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Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Storytime Anytime: Merry Christmas!

 I know that I have written a couple of other blog posts about Christmas, but in this one I am going to highlight books, crafts, and songs that are perfect for sharing with younger children.

If you have a toddler (especially one obsessed with trucks, tractors, or any other vehicle) you may be familiar with Alice Schertle's Little Blue Truck books.

It is Christmas time and Little Blue Truck is delivering trees to all of his farm animal friends. Schertle's simple, rhyming text and McElmurray's colorful illustrations are absolutely charming. Small children will love counting down the Christmas trees and making all of the animal noises as Little Blue Truck makes his special deliveries. You can also purchase this book in a special edition that has twinkle lights on the final page and what kid doesn't adore flashing lights?

Another one my favorite Christmas books for toddlers and preschoolers that features farm animals is Eric Carle's Dream Snow. Of course, everything by Eric Carle is pure perfection (at least in my opinion). A farmer, who strongly resembles Santa Claus (or Eric Carle), dreams of snow that blankets his animals. There is a plastic sheet with snow on it that you get to lift to reveal each animal. The story ends with the farmer bringing a Christmas tree and presents to the barn for his animals.
So, is the farmer in Dream Snow Eric Carle or Santa?

There is no denying that kids love barnyard animals which is probably why there are so many picture books that take place on farms. I love all of Doreen Cronin's books about Farmer Brown and his mischievous animals and since I mentioned Click, Clack, Boo! in my Halloween post I would be remiss if I did not give a shout out to Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho!.

It is Christmas Eve and Farmer Brown has finished trimming the tree and setting out cookies for Santa when he hears jingle bells. Thinking Santa is nearly there Farmer Brown hurries off to bed, but it is not Santa on the roof, it's Duck. When Duck gets stuck in the chimney cows, sheep, goats, dog, cat, and even the mice attempt try to pull him free, but just end up getting stuck themselves. Finally, is it up to Santa to free all of the animals so everyone on the farm can have a happy Christmas.

Speaking of getting stuck in the chimney on Christmas Eve, Rhonda Fowler Green's book, Santa's Stuck, is always a big hit with kids. Big surprise, a night of overindulgence results in Santa not only popping a few buttons on his red suit but also getting stuck in a chimney. Make sure to have the kiddos shout "pull"  as the reindeer and pets all try to free Santa.

This next book was introduced to me by our elementary school librarian when she was a guest reader at one of our special Christmas story times. Kids who enjoyed The Gingerbread Man Loose at School and The Gingerbread Man Loose on the Firetruck are sure to love the adorable cookie's adventures during Christmas as he tries to deliver a gift to someone special.  As you can see from the picture, Mrs. Ferris came dressed as the Gingerbread Lady and even brought gingerbread cookies for all of the kids.

Our craft to go with the story was gingerbread man paper dolls that the kids cut out and colored. The easiest way to make these is to accordion fold a sheet of paper with the gingerbread stencil facing up. When you cut him out just make sure that you do not cut all the way through the arms or you will not have a chain of gingerbread men. Instead of regular white paper you can use a brown paper bag to make your gingerbread men the perfect color. Then kids can just draw the faces and decorate with glitter glue, buttons, sparkles, etc.

Laura Numeroff's circular stories (If You Give a Pig a Party, If You Give a Moose a Muffin, If You Give a Dog a Donut, etc.) are always fun for storytime and If You Take a Mouse to the Movies is perfect for Christmas. Going to the movies leads to stringing popcorn for the Christmas tree and as with all of Numeroff's books, you eventually end up back at the beginning, taking a mouse to the movies.

One of the most wonderful, classic Christmas picture books that also stars a mouse is Santa Mouse by Michael Brown. It is Christmas Eve and Mouse decides that Santa should not just deliver gifts, but also receive one. He decides to make his own Santa suit to where and wraps up a piece of cheese to give to the real Santa. Even kids today will love the vintage charm of this book and the message of generosity and kindness is timeless.

If you like Santa Mouse, you will probably enjoy the sequel, Santa Mouse, Where Are You? in which Santa Mouse, who is now Santa's official helper, falls from the sleigh and becomes lost.

