Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fall Baby Lap Time!

I am so happy to be presenting a baby lap time again! Today, I presented a baby lap time at the Covenant House in Washington, DC. The babies, caretakers, and I had a wonderful time! More baby lap times will be forthcoming.

Normally I only read one or two board books at the most during a baby lap time, but today I read three because a second group of babies joined us when the baby lap time was halfway over.

Fall by Ailie Busby introduces babies to fall by mentioning the delights you can experience on an autumn day, such as collecting acorns, kicking leaves, picking blackberries, and collecting apples, pears, and pumpkins in a wheelbarrow.

In Duck & Goose Find A Pumpkin by Tad Hills, duck and goose look everywhere for a pumpkin! They look in a leaf pile, in the apple tree, under the water, and on top of a stump. Then Thistle walks by and suggests that they try the pumpkin patch.

In The Busy Little Squirrel by Nancy Tafuri, squirrel is too busy to nibble a pumpkin with mouse, rest on a branch with bird, hop rocks with frog, lie in the sun with cat, run in the field with dog, and watch the moon with owl. At the end of the day, squirrel is fast asleep.

You can't have a baby lap time without a lot of songs and rhymes. In my baby lap time today, we did the following: Bumping Up and Down in My Little Red Wagon, Itsy Bitsy Spider, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, Two Little Blackbirds Sitting on a Hill, Five Little Ducks, Tony Chestnut, and Roll, Roll, Roll Your Hands.

If you're not familiar with Two Little Blackbirds Sitting on a Hill, this is how it goes:

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill,

One named Jack.

One named Jill.

Fly away, Jack.

Fly away, Jill.

Come back, Jack.

Come back, Jill.

I held up two fingers to represent the blackbirds.

If you're not familiar with Roll, Roll, Roll Your Hands, this is how it goes (Tune: "Row, Row, Row Your Boat"):

Roll, roll, roll your hands

As slowly as can be.

Roll, roll, roll your hands

Slowly just like me.

Roll, roll, roll your hands

As quickly as can be,

Roll, roll, roll your hands

Quickly just like me.

I used two other verses; one with clap your hands and one with shake your hands.

I found some other board books about Autumn that I liked, but did not read. These books are the following:

Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell

In My Tree by Sara Gillingham is also good as a one on one read aloud book because baby can pat the soft fluffy baby owl throughout the story.

Biscuit Visits the Pumpkin Patch by Alyssa Satin Capucilli

I Love Fall! by Alison Inches is also good as a one on one read aloud book because baby can rub the soft scarf, pat the smooth pumpkin, feel the shiny pie tin, touch the leaves, and feel the smooth wicker on the fall basket.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Fall Story Time!

Hocus Pocus, It's Fall! by Anne Sibley O'Brien features beautiful illustrations with eleven gatefolds that open to reveal even more beautiful illustrations. All you have to do to get them to open is to say the magic words, such as the following: Alakazam!, Open sesame!, Abracadabra!, and Shazam! The page with the picture of the "spiky pods that are brown and dried" opens to reveal the fluffy white seeds floating and drifting away from the pods. Other gatefolds include the following: a beautiful bunch of trees with red, orange and yellow leaves; children and a dog playing in piles of fallen leaves; chipmunks storing nuts; and an apple pie that wins first place at the fair! The children enjoyed saying the magic words and guessing what the scenes in the gatefolds might be.

Mouse's First Fall by Lauren Thompson tells the story of Mouse and Minka playing in piles of fallen leaves. While I was reading the book, the children helped me identify the colors of the leaves and count the leaves. We also identified the shapes of leaves and found Minka when Minka was hidden in a leaf pile.

We finished story time with Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley. In this story, a tree tries to change its leaves into the traditional colors of fall leaves: yellow, orange, and red. Instead it changes into a rainbow tree, a happy face, a tree with purple and yellow leaves, a tree with red and white leaves, a hamburger tree, a tree with blue and green leaves, and a jack-o-lantern tree. The children had fun pointing out the different leaves and patterns on the tree and laughing.

I didn't read the following books at story time, but they were books that I picked out as possible story time books.

Leaves by David Ezra Stein tells the story of Bear's first fall. He doesn't understand why the leaves are falling and he tries to catch the leaves and put them back on the tree. As he grows sleepy, he fills a hole in the ground and hibernates during his first winter. When he wakes up in the spring, he is happy to see the budding leaves and the leaves that have just started to unfold. He enthusiastically welcomes them!

