Author Archive

Professional Resources for Children’s Librarians and Teachers

Posted on August 24th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

When planning Storytime in libraries or Circle Time in classrooms, children’s librarians and teachers will find these professional resources very helpful

Circle Time and Storytime Resources  for Children's Librarians and Teachers

An effective Storytime or Circle Time is carefully planned to be welcoming, inclusive, engaging and educational. It should include a variety of enjoyable activities and well-considered materials.


When selecting books to share with a group, for example, non-fiction, as well as fiction, should be introduced. Writing style, book format and illustrations are also considerations – having some books with rhyming text is great but having every story told in rhyme would be tiresome. Big, bold illustrations will be seen more easily than those in small, lap books.


Most children’s librarians and teachers have a selection of props to enhance their Storytime and Circle Time programs. Flannelboards are often used as well as musical instruments, hand or finger puppets and other props. I also like including Cut and Tell stories, which involve cutting paper with scissors as a story is told or Fold and Tell stories. Similarly, Draw and Tell Stories are told and illustrated on the spot rather than ‘read’ aloud to a group.



Teachers and librarians who present on-going programs will want to include elements that repeat (such as welcoming and ending rituals) as well as including some unexpected activities that will make each session unique and memorable. Having extra copies of the books that you share will encourage children to borrow them and read them again at home.


The length of the sessions will depend on the age of the children, the size of the group, the collective attention span of the children attending and whether or not other adults are present. Teachers and Librarians who include movement in Circle time and Storytime will help children to manage their energy and participate successfully.

Watch as Sheryl Cooper shares tips for a successful circle time

She shares secrets to a successful Toddler Circle time on her blog.


Professional Resources for Planning Library Storytime and Preschool Circle Time

In addition to these resources, be sure to explore our free printables songs, rhymes, fingerplays and chants



Professional Resources for Children's Librarians and Teachers including I'm A Little Teapot! Presenting Preschool StorytimeI’m a Little Teapot – Presenting Preschool Storytime Compiled by Jane Cobb and illustrated by Magda Lazicka
Professional Resource for Children’s Librarians and Preschool Teachers published by Black Sheep Press

Featuring more than 60 potential storytime themes, I’m a Little Teapot is a handy resource that includes booklists (fiction and non-fiction), 500+ nursery rhymes/fingerplays, songs and “more ideas.”

For example, for a frog theme, I’m a Little Teapot includes 11 suggested stories to read aloud, 5 non-fiction books and 5 fingerplays. For a clothing theme storytime, there are 29 suggested picture books to read aloud (plus 10 ‘More Stories’ and 3 ‘non-fiction’ titles, 10 nursery rhymes, 16 fingerplays and many ‘More Ideas’).

The book also includes an extensive list of recommended resources, presentation tips and suggestions for program planning, including program structure. Ms. Cobb recommends a core list of felt stories for storytime and references the use of traditional folk and fairy tales with preschoolers.

One of the strengths of this resource is that it does not assume that teachers have access to an extensive library of books or that they know fingerplays or songs. I have used the book when preparing for preschool programs and have found it to be easy-to-use and inspiring. I’m a Little Teapot includes ‘Conventional’ themes and as well as some unexpected ones like Giants and Royalty.

I’m a Little Teapot! Presenting Preschool Storytime at Amazon.com

I’m a Little Teapot!: Presenting Preschool Storytime at Amazon.ca


Professional Resources for Storytime including Step into StorytimeSTEP into Storytime written by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Kathy Fling Klatt
Professional Resource for Children’s Librarians and Preschool Teachers published by American Library Association

STEP is an acronym for Story Time Effective Practice.

Almost one-third of this resource consists of professional development for librarians who present storytime programs to very young children.

The first section of the book includes a chapter that examines STEP and deals with implementation within a library system and also by an individual. Chapters 2,3,4 make a connection with child development including Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Intentionality and Scaffolding (adjusting the level of instruction to match the child’s readiness).

The second section of the book makes a connection between best practices and a child’s social/emotional development, cognitive development, physical development and language/literacy development.

Parent Education is a key component of STEP. The authors recommend that presenters model and speak regularly to parents about ways to support their child’s development.

The remainder of STEP into Storytime consists of plans (including scripts) for traditional and sequential storytimes.

As an example, the “Yummy in My Tummy” plan includes introductory remarks, an opening song, parent tip, Do You Know the Muffin Man?, a non fiction book, two fingerplays, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, an action song, a song featuring sign language, two action rhymes, a counting book, an activity, a parent tip, a rhythm stick activity, rhyme with puppets, a song, a parent tip, a closing action rhyme and an extension activity.

STEP into Storytime does not provide alternate books (to be used if the teacher or librarian does not have access to the preferred book(s).

STEP into Storytime: Using StoryTime Effective Practice to Strengthen the Development of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds at Amazon.com

STEP Into Storytime: Using Storytime Effective Practice to Strengthen the Development of Newborns to Five-Year-Olds at Amazon.ca


Storytime Standouts Shares Professional Storytime Resources for Teachers and Librarians including Storytimes for EveryoneStorytimes for Everyone!: Developing Young Children’s Language abd Literacy written by Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting and Pamela Martin-Diaz
Professional Resource for Children’s Librarians and Preschool Teachers published by American Library Association

This resource is intended for librarians. Almost one-third of the book is devoted to professional development, including providing information about emotional/social, cognitive, physical and language/literacy development and ensuring that the recommended program is properly implemented by a library system as well as by a storytime presenter.

The author presents two different models: traditional storytime and sequential storytime.

“Both models include parent tips to help the adults understand the connections between the activities being presented and how they impact early literacy skills and other areas of child development… The traditional model usually starts with the longest story first and includes a mix of books songs, rhymes, fingerplays, and other language activities targeting all ages throughout the storytime…. The sequential model is designed so that each of three segments is planned with a specific age in mind- the first segment focuses on infants and toddlers….”

The remainder of the book provides detailed scripts for traditional and sequential storytimes, including remarks for parents and instructions for the participants.

As an example, for the Where’s the Beach? (sequential) storytime, the author provides an opening song, an action rhyme, a flannel board story, a song, an action rhyme, a transition song, a factual book, an action rhyme, a picture book, a transition song, a picture book, a fold and tell story, a song and a closing song.

Storytimes for Everyone!: Developing Young Children’s Language & Literacy at Amazon.com

Storytimes for Everyone!: Developing Young Children’s Language and Literacy at Amazon.ca



Transforming Preschool Storytime written by Betsy Diamant-Choen and Melanie A HetrickTransforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs written by Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Melanie A Hetrick
Professional Resource for Preschool Teachers published by American Library Association

Beginning with a comprehensive overview of the benefits and components of preschool storytime, Transforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs provides a step-by-step plan for organizing a storytime and detailed scripts for 8 six-week programs, each focussing on a different book.

I am very partial to I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! so, naturally, I gravitated to the series of sessions suggested for the book. Week #1 is an introductory session that included hearing the story read aloud, singing and painting. Week #2 adds a theme of houses, a flannelboard activity and playing with colorful scarves. Week #3 adds an exploration of body parts, a coloring activity and some body control games. Week #4 has a theme of bathtubs and includes a careful look at David Catrow’s I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! illustrations including a discussion about lines, colors, shapes as well as scarf activities. Week #6 extends the learning by looking at other books by Karen Beaumont including I Like Myself! .

Transforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs at Amazon.com

Transforming Preschool Storytime: A Modern Vision and a Year of Programs at Amazon.ca



5 Terrific Picture Books About Children Having Problems Learning to Read

Posted on July 19th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

5 Picture Books About Characters Having Trouble Learning to Read

If you are supporting a child who is having difficulty learning to read, these are picture books that share an encouraging message. Reading well involves learning a variety of strategies and practising them with increasingly difficult text. For a child who has difficulty with letter recognition, dyslexia, phonemic awareness or comprehension, reading can be a terrible struggle. Hearing about the experiences of other children can be a help.

Here, we share five picture books that will be helpful for children who are having trouble learning to read.

“Learning to read and read well is already hard enough: it takes years of practice to make knowledge of reading automatic, transparent and fluid. When children practice reading in a context that’s kind– with books they love, teachers who understand reading, and systems devised to make a hard thing easier — they’re more inclined to practice, remember, make sense of, get better at, and love reading.”

Nancie Atwell in The Reading Zone: How to Help Kids Become Skilled, Passionate, Habitual, Critical Readers

5 Terrific Picture Books About Children Having Problems Learning to Read Click To Tweet

I Don't Like to Ready by Nancy CarlsonI Don’t Like to Read! written and illustrate by Nancy Carlson
Picture book about Having Trouble Learning to Read published by Puffin

Henry likes first grade but he does not like reading. He avoids it at school and at home. One day, his teacher asks him what the problem is and he confides. His teacher offers extra help and before too long, when a babysitter is not available to read aloud to Henry and his sibling, Henry takes over, reading with increasing confidence and emerges with a love of reading at home and at school.

Ms Carson’s illustrations are a highlight of this engaging picture book. Henry’s body language, especially as a non-reader, is a terrific addition to her delightful story.

Level of Reading Intervention – Resource teacher at school, extra practice at home
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – N/A

I Don’t Like to Read! at Amazon.com

I Don’t Like to Read! at Amazon.ca


Lily and the Mixed Up Letters is a story about difficulty learning to readLily and the Mixed Up Letters written by Deborah Hodge and illustrated by Fance Brassard
Picture Book about Having Trouble Learning to Read published by Tundra Books

Lily enjoys school and especially opportunities to create art. Unfortunately, grade two is not as much fun as kindergarten and grade one were. Reading aloud is especially worrisome for Lily and, when her teacher announces Parent Day will include having each student read out loud, Lily confides her lack of confidence reading to her mom,

I can’t do it,” she sobs. “I can’t read my page on Parent Day. It’s too hard. All the other kids can read their pages, but I can’t read mine.”

Lily’s mom is empathetic and requests that she receive extra help at school. Her teacher assigns a peer Reading Buddy and Lily also practices at home. By Parent Day, Lily is ready for the challenge.

