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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

National Children's Book Week -- Visiting Old and New Favorites

This week we celebrate National Children's Book Week. As some old timers know, this week use to be celebrated in November but has been moved to May. It truly makes no difference when it is celebrated, as long as old and young readers alike remember the good reads of today and yesterday. As a tribute to this week, it seemed fitting to name each day of the week after a beloved children's literature character. The list goes like this: Madeline Monday, Tacky the Penguin Tuesday, Winnie the Pooh Wednesday, Thomas the Tank Engine Thursday, Froggy Friday, Strega Nona Satruday and Seuss World Sunday. Each of these friends are welcome into my story time any day of the year, but a brilliant idea hit me out of the blue! Why not give them each their own day during this special week. There are so many displays, crafts, story time fun that can be developed for children of all ages. So let's begin....

Madeline is a wonderful character, and the original Fancy Nancy in my opinion, who taught little girls about France. The familiar opening to her books of twelve little girls in two straight lines and the smallest was Madeline, still delights little ones. The best books to read in story time is the original Madeline, Madeline and the Bad Hat and Madeline and the Cats of Rome. Both of these stories invoke questions from young readers of the language difference, where Madeline lives and her family of Miss Clavel (who is a nun and why isn't she Sister Clavel is a mystery to all?) and the other eleven girls. I never miss a chance at storytime to make things a little different. For Madeline, I wear a nun's habit. (Yes I have one in my treasure box downstairs. No I did not steal from a nun to get it.) Children love it and want their own hats. So before the storytime begin, simple Madeline Hats are made and if there are boys the hats they make matches the one that Pepito wears in Madeline and he Bad Hat. After everyone has their hats, the rule is that they must keep their hates on for storytime in order to help them hear the stories better. As Madeline's stories end, we say au revoir and look forward to Tuesday.

Tacky is an odd bird. Must be why I like him so much, we have lots in common. Never one to go along with the crowd and the only one on the iceberg with a Hawaiian shirt. Reading Tacky the Penguin would be a mortal sin (okay so I still have Miss/Sister Clavel in my psyche) if I didn't wear my favorite loud Hawaiian Shirt. Tacky the Penguin, Tacky in Trouble and Three Cheers for Tacky fill storytimes with giggles. Tacky uniqueness reminds even the older readers, like myself that being different is not only okay it is what makes everyone lovable. As a librarian, have you ever played the Penguin games? Be ready for a lot of waddling and silly tricks such as carry a medium size ball in between their legs and have them race to a point. For smaller children, a flannel board game consisting of five penguins who need to get dressed up in their best outfits. Each penguin wears a different color top hat, a bow tie and shoes. The children need to mach the colors of each of the items and place them on each of the penguins. My favorite Craft: paper plate penguin complete with goggly eyes and beaks.

Wednesday is for Winnie the Pooh and a visit to the Hundred Acres woods. There are times when I wish that Disney would have left Pooh alone. The story of Christopher Robin and his pal is just perfect without Disney's touch. Be it as it may, the only good to come out of it is that there is a wide range of books to choose from for storytimes for the younger readers. For an older book talk, it is fun to see the expression on older children's faces when they talk about the original book. One reader actually told me that A.A. Milne's book actually seemed more real than Disney. (Either he really liked it or he was trying to score points with the librarian, either way I don't care) My favorite game to play with the young kids is a hunt for the pot of honey. After all, after a wonderful storytime don't we all have a little rumbly in the tumbly? So off they go searching for Pooh's pot of honey. Once they find it, they discover that the secret to a good pot of honey is sharing it with friends. (yes, I do have treats inside for the children, usually it is bit o honey candy bites or Hershey's Kisses) For the older readers, a map of the hundred acre woods as they imagine it to be. Winnie the Pooh has stayed in the hearts of many readers, and that is why his stories still live on and on.

Thursday is for Thomas the Tank Engine, by this time we are chugging along down the tracks to the end of the week. Little boys still love Charming Thomas even after fifty-four years. Thank goodness this series of books were brought to life in 1979 for television to gain a new admirers of Thomas, who is always ready for to help his friends in a jam and prove he is up to the task worthy of a tank engine. How could you not love that can do spirit? My all time favorite game to play with little ones is the train station. In between stories, to get restless feet a chance to move, a little bit of chugging down the "tracks" and picking up "steam" is great fun while testing to see how well the little ones listen to directions. Of course, everyone gets to holler 'ALL ABOARD!" As a bit of warning, if working with a "rowdy" bunch, a smart librarian might want to cover their ears at this point.


Froggy Friday, where every child comes into storytime to sit on their own little pad. My favorite stories include Froggy Gets Dress, Froggy Plays in the Band and and Froggy Rides A Bike. What I love about Froggy is his enthusiasm. No matter what the situation, Froggy puts everything he has into it and comes out smelling like a rose. Well, maybe more like a frog. Kids with lots of enthusiasm have plenty of chance to show it off when they get to jump from lily pad to lily pad until they have completed a circle and found their way back to their home lily pad.

Strega Nona Saturday is the highlight of the week for me. Strega Nona has a spark of magic, a peck of love and a whole lot of Italian that makes me dream of my ancestor's homeland. So it goes without saying that I find an old apron and a babusca on my head. (I hope I make my wonderful Nonnas proud!) The story of Strega (In Italian this means Witch) Nona is more like a folktale and it reminds me of the wise sayings my own mother repeats over and over again. In the first Strega Nona, we meet our heroine and Big Anthony, in her little Italian home. Strega Nona shows Big Anthony the spell of the growing pasta and warns him not to do it himself, since it is a very powerful spell. Well, does the big guy listen? Nope. He tries the spell and finds that he can not stop the pasta from growing. Strega Nona to the rescue! She comes home and stops the overflowing pasta. As punishment for not listening to Strega Nona, Big Anthony has to eat all the pasta. (In my house, that would not be a curse, it would be a blessing!) What better craft to do than a macaroni craft? A little bit of yarn, string it through the pasta, and make it into a necklace or bracelet.

To end the week, we have Seuss Sunday. There are so many titles to choose from that Seuss Sunday could last well into the night. With Green Eggs and Ham, If I Ran the Zoo, Cat in the Hat, and Horton Hears A Who. That's just naming a few of my favorites. During any storytime featuring Dr. Seuss, It is important to bring out the white and red stripped stove pipe hat and wear it with pride. However, with all the activities of the week, it seems appropriate to settle down a bit and read one of Seuss' more reflective books Oh, The Places You'll Go!" This book offers a reminder that everyone has something to accomplish in their own world. In my world, there are so many more books I need to read and go to far off places that only books can take me. Indeed, the places I will go! Luckily, I will always have a group of little ones to take along with me in storytimes.
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