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Children's literary news, book reviews, and more.  rss-icon

    by Dawn S | May 20, 2019
    Perhaps you didn't even know that Indiana has its own children's book awards, but this one is just for the littlest residents.

    On Friday, the Indiana Center for the Book announced the Winner of the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award.

    logo image for the firefly award

    Here's the winner!
    cover image for there's a monster in your book
    There's a Monster in Your Book
    Kids ages 0-5 could vote, with the help of an adult, on the book they enjoyed the most. There were five books on the ballot and this monster book proved the most popular with more than 2,000 votes.

    Written by Tom Fletcher and Illustrated by Greg Abbott, this interactive story asks the reader for help getting a pesky monster out of the book. The little blue monster hides, runs, falls and then escapes. What could be more fun than reading and playing at the same time? Besides, this little monster is more cute and mischievous than ugly and sinister.

    If you're curious about the other books on the Firefly Award ballot take a look for yourself. There's a lot of fun and learning in these great titles!

    cover image of the hippy hoppy toad cover image of jabari jumps cover image for hello hello
    cover image for play this book    
    by Dawn Stoops | May 08, 2019
    Adventures await in these great new chapter books!
    cover image of extra weird cover image of library of ever cover image for the doughnut king
    cover image for dream within a dream cover image for brute-cake cover image for saving hanno
     cover image for rule the school  cover image for the light jar
    cover image of marsh and me
    cover image for the space between the before and after cover image of my life as a meme cover image for the ice garden

    by Dawn Stoops | May 02, 2019
    Every day we get new picture books you're sure to love!

    cover image for mira's curly hair cover image for a rainy day with hedgehog and rabbit cover image for a kite for the moon
    cover image for my cat looks like my dad cover image for the tide cover image for my little chick
     cover image for the talles treehouse
     cover image for the growing season  cover imag for sparky and spike
    cover image for dog vs. ultra dog cover image for fearsome giant, fearless child cover image for noodlephant

    by Dori | Apr 25, 2019

    cover image for the rabbit listened
    The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld is one of my FAVORITE books from 2018. It’s a book that depicts a child grieving over the fact that their tower has fallen. (Naturally, the blocks can be a metaphor for any type of loss, but when you are young, even a tumbled tower is cause for heartbreak.) Each character that interacts with the child has a different approach—chicken talks and talks, bear thinks the child should be mad, the ostrich thinks the child should be worried and scared, and on and on until the rabbit comes and quietly sits with the child. Eventually, the child talks about all of the things they miss and wish about their tower, and in the end, they are ready to use the blocks again.

    I LOVE this story because not only does it guide a reader through how to process grief and/or disappointment, but it depicts how to be with someone who is going through a sad time. How many of us, as adults, struggle with knowing what to say and how to be with someone who is grieving? What a gift Doerrfeld’s story is for young minds as they develop empathy and interpersonal social skills.

    This title makes for a  lovely lap-read for any age, and with the right storytime group (preferably 3-and-up), it is a wonderfully gentle, mindful read-aloud book as well.

    by Dawn Stoops | Apr 24, 2019

    Welcome to our weekly blog post - Sharing the Storytime Joy! Today's post is by Dawn, who works with children and families at the Grabill Branch Library.

    image of kite

    Today's Preschool Storytime theme was KITES.
    As usual, we shared books, songs and rhymes to go along with our theme, but we also used a 'wind machine' to try a little experiment. You probably have one of these at home - it's a hair dryer!

    The question was "What will get blown around by the 'wind' and what won't move much, or at all? We had a box of small items like a plastic cup, a balloon, an egg shaker, scissors, ping pong ball, and a straw. Kids took turns choosing things to put in the tub. They made predictions about what would happen and then they turned on the 'wind machine' to see how each thing was affected by the air.

    image of plastic tub with toys being blown by a hair dryer

     It's always fun to use simple things from home in new ways to help young ones learn and explore their world. The librarians who lead storytime love the challenge of adding creative learning opportunities into storytime each week. Join us!

    by Dawn Stoops | Apr 16, 2019
    You're going to love these new Early Readers!

    cover image for unhappy birthday grumpy cat cover image for leaf it to dot cover image for bilingual book my sisters drums
    cover image for doctors to the rescue cover image for chaps cap cover image for how do i make a kite
     cover image for my brothers guitar
     cover image for kid and the chameleon
    cover image for buzz and jump
    cover image for meg and rat puff puff puff cover image for charlie and mouse even better cover image for meet the squad

    by Dawn Stoops | Apr 10, 2019

    Welcome to our weekly blog post - Sharing the Storytime Joy! Today's post is by Dawn, who works with children and families at the Grabill Branch Library.

    tub of plastic blocks
    Today at storytime we used these homemade 'blocks' to build towers. Plastic deli containers make great stacking toys when they're washed and stuffed with a little colorful paper!

