Wearing my heart on my (t-shirt) sleeve….

A short but sweet post to show off my latest book-themed purchases.

I am a┬áproud librarian and book nerd, and I can’t miss an opportunity to showcase my passions through fashion.

charlotteI recently picked up this wonderful Charlotte‘s Web t-shirt from book’mark, the gift shop managed by the Friends of the Vancouver Public Library. It’s soft, light and absolutely adorable, and I am very much in love with it. I loved it so much in fact that I had to go back and pick up this Madeline t-shirt. The women’s sizes do run rather small, so I went for the Extra Large in both, though I typically wear a Medium in t-shirts.

The book’mark shop manager informed me that they’ll be getting another shipment of t-shirts from Out of Print sometime soon, so I will be heading back in to see which titles I can add to my collection. They’re actually wonderful conversation starters, especially when working with children – kids are often delighted to see a book they’ve read featured on my t-shirt, and they are eager to tell me everything they know about the story. Graphic t-shirts can be a great way to break the ice when meeting new groups, and they can help dispel any lingering fears kids might have about scary, mean old librarians.madeline

All this aside, I am a nerd, and would probably wear these t-shirts anyway, even if I wasn’t a children’s librarian….

Language Fun Story Time – May 21, 2015

On this very sunny Tuesday we shared Eric Carle’s classic ode to gluttony, The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

bookMany of our kids were already familiar with the book, which really helped, because it is quite a long story with a lot of vocabulary.

Counting, days of the week, food vocabulary, cause and effect, sequencing and life cycles in the natural world – this book has it all!

Because The Very Hungry Caterpillar is one of the longer stories we share at LFST, we adapted the day’s format a little to accommodate our group. Instead of exploring the story three ways, we instead just retold the story twice, giving each child extra time to participate in the activities.

We do have quite a large group at LFST, with 10-12 children coming each week, and it can take a little while to explain and model an activity and then ensure that everyone has enough time to participate in the activity without feeling rushed or pressured. We always want to make sure that LFST is a fun, positive experience for the children, so rushing through an activity so that we can squeeze in another one isn’t all that beneficial for the children. Better to do two things well than three things poorly!

stuffieWe also had a very popular little caterpillar friend help us read the picture book as a group. The kids were particularly enthusiastic about this week’s story – it really does help when they’ve already experienced the book at home or at school, as it often gives them a bit of extra confidence. We dramatically munched and nom nom nommed our way through all the food in the story, and used our fingers to count out each meal.

Then it was time for the felt story!

Each child was given a different food item, and they were encouraged to tell the group which food they had, and how many pieces they had. They then fed their felt food to the felt caterpillar, with much enthusiasm. The creator of the felts somehow put the little caterpillar’s head on upside down, so he’s doing a bit of a funny wave, but the kids didn’t seem to notice. :) felt

We had some great new vocabulary this week, including cocoon, and talked a bit about where butterflies come from.

Snack time fit in quite nicely with today’s theme! Then it was time for a stamp, and a copy of the book with some extension activities. I like to talk about the extension activities with the parents while the children are eating their snacks, and share other related activities parents can do with their children to build upon the vocabulary introduced in the story.

Being able to take home a copy of the book is such an important part of LFST, as it extends the learning experience for an entire week. Repetition at home really helps reinforce the vocabulary we practice at each session. For some kids, too, participating in a group setting can be intimidating or overwhelming, and they benefit from being able to explore the book in a more comfortable setting at their own pace. Everybody wins!

extensionThe group was feeling very jumpy towards the end of the program, so we sang our goodbye song with some full-body waving action, and then it was goodbye for another week. Only two more sessions to go!

May Book Club – “Silent in the Grave”

I’m the first to admit that I don’t always finish every book I start. There are so many books on my to-read list, I simply don’t have time to waste on books that don’t engage me.

silentI started this month’s book club pick, the Victorian-era mystery “Silent in the Grave” by Deanna Raybourn, but it just didn’t do anything for me. The characters were pretty dull, I guessed the murder almost immediately, and the writer seemed to have confused “chemistry” and “creepy”, because the love interest showed his interest in the female lead by first threatening to hit her, and then by drugging her as part of an interrogation, without ever doing anything to change the reader’s creeped out opinion of him.

So, I read the beginning, I read the end, I skipped the middle, and I still had enough to talk about at book club.

I wouldn’t recommend “Silent in the Grave” simply because there are so many other awesome books out there that I would recommend!

For fans of female sleuths in historical settings:

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie / Alan Bradley


The first in a mystery series set in 1950s England, starring precocious 11-year-old chemistry prodigy Flavia de Luce.

Cocaine Blues / Kerry Greenwood


1920s Australia provides the backdrop for the first novel in the Phrynne Fisher series of historical mysteries.

Maisie Dobbs / Jacqueline Winspear

maisie dobbs

Maisie is a private detective solving crimes in inter-war years Great Britain.

Mistress of the Art of Death / Ariana Franklin


Adelia is a “mistress of death”, the medieval version of a medical examiner, who acts in the service of the king to solve mysteries in 12th century England.

Miss Marple / Agatha Christie


Though originally a contemporary series, Christie’s classic Miss Marple novels range in setting from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Family Story Time – May 16, 2015

Remember what I was saying about variety being the norm for a children’s librarian?