Level of Reading Intervention – Peer reading buddy at school, extra practice at home
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – N/A

Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters at Amazon.com

Lily and the Mixed-Up Letters at Amazon.ca


Children's books about learning disabilities, Miss Little's Gift
Miss Little’s Gift written by Douglas Wood and illustrated by Jim Burke
Autobiographical Picture Book about Living with ADHD and Difficulty Learning to Read published by Candlewick Press

Douglas is in grade two and he doesn’t like having to sit still. He interrupts his teacher; he has problems with reading and on the playground. He is very resistant to staying after school in order to get extra help with reading but Miss Little is firm and determined. She finds a book to match his interests, she encourages him and she gives him just enough help. Miss Little’s Gift is a celebration of the difference a wonderful, caring teacher can make.

Level of Reading Intervention – extra time with a classroom teacher
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – ADHD in Author’s Note

Miss Little’s Gift at Amazon.com

Miss Little’s Gift at Amazon.ca


Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader BehindMiss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind written by Judy Finchler and Kevin O’Malley and illustrated by Kevin O’Malley
Picture book about a reluctant reader and a persistent teacher published by Bloomsbury USA

In Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind, we meet a student who is able to read but simply does not like reading. He much prefers playing video games with his friend. His very determined book-loving teacher spends the entire school year trying to find a book that will captivate him. One by one she wins over his classmates but it is not until the year is almost over that she finds the key to unlocking a love of reading and books.

This picture book would be a good read-aloud at the start of a school year, especially for teachers and librarians who have an extensive classroom library and a very good knowledge of books that will appeal to hard-to-reach students.

We also suggest reading our series, Journey of a Reluctant Reader

Level of Reading Intervention – Classroom teacher
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) – Reluctant reader

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind at Amazon.com

Miss Malarkey Leaves No Reader Behind at Amazon.ca


Thank You, Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about children having difficulty learning to read including Thank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia PolaccoThank you, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
Picture book about Having Trouble Learning to Read published by The Penguin Group

Thank you, Mr. Falker is an autobiographical picture book about Ms. Polacco’s difficulty learning to read and the help she finally received in grade five. A detailed, thoughtful story for older children, Thank you, Mr. Falker explains that Trisha grew up in a family that loved reading and treasured books. After the loss of her grandparents, she moved to California with her mother and her brother. Trisha hoped it would be a fresh start and that reading would be easier but her struggles persisted and before too long she was being teased by bullies.

it is not until Trisha is in fifth grade, with a teacher who is new to the school, that the bullying is called out and Trisha receives extra instruction.

We’re going to change all that, girl. You’re going to read – I promise you that.”

This picture book is best-suited older children and highlights the fact that some children can hide their difficulties with reading for quite some time.

Level of Reading Intervention – Classroom teacher and reading resource teacher
Reason for reading difficulty (if any identified) -N/A

Thank You, Mr. Falker at Amazon.com

Thank You, Mr. Falker at Amazon.ca

The Girl Who Hated Books

An animated short from the National Film Board of Canada introduces us to Meena, a young girl who hates books.

We also wrote about Storytime Standouts writes about I Hate BooksI Hate Books by Kate Walker


7 Special Board Books for Babies and Toddlers

Posted on July 6th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts recommends 7 Classic Board Books for Babies and Toddlers


Start baby’s first book collection with these special classic board books! Award-winners and bestsellers, these are stories that every child should hear, see, touch and enjoy. Board books make perfect gifts for baby showers and first birthdays. These are stories that mommies and daddies will read again and again.

We began reading to our first son when he was six months old and I always recommend establishing a daily read-aloud routine while children are very young and happy to cuddle before bedtime. Don’t be shy about using silly voices or being dramatic. Make the read-aloud experience relaxed, fun and memorable.



For tips on reading aloud to infants and children, be sure to read our answers to 10 Frequently Asked Questions About Reading Aloud to Children

Goodnight Moon written by Margartet Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement HurdGoodnight Moon written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by Clement Hurd
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers published by Harper Festival a Division of Harper Collins Publishers

Ranked number 1 in School Library Journal’s poll of Top 100 Board Books, Goodnight Moon has a gentle, pleasing cadence that is soothing and relaxing.

In the great green room
There was a telephone
And a red balloon
And a picture of –

Young readers will watch as a young bunny tries to settle for sleep, adjusting the pillow and bedcovers, as the room darkens and eventually sleep comes.

Our first glimpse of the ‘Great Green Room’ does not reveal everything, colour illustrations alternate with black and white. New details are revealed over the course of an hour. Youngsters can watch as the clocks’ hands move and search the room for each of the details described in the text. A companion to The Runaway Bunny, children will make connections between the two books especially when they look carefully at the illustrations.

Goodnight Moon at Amazon.com

Goodnight Moon at Amazon.ca

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarleThe Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers published by Philomel Books

What more could you ask for? A beautiful die-cut concept book that includes rich vocabulary, counting from one to five, the days of the week, the transformation of a caterpillar to butterfly and beautiful, richly toned illustrations. This truly is a can’t miss story for babies and preschoolers.

Highly recommended as a gift for baby.

Click to visit our page about The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at Amazon.com

The Very Hungry Caterpillar at Amazon.ca

Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do you See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric CarleBrown Bear, Brown Bear What Do you See? by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers

Simple but beautiful collage illustrations and repetitious, rhythmic text introduce 9 animals and colours. Also notable, the book illustrations include a racially diverse group of children. The simplicity of the story makes it ideal for very young children but also opens the doors for young writers and illustrators to tell their own stories, perhaps using a different sense – Jacob, Jacob, what do you see/hear/smell/touch/taste?

Click to visit our page about Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at Amazon.com

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? at Amazon.ca

Moo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra BoyntonMoo, Baa, La La La! by Sandra Boynton
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers published by Little Simon

Twenty years after first reading Sandra Boynton’s Moo, Baa, La La La!, my guess is that you will still remember the gentle humor of the text and illustrations – even if you can’t quite recite the entire story from memory. There is something very special about Ms Boynton’s ability to write a book that children and adults enjoy equally. Her tales are neither sickly sweet nor predictable and that’s exactly what makes them fun to read aloud. Don’t be the least bit surprised if your child asks to hear her books again and again before ‘reading’ them himself or herself. Every animal oozes personality and Moo, Baa, La La La! is paced in such a way that encourages settling to sleep.

Moo Baa La La La! at Amazon.com

Moo, Baa, La La La! at Amazon.ca

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell and Patrick BensonOwl Babies written by Martin Waddell and illustrated by Patrick Benson
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers published by Walker Books

Darker than the other stories described here, Owl Babies is set in a tree, at nighttime. When Mother Owl leaves the nest one night, her babies awaken alone and wonder where she has gone. Sarah and Percy are confident that mama has gone hunting for food. Bill is less confident and more frightened. Happily, Mother Owl does return and reassures all of her children that they needn’t have worried, “You knew I’d come back.”

A good story to share with a child who is experiencing separation anxiety and would benefit from the reassurance that sometimes parents have to go away but he or she will be safe and cared for.

Owl Babies at Amazon.com

Owl Babies at Amazon.ca

Everywhere Babies written by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla FrazeeEverywhere Babies written by Susan Meyers and illustrated by Marla Frazee
Classic Board Book for Babies and Toddlers Published by HMH Books for Young Readers

A wonderful celebration of babies and the amazing things they do. The gentle, repetitious and rhyming text introduces the seasons, body parts, clothing, sounds, modes of transportation, toys, games. There is just so much to notice and appreciate about the very detailed and inspiring illustrations including racial and family diversity, loving (but not always well-rested) parents, bottle feeding and breastfeeding and the special relationships that very young children often have with older adults and siblings.

Apart from being a great book to enjoy with very young children, Everywhere Babies has a positive message about babies that is great for preschoolers, especially those with a new brother or sister.

Horn Book Fanfare Book, 2001

Everywhere Babies at Amazon.com

Everywhere Babies at Amazon.ca

Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita JeramGuess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram

Visit the official Guess How Much I Love You website for printable activities and information about the book.

A beautiful, gentle exchange between Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare will reassure young readers that the love between someone small and someone big is impossible to quantify. The relationship between the two is not specified although we know that both characters are male. Perhaps it is a father and son or maybe an uncle and nephew, it does not matter at all.

“I love you as high as I can reach,” said Little Nutbrown Hare
“I love you as high as I can reach,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.
That is very high, thought Little Nutbrown Hart. I wish I had arms like that.”

Beautiful watercolor illustrations enhance the story and lovingly capture the personalities of the two hares.

Guess How Much I Love You at Amazon.com

Guess How Much I Love You at Amazon.ca

Do you have a favorite board book for baby?

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume, a SLJ Top 100 Novel

Posted on April 16th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

Storytime Standouts writes about Judy Blume's Tales of a Fourth Grade NothingTales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume
Series for middle grades published by Puffin Books

I have decided to try and read (or reread) as many of the School Library Journal Top 100 Children’s Novels as possible. I have many of them in my home library and have read quite a few but this will give me a focussed reading list over the next while.

Yesterday, I read Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. It ranks forty-fourth on the list. First published in 1972, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the first in a series that features brothers Peter and Farley. Nobody calls Farley by his legal name, he is known simply as Fudge. Fudge is 2 1/2 years old and is a constant source of annoyance for Peter. He goes into Peter’s bedroom and destroys a school project, he causes trouble at mealtime, he refuses to do what he is told. Peter is regularly asked to help adults “manage” Fudge and his antics.

Adults reading the book will be sympathetic to Fudge’s mom and dad who surely must be at their wits’ end, trying to parent Fudge with patience and love.

I have a lot of empathy for Peter. I am an older sibling and I can understand Peter’s frustration with his much younger brother. I well-remember times when my younger sister annoyed me by taking over a gift or wanting to join in something that I was doing with my friends. I even remember her scrawling yellow crayon on our dining room wall, much to the frustration of our folks.

Storytime Standouts shares a quote from Judy BlumeAn easy read, and well-suited to readers at about a grade 3 or 4 level, I recommend this story of coping with a younger sibling as a fun read-aloud or a good introduction to the Fudge series for an independent reader.

A couple of notable items – in Chapter 3, when the children are headed to the park, Peter remarks, “Both my mother and my father are always warning me never to talk to strangers in the park because a lot of dope-pusher hang around there. But taking dope is even dumber than smoking, so nobody’s going to hook me!” There are no further references to smoking or dope.

Also, some of the comments and characterizations seem sexist today, for example, “As far as I know my father can’t cook anything. He doesn’t even know where my mother keeps the peanut butter, the dishes. or the pots and pans.”

