Saturday, January 22, 2022

Read and Grow: 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

Vinyl wall labels (dark because I took this picture at night)

I think I started this program in 2017, or possibly earlier. I made a major update, changing to caterpillar logs a few years later, and I've generally stuck with that, just making small adjustments. In the early days of the pandemic I gave out the folders with stickers included, then took a hiatus in the fall of 2021 and have relaunched the program in January 2022.

The biggest change is that we (by which I mean my awesome associate Jessica) are painting an interactive wall for the kids to put their caterpillars on. They start with a caterpillar head, then add a circle for each 100 books read. When their caterpillar is complete, they take it home and we hang a butterfly from the ceiling.

The folders are available in the library to be picked up and each contains
Meadow wall in progress

When they pick up their folder, they get a caterpillar head from the desk to add to the wall. They put stickers on their log (they can get these when they start or as they go) and when they reach 500 books they get a small painted clay pot with the Read and Grow logo on it and a choice of a seed packet. When they reach 1,000 books, they decorate a butterfly to hang from the ceiling and get a free book.

I am very casual about "keeping track" and I don't care if caregivers don't write down the books, use 50 stickers instead of 5, or do the program twice. I buy the folders in bulk at Walmart during back to school season and we print the labels on Avery nametag labels.

You are welcome to borrow and adapt our materials, but please remove the butterfly/bird graphics as they were purchased and are copyright (purchased as part of an iRead program - the artist is Yuyi Morales)

All the materials are in publisher and pdf format and the font used can be found here. For the Cricut files Jessica used to cut the lettering, email her at

Throwback to one of the earliest iterations

Friday, January 21, 2022

In short, I am busy: Get up and move!

  • Flannelboards and manipulatives
    • Scarves or color wands to wave for Mix it up
  • Vocabulary and concepts
  • Toddler listeners (*Nonfiction)
    • Don't push the button by Bill Cotter
    • Jump by Scott Fischer
    • Get out of my bath by Britta Teckentrup
    • Play this book and Pet this book by Jessica Wiseman
  • Preschool listeners (*Nonfiction)
    • Firefighter duckies by Frank Dormer 
    • This book is magic by Ashley Evanson
    • It's a tiger by David LaRochelle
    • Open very carefully, Use your imagination, What's next door by Nicola O'Byrne
    • Mix it up by Herve Tullet 
  • School-age Stories (*Nonfiction)
    • Guess again by Mac Barnett
    • *Move! by Steve Jenkins
    • Warning: Do not open this book! and Please, open this book! by Adam Lehrhaupt
    • *Do you know which ones will grow? by Susan Shea

In short, I am busy: Animals in the snow

      Rhymes, songs, and movement
      Vocabulary and concepts
      • Hibernation, migration, torpor
      • Rhythm
      • Counting
      Toddler listeners (*Nonfiction)
      • Bunny slopes by Claudia Rueda
      Preschool listeners (*Nonfiction)
      • Sleepover with Beatrice and Bear by Monica Carnesi
      • *Bear report by Thyra Heder
      • *Little fox in the snow by Jonathan London
      • *Over and under the snow by Kate Messner
      • *Best in snow by April Pulley Sayre
      • *Under the snow by Melissa Stewart
      School-Age stories (*Nonfiction)
      • Rabbit's snow dance by Joseph Bruchac
      • Loud winter's nap by Katy Hudson
      • Mina's white canvas by Hyeon-Ju Lee

