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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?

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