Both of these entries provide opportunities to talk with children. On the one hand, Blume gives adults an opportunity to talk with children about safety in a park and illicit drug use. Likewise, there is an opportunity to discuss gender stereotypes and the division of labour in a family.

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing at Amazon.com

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing at Amazon.ca

Read Jody’s post about Judy Blume’s Freckle Juice here.


Hit the Slopes with Bunny – an exceptional winter theme picture book

Posted on January 29th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

If you are still dealing with cold temperatures, wintry days and shovelling snow, now is a good time to freshen up your home or classroom library. Also a great gift idea, I highly recommend Bunny Slopes. This is a special picture book that will have tremendous appeal for preschool-age children and their weary parents or caregivers.

Winter-theme picture book written and illustrated by Claudia RuedaBunny Slopes written and illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Winter theme picture book published by Chronicle Kids

An exceptionally good picture book that asks young readers to “shake,” “tap,” “tilt,” and “turn” as a playful rabbit goes for a fun day of skiing. Few stories for preschoolers are as engaging and interactive as this. Children will love to be part of the action as they “create” snow, hillsides and a way for our hero to escape from a tight spot. Oozing personality, Bunny is a delight. A great pick for boys and girls aged 3 years and up.

For older children, the extension opportunities could include devising their own instructions for readers to follow together with “before” and “after” artwork. The possibilities are endless and will be lots of fun for children!

Bunny Slopes at Amazon.com

Bunny Slopes at Amazon.ca


Meet Picture Book Author James Littlejohn (Interview)

Posted on January 12th, 2019 by Carolyn Hart

Photo of picture book author James Littlejohn

Today it is our pleasure to introduce picture book author, James Littlejohn. He is the author of B is for Baller

You can connect with James here…
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jameslittlejuan
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/littlejohnbooks
Publisher: Triumph Books

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of? James Littlejohn's B is for Baller

My book is “B is for Baller.” It’s a must for parents who love basketball and want to pass that love of the game along to their kids. I’m most proud hearing from parents who’ve told me it’s sparked conversations with their kids about players they grew up watching.

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favourite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

Too many favorites to name, but Roald Dahl stands out. Loved the humor in his work.

Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?

We successfully launched “B is for Baller” on Kickstarter before finding a publisher, and I think the positive response we got from crowdfunding helped the publisher see its potential.
That said, “B is for Baller” wasn’t my first, second or third book — those ones still haven’t been published and likely never will be. So yes, it is difficult! If becoming an author or illustrator is an aspiration of yours, I think you have to accept that rejection is inevitable. There are too many talented people, and too few opportunities, for everyone to succeed at once.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

I enjoy the creative process — coming up with new ideas and seeing those ideas come to life on the page is really satisfying.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Other than finding a publisher… probably trying to write your own bio.

If you weren’t an author, what sort of work do you envision yourself doing? Have you had other careers or do you have another career now?

I work full-time as a writer at an advertising agency. Keeps me creatively engaged, but also requires me to think a lot about marketing — skills I need and use often making and selling books.

B is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet at Amazon.com

B is for Baller: The Ultimate Basketball Alphabet at Amazon.ca

James is available for school or library presentations. He is based in Los Angeles.

Discover B.C.R. Fegan and his latest picture book! (Interview)

Posted on November 15th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

B.C.R. Fegan is the author of The Day that A Ran AwayB.C.R. Fegan is a multi-award-winning author who has written a number of fairy tales and fantasies for children and young adults.

Raised on a small hobby farm only minutes from some of Australia’s greatest beaches, Fegan grew up inspired by the power of nature’s ambience. From the intensity of the frequent summer storms to the overwhelming serenity of a lonely beach in the early hours of the morning. His ravenous appetite for both reading and writing soon saw him drawing on the transformational influence of the world around him to craft short stories, poems and picture books.

As time wore on, Fegan also found inspiration in the magic and depth of authors and compositors like Hans Christian Andersen, the Brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault. He was mesmerized by the potency of small but beautiful phrases that were carefully carved from the minds of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Robert Frost. He grew to appreciate the worlds meticulously created by David Eddings, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis.

Eventually, he began to forge his own complete works. Weaving his own magic, piecing together his own phrases and crafting his own worlds. Agonising over plots that would inspire, characters that would be loved and circumstances that would delight. In time, his efforts saw a number of children’s books and young adult fiction produced.

Twitter account – @bcrfegan

Website URL – https://www.bcrfegan.com/

Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of? Storytime Standouts interviews the author of The Day that A Ran Away

My latest book is The Day That A Ran Away. It’s an alphabet book that follows the excuses of young Master Jet as he tries to wriggle out of not completing his homework.

My overriding focus for the story was to turn a traditional alphabet book into something that was a little more memorable and exciting for both the child and parent. I hope children who are beginning their journey into reading and writing will find the simple rhymes and colorful letters helpful in that journey. Older children and parents, on the other hand, may actually enjoy reading or listening to the story too, as there are a number of deeper layers that I hope will hold their interest.

I think what I’m most proud of about the book is that there is so much learning packed into it without it feeling overbearing. Of course, the primary learning concept is the alphabet, but it also introduces the concept of homework and every page contains a number of ‘Easter eggs’ for children to find. All of which has great learning value.

The Day That a Ran Away at Amazon.com

The Day That A Ran Away at Amazon.ca

Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

It’s an interesting question because I read so many picture books as a child, but early on I didn’t really make the connection between the story and the writer behind it. To me, it was simply a great book! I probably had a number of favorite authors without realizing it.

When I eventually made the connection however, I was right into Graeme Base’s book ‘The Eleventh Hour’. Here was a book that wasn’t just a simple story, but was this spectacular maze of ideas and images to pour over and get lost in. It was actually a very clever book and as I soon found out, so were his others!

I think what I loved most about Base’s work (who is both an author and an illustrator), was that he built so much into the book. You could spend hours on each page – looking for clues, finding hidden objects and simply enjoying the artwork. I think his books really cemented for me two important things: Firstly, the connection between the text and the illustrations need to be more than complimentary, they have to elevate each other beyond anything they could do alone. Secondly, you want a narrative that pulls you along quickly, but with enough depth that you could just as happily dwell on a single page for hours.

When did you realize that you would be a writer? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

I think I realized early on in my life that I wanted to ‘write’. I may not have quite grasped the idea that I could turn it into a vocation, but for almost as long as I’ve been reading, I’ve been writing too.

When I eventually made the decision to begin publishing my manuscripts, I had incredible encouragement from my wife. She has continued to be an amazing pillar of support ever since, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be anywhere close to where I am as an author without her.

What are the joys of being an author? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

There are so many! In fact, I enjoy almost every aspect of writing – from the possibilities of a blank page to the satisfaction of a completed manuscript.

However – without a doubt – the greatest pleasure comes from the feedback I receive from children and parents who have enjoyed the book. It’s a little bit surreal when you hear children dressing up as characters from your books for World Book Day; or hearing parents talk about your books as their child’s favorite. It’s also those moments you hold on to when the occasional bad review threatens to dampen your day.

What are the biggest challenges of being an author?

Only trying to swim in a surging ocean of marketing ideas and publicity essentials. I think I’m not the only author who wishes they could spend more time on writing and less time trying to gain exposure. Unfortunately, it’s simply a part of the business these days.

Does music play a part in your writing? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

It does sometimes. Given the choice, I’d prefer to listen to the rain or the wind outside while I write. Failing that, I might listen to recordings of storms to provide the right atmosphere (I know, sounds strange right?). However, I also don’t mind classical music on the odd occasion to play alongside the thoughts in my head while I furiously try to keep up with my pen.

Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth!

Posted on October 22nd, 2018 by Carolyn Hart


Storytime Standouts writes about Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My ToothUnlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth! written and illustrated by Mo Willems
Generously illustrated book for beginning readers published by Hyperion Books for Children

I have hosted a Little Free Library (LFL) outside my home for the past four years. My LFL is limited to children’s books. Recently, one of my neighbors has been adding brand new books(!) to it fairly often. Recently, he or she left a copy of hot-off-the-press Unlimited Squirrels in I Lost My Tooth!

A terrific follow-up to Mo Willem’s Elephant and Piggie series, this is a book that will have great appeal for new readers. Bright, bold, graphic illustrations and fun, expressive text combine to tell the story of a search for a squirrel’s missing tooth.

When a team of enthusiastic squirrels needs to fact-check, Research Rodent adds background information about teeth to an otherwise silly story. Boys and girls who are at about a grade 1 or 2 level will enjoy the “inside” joke about a tooth that has been lost. The Table of Contents, irreverent endpapers that identify each of the squirrels by name and the antics of the furry-tailed characters make for a great fun.

Follow this link to our free Squirrel Theme printables and picture book suggestions.

I Lost My Tooth! (Unlimited Squirrels) at Amazon.com

I Lost My Tooth! (Unlimited Squirrels) at Amazon.ca

The Wonky Donkey Children’s Book Phenomenon

Posted on October 18th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart


The Wonky Donkey has the world giggling this week

The Wonky Donkey written by Craig Smith and illustrated by Katz Cowley
Cumulative, Rhyming Picture Book published by Scholastic

In late August 2018, The Scottish Granny posted a Youtube video that has caught the world by storm. In the video, she is reading The Wonky Donkey aloud. Her wonderful Scottish accent and her infectious laugh are simply irresistible. We can’t imagine anyone watching the video without giggling. Sales of the book have shot up and a quick check of our local library shows that the book is “on order.”

The Wonky Donkey began as a song, performed by Craig Smith. It was the 2008 APRA AMCOS Children’s Song award winner.

In 2009 The Wonky Donkey was published as a book and it was the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults Children’s Choice award winner and Children’s Choice Picture Book category winner in 2010.

Smith’s wonderful rhyming, repetitive and cumulative text is just so silly and fun!

He only had three legs, one eye and he liked to listen to country music and he was quite tall and slim and he smelt really bad and that morning he got up early and he hadn’t had any coffee
He was a cranky stinky dinky lanky honky tonky winky wonky donkey
Cranky stinky dinky lanky honky tonky winky wonky donkey

This is a simply fantastic book to share with children. The vocabulary is rich (lanky). The alliteration (winky wonky) and rhyming (stinky dinky) will support the development of phonemic awareness.