      In short, I am busy: Goldilocks storytime

      Flannelboards and manipulatives
      • Printed Goldilocks and the three bears flannelboard (see Terri)
      Rhymes, songs, and movement
      • Good Ms. Padgett sings The little red hen and other stories (cd)
      • Make your own puppets
        • Teddy bear die cut, gingerbread man person shape
        • Popsicle sticks
        • Decorations, tape
      • Fractured fairy tale
        • For readers - pre-print words and have the kids arrange them and write in their own to create a fractured fairy tale (similar to madlibs)
        • For non-readers - cut out photographs, bears, little girls, chairs, etc. and then add in weird stuff. Have the kids arrange them and then "tell" the story. This will work as a flannelboard too.
      • STEM - how heavy?
        • Small cardboard boxes, weights (rocks? books?)
        • Kids stack items on the boxes until they collapse
        • Bonus if you can use a scale to weigh the items
      • STEM - let's compare
        • Collect items to compare - soft vs hard, hot vs cold, etc.
      • Snacks
        • instant oatmeal (porridge); chocolate pudding; teddy grahams
      Vocabulary and Concepts
      • Counting
      • Comparison and degrees (hot, warm, cool, cold)
      Classic retellings
      • Goldilocks and the three bears by Jim Aylesworth
      • Goldilocks and the three bears by Caralyn Buehner
      • Goldilocks and the three bears by Lauren Child
      • Three bears by Paul Galdone (long)
      • Goldilocks and the three bears by Valeri Gorbachev
      • Goldilocks by Ruth Sanderson (long)
      Fractured retellings
      • Yours truly, Goldilocks by Alma Flor Ada
      • Papa Bear's page fright by Wade Bradford
      • Red Riding Hood meets the three bears by Charlotte Guillain
      • Goldilocks and just one bear by Leigh Hodgkinson
      • Goldilocks and the just right potty by Leigh Hodgkinson
      • Three bears ABC by Grace Maccarone (needs to be replaced - no longer own)
      • Once upon a slime by Andy Maxwell
      • Goldi Rocks and the three bears by Corey Schwartz
      • Goldilocks and the three dinosaurs by Mo Willems
      • 3 bears and Goldilocks by Margaret Willey
      Other books
      • Goldilocks variations by Allan Ahlberg (pop-up)
      • Truth about bears by Maxwell Eaton III (nonfiction)
      • Goldilocks and the three bears: a make and play production by Christopher Harbo (puppets)
      • Cook me a story by Brian Kozlowski (cook book)

      In short, I am busy: Back to school storytime

      Flannelboards and manipulatives

      Rhymes, songs, and movement
      • ABC Stop song
      • Loud and Quiet
      Vocabulary and Concepts
      • Basics of storytime behavior
      • Social-emotional elements (transitions, self-regulation)
      Toddler listeners (*Nonfiction)
      • Time for school little blue truck by Alice Schertle
      • What does little crocodile say by Montanari
      • Play day school day by Toni Yuly
      Preschool listeners (*Nonfiction)
      • Choo-choo school by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
      • It's your first day of school busy bus by Jody Jensen Shaffer
      • Lena's shoes are nervous by Keith Calabrese
      • Color monster goes to school by Anna Llenas
      School age stories (*Nonfiction)
      • We don't eat our classmates by Higgins
      • My crocodile does not bite by Joe Kulka
      • Pterodactyl show and tell by Thad Krasnesky
      • Argus by Michelle Knudsen
      • Picture day perfection by Deborah Diesen

      In short, I am busy: Autumn storytime

      Rhymes, songs, and movement
      Vocabulary and concepts
      • seasonal changes, autumn, fall
      • hibernation, migration
      • counting
      Toddler listeners (*nonfiction)
      • Kitten's Autumn by Eugenie Fernandes (laminated big book version)
      • Time to sleep by Denise Fleming
      • Tap the magic tree by Christie Matheson
      Preschool listeners (*nonfiction)
      • *Every Autumn comes the bear by Jim Arnosky
      • *Rainy, Sunny, Blowy, Snowy by Jane Brocket
      • Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert
      • *Hush up and hibernate by Sandra Markle
      • *Snuggle down deep by Diane Ohanesian
      • *Snack snooze skedaddle by Laura Purdie Salas
      School-age stories (*nonfiction)
      • Winter is coming by Tony Johnston
      • Round Robin by Jack Kent
      • Goodbye summer, hello autumn by Kenard Pak
      • Those darn squirrels by Adam Rubin

      In short, I am busy: Chomp! Storytime

      Rhymes, songs, and movement
      Vocabulary and concepts
      • Counting and substraction
      • Movement and regulation (wait to jump)
      • Rhyming sounds and rhythms
      Toddler listeners (*Nonfiction)
      • Shake the tree by Silvia Borando
      • Monsters don't eat broccoli by Barbara Jean Hicks
      • Cow loves cookies by Karma Wilson
      Preschool listeners (*Nonfiction)
      • Poor little guy by Elanna Allen
      • One day in the eucalyptus eucalyptus tree by Daniel Bernstrom
      • Barnacle is bored by Jonathan Fenske
      • Plankton is pushy by Jonathan Fenske
      • Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic
      School-age stories (*Nonfiction)
      • Woodpecker wants a waffle by Steve Breen
      • A Hungry Lion by Lucy Ruth Cummins
      • Senorita Gordita by Helen Ketteman
      • I will not eat you by Adam Lehrhaupt
      • *My awesome summer by P. Mantis by Paul Meisel
      • Wild boars cook by Meg Rosoff
      • Little Red and the very hungry lion by Alex T. Smith

