Thursday, October 23, 2014

Booktalks with Kindergartners: Book Suggestions, Tips and Tricks

Inspired by this post by Abby Johnson at Abby the Librarian I recently started a series of booktalks at local schools. My goal is to visit each of the two schools closest to my library once a month. Each month I will visit a different grade. The plan is to have each visit done in about an hour (15 minutes per class). I figured I'd start things off the kindergarten classes, because they are so cute.

It was pretty easy to prepare for these booktalks. I started by raiding our new picture book shelves and picking some of my favorite books. I did a different grouping of six books for each school, mainly because I wanted to allow the first class the chance to rush on over to the library after school and check them out. With older classes the prep of reading the books might become a bit too much to do this, but it worked well with picture books.

Here are the books I chose: 
  • Draw by Raul Colon: Mainly chosen because I wanted to show the kids an example of a wordless book.
  • My New Friend is So Fun! by Mo Willems: I have an Elephant and Piggie Party coming up, so I definitely wanted to bring along a book in the series as a tie in. Plus Mo Willems is one of my absolute favorites.
  • Dog Days of School by Kelly DiPucchio: I figured a school related theme would work well with kids in their first few months of elementary school.
  • My Teacher is a Monster by Peter Brown: Another book chosen because of the school tie in.
  • Creature Features by Robin Page: I wanted to make sure to include some nonfiction, and love the illustrations of this one.
  • Rex Wrecks It! by Ben Clanton: It features a destructive dinosaur, so I knew it was going to be a kid pleaser.
  • Peanut Butter and Cupcake by Terry Border: Cute book about Peanut Butter searching for a best friend (SPOILER ALERT: It's Jelly!). The kids all thought his best friend would be cupcake, so the title turned out to be a little misleading.
  • Circle, Square, Moose by Kelly Bingham: I love metafiction, and this is a great example.
  • Froodle by Antoinette Portis: A celebration of a unique bird who doesn't go along with the flock. It deals with animal sounds, so there is also lots of room for kids' participation.
  • Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems: Another Elephant and Piggie Book included primarily for the purpose of plugging an upcoming program.
  • The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak: This is the ULTIMATE read aloud for this age group. The kids expected a boring book and got me saying words like "Boo Boo Butt!"  Read the beginning of this one at both schools and the kids thought it was hilarious!
Tips and Tricks:
  • This may seem obvious, but make sure to provide handouts listing the books you told the kids about! This is especially important with little ones who might not remember the titles to tell moms and dads.
  • Remind the kids that the books you are sharing are not ones they can take home from school that day. Definitely an area of possible confusion with this age group!
  • Keep it short and simple. Abby is absolutely right that "15 minutes" is a magic phrase.
  • Provide a brief review of library resources, because there will also be some kids who aren't familiar with all we lend. I was actually surprised how many kids at both schools seemed wowed at the mention that we lend movies, CDs, puppets, etc. 

I am so glad I started this series of book talks. I had a lot of fun with the kindergartners, and I think they did too. I've already gotten feedback from one parents that their daughter "dragged them to the library to checkout the whole list of books." I am counting that as a success!

First grade booktalks are coming up in a few weeks. Definitely open to any book suggestions or advice. As usual you can reach me here in the comments, by email at marrak at libcoop dot net, or on Twitter (@MsKellyTweets).

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