In the case of The Scottish Granny’s video, although her grandson doesn’t understand the humor of The Wondy Donkey, Granny does and her delivery has an unrehearsed feel to it. She is discovering the book for the very first time and her delight is simply thrilling. Who wouldn’t want to share The Wonky Donkey (or any great book) with a child? Here’s hoping this phenomenon inspires many moms, dads and grandparents to read aloud every single day!

The Wonky Donkey at Amazon.com

The Wonky Donkey at Amazon.ca

Wonky Donkey (Digital Music) at Amazon.com

19 Mom-Approved Tips and Tricks for Encouraging Kids to Read

Posted on October 16th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart


19 Tips for getting kids reading and learning.

How do moms and dads encourage reading in the home? We share some great crowd-sourced ideas for encouraging kids to read

  • Read aloud…as much as you can. Make it a priority to read every single day. It doesn’t have to be at bedtime. Morning, bathtime and mealtime work too!
  • Don’t compare your child’s reading to that of any other child. Some children read earlier than others. It doesn’t mean that they will love reading and books more than someone who reads sooner.
  • Start with books on subjects that interest him/her. Topics like magic tricks, castles and sharks are often good ones.
  • Fill a basket or a bookshelf full of kids books and let your child choose which books you read. Even when you reread a book for the hundredth time, your child is still learning from it.
  • We used learn to read videos to help my child.
  • Share the reading instead of expecting your child to read everything from beginning to end. This way, you and your child will enjoy the experience and he/she won’t spend too much time on figuring out the words.
  • We used the Leapfrog
  • I buy her books that I know she will like or we go to the library and come home with a huge pile of books to experiment with.
  • Purchase a magazine subscription. My son has a subscription for National Geographic Kids. He enjoys reading the facts and looking at the photos.
  • My kids get Chickadee Magazine and look forward to it every month.
  • Reading doesn’t have to mean reading books. Check out comics in the newspaper, advertising flyers, recipes, maps, posters and signs.
  • Turn the audio off on your television and put captions on so your kids have to ‘read’ the dialogue to enjoy a show.
  • Read for pleasure in front of your kids so they know it’s something for everyone to enjoy. Make sure you talk about the book you are reading or looking forward to read.
  • Try setting a timer for 20 minutes. Knowing that reading wasn’t going to take “forever” really helped my daughter focus.
  • Set up a special reading area. Make sure it has good lighting, some pillows and a blanket.
  • Read books that have been made into movies and then watch the movie.
  • Substitute your child’s names or their friends’ names into a story to make it extra fun.
  • Read with funny voices or role play the book you are reading
  • Play language-based games (Quiddler Card Game, Mad Libs, Blurt! , Hasbro Boggle , etc.)
  • What tips do you have for moms and dads?

    Children’s Books about Anger, Grumpiness and Bad Moods

    Posted on October 13th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts shares picture books about anger and bad moods


    Picture books to help a child understand and cope with anger

    When my youngest son was very young, he was frequently impacted by the negative effects of artificial food dyes. Sadly, we did not realize what was happening with him for quite some time. For years, we were puzzled by apparently random bouts of anger that were, in fact, a result of eating or drinking a trigger food,beverage or even medication.

    Thankfully, we did eventually figure out what was happening and the instances of uncontrolled anger pretty much disappeared. Along the way though, we used picture books to help our children understand anger and give them techniques for managing frustration and bad moods.

    Please leave a comment and let me know about your favorite books for exploring this theme.


    Children's book about anger and being in a bad moodBad Mood Bear written by John Richardson
    Small format picture book about feeling angry published by Red Fox a division of Random House

    When my children were young, we had a wonderful collection of Red Fox Mini Treasures. These were small-format picture books from many well-known, accomplished children’s book authors and illustrators. One of our favorite Red Fox Mini Treasure books was Bad Mood Bear. If one of my sons had a rough day, reading this story was one way to help him understand and learn to manage strong emotions, including anger. In addition to depicting a tough day, Bad Mood Bear also shows that the opportunity to feel and behave better may be just a short nap away.

    You may not be able to find a new copy of this picture book but I did not want to leave it off my list of children’s books about anger.

    Bear mooched around, kicking stones and growling. A fly buzzed around his nose
    ‘Buzz off!’ screamed Bear, flapping his arms around in a temper.

    Bad Mood Bear (Mini Treasure)

    Bad Mood Bear (Mini Treasure) at Amazon.ca


    Picture books about anger and bad moods including Finn Throws a FitFinn Throws a Fit! written by David Elliott and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering
    Picture book about a child’s temper tantrum published by Candlewick Press

    Usually, Finn is happy and loving but when Finn is upset, everybody in the household suffers. Using thunder, lightning, flooding, hurricane winds, blizzard conditions and an earthquake to describe Finn’s outburst, Finn Throws a Fit! will delight young readers and their parents.

    With no explanation given for the upset, there is a good opportunity for an adult to ask probing questions such as,
    Why do you think Finn was upset?”
    “How did Finn’s parents and dog feel when Finn was upset?”
    “What could Finn do next time he is upset?”

    Finn Throws a Fit! at Amazon.com

    Finn Throws a Fit! at Amazon.ca


    Children's Book About Anger and Feeling GrumpyGrumpy Bird written and illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
    Children’s Book About Anger and Feeling Grumpy published by Scholastic

    This is a picture book about anger and grumpiness that I have read dozens, if not hundreds of times. It is a book that I shared over and over again with a child that I helped to overcome a speech delay. The delightful, repetitious text was exactly what I needed to prompt dialogic reading

    He was too grumpy to eat.
    He was too grumpy to play.
    In fact, he was too grumpy to fly.
    “Looks like I’m walking today,” said Bird.

    I arrived for each appointment with a briefcase filled with picture books, puzzles, games and other activities. More often than not, Grumpy Bird was selected by my student and we enjoyed reading about Grumpy Bird spending time with friends (even if he was not enthusiastic about their company) and, eventually finding himself transformed into a happy, social creature.

    Grumpy Bird at Amazon.com

    Grumpy Bird at Amazon.ca


    Picture book about being angry How Do Dinosaurs Say I'M MAD?How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? written by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Mark Teague
    Picture book about expressing anger and frustration published by Blue Sky Press an imprint of Scholastic

    Part of the How Do Dinosaurs series of picture books, this story not only describes behaviours that might happen when a child is angry, it also suggests ways for a child (or dinosaur) to deal with angry feelings.

    he counts up to ten,
    then after a time out,
    breathes calmly…
    and then…
    he cleans up his mess

    Dinosaur fans will love the detailed endpapers and the notations within the book that identify the species of each of the dinosaurs.

    Some readers have commented that it is unfortunate that the dinosaurs do begin by behaving badly. Their behavior includes ripping books, throwing a mug, kicking and defiance. We agree with these observations but, unlike several books about anger, grumpiness and bad moods, this book did include suggestions for managing strong emotions.

    How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? at Amazon.com

    How Do Dinosaurs Say I’M MAD? at Amazon.ca


    Childrens books about anger, The Day Leo Said I Hate You
    The Day Leo Said I Hate You written by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Molly Bang
    Picture book about emotions and anger published by Little, Brown and Company

    When young children feel anger, it can be a frightening experience for them. They may be completely overcome by frustration and may be unable to control their words.

    Here we meet Leo, a little boy who has been told, “No” more times than he can count. His mommy doesn’t want him to roll tomatoes across the floor and she doesn’t want him to drop string beans into the fishbowl.

    Leo announces that he hates “No.” Mommy calmly says that she understands his feelings but, “There are some things you just should not do.” Leo decides that his bedroom is the best place to be but, when he begins drawing on the wall, his mommy is certain to be annoyed and it is not long until he cannot contain his emotions any longer. He shouts, “I HATE YOU.”

    Strong, bold Photoshop illustrations are sure to resonate with children who have felt overpowering emotions.

    A valuable resource for families, The Day Leo Said I Hate You! is a reassuring story of enduring love – even when it has been a very long and extremely emotional day.

    The Day Leo Said I Hate You! at Amazon.com

    The Day Leo Said I Hate You! at Amazon.ca


    I'm So Grumpy written and illustrated by Hans WilhelmI’m So Grumpy! written and illustrated by Hans Wilhelm
    Beginning Reader Story About Being in a Bad Mood published by Scholastic

    Beginning readers are sure to enjoy this simple story about Noodles’ bad mood. He doesn’t like his food, he doesn’t want to go for a walk. He wishes that everyone would leave him alone. Repetitive text and appealing illustrations will support young readers as they enjoy this fun story and the thrill of reading independently.

    There are a total of 32 books about Noodles that are perfect for new readers. Check out this page of resources, including posters and a teacher’s guide.

    I’m So Grumpy at Amazon.com

    I’m So Grumpy at Amazon.ca



    Trees and Forests for Preschool, Kindergarten and Primary Grades

    Posted on September 20th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

    Picture books and free printables highlighting trees and forests

    Sharing a selection of picture books about trees has led to some wonderful discoveries. The books we have included are respectful of trees and their impact on our environment, some using them metaphorically.

    These picture books about trees and forests often include references to the seasons and to the cycle of life. Use these picture books about trees and forests in preschool, kindergarten and primary classrooms to share information and create environmental awareness.

    Elsewhere on this site ~
    – Children’s books about the environment
    – Gardening Fun with Kids
    – Children’s books about recycling


    Storytime Standouts looks at picture books about trees including A Grand Old TreeA Grand Old Tree written and illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma
    Picture book about trees and ecosystems Published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic

    “Once there was a grand old tree. Her roots sank deep into the earth, her arms reached high into the sky. She was home to many creatures.”

    Lovingly written and illustrated, A Grand Old Tree is a wonderful tribute to an aging fruit tree. We watch as squirrels scamper, birds chirp and bees buzz in the branches of the tree. Through the seasons, we witness her bloom and produce seeds to blow from her branches. We consider how many leaves she has produced.

    One moonlit winter night, she falls. Snow covers her weary trunk and branches. When spring arrives, we can see her offspring growing nearby and we know her decaying trunk is still home to raccoons, insects and lichen. We appreciate her legacy and understand that her children and grandchildren are now growing, flowering, and sowing.

    Both informative and quietly reassuring, this is an eco-friendly picture book children will enjoy again and again.