If you are going to read a classic Christmas picture book to your kids, you have to go with How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss. I know that most families just watch the cartoon these days and, don't get me wrong, Boris Karloff as the Grinch is awesome. However, nothing compares to sitting down and reading the actual book together. If you love the Grinch, check out all of the amazing Grinch-mas activities and printables here on the official Seusville website.

I have made so many Christmas crafts at the library and with my own kids over the past several years. One that is incredibly easy is to cut a Christmas tree shape out of green construction paper and let the kids decorate it with buttons, glitter, puffballs, glitter glue, stickers, etc. Gluing is easy enough for toddlers, but even older children will have fun. If you do not have green paper you can always use white paper, card stock, cereal boxes, or whatever else you have and color or paint it green.

You can make edible Christmas trees by covering an upside down sugar cone with green frosting and decorating it with a variety of candies. I love doing this, first of all, because it is a great way to use up all of that leftover Halloween candy that is still lingering in my cabinets. Second of all, it has all of the fun of decorating Christmas cookies without me actually having to make dough, roll it out, cut out shapes, bake them, and then wait for them to cool. If you want a realistic, outdoor tree shredded coconut will make it look like it is covered in snow.

Another craft that my storytime kids really loved this year was paper cup jingle bells. Basically, I punched a hole in the bottom of a paper cup and put the two ends of a pipe cleaner through it. On each end of the pipe cleaner I attached a small jingle bell (you can buy the little crafting jingle bells from Michael's, Oriental Trading, Jo-Ann's, etc.). I formed the top of the pipe cleaner loop into a heart (because I thought it looked cuter) and tied a ribbon at the base to keep it from being pulled out. The kids decorated the bells with glitter, markers, sequins, and stickers.  They make a cute ornament for the tree or just something that the wee ones can shake and make noise. If you have ever been to Busy Bees, my toddler storytime, you will realize how much these kids love playing and singing with bells!

Of course, there all of the traditional carols to sing with your kids, but toddlers and preschoolers particularly love songs with actions. One that I have been doing in Busy Bees this December is to the tune We Wish You a Merry Christmas and goes:
Let's all do a little clapping,
Let's all do a little clapping,
Let's all do a little clapping,
and spread Christmas Cheer

Let's all do a little jumping...
Let's all do a little twirling...
Let's all do a little hugging...

An incredibly easy fingerplay that toddlers seem to find hilarious is Here is the Chimney:
Here is the chimney
(make fist, enclose thumb)
Here is the top.
(Palm of the hand on top of the fist)
Open the lid
(Remove hand quickly)
And out Santa will pop.

I know that doing fingerplays with your little one seems silly, but they are an amazing way for kids to build up the small muscles in their hands that they will eventually need for writing.

Ok, one of my favorite action songs to do with kids is the Twelve Days of Christmas. The actions come from Barney's Night Before Christmas. The video below is of poor quality (and it is Barney so it is incredibly annoying) but you get the gist.  You can also watch a short video of kids at the library dancing to the song on our facebook page here.

I could keep going with crafts, songs, and books but if I do I will not get this posted before Christmas. I will just have to wait till next year to give you all new ideas. Have a wonderful Christmas!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Reorganzing for Better Demographics

Sometime early next year, you might be looking through our Graphic Novel section and see that its a bit smaller than the last time you checked. Or that there's not as many new ones on the New Teen Fiction shelf. That would be because of a slight reordering of how we're classifying our graphic novels here at the library. Technically, there are no changes being made to the teen section itself, but there will be a weeding. Some of our higher-level content will be making a move to a new section, which will be a "general graphic novel" section. 


With this change, new materials that would go into the "GN" section will now show up in the new adult fiction section, the shelves to the left of the stairs. This move gives me a lot more maneuverability in my orders, as I can now order and add some content that I've been reluctant to add to a section that is mainly rifled through by the high school crowd, and some amazing materials that I could not pass up getting will have a less worrisome place to be found. So don't lament the absence of some of our best titles, they just needed a new place to roost.