      Thursday, January 20, 2022

      How to make a book (about my dog) by Chris Barton, illustrated by Sarah Horne

       I periodically get requests from teachers for picture books about writing or the book making process and I always thought I had a good selection. However, when I saw this new book I knew my collection was incomplete and I definitely needed this one book to top them all off!

      Author Chris Barton narrates the creation of a book - this book in fact, from the initial idea, through the publishing process, then jumps over to the illustrator's side of the story, finishing with the finished product - this book, in fact. Cartoons, jokes, and more fill the book but it's also a realistic look at the many people in the publishing process and how it actually works. Sarah Horne's silly, and very British, illustrations are a great match and she does a great job showing not only Barton's process but her own.

      The book ends with information on research, recommendations for writing your own book, and a timeline of the book's creation.

      Verdict: Even if you already have books on this topic, this is a worthwhile purchase. It includes lots of information teachers and librarians will appreciate regarding research, is both funny and realistic, and will be perfect for a program or class on writing or publishing.

      ISBN: 9781541581289; Published 2021 by Millbrook/Lerner; Borrowed from another library in my consortium; Purchased for the library

      Wednesday, January 19, 2022

      Fox: A circle of life story by Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Daniel Egneus

      This informational picture book is unique and will probably surprise quite a few readers, used to a sentimental view of wildlife.

      In the first half of the book, a fox hunts, returns to her cubs, and takes them out an on expedition. Gorgeous oranges, blues, and greens show them playing and exploring the forest with a simple narrative talking about their habits and behavior. Then night falls and they are headed back to their den when the fox mother is struck by a car and killed.

      In the second half of the story, the cubs carry on by themselves, but the fox's body is now the focus of the story as it translates into new life, eaten by other creatures and eventually decomposing into the ground, where it becomes part of everything else in the forest, including the grown cubs who are now teaching their own cubs. The story ends with the simple words, "Life is everywhere. Death is not just an end, but a beginning."

      The gorgeous artwork and gentle, matter-of-fact narration present a realistic but comforting picture of the cycle of life for all things, from birth to death. This may be startling to adults who don't want to present the concept of death to their children in any way, but it's part of life and not something you can just avoid. This is a hopeful and scientific way to present the concept, as well as an interesting presentation of the life cycle of a fox and other forest creatures.

      Verdict: A unique informational title that will be a strong purchase for most libraries. It works well as a read-aloud, although probably not in storytime unless you know all the attendees very well.

      ISBN: 9781547606924; Published 2021 by Bloomsbury; Borrowed from another library; Purchased for the library

      Tuesday, January 18, 2022

      What can you do with a rock? by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Katie Kath

      A blue-haired child explores outside in this cheerful celebration of outdoors and the joys of collecting rocks. The rocks are collected, sorted, appreciated, shared, and admired as the child and a new friend, met at the beach, enjoy an idyllic forest and beach landscape.

      Back matter talks about the scientific types of rocks, offers suggestions for rock-collecting, and gives more suggestions for rock collecting and identification.

      This wouldn't be particularly relevant in an urban setting, but for our small, quasi-rural town there are lakes, forests, and parks a short walk away and this gentle encouragement to experience the outdoors will be appreciated by parents trying to have a slower, more peaceful lifestyle. If you have an outdoor library space, read this one before encouraging the kids to explore and collect rocks, or put it into a rock collecting and hiking kit to check out at the library.

      Verdict: This is a strong pick for my audience and will fit in with our community with the outdoor programming and experiences we promote.

      ISBN: 9781728217635; Published 2021 by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky; Purchased for the library

      Monday, January 17, 2022

      Saving Sorya: Chang and the sun bear by Trang Nguyen, illustrated by Jeet Zdung

      As the output of graphic novels continues to grow, selectors are able to, well, select. I am looking for a balance between the familiar books that kids will automatically pick up and the more artistic and "unique" titles that have a tendency to sit on the shelves. I like to preview new titles to see if they're actually going to have popular appeal or just reviews and awards for being literary and artistic, and I'm always interested in informative or nonfiction titles.