In Little Tree by Loren Long, a little tree's leaves turn yellow, orange, and red, along with the rest of the trees. But even though the rest of the trees drop their leaves, Little Tree is afraid to do so. He hangs on tightly to his! A squirrel, a doe, a duckling, and a fox try to get Little Tree to drop his leaves, but he refuses. But when Little Tree can no longer feel the sunlight and can no longer hear the mourning dove's song, he drops his leaves. Eventually, he grows into a great big tree.

In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes, is a book with beautiful and amazing illustrations by Laura Dronzek that show the beginning, middle, and end of fall. Apples are described as ornaments and other pages feature bright orange, yellow, and red leaves, frisky squirrels, a gray sky, brown gardens, and big round orange pumpkins. This book would make a good one on one read aloud.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Interactive Story Time!

My new preschoolers have been full of the wiggles lately! So, I decided it was time to have an interactive story time. There's no particular theme to this story time, it's just composed of interactive stories.

The first book that I read was Follow Me! by Ellie Sandall. This book tells the story of a group of lemurs as they chase, hunt, race, and climb their way through the jungle. The children and I counted the lemurs together at the beginning of the story. I asked the children what one lemur was chasing. The lemur was chasing the butterfly. Another lemur was hunting a snail. One of the lemurs was racing a turtle and of course, winning! The highlight of the story is when the lemurs are leaping over stones and almost become a meal for the crocodile! Fortunately, they get away by swinging on vines high above the crocodile's head.

Find a Cow Now! by Janet Stevens is the charming story of a city dog who is tired of napping and chases his tail, grabs onto the rug, and attempts to round up the chairs. Bird tells him that he is a cattle dog and needs to go to the country to find a cow. He's supposed to be herding cows. Dog goes off to the country. When he gets there, he meets a chicken, a pig, and a donkey. He mistakes all of these animals for a cow! The children and I had fun making the chicken, pig, and donkey noises. And of course, we got to give great big MOOs! The dog and the cow go through the city and cause a huge commotion. They go back to the country together and Dog goes back to his home in the city. He is happy that he found his new friend, a cow.

Where Are You? by Sarah Williamson tells the story of a green snake following a pink snake and trying to find the pink snake. The pink snake hides in various places: on a boat, under a lily pad, in a truck, in an airplane, around a bicycle wheel, and on a light post by the tree. The green snake finally catches up with the pink snake on the light post. The children had a lot of fun pointing out the pink snake and showing me where the pink snake was!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Gabi, A Girl in Pieces

Gabi, our heroine in Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero, has a lot to deal with. In addition to worrying about whether or not she will get into the University of California, Berkeley and if the boys she has a crush on in high school will find her too fat, she also is dealing with her best friend, Cindy, having an unplanned pregnancy, her friend, Sebastian, coming out as gay, and her father's meth addiction. She also has to deal with pressure from her mother and aunt on how to be "a good and proper young lady" and her mother's desire for her to stay at home instead of Gabi's desire to move out of the house and attend Berkeley.

At the beginning of the novel, I just wasn't quite getting into it and thought that Gabi's "typical teenage problems" would just seem to be too cliche. But as the novel progresses and Isabel Quintero describes the agony Gabi goes through when she overeats and why she overeats; the frustration that Gabi feels living in a community where it is okay for guys to do anything because after all "boys will be boys!"; and the harrowing experience of living with a parent who is a meth addict; I changed my mind. I became invested in Gabi and worried about what was going to happen to her. Would she make it in spite of the odds against her? Would she realize her dream of going away to college? Would she find a boyfriend who would both respect and admire her?

As Gabi's teacher (Ms. Abernard) teaches Gabi's poetry class, Gabi begins to write poetry and use her writing as a vehicle to express who she really is and who she wants to be. By finding her voice as a writer of poems, she finds the courage to use her voice in everyday life, which enables her to have the strength and courage to pursue her dreams.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Breakfast Served Anytime

In Breakfast Served Anytime by Sarah Combs, our heroine, Gloria, is not sure how she feels about going to "geek" camp and she's not sure how she feels about leaving her father and her best friend, Carol, behind. Also, she's still dealing with the loss of her grandmother. Will going to "geek" camp change her and Carol's plans to move to and live in New York City while Carol pursues a career as a dancer and Gloria pursues a career as an actress?