    Note: there is a concrete poem (the text is printed to represent the trunk of a tree) in the book.

    Teaching suggestions from the author’s website

    A Grand Old Tree at Amazon.com

    A Grand Old Tree at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including The Alphabet Tree by Leo Lionnithe alphabet tree written and illustrated by Leo Lionni
    Picture book about letters, words and a remarkable tree published by Dragonfly Books

    A lovely tribute to the idea that there is strength in numbers. the alphabet tree opens with individual letters living happily in a large tree. When a very strong windstorm hits, some letters are blown out of the tree. The remaining letters retreat and huddle together. It is a word-bug that encourages the letters to work together to form words. Feeling stronger and more confident together, a caterpillar suggests forming phrases and, eventually, creating an important message for the president. An outstanding resource for encouraging print awareness, this picture book could also be interpreted as encouraging social or political activism.

    The Alphabet Tree at Amazon.com

    The Alphabet Tree at Amazon.ca


    Leo's Tree by Debora Pearson and Nora HilbLeo’s Tree written by Debora Pearson and illustrated by Nora Hilb
    Picture book about trees, seasons and family published by Annick Press

    A lovely picture book to share with preschool-age children, Leo’s Tree begins when Leo’s parents plant a tree just after Leo is born. We watch as both the tree and the baby grow, changing through the seasons. Gentle watercolor illustrations follow Baby Leo, Toddler Leo and, eventually Big Brother Leo, playing nearby as the tree grows tall and strong. Rhymes, repetitive text, and alliteration all contribute to a rich text that will appeal to young children.

    Leo’s Tree at Amazon.com

    Leo’s Tree at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including The Magnificent Tree by Nick Bland and Stephen Michael KingThe Magnificent Tree written by Nick Bland and illustrated by Stephen Michael King
    Picture book about problem solving and creativity published by Scholastic

    Bonny and Pop love creating things. Bonny takes a simple, straightforward approach. Pop is less conventional. they would both love to have birds stop and stay for a while but, instead, they just fly past. Bonny and Pop agree that the solution is to make a tree. In keeping with their personalities, Bonny approaches the tree problem simply. By contrast, Pop makes an elaborate plan and works day and night. Finally, Pop’s creation is ready and, on the first day of Spring, dozens of birds check it out before landing in Bonny’s project.

    An exuberant tribute to finding more than one way to approach a challenge. Fun illustrations have lots of details that will have a special appeal for tinkerers.

    The Magnificent Tree at Amazon.com

    The Magnificent Tree at Amazon.ca




    Storytime Standouts shares a quote - The good man is the friend of all living things.

    Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree by Anne Shelby and Cor HavelaarThe Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree by Anne Shelby and Cor Hazelaar
    Tall Tale about a man who decides to live in a tree published by Simon Says Kids

    Beautifully illustrated and richly told in a storyteller’s voice, it is easy to imagine hearing this tall tale while sitting fireside on a winter evening. Harlan Burch lived in Appalachia long ago. He worked as a carpenter and spent time in the woods, choosing trees for his projects. Apart from cutting trees down, he also planted them – replacing each one that he cut with two saplings. One day, he came across a sycamore that was so large, there was room enough inside for Harlan to create a comfortable home.

    Not long after moving into the sycamore, something strange happened. It was as though time had stopped and reversed. Harlan became more and more youthful. He soon married and had a family. The family thrived and grew, eventually populating all of Appalachia.

    The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree at Amazon.com

    The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts shares a selection of picture books about trees including Red Leaf, Yellow LeafRed Leaf, Yellow Leaf created by Lois Ehlert
    Picture book about a Sugar Maple Tree published by HMH Books for Young Readers

    Featuring dazzling collage illustrations, great for a group setting/read-aloud, Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf shows readers real maple tree seeds (samaras), burlap, twine, wire, plant tags, and tree roots. Beautiful Fall colors are highlighted in the cover art and elsewhere in the book. The main text is large and tells the story of the origins of a maple tree, from the moment a seed falls in a forest through transfer to a garden center and eventual planting in a garden. In addition to showing readers the tree growing from seed to sprout to sapling, the illustrations also include unobtrusively labelled creatures that might live in and around a tree (squirrels, birds, earthworms) as well as other details that will promote learning.

    A four-page appendix provides background information that will be helpful to young scientists and inquisitive researchers. An outstanding resource for kindergarten and primary-grade classrooms or for homeschool.

    Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf at Amazon.com

    Red Leaf, Yellow Leaf at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts highlights picture books about trees including Tess's Tree by Jess M. Brallier, pictures by Peter H. ReynoldsTess’s Tree written by Jess M. Brallier and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds
    Children’s book about coming to terms with loss published by Harper Collins Children’s Books

    Tess loves the tree in her yard. She loves to sit under it and read, she swings from it and, in Fall, she plays in the leaves beneath it. On dark, blowy night, two of the large branches are damaged and fall to the ground. There is no choice, the old tree must be taken down.

    Tess’s emotions are strong. She is angry and sad. She knows that she must do something to honor the tree. She plans a funeral service to celebrate the life of her tree.

    It is not long before Tess learns that the tree is not just hers. There are others for whom the tree was important.

    Tess’s Tree provides an opportunity to explore important themes of love and loss with children. I have read some reviews that suggest that the story ought to have ended with Tess planting another tree. My personal perspective is that might be an obvious “solution” to Tess’s grief, in some ways, this particular tree was irreplaceable. Much like the loss of a friend, family member or pet, dealing with loss is not always as simple as finding a replacement.

    Tess’s appears to be part of a single-parent family.

    Tess’s Tree at Amazon.com

    Tess’s Tree at Amazon.ca


    We Planted a Tree and other picture books about trees and forestsWe Planted a Tree – written by Diane Muldrow and illustrated by Bob Staake
    Picture book about trees and ecosystems published by Golden Books an imprint of Random House

    Young families in Brooklyn, New York and in Africa each plant a tree. As their trees grow, We Planted a Tree takes us to visit beautiful trees budding in Toyko and gorgeous bright, pink blossoms in Paris.

    “The sun kept shining.
    The pink blossoms dropped off,
    But soon there were green leaves,
    Green, green shiny leaves,
    Which had food inside for the tree.

    This joyous celebration of trees and the impact of planting just one, highlights that they can be a source of food and shade, they help to clean our air and they can prevent soil erosion. As well, readers learn that trees are home to birds and animals.

    We Planted a Tree at Amazon.com

    We Planted a Tree at Amazon.ca


    Free, Printable Tree-Theme Writing Paper for Home and Classroom

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Tree with bluebird

    Tree theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Tree including roots

    Tree theme interlined paper for beginning writers.


    Picture Books About Worries and Fears

    Posted on June 24th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

    Explore these picture books with children who have worries and fears.

    Help your child learn to manage worries and fears with these picture books

    Some children deal with new experiences and people with relative ease. For other children, there are reasons to worry about meeting new people, trying unfamiliar activities and beginning school. Anxious children may anticipate all sorts of dreadful outcomes that parents, caregivers and teachers don’t even consider. They may anticipate problems and focus on them, certain that outcomes will be unpleasant or even dangerous.

    Enjoying these picture books together will provide opportunities for children to watch as a picture book character successfully overcomes fear and worry and manages a first day in a new classroom, sleeping in a dark room or listening to a thunderstorm.

    Picture books for children who have worries and fears including David and the Worry BeastDavid and the Worry Beast written by Anne Marie Guanci and illustrated by Caroline Attia
    Bibliotherapy about anxiety published by New Horizon Press

    David and the Worry Beast was written especially to help children cope with anxiety. David’s worry beast causes him to worry when he plays basketball, when he’s at home and when he is at school. His anxiety grows and grows until he learns specific steps to cope with his worries. In addition to providing tips for children, the authors also have suggestions for parents.

    David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope with Anxiety at Amazon.com

    David and the Worry Beast: Helping Children Cope With Anxiety at Amazon.ca

    Franklin's Blanket is a picture book about a child's security objectFranklin’s Blanket written by Paulette Bourgeois and illustrated by Brenda Clark
    Picture book about a security object published by Kids Can Press

    When Franklin’s favorite blue blanket goes missing just before bedtime, he is distressed and has trouble settling down to sleep. Franklin tries to remember where it might be. The following day, Franklin visits his friends and discovers that they also have comfort objects that help them to manage challenging situations.

    Franklin’s Blanket features familiar characters and offers gentle reassurance about managing emotions, including fear, with a Teddy Bear or a cozy blanket.

    Franklin’s Blanket at Amazon.com

    Franklin’s Blanket at Amazon.ca

    Storytime Standouts looks at Noni is Nervous, a picture book about dealing with fears and worries surrounding starting school.Noni Is Nervous Written by Heather Hartt-Sussman and illustrated by Genevieve Cote
    Picture book about managing fears, especially with starting school published by Tundra Books

    There are things that make Noni feel anxious, including her relationship with a friend and world events. When we meet Noni, she is particularly concerned about starting school. Her family members reassure her that all will be well but Noni likes the comfort of home and being near to her mama.

    Noni imagines all sorts of things that could go wrong at school and is relieved when she doesn’t get lost, her teacher isn’t a monster and she is able to open her juice box.

    Noni Is Nervous will comfort children who are contemplating a new experience. Suitable for boys and girls aged four and up, the cheerful illustrations depict a racially diverse classroom and enhance readers’ understanding of the emotions that Noni is experiencing.

    Noni Is Nervous at Amazon.com

    Noni Is Nervous At Amazon.ca

    The I'M NOT SCARED Book can help children deal with fears and worries.The I’m Not Scared Book written and illustrated by Todd Parr
    Picture book about dealing with worries and fears published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

    Todd Parr writes about and illustrates several typical childhood fears including fear of the dark, of dogs, of starting school and of getting lost. Illustrations show both boys and girls (and a bear) in a state of being afraid, encouraging readers to take a closer look and gain understanding.

    Bright, bold illustrations are well-suited to a small group read aloud. Children are shown with a variety of skin colors including blue and purple.

    A good choice for a preschool or kindergarten classroom.