    Stacking plastic containers is fun and crashing them down is just a little more fun. But, besides all the fun there are lots of things to learn! Our conversations as we built touched on some great topics:
    Numbers - "Wow! Your tower is 10 blocks tall." and "Let's count as we stack!"
    Colors - "I like how you used a pink block." and "What color are you adding now?"
    Balance - "It looks like it's starting to wobble. Can we straighten them up?"
    Height - "Can you make a tower as tall as you?"
    Sharing - "Can you let her add a block to your tower?"
    Prediction - "Do you think it will fall if we add another block?"

    We pack a lot of fun and learning into every storytime at the library.
    Don't forget to check the online calendar to see what kind of learning opportunities are  happening at a library near you!

    by Dawn Stoops | Apr 04, 2019
    Even the littlest library kids need great books!
    Here are some new ones you might enjoy.
    cover image for shapes cover image for very busy farm cover image for my first thomas tank abc
    cover image for the animals of the chinese new year cover image for leo lionni's a little book about spring cover image for baby play
     cover image for elmo's bedtime countdown  cover image for baby says
    cover image of the story of easter
    cover image for silly monsters in the bath cover image of jungle cover image for bedtime

    by Dawn S | Mar 26, 2019

    Welcome to our weekly blog post - Sharing the Storytime Joy! Today's post is by Dawn, who works with children and families at the Grabill Branch Library.

    cover image for go away big green monster
    Go Away Big Green Monster has to be one of the most popular books I read at storytimes, both in the library and in day cares and preschools. I see a lot of amazing books that are perfect for sharing with preschoolers so it's tempting to only share the new and avoid rereading books this old (27 years old and counting). But this is the one they remember and the one they ask for again and again.

    I think they love the bright colors and the way they get to help tell the story. The die-cut pages make their ability to make the monster disappear kind of magical. After hearing it once, there's also a level of mastery and control. I can almost HEAR them thinking "Yep, there's a big green monster in this book and I can make it go away with no trouble at all."

    Rereading books to children has a lot of value. Even when adult ears get tired of the same old thing, little ones are gaining reading skills each and every time!
    by Jen | Mar 20, 2019

    image of pie shop play space

    Is there ever a wrong time for pie? Children and their caregivers at the Tecumseh Branch were cozily enjoying a rich play environment this winter at the Sweetie Pies Early Learning Center located in the Children’s area. What skills can children learn in a dramatic play area?

    Collaboration: Whether kids are putting on an apron to become a baker, making change and writing receipts at the puppet theater’s “drive up window”, or pushing a grocery cart/delivery truck around the branch to deliver their wares, kids are working together with their grownups and with each other. 

    Communication: Kids communicate by both word and action when choosing, making, and selling pastries.
    image of pie play area

    Content: This center is brimming with content. Even though nobody’s directing the play except the kids themselves, they are using the available materials to determine their own play.  Kids can read and write recipes, mix, roll, and bake pies, and sell them to lucky family and friends.  There are even cards available to send a sweet message along with a sweet pie! 

    Creative Innovation: Because a dramatic play area is simply a coordinated assembly of interesting materials, kids are the ultimate deciders of how their play works. The “work table” for pie building has at times been a restaurant table, a picnic table, and a second oven. Who knows what else kids will innovate in the area!

    One day, after a young Sweetie Pies employee craftily sold an ‘extra special’ $5 pie for $20 to an easygoing papa, I taught her about the word ‘upselling’. She already clearly understood and exhibited the concept- she just added the vocabulary.

    image of play pie shop

    Critical Thinking Skills: Applying previously acquired knowledge to new situations requires special skills that can break through at any time during play. Kids understood that selling more than one pie meant getting more than five play dollars from their grownup. Writing a receipt drove that knowledge home further, as well as offering practice reading, writing, and math. Does it feel like practice? No! It feels like what it is—play. Does this play also offer practical skills that will help children with school readiness? Absolutely. Because it’s play it’s fun, and because it’s fun they do a lot of it. Sneaky learning for the win!