      This new graphic novel jumps outside a lot of familiar territory to be something very new, but it also includes a lot of elements that will be popular and draw an immediate kid audience with a minimum of promotion.

      Chang, a young girl in Vietnam, dreams of protecting the animals of the rainforest, especially the sun bears. She's especially interested in Soraya, a bear she helped raise and is now rehabilitating to the wild. The book is laid out in a landscape format and the panels are washed with rich green watercolors, sparked with browns, yellows, and oranges.

      This has the semi-autobiographical theme so familiar to Raina Telgemeier fans, and a sprinkling of nonfiction facts that will attract readers who are devouring the new spate of nonfiction graphic novels. It's unique in centering a South Asian character, and while it acknowledges the challenges of Western influences, they're not the main focus of the story. Chang works through her obstacles with determination and courage and finally fulfills her dream of becoming a conservationist and caring for the rainforest and animals, including Soraya the sun bear, around her home.

      Verdict: A strong purchase for most libraries; recommend to a wide range of kids who enjoy graphic novels, animal stories, biographies, and nonfiction.

      ISBN: 9780593353622; Published September 2021 by Dial; Review copy provided by the publisher; Purchased for the library

      Sunday, January 16, 2022

      This week at the library

      Beginning of our wall - and no, I did not do this

      • Dungeons and Dragons
      • Pokemon Club
      • Family Storytime
      • Maker Workshop: Sculpey Clay
      • Lapsit
      • Teen Crafts
      • Bills and paperwork, including performer contracts
      • Continued cleaning of the basement/storage
      • Relaunched Read and Grow: 1,000 Books before kindergarten
      So far we (and the schools) have been able to remain open. We're trying to remain flexible as things are cancelled and rescheduled and continue working on projects and going forward.

      Saturday, January 15, 2022

      Classic Rereads: Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren, translated by Susan Beard, illustrated by Ingrid Vang Nyman

        This is a new translation of a classic children's story, with the original illustrations included. Most people have at least a general idea of the story of Pippi Longstocking, but the real question is, does it stand up to the test of time?

      Pippi Longstocking, conceived as a series of episodic stories told to Astrid Lindgren's daughter, has that peculiar quality of bedtime story that incorporates the unheard interjections of "and THEN what happened?" from an eager child. Pippi is an eccentric and quirky character, immensely strong, with a chest of gold coins, a pet horse and monkey, and her own way of doing everything. She represents absolute freedom to her more conventional neighbors, Tommy and Annika, as she defeats robbers, runs wild at school, and takes over a circus. Nyman's classic black and white illustrations show a diminutive girl with wildly tousled hair, and the classic Shirley Temple style dress of the time period, showing her pants underneath and the garters holding up her mismatched socks.

      Originally, adults objected to the Pippi stories because of her wild and ungovernable behavior. She interrupts tea parties, doesn't go to school, and has no manners, tells wild stories, and any attempts by adults in her town to regulate her life lead to their complete humiliation. However, most people realized that she was never intended as a role model and is a wish-fulfillment figure, a fantasy of free living. Even Tommy and Annika, who represent the conventional child, while they find her fascinating also find her a little frightening and often need a break from her company.

      However, what I was looking for in this new translation was how the racism of the original was handled. As in many classic European stories, people from countries outside of Europe are treated as exotic animals. In the original, Pippi is sure her father is now a "cannibal king" in the south seas and tells a series of exaggerated whoppers about the countries she's visited, many of which incorporate strings of racist imagery and stereotypes of the people there. In this new translation, Pippi's father is now a "south sea islands king" which I'm not sure is really an improvement, but fairly innocuous. Many of her wild stories are toned down or left out (I think - I might be thinking of stories from other volumes, since she tells the stories throughout all four books), but one in particular, based in China and incorporating several racial stereotypes, is left in.

      Verdict: I have no problem with editing older children's "classics" for a new generation. Pippi's stories, in particular, could easily have been left out completely without changing the sense of the story as a whole and I was disappointed that the Chinese one was left in. If you have a large audience for older fiction or feel a need to have this particular title on hand, this is one of the more innocuous translations you'll find, but it could have been better.

      ISBN: 9780593117811; This edition published August 2020 by Viking/Penguin; Review copy provided by publisher