Right from the beginning with the arrival of the mysterious blue butterflies the night before Gloria is scheduled to leave for camp, the camp experience promises to be exciting and transforming. It starts with Dr. Weston A. Xavier's class, Secrets of the Written Word. Gloria receives a letter asking her to please leave behind any personal computers and cellular telephones. Mr. X sends her and her classmates various clues that they must figure out. These clues lead them to Plato's Republic. Page 205: Allegory of the Cave, The Egg Drop Cafe (where breakfast is served anytime), and finally to an urn, as in Grecian Urn, as the Urn in Which the Remains of Thomas McGrath are Buried in a Crypt Beneath Morlan College's Notoriously Haunted McGrath Hall.

Gloria meets an interesting and unusual cast of characters who will challenge her thoughts, plans, and beliefs. There's Mason, aka the Mad Hatter, a boy wearing a floppy green top hat with a wide ribbon wrapped around the hat with a square of paper tucked into it. Gloria initially dislikes Mason, but he's in Secrets of the Written Word class with her, so there's no getting away from him. Is he more than he seems at first glance? Also, there's Jessica, Gloria's friendly, talkative, and bubbly roommate, whose mother, Diane, brings donuts on Parents' Day but refuses to let Jessica have any of them. There's Sonya, a former beauty pageant contestant, and Calvin, who wants to be a farmer and take the scholarship that the University of Kentucky offers to all the campers.

During her stay at camp, Gloria will grown, learn, and start to discover who she really is and what she really wants.

Sunday, September 24, 2017


In Prophecy by Ellen Oh, our heroine Kira is the only woman in the king's army and the prince's (who also happens to be her cousin) bodyguard. Kira has an ability that no one else has - the ability to detect and slay demons who have possessed humans. But instead of gratitude, she experiences prejudice and discrimination. The people are suspicious of her and her yellow eyes and call her a "kumiho" that is a nine-tailed fox demon.

Recent events such as the abduction of the prince, the discovery of the existence of half-demon and half-human soldiers, and the capture and the murder of King Yuri by Lord Shin point to the prophecy of the Dragon Musado - a royal savior who will stop the world from ending at the hands of demons. The Dragon Musado is a royal descendant of the Dragon King. Everyone assumes that the Dragon Musado is Taejo, the prince. But could it be the warrior Kira with her tiger spirit?

Kira, Taejo, and Brother Woojin meet the Eight Heavenly Maidens, who tell them, "There is a path behind the waterfall that will take you to a cave. Tomorrow, before the last ray of the sun sets on the winter solstice, a descendant of the Dragon King must enter the cave and find what has been lost."

Will they find one of the three treasures that they need to win the ultimate battle between good and evil? Will they find the tidal stone that controls the seas, the jeweled dagger that controls the earth, and the jade dragon belt? When reunited with the dagger and the stone, the belt will allow the wearer to control the fourteen dragons of the heavens and the powers of wind, rain, lightning, and all the other physical elements.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Self Esteem and Confidence Story Time!

The first book that I read for this story time was How To Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder. The kids absolutely loved this book! The fox is always several steps ahead of our heroine and leads her on a merry chase. I would ask the children where the fox was on each page and they had great fun telling me where the fox was! Sometimes the fox hid under a bush, was in the tree with an owl, was with a family of raccoons, or was standing below a tree. I love the message of the story because just as our heroine is ready to give up on finding the fox the author says, "Take deep breaths. Close your eyes. Take a walk in your mind. Now's not the time to give up." Then our heroine finds the fox as he looks into our heroine's camera lens. After all, "Some days, he(a fox) wants to find you!"

I had high hopes for Love Monster by Rachel Bright, I really did. But the kids were just not focused on the story, so I stopped reading it. That said it is a wonderful story about a funny looking monster who feels lost in a world of cute fluffy kittens, puppies, and bunnies. Our monster feels like he doesn't belong. As the author says, "But nobody loves a slightly hairy, I-suppose-a-bit-googly-eyed monster". So our monster sets out on a search to find someone who would love him just the way he was. His search is long, hard, and unsuccessful. He is ready to give up. But when our monster decides to give up and take the bus back home he finds out that the bus driver is a girl monster who looks just like him!

After I stopped reading Love Monster, I started reading Be Who You Are by Todd Parr. The children enjoyed listening to this story. This story features bright, bold, and colorful illustrations. It was interesting to find out that the art for the book was created on a drawing tablet using an iMac, starting with bold black lines and dropping in color with Adobe Photoshop. The book contains positive messages such as:

"Be who you are."

"Be a different color."

"Speak your language."

"Learn in you own way."

"Be proud of where you're from."

"Stand up for yourself."

"Be the best that you can be."