    Confidence: Exploring the early learning center can look different depending on the day, the amount of time spent, other people present, or any number of variables. More time and more visits deepen the learning and drive it home in more lasting ways. A child who simply stacks up ingredients in a pie pan might pretend to heat the ingredients in a pie pan or play with an egg beater on a subsequent visit, and children might gain the confidence to sell their wares to people outside their family with increased confidence in communal play. 

    image of play cart for selling pies
    The next stop for the Sweetie Pies learning center is the Hessen Cassel Branch Library. Call to find out when the shop is ready for business (260.421.1330)!

    Want to learn more about the power of play- or baking-  for young children? Check out these books available throughout our library system:

    The Case for Make Believe : saving play in a commercialized world / Linn, Susan

    Cooking Class : 57 fun recipes kids will love to make (and eat!) / Cook, Deanna F.

    Kids Bake! : 100+ sweet and savory recipes / Good Housekeeping Institute

    A Moving Child is a Learning Child : how the body teaches the brain to think (birth to age 7) / Connell, Gill

    The Power of Play : how spontaneous, imaginative activities lead to happier, healthier children / Elkind, David

    by Alicia | Mar 19, 2019

    Welcome to our weekly blog post - Sharing the Storytime Joy! Today's post is by Alicia, who works with children and families at the New Haven Branch Library.

    Last week the New Haven Branch Family Storytime group explored St. Patrick’s Day! We built background knowledge by discussing what we already knew about St. Patrick’s Day and added a few new words to our vocabularies: “shamrock” and “leprechaun”.

     We read:

       cover image for green shamrocks

      Green Shamrocks
      by Eve Bunting

      Rabbit decides that he wants to create a shamrock chain to wear to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and he has just enough time to grow his own. The night before St. Patrick’s Day, someone steals Rabbit’s prized shamrocks. Do you have what it takes to help him find them in time for the parade?

      cover image for where is green sheep

      Where is Green Sheep
      by Mem Fox

      Green Sheep is missing! All of the other sheep (normal and silly alike) are all easily found, but Green Sheep is nowhere to be seen! Can you find him?

        cover image for green
      by Laura Vaccro Seeger

      written by Harold Rober
      This beautiful picture book illustrates all different shades of green. Can you name them all?
      cover image for how to catch a leprechaun
      How to Catch a Leprchaun
      by Adam Wallace

      Do you have what it takes to build a successful leprechaun trap? Read this book and learn about all of the failed designs and become inspired to create a trap all your own!


    image of leprechaun trap made from blocks
    During our Preschool Primer program that directly follows storytime, we used the ideas we learned from How to Catch a Leprechaun to build our very own leprechaun traps! We used blocks, magnetic blocks, Magna-Tiles, and hand crafted 4-leaf clovers to lure in the tricky little creatures.

    by Dawn Stoops | Mar 15, 2019
    Here are some great new stories - for book reports, Accelerated Reader assignments, or just for fun!
    cover image for searching for lottie cover image for the sleepwalking snowman cover image for the starwsirl do-over
    cover image for the shadows of doom cover image for starforce on the rise cover image for the owls have come to take us away
     cover image for a crystal of time  cover image for nikki on the line
    cover image for the hunt for the mad wolf's daughter
    cover image for one speck of truth cover image for right as rain cover image for eva and baby mo

    by Pamela | Mar 12, 2019

    Welcome to our weekly blog post - Sharing the Storytime Joy! Today's post is by Pamela, who works with children and families at the Shawnee Branch Library.


    Patterns are here, there, everywhere! Reading and talking about patterns helps children develop their math skills. Patterns are a part of algebra. We can explore patterns in storytime in lots of different ways, as you’ll see in this storytime featuring hats.
    image of party hat

    Hooray for Hat! has grumpy animals becoming joyous, strutting, stylish wearers of hats. The pattern here is the refrains : “GO AWAY. I’m GRUMPY!” and “HOORAY FOR HAT!” Encouraging the children to chime in and repeat these phrases helps reinforce the pattern.
    cover image for hooray for hat

     You can make up some simple patterns using images or objects. Ask the children, “What comes next?” the better they are at doing this, the more complicated pattern you can make.
    cover image for caps for sale

    No storytime about hats and  patterns would be complete without Caps for Sale. The patterns here are in the hats themselves, and the interactions between the peddler and  the monkeys. “You monkeys, you. You give me back my hats!” and the monkeys’ hissing in response to the request are classic.

