking, and enjoying my family and that may mean less time working on professional development, or maybe the next and final resolution will fix this predicament.


Being raised by my extremely organized mother, one might think I would have learned something about being super organized. Alas, I hate planners and tend to rely more on sticky notes and memory. As I get older and busier, that last one has not proven to be so reliable as it once was. So, I’ve been working really hard to find an organization system that works for me. So far, a digital calendar tied to my email has been huge, as well as setting up my google calendar to alert me before things are due. Still, these options rely on my actually inputting the data so it isn’t 100% working yet. This year is the year!

So those are the three biggies for me this year. Along with some personal goals for a healthier lifestyle, it’s looking like a busy and productive year ahead.

Can’t wait to share with you all (part of getting organized will include more regular posts here)!


Songs and Lyrics, Oh My!

By now, you should all know I love to sing, even if it’s not always so great. The majority of every one of my storytimes is singing. I can’t help it, it just has to happen that way for storytime to work. I feel good, grown ups feel good, the kids definitely feel good so it’s a total win situation.

Anyway, I’ve had some requests for tunes and lyrics to various songs used in storytime. May I humbly direct you to my Rhymes page? There I have written out the words to more than 60 rhymes and songs and have recorded myself singing several of them.  I’m working really hard to get them all recorded but for now I’ve picked the ones with the trickiest tunes.

The newest members of the recorded song family are:

Hi, Hello, and How Are You?

The Elevator Song (Jbrary has also done this one)

Wake Up! Quiet and Loud song. This probably has a real name, but I call it the wake up song. VERY popular in storytime.

Hello and Goodbye Bubbles 

Wake Up Toes

Bouncing, Bouncing

Let me know if you need the tunes to anything else and I’ll get on it, asap. In the meantime, check out Jbrary and KCLS Tell Me a Story for visuals to go with the sound (I’m too lazy to get out of my pjs to do a video, sorry).

And just because. Yes, yes, I do.