    The I’M NOT SCARED Book at Amazon.com

    The I’M NOT SCARED Book at Amazon.ca

    Little Mouse's Big Book of Fears is a story that can be used to explore themes of worries and fearsLittle Mouse’s Big Book of Fears written and illustrated by Emily Gravett
    Award-Winning picture book about fears published by Macmillan Children’s Books

    Little Mouse draws, writes and creates collages to express fear. A fascinating and engaging format that includes cutouts, a foldout, a flap to lift and nibbled pages, Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears is a relatively dark picture book that is best-suited to older children (aged 5 or 6 and up). Winner of the 2008 Kate Greenaway Medal for distinguished illustration, this is an inspiring book that could be used to encourage young readers to express emotions through artwork and writing.

    Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears at Amazon.com

    Little Mouse’s Big Book of Fears at Amazon.ca

    Wemberly Worried is a picture book that can help children deal with fears and worries.Wemberly Worried written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
    Picture book about worries and fears published by Greenwillow Books

    Wemberly is a little mouse with big worries. All day long, she finds reasons to worry at home and away from home. Her family tells her not to worry but that is easier said than done. When it is time to start school, Wemberly’s fears seem to multiply. She worries all the way to school.

    Fortunately, Wemberly’s new teacher introduces her to Jewel. Jewel has not joined all the other mice, she is standing off to one side, observing. Before too long, Wemberly and Jewel are sitting together and Wemberly’s worries have subsided.

    Wemberly Worried is a thoughtful, reassuring story that will provide reassurance to young mice (and children!) who are concerned about starting school. illustrated thoughtfully, not only are skin tones (hair color) diverse, Mr. Henkes also includes a young mouse who uses a wheelchair.

    Wemberly Worried at Amazon.com

    Wemberly Worried at Amazon.ca

    Picture Books About Worries and Fears are a great resource at home and in classrooms.


    Make Your Child’s Read Aloud Experience Magical- Like a Trip to a Theme Park

    Posted on January 8th, 2018 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts shares 7 tips to create Read Aloud magic

    Use our 7 tips to make your child’s read aloud experience enjoyable and magical for both of you!

  • Disneyland refers to itself as, “The Happiest Place on Earth!” We think that your daily read aloud experience should be the happiest part of your day. This is an opportunity to forget about work, forget about chores, forget about whatever is distracting you and make storytime an opportunity to focus just on your child. Read aloud is a time to escape into great picture books or chapter books and create wonderful memories and learning opportunities for your child.
  • Just as you might count down the days ’til you visit a theme park, create some excitement about the read aloud experience. “What shall we read tonight?” “I can’t wait for our storytime!”, “Let’s borrow a HUGE pile of books from the library this weekend!”, “What kind of book would you like for your birthday?”, “Which books shall we take on our holiday?”
  • It’s fun to go on the same ride more than once, it also completely fine to read the same book more than once! Each time you read aloud, children are learning new vocabulary, they are gaining phonemic awareness and exploring new ideas and new themes. Don’t worry if they want to hear the same book over and over again. They are still benefiting from the experience and enjoying the time with you!
  • The best theme park rides immerse the riders in the experience! We want to do the same when we read aloud. Use silly, giggling voices, stern, authoritative voices. Use high-pitched squeaky voices and low-pitched growls. Act out part of the story along with your child! Build a special fort and read inside it! Turn out the lights and read with a flashlight or read while stretched out on a picnic blanket. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t want to sit still for a story. It is completely fine to have your child play with Lego or draw a picture while you read.
  • Interrupt the story occasionally and be playful and engage your child. Encourage your child to make a prediction or tell you which farm animal he likes best or make a comparison to another story. Play I Spy with the illustrations or the text. When children make predictions and comparisons, they are flexing their comprehension muscles!
  • Just as you would choose age-appropriate rides at a theme-park, look for books that match your child’s maturity and interests. When she is ready, move past baby or toddler books and discover great picture books and chapter books. Every now and then, be brave and give something challenging a try – don’t be afraid to climb aboard that roller coaster!
  • Make time for you and your child to enjoy this simple yet rewarding escape every single day. It will be good for both of you – sort of like a trip to a magic kingdom!
  • Local Girl Missing – intriguing adult fiction for a change!

    Posted on July 25th, 2017 by Carolyn Hart

    Local Girl Missing by Claire DouglasLocal Girl Missing writting by Claire Douglas
    Adult fiction published by Harper Collins

    It is almost six years to the day since I wrote about adult fiction! These days, my volunteer work absorbs so much time and energy, I rarely take the time to write reviews of the books I make time to read.

    I do want to let you know about Local Girl Missing. It was exactly the sort of book that I was ready to discover. Interesting characters and a good mystery kept me awake late and guessing right til the end.

    Sophie disappeared off a dilapidated pier nearly twenty years ago under mysterious circumstances. When human remains wash up on a local beach, it seems almost impossible that they could belong to Sophie. The fact that the remains are in a trainer (track shoe), could mean that they could be identified as belonging to her and the family will be able to experience some closure.

    In light of the gruesome discovery, Sophie’s brother Daniel convinces Frankie to spend a week in their hometown, investigating Sophie’s disappearance with him. Visiting old friends and locations and being near to the decrepit pier is, at times, alarming and creepy for Frankie.

    Ms Douglas skillfully intertwines Sophie’s thoughts and experiences with those of Frankie by alternating the chapters. The book begins with Frankie’s thoughts in February 2016. The next chapter is set in 1997 and is narrated by Sophie.

    Well-paced and intriguing, Local Girl Missing is the sort of book I really enjoy. Entertaining and suspenseful, it kept me guessing until the pieces came together and the mystery was solved.

    Let me know about your favorite escapes! This is a book that reminded me of the pleasures of reading. Thank you to Harper Collins for providing me with the proof copy.

    Local Girl Missing at Amazon.com

    Local Girl Missing at Amazon.ca


    Books for Bedtime! Special Stories to Share with Children

    Posted on May 20th, 2017 by Carolyn Hart

    Great bedtime-theme children's recommended by Storytime Standouts



    Finding the perfect bedtime story can make all the difference as toddlers and preschoolers settle down for the night. In this post, we have a look at some delightful bedtime-theme children’s books that will set the tone for a good night’s sleep. In the comments, we hope you’ll let us know about your favorite books for bedtime!







    A picture book about going to bed, 10 Minutes to Bedtime written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann10 Minutes till Bedtime written and illustrated by Peggy Rathmann
    Mostly wordless picture book about bedtime published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers an imprint of Penguin

    In this classic, fun picture book, Dad cautions his son that it is 10 minutes till bedtime. Within a moment, a pet hamster has summoned other neighborhood hamsters to stop by for ten minutes of fun. Preschool-aged (and older) children will enjoy the detailed and engaging illustrations that tell most of the story. Of course, the joke is on Dad as he has no idea what is happening behind his back, as his son gets ready for bed. Good fun and a great opportunity for language and comprehension development. Carefully ‘reading’ the illustrations and talking about what is happening is a big part of this bedtime story.

    10 Minutes till Bedtime at Amazon.com

    10 Minutes till Bedtime at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts shares picture books about going to bed including Baby Bedtime Baby Bedtime written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Emma Quay
    Rhyming toddler picture book about bedtime published by Simon and Schuster

    Soft tones and sparse, rhyming text are hallmarks of this gentle picture book about a baby elephant’s bedtime. Cuddling and smiling, an adult elephant takes a baby elephant through a bedtime routine (including a story!) before finally saying goodnight.

    One of the really lovely aspects of this picture book is that the gender and age of the adult elephant is not specific. This could be a mom, dad, grandparent, aunt or uncle putting the youngster to bed.

    Baby Bedtime at Amazon.com

    Baby Bedtime at Amazon.ca


    Rhyming picture book about bedtime Steam Train, Dream TrainSteam Train, Dream Train written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
    Rhyming children’s book about bedtime published by Chronicle Books

    Wonderful rich vocabulary and onomatopoeia make this a wonderful bedtime story for preschool-age and older children. Children who are interested in trains, will enjoy hearing the names of the various cars (hopper, tender, reefer, gondolas etc.) and will hear the rhythmic text that echoes the sounds we associate with steam trains.

    Set in moonlight, Mr. Lichtenheld’s illustrations, created with wax oil pastel are beautifully atmospheric. We especially liked the train’s arrival and the child’s moonlit bedroom.

    Steam Train, Dream Train at Amazon.com

    Steam Train, Dream Train at Amazon.ca


    A picture book about bedtime How to Put Your Parents to BedHow to Put Your Parents to Bed written by Mylisa Larsen and illustrated by Babette Cole
    Fun picture book about bedtime published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers

    Preschool-age and older children will enjoy the humor as a young girls tries to get her parents to go to bed. Chores, a computer, games, television and even cell phones are delaying mom and dad’s bedtime but, with determination, it is possible for her to get them settled and off to sleep.

    Older children, especially those who resist shut-eye, will see themselves in this fun role-reversal tale.

    How to Put Your Parents to Bed at Amazon.com

    How to Put Your Parents to Bed at Amazon.ca


    Princess Baby Night-Night written and illustrated by Karen KatzPrincess Baby Night-Night written and illustrated by Karen Katz
    Picture book about getting ready for bed published by Schwartz and Wade, an imprint of Random House

    Getting ready for bed can be an exhausting proposition. Princess Baby has lots to do. She not only puts her own pajamas on, she dresses her six special friends for bed too. She also helps with washing up, brushing teeth and selecting stories.

    Bright, beautiful collage illustrations make this a great story to share in a group setting. Fans of Princess Baby will want to explore Princess Baby and Princess Baby on the Go.

    Princess Baby, Night-Night at Amazon.com

    Princess Baby, Night-Night at Amazon.ca



    Introducing children’s book illustrator François Thisdale (Interview)

    Posted on January 26th, 2017 by Carolyn Hart


    Storytime Standouts interviews illustrator François Thisdale For nearly thirty years, François Thisdale’s has worked as an award-winning illustrator creating images for children’s books, news magazines, annual corporate reports, and book covers for several clients in Canada, United States, Korea, China, Colombia, Spain and France. His trademark multi-textured images are the product of a unique blend of traditional drawing, photography and richly textured painting techniques interwoven with digital imagery that creates particular atmospheres. He is the illustrator of Missing Nimama which recently won the TD Award and The Stamp Collector, which is on the International Board on Books for Young People’s Honor List. He has also won a Notable Books for a Global Society Award and the Crystal Kite Award; been a TD Children’s Book Award Finalist; an OLA Best Bet; an Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator’s Award finalist; and a Willow Awards finalist. François lives near Montreal, Quebec.

    Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?

    French Toast written by Kari-Lynn Winters and illustrated by François ThisdaleMy latest release is a picture book for age 4-7 entitled French Toast, a text from Kari-Lynn Winters published by Pajama Press.
    This is a great story about difference, about color of skin, about identity. Phoebe—half Jamaican, half French-Canadian—hates her school nickname of “French Toast.” Her grandmother uses descriptions of favorite foods from both of Phoebe’s cultures to celebrate the varied skin tones of her family. This is a great book for all ages and all colors.

    For that book, the challenge was inspiring. I’ve worked around different atmospheres to match color of food described in the story. I wanted to create poetic moods and incorporate food elements, like banana bread, tea, maple syrup or peach yogurt to build special images. I think I’ve succeeded to create a surreal world that helps to dive into this dialog between Phoebe and her grandmom. Each spread becomes a special place to observe these characters. I’m very proud of the result. I particularly like the tenderness of this little girl and the natural tones of the illustrations.

    French Toast at Amazon.com

    French Toast at Amazon.ca

    Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

    As far as I remember, I’ve always been attracted by drawing and art in general. At the age of 4 or 5, my favorite series of books was Tintin and Snowy, by Hergé. I’ve been moved deeply by one of these books, Tintin and the Blue Lotus. All Tintin and Snowy books were very special to me but this specific book haunted me by the beauty of images, the strange architecture, its colourful exoticism. It was great to be able to follow the story without knowing how to read. I had the impression of traveling far, far away.This is the moment where I have started to draw for the rest of my life.Later on, I saw a photography of Hergé’s studio in a magazine for kids. I’ve been very impressed by that shot. I wanted to do that, to draw all day long!

    When I left for China in 2003 to adopt our daughter, I admit that I’ve thought about my childhood, about that precious book and remembered how it inspired me as a kid. I didn’t know that China would give me the chance to become a father. I did lots of sketches in China and The Blue Lotus was still resonating inside of me.

    If we were watching over your shoulder as you work on a book, what would we see? Where do you work? What does your writing / illustrating process look like? THISDALE Studio

    I’m working from home, an antique farmhouse, my studio is a luminous space with two large windows. Every single day starts almost the same, a good teapot of Oolong tea. I need lots of music and life is good!

    When I work on a picture book or on a book cover, I’m very passionate.

    A picture book project starts with the reading of the manuscript. That’s the moment where everything is possible. Each text brings different challenges to face. I need to understand characters, to learn from their stories and to find a link with my own life. I’m very grateful about authors, this is a real gift to share the world of other creators during months.

    The work begins with pencil and watercolour sketches, far from a final illustration but enough to give a direction to the book. I love to work on a sketchbook. I feel the same as when I’m traveling.

    From there, with comments from my editor, I start to work on images. First off, I build the skeleton of my illustrations with photographic references, part of painting textures, different details taken here and there, and I create a collage of photographies and paintings details, in Photoshop. I print that proof on my wide format printer and I paint over with acrylic and different mediums. Then, I scan this image to work it again in the computer. I add textures, collage, elements painted aside like skies, painted textures and adjust contrasts, levels, saturation. This is a long process, a kind of alchemy. And I love it!

    Thisdale Bike Riding I usually take an hour or so during the day to keep the shape and get my head cleaned. From April to November, I’m cycling around 35 kilometers a day. I love the sensation of the wind and the contemplation of landscapes. I alway carry my cell phone to take pictures that could improve the quality of my illustrations.

    What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?

    My work, as a freelance illustrator, asks me to be well organized and disciplined. I see illustration as a language where I need to “say” things differently, regarding the text. When I’m doing a picture book, I want to create a dance between words and images and to enhanced some parts of the story by creating specific moods. This is a link, a bridge between the text and the reader. An illustrator must dive into the story and search to understand characters, to feel the story from his guts. Obviously, this is a great way to express myself and I think that I became an illustrator for that reason: the easiness to communicate that way, to “tell” things differently without having to say a single word, to understand and share someone’s world.

    Does music play a part in your writing/illustrating? If so, what sort of music do you connect with your work?

    Yes! I’m listening to music all day long. This is a great part of my inspiration. Music is something essential for me, something natural. As long as I remember, music has always been present in my life. My father was a pianist, I’ve played guitar a lot and composed music for shortfilms in a period of my life, music is an extension of my sensitivity. I like a wide variety of styles, depending of the moment. Today’ I’ve listened to Andy Stott, a londonian DJ, Yussef Kamaal, Ray Lamontagne and Radiohead and ended my working day with John Dowland solo lute music. Music is a great chance to discover different cultures and to admire creativity.

    If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

    Hard to choose… Let me give you three names.

    First, Eugene Delacroix simply for talking with him about his Moroccan sketchbooks. These sketches are still moving me. I visited Delacroix’ studio in Paris on place Furtenberg and had the chance to see some of these drawings.

    I would have liked to meet Carl Beam, who died in 2005, an Ojibway painter who worked on large format paintings that incorporates photo-imagery. I love his work and his attachment to his roots. I would have liked, for sure, to discuss about his technique of blending photo and painting as well as knowing more about the true meaning of some pieces of art I love.

    And finally Binette Schroeder, this wonderful German illustrator, to hear from this woman about her great career and to learn about this passionate person.


    Meet Author Kelly Santana-Banks (Interview)

    Posted on October 27th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart


    Storytime Standouts interviews Kelly Santana-BanksKelly Santana-Banks is a writer of nonfiction and children’s books, and a former early childhood teacher and caregiver. When she was young, she loved to play teacher with her sister, cousins, and neighbors. As a young adult, she never considered teaching as a career, but little did she know that her childhood make-believe would pave the way to what would become her passion. With more than ten years of experience working with children—five of those years were dedicated to research in the area of child development as well as implementing best practices inside and outside of the classroom and a strong background in child development, she is an advocate for education, especially in early childhood. She writes fun stories to entertain and teach children as well as help parents find simple solutions for their little ones’ lives.

    You can find more about her or connect on her website

    You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter @ksantanabanks, Instagram and Pinterest.

    Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?Dinosaur Adventure a Field Trip to Remember by Kelly Santana Banks

    My latest release is called Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember, the second book in the series Let’s Learn while Playing. Different from my first book, which was a short nursery rhyme geared towards two, threes, and fours, Dinosaur Adventure targets more the older group of children (3–7)—given its amount of text and the vocabulary explored. This book is a product of my working experiences with children inside and outside of the classroom, including fun field trips. And I’m happy to bring to life a subject that children love (dinosaurs) in an entertaining and educational way.

    Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember at Amazon.com

    Dinosaur Adventure: A Field Trip to Remember at Amazon.ca

    Thinking back to your own childhood, is there a particular author or illustrator who was a favorite? Why do you suppose that person’s work resonated with you?

    Growing up, I loved the stories of Mauricio de Souza, a famous Brazilian cartoonist and creator of the children’s comic series, Turma da Monica. But at that point, writing or even thinking of becoming an author was never on my radar. Throughout my teenage years, I became an avid reader, devouring my mom’s library of books, including Sidney Sheldon’s novel, of whom I became a big fan. And later on, I also added Danielle Steele and Jenifer Weiner to my list. Every one of those authors left an impression on me. Either it is in the way I create the characters in my mind and get them to paper or how I develop the plot. This is only my second children’s book, so I cannot measure precisely their impact on my writing, but I can tell for sure that their work let me see my characters with more of a critical eye.

    When did you realize that you would be a writer/illustrator? Is there a particular person who has inspired and/or supported your work along the way?

    I have worked with children for more than ten years now. Here in the US, I started as a caregiver, but not too long, I realized my love and enjoyment working with the little ones. I went back to graduate school for early childhood education (I previously received a graduate degree in hospitality) and started working as a teacher. My desire for writing started to naturally blossom. The more engaged with children, their experiences, and teaching I became, the idea of writing children’s books emerged. But at that point, it seemed far fetched to me. Life went on with many surprises and changes of scenario, including professional ones. Three years ago, I saw an opportunity to help authors with their craft, at the same time learning about it myself, and I started writing reviews for Reader’s Favorite. From reviews, I moved to resume writing, content writing, and now, books. I need to add, though, that I’m thankful for the support from my parents, dear sister, and husband, as well as some close friends, who have been strong supporters of my work.

    How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries, or bookstores?

    I connect with my readers through social media, especially Twitter and Instagram, and my website. I have been planning some book tours, but I haven’t started that yet. As you know, it requires a lot of preparation with book release dates, websites logistics, and the readers’ needs as well. But I’m excited to start with this one. The same goes with libraries, schools, and bookstores. I haven’t explored those venues yet, but I would sure consider a children’s read aloud session.

    What are the joys of being an author/illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?

    There is no better satisfaction than to really bring your character to life. The creating process is one of my favorites. Besides having the pleasure of getting the character onto the paper, I love the back and forth with the illustrator, the discussion of ideas and experimenting with colors, materials, and senses to make the character relatable and loved by children.

    What are the biggest challenges of being an author/illustrator?

    To me, as an indie author—and I imagine that some fellow indies might relate—the real challenge comes with the marketing. In order for us to reach a broader readership, we need to put a lot of effort into marketing.

    I constantly see myself on a tightrope trying to balance out writing with the marketing aspect. And for the most part, this is not easy.

    If you could dine with any author/illustrator (alive or dead), who would you choose and why?

    This is a no-brainer: Sidney Sheldon. As I mentioned previously, I grew up reading his novels and became a super fan. I would love to learn about the thought process for his plots, his writing habits, and where he gets inspiration for his characters.

    Halloween-Theme Picture Books and Free Printables for Kids!

    Posted on October 23rd, 2016 by Carolyn Hart


    Celebrate Halloween with our free homeschool, preschool and kindergarten printables and book suggestions

    Halloween-Theme Stories and Printables for Homeschool and Classroom

    As the days grow shorter and cooler weather arrives in the Northern Hemisphere, October is a wonderful month to share a variety of Halloween-theme picture books with children. Halloween is also a great time to enjoy concept books with children and more than one of our featured books highlights counting.

    Here are some of our favorite stories exploring themes of friendship, tolerance, learning about others while trick or treating, wearing costumes and enjoying the fun of Halloween.




