Category Archives: outreach storytimes

First Grade Storytime: National Poetry Month

Although I went to my regular first grade outreach the week before both Fiesta AND Easter, I went with a more obscure theme: National Poetry Month! Poetry is actually a fairly big part of the first grade curriculum, plus it’s super fun to talk about! Here’s what I chose to highlight.


Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry edited by Bill Martin Jr

This is a super awesome anthology! Not only does it have tons of poems in it, the illustrations are all by different picture book illustrators. No, I didn’t read them an entire 200 page long book of poems. I did take the opportunity to talk about what an anthology is, and then we talked about how poetry can be about serious stuff OR silly stuff. I read Normon Norton’s Nostrils by Colin West, which is about a kid who can suck up anything in his nose. They thought it was funny and gross, and were giggling like crazy that the word “booger” was in a poem.

All the World

All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazen

I’ve talked before about how much I love this book. As I was reading it, I would pause every now and then and we would talk about Liz Garton Scanlon used contrast to create poetic differences. We also talked a little about how All The World is a picture book, but if you just wrote out the words, it would be poem.

Young Pegasus Poetry Competition by various authors

Every year, the San Antonio Public Library runs a poetry competition for children and teens. Anyone under age 18 can submit as many poems as they want about anything they want, and panel of judges picks many of them to be published in an anthology. It’s pretty awesome, and we’re always trying to drum up more entries from younger kids. So I grabbed one of our anthologies from the collection (the 86th!) and picked a couple of poems that were written by elementary school students to read outloud. I think it really blows kids minds that they could already be published in a book!

If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky and Ted Rand

This is a collection of haikus – each page describes a different animal. The illustrations and poems are both gorgeous! To make it a little more interactive, I would read the poem to the kids, and then let them guess what animal it was about before I showed them the picture. Some of them are super hard! We also talked a little about the words the author chose to describe different animals. I’d ask the kids to tell me other words they would use to describe the same animals. It was super fun.

Rum Pum Pum

I always think that Rum Pum Pum is going to be too silly for them to want to continue, but nope. They ask about it as soon as I get there! We did it super fast and then super slow. It’s kind of awesome to do it with older kids – they move a lot more than toddlers!

This was a super fun story time. I definitely got to work in a lot of different vocabulary and concepts, but I think that the silliness of some of the poems kept it from being too “teachery” on my part. I LOVE going to see the first graders, because they are always so pumped about me visiting! When I leave and tell them I have to go back to work, they always ask me to stay. I wish I could! It would be awesome to be a first grader!


First Grade Storytime: Valentine’s Day

I get invited to read to the first grade classes at a local elementary school about once a month. At first, I was super super nervous about reading to kids who are older than the normal crowd of toddlers and preschoolers I deal with in programs. What if they were mean to me? What if my songs were to babyish? What if they threw tomatoes at me?!? It turns out things were fine! I’ve pretty much given up on singing songs with them, though – they all go to music class regularly, and most songs I could teach them really are a touch babyish. Sometimes we’ll do an interactive song, but usually I just pick out a few books and go from there. Here’s what I read to them on February 13 – the day before Valentine’s Day!


Mr. Prickles: A Quill Fated Love Story by Kara LaReau and Scott Magoon

This book is a perfect example of why I’ve really grown to love my trips to see the first graders. It’s a little too long for me to read to preschoolers, but more than that, it’s full of puns and visual gags that younger kids just aren’t ready to understand. On one page early in the story, the other forest animals are tossing cherries around in a tree. Mr. Prickles, of course, just gets fruit stuck all over him because he’s full of quills. The text says “He tried to join in their nightly frolicking, but it was fruitless.” Pretty cute, eh? As I read this to one of the groups, a little boy cried out excitedly “I GOT IT! IT’S A PUN BECAUSE THEY’RE THROWING FRUIT!” His pure unbridled joy at understanding the play in the language was just incredible. We also talked a little about how the illustrator showed the Mr Prickles was lonely by making him very small on the page and the trees very large, and that he was angry by using a lot of red. This book has a really rich color pallet that really is a joy to look at. Even though it’s about cutesy love, it doesn’t fill the pages with pastels and lace. It’s instead an almost cartoon-y view of life in the forest. A total winner.

