Circle Time Superstars

As an on-call librarian I sometimes get called in to cover a storytime at the last minute. I can find myself in a branch I’m not familiar with, in a neighbourhood I might not know very well. Family story times can be particularly challenging for a substitute librarian, because you don’t typically have any idea what the group is going to look like – you could very well end up with a room full of toddlers or a room full of preschoolers, who have very different needs and preferences.

Fortunately in these situations I can always turn to my trusty story time superstars – picture books that I know like the back of my hand, and which I can rely on to always work, whatever the audience. Today I’m going to share with you a handful of these reliable workhorses, my secret weapons for last-minute circle time success!

Bark, George!

George is a dog, but he doesn’t bark. Instead, he mews, oinks and quacks! When George’s mother takes him to the vet, they discover the hilarious reasons for George’s strange noises.

Dear Zoo

I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet. They sent me…. So begins this classic lift-the-flap picture book, filled with wonderful animals to act out. Simple enough for toddlers, the story can be expanded for use with preschoolers, who will enthusiastically debate the pros and cons of keeping exotic animals as pets!

Don’t Push the Button!

There’s only one rule in Larry’s book – DON’T PUSH THE BUTTON! But…it’s such a pretty red button. It would be a shame not to push it just once. What’s the worst that could happen….?

Little Owl Lost

An enthusiastic squirrel tries to help a little lost owl find its mommy, with mixed, and hilarious, results.

Pete the Cat

I Love My White Shoes and Four Groovy Buttons are absolutely circle time staples that no librarian or ECE should be without. Don’t even bother with any of the more recent Pete the Cat stories, though. They’re sadly just pale imitations of their original glory.

The Seals on the Bus

adore singable picture books. They’re great for getting audiences actively participating in the program, and can engage bored and wiggly participants. This is a fun twist on the classic children’s song The Wheels on the Bus, and introduces animal noises for even more toddler and preschool fun!

Do you have any picture book all-stars that you know will always work, no matter the program or the audience? Let me know in the comments below!

The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band by Joan Betty Stuchner; ill. by Richard Row

The Kugel Valley Klezmer Band by Joan Betty Stuchner; ill. by Richard Row

The rabbi said to Yossi, Isaac, and Benny, “You must come back to play for out Hanukkah party this year. Now don’t forget!” So we’re about half a year away from Hanukkah, and it’s definitely not winter anymore, at least not in my corner of the world. (Sunshine! Warm breezes! At last!) But I’m currently […]

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander, Joel Sartore (Photographs)

Animal Ark: Celebrating Our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures by Kwame Alexander, Joel Sartore (Photographs)

Hardcover, 48 pages Published February 14th 2017 by National Geographic Society Source: Publisher With the way the world is going, it might not be an exaggeration to say that the only glimpses future generations will have of wild animals will be in books and recordings or perhaps highly exclusive zoos. National Geographic kids has used […]

Is That Wise, Pig?

Is That Wise, Pig?

Jan Thomas gets kids. Like, really, really gets kids. Her books are, by and large, some of the absolute best story time books I’ve ever encountered. The illustrations are absolute perfection, with simple shapes, bright colours and bold black outlines, making them ideal for sharing with a large audience. The text is brief and typically […]

The Bus Ride

The Bus Ride

The Bus Ride Clara is excited to be taking the bus by herself for the very first time. Along the way to grandmother’s house she encounters a cast of interesting fellow passengers who turn a simple bus ride into a colourful adventure. This picture book from Quebec author/illustrator Marianne Dubuc is absolutely charming. The text itself […]

Sometimes It’s Storks by L J R Kelly, Brothers Hilts (Illustrations)

Sometimes It’s Storks by L J R Kelly, Brothers Hilts (Illustrations)

Hardcover, 32 pages Published February 7th 2017 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers Source: Publisher So sometimes you get questions about where babies come from and the kids asking these questions are a bit too young for the birds and the bees talk so you have to get creative about your answers. This […]

Rex Wrecks It!

Rex Wrecks It!

Rex Wrecks It! Mastering collaborative play can be difficult. Learning to share toys and work as a team towards a common goal is complicated, and the road to building the ability to play well with others can be fraught with preschool drama, heightened emotions and disastrous (from the perspective of a four-year-old) pitfalls. Preschool teachers […]

This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt LaMothe

This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt LaMothe

Hardcover, 52 pages Expected publication: May 2nd 2017 by Chronicle Books Source: Raincoast Books As the tag line of this book states, This is How We Do It illustrates a day in the lives of seven different children from around the world. These kids hail from different financial situations, some of them are from more […]

If My Love Were a Fire Truck: A Daddy’s Love Song by Luke Reynolds

If My Love Were a Fire Truck: A Daddy’s Love Song by Luke Reynolds

Hardcover, 32 pages Published April 18th 2017 by Doubleday Books for Young Readers Source: Publisher Ugh, this was so sweet. A father’s ode to his son, each verse dripping with feeling and promise. The art is just as uplifting. For all those dads who don’t have the words, Luke Reynolds has solved your problem. Express […]