    Scroll down for our free Halloween-theme printables for children



    Storytime Standouts recommends Halloween picture book A Very Brave WitchA Very Brave Witch written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Harry Bliss
    Halloween-theme picture book published by Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books

    A Very Brave Witch is the tale of a green-skinned, broomstick-flying, costume-loving witch. She thinks she knows all about humans and decides that Halloween night is the perfect opportunity to take a closer look. After a flying mishap, she meets three, costumed human trick-or-treaters including one girl who is dressed up as a witch. Together, the pair manages to shatter stereotypes as they discover friendship and celebrate Halloween together.

    Young readers will enjoy investigating a recently-decorated haunted house and collection of costumes. The witches’ fear of humans is good fun.

    Well-suited for a group read-aloud, the colorful watercolor illustrations nicely match the tone of the story.

    Suitable for preschool and older

    Scare Factor = 1

    A Very Brave Witch at Amazon.com

    A Very Brave Witch at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts recommends Halloween picture book A Creepy Countdown by Charlotte Huck and Jos. A. SmithA Creepy Countdown written by Charlotte Huck and Jos. A. Smith
    Halloween-theme picture book published by Harper Trophy

    Beautifully detailed, dark and creepy illustrations are a highlight of this Halloween-theme counting book. The rhyming text includes alliteration and guides readers as they count from one to ten and back down to one.

    Five furry bats hanging upside down
    Six skinny witches flying through the town

    Recommended for children aged 5 and up. Illustrations are well-suited to a group setting and could be used to inspire young artists to work primarily in black.

    Scare Factor = 2

    A Creepy Countdown at Amazon.com

    A Creepy Countdown at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts recommends Halloween picture book Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for HalloweenScaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt
    Halloween-theme picture book published by Kids Can Press

    Scaredy Squirrel is a fun series of picture books written and illustrated by Mélanie Watt. In Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween, Scaredy has put together eight short chapters featuring panels with maps, lists, illustrations and diagrams intended to keep trick or treaters safe and happy. Best-suited to independent readers or a one-on-one read aloud, this is a fun book with rich vocabulary and detailed, engaging illustrations. Not great for a large group setting, this will be a very satisfying “chapter book” for a child in grade one or two and will produce lots of giggles when read by a parent to a child.

    Scare Factor = 1

    Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies at Amazon.com

    Scaredy Squirrel Prepares for Halloween: A Safety Guide for Scaredies at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts looks at Halloween-theme picture books including Ten Timid Ghosts by Jennifer O'ConnellTen Timid Ghosts written and illustrated by Jennifer O’Connell
    Halloween-theme counting book published by Cartwheel Books, an imprint of Scholastic

    When a moving truck pulls up to a haunted house, the ten resident ghosts watch nervously. Before too long, a green-skinned witch is scaring the ghosts with a skeleton, a bat and various costumes. Ms. O’Connell provides fun clues for readers to notice including buttons that look like eyes, white face powder and a roll of toilet paper.

    The repetitive, rhyming text adds to the fun in this counting book. Young children will love finding the ghosts in each of the illustrations.

    Scare Factor = 1

    Ten Timid Ghosts at Amazon.com

    Ten Timid Ghosts at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts looks at Halloween-theme picture books including Trick or Treat by Bill Martin and Michael Sampson, illustrated by Paul MeiselTrick or Treat written by Bill Martin Jr. and Michael Sampson, illustrated by Paul Meisel
    Halloween-theme picture book published by Aladdin Books, an imprint of Simon and Schuster

    It’s Halloween night and time to trick or treat in a ten-story apartment building. A young, wide-eyed boy goes from floor to floor, meeting all sorts of costumed neighbors with wonderful names like Wiggle Waggle and Limbler Lamber. When the boy reaches the top floor, Merlin answers the door and waves his magic wand and tells the boy that everything is “WackBards“, sending the boy back to each apartment for Belly Jeans and “Twicorice Lists

    Great use of alliteration and wordplay along with colorful, fun illustrations make this an excellent read-aloud for kindergarten and older children. In a classroom setting, children could have fun illustrating a favorite candy WackBards.

    Scare Factor = 1

    Trick or Treat? at Amazon.com

    Trick or Treat? at Amazon.ca


    Storytime Standouts shares free Halloween printables including pumpkin-theme interlined printing paper

    Free Printable Halloween Theme Learning Resources for Kids

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Witch Hat

    Halloween, Witch theme interlined paper for beginning writers.

    image of PDF icon  Writing paper for kids - Pumpkin

    Fall theme interlined paper with pumpkins for beginning writers.

    image of PDF icon  Halloween Picture Dictionary

    Free printable Halloween picture dictionary for readers and writers in kindergarten and grade one.

    Storytime Standouts shares free Halloween printables including a picture dictionary, chants, writing paper and song

    image of PDF icon  Five Little Ghosts

    Use as an action chant or a felt board story

    image of PDF icon  Five Little Pumpkins

    Use as a action chant or a felt board story

    image of PDF icon  The Wheels on the Halloween Bus

    image of PDF icon  Halloween Crossword Puzzle

    image of PDF icon  Halloween Word Search


    Meet Author Darla Woodley (Interview)

    Posted on October 13th, 2016 by Carolyn Hart

    Storytime Standouts interviews children’s book author Kelly Santana-Banks
    Storytime Standouts interviews D Woodley author of  Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is Darla Woodley’s first book. Darla is a self-proclaimed shutterbug, with her camera never far from arm’s reach and a goal of capturing the many activities of her two boys, she is always on the lookout for how to capture magical moments. Many of these special moments are recorded in this book.

    AuthorTwitter account @RedAnything

    Instagram redsockswithanything

    Facebook page www.facebook.com/RedSocksGoWithAbsolutelyAnything

    Author Website

    Tell us about your latest published children’s book. Who do you think should read it? What are you most proud of?
    My book is entitled Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything. It is a Children’s Picture Book but I actually think it is a good read for all ages. Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything is based around our family tradition of wearing red socks as an unspoken method of support and encouragement for friends, family or anyone that may just need a lift in spirit. The story sees the character going through a number of “firsts” and intimidating moments and shows the reader that sometimes words are just not needed to show that someone is thinking of you or cheering you on. The main character’s gender is ambiguous on purpose so as to allow the reader to develop a more personal connection to the story. Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything

    I am most proud of the impact that the story has on its readers. I love hearing how someone is heading out to purchase a pair of red socks for themselves and/or their family members. I am especially thrilled when a reader tells me that they are looking forward to initiating their own unspoken method of support and tradition based around the idea of red socks.

    Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything at Amazon.com

    Red Socks Go With Absolutely Anything at Amazon.ca

    Was it difficult for you to get your first book published? What suggestions/words of encouragement do you have for aspiring authors/illustrators?
    I am not sure if I would say it was difficult to publish my first book. Challenging? Yes, definitely challenging. I chose the self-published route and being new to the book industry I found myself constantly on the computer or my phone doing research. I cannot tell you how many links I emailed myself to read and check on and how many tabs were open on my desktop at once on a regular basis. I was extremely fortunate to have a few connections that I could contact, bounce questions off of and verify information that I had found through research. The entire process can be a rather lengthy one when opting the self-published route as there are many services, options and research that should be done to ensure that you end up with an end product suitable to your standards.

    To aspiring authors/illustrators I would suggest that they do their research regarding the publishing process and what it takes to ensure that you end up with a polished and very professional book. I would also explain how it is a never-ending process of promotion and self-promotion. For a new author it is a constant challenge to get your name out there in the literary world.

    Tell us about your experiences sharing your book with children. Has anything unusual / endearing / funny / unexpected happened?
    I have such great memories and experiences of sharing Red Socks with children. They are such a wonderful and inspiring group to share the story with!

    I have shared the story with children in grades 1 through to grade 6 and was very pleasantly surprised at the comments and discussions with the grade 6 individuals. I wasn’t sure if they were going to be too “big” for the story but they were an awesome group of kids with insightful questions and comments. With that particular group I have great memories:
    – I had a couple of girls approach me and tell me about a book they are writing together and how they were inspired to keep their project going and not give up.
    – One child came up and told me how great he thought the story was and then secretly handed me a piece of his favorite gum by way of a handshake. He then gave me a wink to confirm the passing of the forbidden gum. (we were all sitting in the library)
    – Another child was so inspired by the story that he suggested that they have a wall in the school dedicated to Red Socks displaying the book’s lines “I feel strong. I am ready. I can do anything.” I am so proud of him as he later inspired so many others at a local track competition with his determination to run and finish in a relay match.

    I always have fond memories of visiting and reading with the younger grades. I experienced my first “heckler” when I was reading to a grade 2 class and she was in the front row asking me why the socks were not blue. I love the little discussions (that sometimes turn into battles) when I ask the class if they think the protagonist is a boy or a girl. I enjoy the fact that we get off course during the reading as our discussions take a different direction at times when they all want to share their version of the character’s experience.

    How do you stay connected with your readers? Have you gone on book tours? Do you engage on social media or through a website? Do you visit classrooms, libraries or bookstores?
    I use social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a website) in an effort to stay connected with readers and those who might be interested in learning more about Red Socks. I have done a few book signings and look forward to doing more. (The book signings are something that I need to push myself to do as I am usually very much a “behind-the-scenes” type of person.) I do thoroughly enjoy visiting classrooms and look forward to those in the coming school year.

    What are the joys of being an author / illustrator? What do you derive your greatest pleasure from?
    I am a first time author so it is so very thrilling to see the book displayed in a bookstore or to hear from someone else that they spotted Red Socks in a bookstore. My greatest pleasure is having someone tell me that they enjoyed the story and are looking forward to initiating their own tradition based on the idea of Red Socks. I have it set up so that when books are purchased an additional copy is printed and then donated to a local school, charity and/or organization that can benefit from the message within the story. I am so happy to say that books have been sent to Australia, Maui, England, Northern Ireland, Toronto, various States, Saskatchewan, BC and throughout Alberta so far.

    What are the biggest challenges of being an author / illustrator?
    Being a first time author and one that is self-published, the biggest challenge is actually getting the word out about the story. The entire experience is new to me and full of challenges and unknowns and I find myself constantly having to do research regarding the industry and push myself out of my comfort level at times in an effort to bring Red Socks to new readers. I am thankful though as this challenge offers me an opportunity to be an example to my two boys of how one should never give up and always be willing to put themselves out there.

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