Mole's Babies

Mole’s Babies by David Bedford and Rosalind Beardshaw

We talked a little bit about how there’s different kinds of love, from romantic kind of love in Mr Prickles to the love your parents have for you. Then we launched right into Mole’s Babies. The illustrations are very sweet in this book, and the pastels fit with the baby animal theme. Anyway, Mr Mole wants his babies (who are going to be here very soon!) to be happy, so he goes around to the different animals with happy babies and tries to do what they’re doing. Of course, when he tries to fly, he falls on his head, and in the end, it’s love that makes happy babies.  The kids got really in to guessing what would happen when he was trying to hop. When he was trying to swim, like the duck babies, they all said “he’s going to drown”, which I thought was kind of hilariously dark (in fact, he just gets wet). Anyway, this is a very sweet book, and it was fun to read together.

Plant a Kiss by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Peter H Reynolds

This is another excellent book that I think really shined with the older crowd. The sparse, rhyming text is fast to read, but I think the first graders really understood how crazy it was to plant a kiss and have it grow. We talked a little bit about how it’s a poem, but also a story, and then I let them guess what was special about the pages. They’re sparkly and beautiful! This was a fun book to wrap things up with.

Rum Pum Pum

I mean, rum pum pum is the most ridiculous thing in the world, but gosh these first graders love it. We did it really fast, and then super slow (which cracks them up). Then one kid asked if we could do it fast AND slow. That was pretty hard – we did the rum pum pums fast and the gooley gooley gooleys slow. It’s a fun way to mark the end of my time.

This was just a fun outreach. When I said I was going to leave, they all made “awww” noises, so I told them I’d much rather be hanging out with them than go back to work. One little lady exclaimed “I wish you were off today!” I’m charmed by the fact that she thinks I could just hang out all day in first grade if I weren’t working. If you’re nervous to go to first grade classrooms and do storytimes, like I was, don’t be! It’s SO fun, and SO easy, and it really does make a difference. We’ve had so SO many kids come in from the school, and they’re all very excited to see a friendly face.

Outreach Storytime: Birds

So, I’m pretty new to doing outreach in a storytime way. As a teen librarian, my outreaches were mostly either community/parent nights that I just set up an information table at, or visiting middle and high school classes to talk about the library/SRP and do a short program with them. The idea of going to a preschool and doing a storytime was pretty scary at first! A few months in, I’ve got four early learning centers I visit on a regular basis, and a first grade class I’ll be seeing monthly. Since I’m doing so many outreaches, I decided it’s probably a better idea to put together a dedicated outreach storytime each month, rather than just frantically throwing some books in a bag (hey, we all have to start somewhere!). The challenge with these storytimes, for me, is the huge age range I’m serving in a relatively small amount of time. At one center I visit, for example, I’ll do an infants class, a class of 2s, a class of 3s, and a class of preschoolers. I obviously can’t use the exact same storytime for all of them, because developmentally they’re all over the place.  I thought I’d post my storytimes (including the adaptions for each age range) here, in case they’ll be helpful to other people! This outreach storytime has its roots firmly in my Owls Storytime, so head over there for the lyrics to the songs!


Hello Song: My Hands Say Hello

Nursery Rhyme: Three Fat Sausages (it’s just like Five Fat Sausages, but shorter!)

Nursery Rhyme: Baa Baa Black Sheep

Book: Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker

Short and perfect for babies, this large format book is a great way to share the classic nursery rhyme accompanied by excellent visuals.

Song: Ten Little Owls

Book: Counting Birds

This board book incorporates lots of great features for babies: a simple plot, excellent sounds to make, and simple counting. It was a little small, but for my smaller group of babies, it definitely worked.

Book: Big Fat Hen by Keith Baker

Since repetition is good for baby’s brains, we went ahead and read this excellent title twice!

Story Cube: I love adding a little element of unpredictability to storytimes!

Song: Rum Pum

Even though babies can’t do Rum Pum on their own yet, I think it’s fun to hear, and the teachers always do it with me!

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Goodbye, I’ll See You Soon


For my toddlers, I pretty much replicated the owl storytime exactly. What can I say? If it ain’t broke…


For my preschoolers, I did the owl storytime once again, but I encouraged a lot more participation from them. During Little Owl Lost, for example, we would make the feature Little Owl was looking for (big eyes, pointy ears, etc), and on each page I would ask them if that was Little Owl’s mom. I also made them do the “WOW”s in Wow! Said the Owl.

This outreach storytime was the first one where I realized I needed to add books specifically for babies and that I can use some of the awesome books that are a little too long for my toddlers with the preschoolers. I’m definitely spending a little more time each month making a unique, varied outreach storytime now, though. Especially because a lot of my regulars go to the childcare centers a couple of days a week — they don’t need to hear the exact same storytime twice!