Friday, December 19, 2014

Booktalks with 2nd graders: Book Suggestions, Tips and Tricks

After previous visits where I booktalked to kindergartners and 1st graders, this month I got to visit the second grade classes at my local schools. These booktalks have become one of my favorite services to provide. I love making connections with my local schools, and of course discussing books with kids of all ages.

Here are the books I promoted at this visit:

Frog's Lucky Day by Eve Bunting: "Frog and Friends" is one of my favorite longer beginning reader series, so I had to include it. This is also one I included in my visit to the first graders last month.

Cronus and the Threads of Dread by Joan Holub: I really like the "Heroes in Training" series because it taps into the popularity of Greek Mythology. In addition to the "Percy Jackson" factor, the prologue I read to the kids included the word "underwear". Instant crowd pleaser for this age group!

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo: It is always great to be able to include a series starting book, especially among other books that fall later in their series. This book is about a friend of Mercy Watson's named Leroy and his horse Maybelline. It is the first in the "Tales of Deckawoo Drive" series.

Amelia Bedelia Shapes Up by Herman Parish: I wanted to include an early chapter book with a familiar character and this one fit the bill perfectly.

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieska: A picture book seemed to be in need to fill out the range of reading levels among early elementary kids. This one is a little sophisticated for the younger kids, but seemed to work very well with this age group. I explained the concept of the book and read a few pages, which the kids seemed to find absolutely hilarious. 

Tips and Tricks: 
  • Reading levels vary widely, especially among this age group. This means a particular book can work well with multiple grade levels. That's why  I've reused some titles with more than one grade.
  • Humor is always important. See my above reference to "underwear".
  • Books with familiar characters make great candidates for school booktalks because the kids already have background knowledge about these characters and their stories.
  • This is a great age to start polling kids about the kind of books they would like to see at the library. They can provide great suggestions and help give you a feel for any gaps in your collection. 

In the new year I am visiting the third graders. If you have any book suggestions for that age I would love to hear them!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Kidding Around: Elephant and Piggie Party

A new book in the "Elephant and Piggie" series was recently released. In my Mo Willems worshiping brain this meant one thing: We needed to have an Elephant and Piggie Party!

Registration issues and scheduling conflicts meant I couldn't hold this party quite as early as I would have liked, so I was especially anxious to celebrate with the kids. It was very appropriate that the title of the new "Elephant and Piggie" book is "Waiting is Not Easy".

When the day finally arrived, I think this program went really well. I had 12 K-2nd grade kids attend, which is our standard registration limit for my monthly programs for that age group. Everyone seemed to have a great time.

Here's what we did:

I started out by reading "Waiting is Not Easy". The basis of the book is that Piggie has a surprise for Gerald the Elephant. Gerald must wait for the surprise, which is revealed at the very end of the book. As I read the story I prompted the kids to guess what the surprise was. Because the surprise is so awesome I will make you go get the book to find out what it is. No spoilers here!

Our next activity was an Elephant Race. I modified the ideas from this party game site. I broke the kids into two teams and we did a relay race. Each team was given a beach ball and had to use their arms as "trunks" to push it across the room.

Next we did Elephant and Piggie Picture Bingo. I used a picture bingo generator to create picture bingo cards using clip art related to Elephant and Piggie book. For instance, in one book Elephant and Piggie make a reader say "BANANA", so I used a picture of a banana.

Like most of my programs this one finished up with a craft and a snack. Our craft was Elephant and Piggie paper bag puppets. I used patterns found on The Dilley Dally for Elephant and Piggies faces. For some reason the Elephant Template wasn't showing up, so I had to copy and paste to create my own copy.

Here's an example of the end result:

For snack we had cupcakes with pink and blue frosting, fruit snacks and blue Hawaiian Punch (aka Elephant Juice).

While finishing their snacks, the kids could peruse the other Elephant and Piggie books.

Feel free to use my ideas for your own Elephant and Piggie Party. For even more book character party ideas check out this wonderful Book Character Parties Roundup by Jbrary. Thanks for reading!