    Music, rhymes and poetry are full of patterns. For this storytime sing this “Silly Hat Song”  along to the tune of “This Old Man”

    On my head, I wear my hat.
    It is such a silly hat
    That my head will wiggle waggle to and fro.
    Where else can my silly hat go?
    (Repeat the song, substituting “on my head” for other body parts. Don’t forget to act this out!)
           Credit: SurLaLune Storytime

    Most storytimes begin and end the same way every week. This too is a pattern. Schedules are patterns, giving shape to our days. When you are with your children, talk with them about the many different ways we use patterns, and the multitude of places and things that have them.





    by Kelsey | Mar 05, 2019

    Welcome to our weekly blog post - Sharing the Storytime Joy! Today's post is by Kelsey, who works with children and families in Children's Services at our Main Library.

    image of table with 5 Firefly Award nominees

    Recently during Family Storytime, we changed things up a bit and focused on the Indiana Early Literacy Firefly Award. Using the program guide located on the Firefly award website, we formed a special storytime that would include all five nominees, plus a little time to vote for our favorites at the end.
    image of table with past Firefly Award nominees

    I began with a one-minute introduction to the Indiana Firefly Award, pointing out a collection of previous nominees and winners on a table available for checkout after the storytime. In order to have time to read all five nominees, we were only able to do two quick songs (with the exception of our hello/goodbye songs).

    First we read A Hippy Hoppy Toad by Peggy Archer. To introduce the next book we discussed how jumping can be fun but also a little scary, before diving into Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall. Next we talked about other things that might seem scary at first but don’t have to be (like monsters), before reading There’s a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher and acting out the interactive motions together. Then we sang (to the tune of Wheels on the Bus) “Goodnight Little Monster” and “Hello Animals” to the animals in the next book: Hello, Hello by Brendan Wenzel. And for our last book, Play This Book by Jessica Young, I encouraged everyone to stand up and act out the musical instruments with me.

    Finally, we had just enough time to vote for our favorite books! I placed the five nominees all around the room with lots of space between each book, passed out one small wooden block to each child, and asked everyone to put their block on the floor next to the book they liked the most. As I had predicted, the more interactive books (There’s a Monster in Your Book and Play This Book) received the most votes overall. I sometimes worry about changing things up suddenly on the kiddos, but we had a great time and the interactive books really helped make up for the lack of songs and rhymes.

    Final score:

    • Play This Book: 5 votes
    • There’s a Monster in Your Book: 4 votes
    • Jabari Jumps: 3 votes
    • A Hippy-Hoppy Toad: 2 votes
    • Hello, Hello: 1 vote
    Search our online calendar for more library programs, from now until the middle of May, focusing on the Firefly Award!
    by Dawn Stoops | Feb 28, 2019
    You're going to love these new picture books.
    Take some home today!
    cover image for what a cold needs spenver and vincent the jellyfish brothers cover image for the secret cat
    cover image for anny and allie cover image for i am just right cover image for there are no bears in this bakery
     cover image for have i ever told you  cover image for skyscraper
    cover image for bearnard's book
    cover image for penguin flies home cover image for ninja camp cover image for how to give your cat a bath in five easy steps

    by Dianna | Feb 26, 2019

    Welcome to our weekly blog post - Sharing the Storytime Joy! Today's post is by Dianna, who works with children and families at the Hessen Cassel Branch Library.

    Last summer I used this rhyme as a flannel board and the children LOVED it!
    Little Mouse, Little Mouse are you hiding behind the _(color)_ house?
    image of mouse outline

    Each time we repeated the rhyme I'd ask the children to pick a color and we'd peek behind that house to find the mouse.

    Since it was such a hit, I decided to try and make a copycat rhyme to use each week at Storytime. From time to time, it became quite challenging. I’ve come up with a nice variety. Some include:

    Little Star, Little Star are you hiding behind the ______ car?
    image of colorful car flannel board pieces

    Parrot, Parrot are you behind the ____ carrot? (that was for Pirate Storytime!)
    image of colorful parots flannel board

    Little Frog, Little Frog are you hiding behind the _____ log?
    image of colorful logs flannel board

    There were several that proved much harder! For the ‘Signs of autumn’ theme I ended up with: “Football, football where do you hide? Let’s lift the _____ helmet and peek inside.” That wording ‘where do you hide – peek inside’ I totally stole from the youth librarians at

    I also found that wording useful with my ‘Pumpkin’ theme where I used the ‘hide-inside’ rhyming again for: “Mousie, Mousie where do you hide? Let’s lift the _____ pumpkin and peek inside.” For my ‘Back to School’ theme I used the story Rocking in my School Shoes by Eric Litwin and ended up with Gus, the Platypus hiding behind the school bus. Sometimes it’s been a bit of a stretch for my brain, and I’ve reused some of them (which is so OK to do) but it’s always been a ton of fun for me and the kids to try to find whatever it is we are hiding this week!

    by Dawn Stoops | Feb 11, 2019
    Here are just a few of the new graphic novels coming to a library near you!
    cover image for sanity and tallulah cover image for the night door cover image for fake blood
    cover image for brawl of the wild cover image for don't be a brat cover image for a peculiar sequence of events
     cover image for all tangled up  cover image for click
    cover image for Hephaistos : god of fire
    cover image for captain marvel cover image for comic conned cover image for petals

    by Leanne | Feb 05, 2019

    Welcome to our weekly blog post - Sharing the Storytime Joy! Today's post is by Leanne, who works with children and families in Children's Services at the Main Library.

    kids drawing of houses and trees

    Recently I had the idea that I should focus one of my toddler storytimes on architecture with at least one story focusing on girls and architecture. Why I decided this, I’m not quite sure, but it seemed important. I started looking for picture books that depict females interested in architecture, which was not an easy task! I finally decided that Nelly Gnu and Daddy Too by Anna Dewdney would work.

    cover image for nelly gnu and daddy too

    This brightly illustrated story celebrates the love between dads and daughters. While reading the story I pointed out all kinds of mathematical skills, highlighting those that one would need as an architect.  We talked about geometry and spatial relationships, measurement, tools, patterns and problem solving. While Daddy Gnu does most of the work, Nelly Gnu is observing and at times helping. How better to learn about the world around you than by observing a loved grown-up! This story was a hit with both the toddlers and their grown-ups!  We had an unusual number of adult males for the one session and they really seemed to enjoy the story.

    cover image for tip tip dig dig

    The other story used in this session was Tip Tip Dig Dig by Emma Garcia. In this colorful book, each machine has its own special sound and we acted out the story with motions as well. In the end, the machines turn a big mess into a wonderful playground.  It was fun to connect this book to early concepts in math and science.

    All in all, my story time was enjoyed by everyone who participated! If you like construction and architecture books and want to try some out with your kids, just ask your librarian for these titles and many others.

    by Dawn Stoops | Jan 31, 2019
    Here's an exciting new resource from the library that's perfect for inspiring creativity while you're stuck at home staying warm!

    screen shot of creativebug webpage

    Creativebug can be found on the library's webpage under the 'Research' tab. Just type in your library card number and pin number and you'll have access to thousands of craft ideas, instructional videos, and inspirational art images.

    One category of instructional videos is just for kids craft ideas. Here you can find Valentines Day Love Bugs and Finger Knitting instructions.
     screen shot of valenines day love bug craft video optionscreen shot of finger knitting class option

    I'm really enjoying this resource and the videos I've seen so far. The craft instructions are of very high quality with pictures of all the steps and professionals walking you through a project start to finish. It's a great place to let your crafty side be inspired and have some fun!
    by Pamela | Jan 29, 2019

    Welcome to our weekly blog post - Sharing the Storytime Joy! Today's post is by Pamela, who works with children and families at the Shawnee Branch Library.


    Storytime is the perfect time to play with science. As part of background knowledge, science concepts and vocabulary help children understand the world around them, which helps them read with understanding when they are bigger.

    Oh and did I mention it is fun?
    image of cup of snow

    Take snow, for example. I brought in some snow and measured its volume in a cup. I then posed the question:

    “What will happen to the snow now that it is inside? What do you predict will happen?” (a prediction is a guess, based on prior knowledge.) Some children predicted the amount of snow would increase, or get bigger, while others predicted it would get smaller. 

    I thought that sharing some books on snow would give them some hints. We read an information book to give them some of the scientific information about how snow is formed in the sky.

    cover image of snow

    cover image for the snowy day
    It was impossible to pass up this classic, especially because Peter’s snowball disappears. (“What happened to the snowball?” I asked. “It melted,” they shouted.” But they didn’t make the connection between the snow in Peter’s pocket and the snow in the cup’s diminishing size.)

    Midway through storytime, we checked on the snow.
    image of cup of melting snow

    And no! It wasn’t “getting bigger!” It was shrinking!

    Next we shared “little books” which are multiple copies of one boardbook, perfect for little hands to hold, with most children having his or her own copy. We enjoyed reading this favorite, by Lois Ehlert.

    cover image for snowballs

    By the end of storytime, our cup of snow had turned into something resembling an iceberg, floating in a body of water.
    image of melted snow in cup

    Yes, water! The children delighted in touching the water, and seemed to have been amazed by the entire process.

    It was fun for me, and for them, to observe, predict, and then discuss what we had seen. Tying experiences to books expanded their understanding of some scientific ideas and processes, giving them a different way of understanding what exactly had happened to Peter’s snowball.