I arrived for my on-call shift at the children’s department of the central branch to discover that I was scheduled to deliver the morning’s family story time. Surprise! Thankfully I am a bit of an old hat at last minute story times by now.

One of the nicest things about doing on-call story times is that you can cheat. You can bust out your favourite songs and story books, the really popular ones that everyone loves and that you’ve already done to death with your own group. Today’s family story time was a bit of a greatest hits edition, but no Pete the Cat, as I couldn’t find a copy in the story time closet…

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Book 1: I went Walking / Sue Williams


Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Old MacDonald Had a Farm / Jane Cabrera


Action Songs

  • Bend and stretch
  • Zoom zoom zoom
  • The wheels on the bus
  • Toast in the toaster
  • The elevator song

Cool Down Songs

  • The itsy bitsy spider
  • Open shut them

Goodbye Song: Goodbye Friends!

I had some very enthusiastic caregivers in today’s small story time group who were happy to belt out all of the songs, which took some of the pressure off my voice, which was still a little strained after the program-heavy day before.

Impromptu Mother Goose – May 15, 2015

pcmg-logoAs I’ve said before, one of the best parts of being a children’s librarian is the variety – you never know exactly what each new day will hold.

I had just finished my story times for the morning yesterday when my manager asked if I would be able to fill in for a sick colleague. Another branch was looking for a co-facilitator for a Mother Goose session. Having previously co-facilitated a MG session I was familiar enough with the format and content, and I am always ready to take on another story time.

Unlike my MG session, which had taken place at the library, this program was being held at a local community center. Fortunately the location was easily transit accessible (hooray for the people’s chariot), as my lack of a vehicle can sometimes make last-minute plans a bit more complicated.

And so I was off on the bus to Kilarney Community Center.

kilarneyStepping in to an established program at the last minute can sometimes be a little stressful, depending on the personalities involved, but my co-facilitator was experienced, friendly, and very relaxed, which is always a plus! I wasn’t familiar with some of the songs they sang, but she was happy for me to teach the group some new material.

The group included babies, toddlers and even a preschooler or two – it was definitely more like a family time than the baby time I had expected. But the children knew what to expect in the program, and were happy with any bouncy jumpy songs we picked. ;)

I did learn a great new (to me) song that I can’t wait to share with my toddlers and preschoolers –

Hurry, hurry drive the firetruck

Hurry hurry drive the firetruck

Hurry hurry turn the corner

Hurry hurry climb the ladder

Hurry hurry spray the water

Slowly slowly drive the firetruck


It’s sung to the tune of “what do we do with a drunken sailor”, and includes fire tucks, ladders and hoses – perfect! I can’t stop singing it now, and I’ll be busting it out whenever I get the chance.

Family Story Time – May 15, 2015

For this our last story time of spring, I wanted to go out with a bang, so I tried to plan an extra-special story time that would include all of our favourite songs and activities. To make it extra-special, we did almost the entire story time standing up! We sang our hello song as usual, then sang “when cows wake up in the morning (including a lion and a dinosaur, of course), and then it was up and moving around, even during the stories!

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends

Song: When cows wake up in the morning

Book 1: From Head to Toe / Eric Carle


Hand Rhymes

  • I wake up my hands
  • Wiggle your fingers
  • Open-shut them
  • Roly poly

Book 2: Jump / Scott M. Fischer


Action Songs

  • Zoom zoom
  • The wheels on the bus
  • Here we go a marching
  • Toast in the toaster
  • Elevator song

Cool-down songs:

  • Grr-grr went the little brown bear one day (with puppet)

Goodbye Song: Goodbye, Friends!

I know my audience, and what my audience loves best is jumping! So, we jumped to the moon, the people on the bus went up and down, we went a jumping, our toast popped, and our elevators went up and down. Even our second book was all about jumping! We had a delighted, if exhausted crew after story time today, and it was a wonderful note on which to finish off the session.

Baby Story Time – May 15, 2015

Yesterday was our last spring story time session – we’re on a bit of a break now until July. We had a full house again, and interestingly we had a few new faces in the crowd. I’m also pleased at how many dads we have attending story time – it’s great to know that we’ve created a space in which all different kinds of caregivers feel welcome.

Welcome Song: Hello, Friends!

Touching Rhymes/Tickles

  • Well hello everyone, can you touch your nose?
  • Grr grr went the little brown bear one day
  • Slowly, slowly
  • Head and shoulders
  • Slice slice the bread looks nice

Book 1: All of Baby Nose to Toes / Victoria Adler



  • Giddyup horsey
  • Gregory Griggs
  • Pudding on the plate
  • A hippopotamus got on a city bus

Book Two:Noisy Farm


Movement Songs

  • London bridge is falling down
  • Up, up, up in the sky like this
  • Zoom zoom
  • The elevator song

Soothing Songs

  • Come under my umbrella
  • Orca whale

Goodbye song: Goodbye, Friends

I shorted “Nose to Toes” a bit – there’s a lot of text on each page, which is lovely, but I have a large group of squirmy babies, so I often have to make some adjustments to my picture books to make them fit my audience a bit better.

“Noisy Farm” is an awesome baby book – simple text, bold illustrations, flaps to lift, and animals noises to make, what could be better in a baby book? :) I also have a very obliging group of caregivers who don’t bat at eye at being asked to oink like a piggy!

I also had a few new faces in the audience who had never attended any story times before, so I tried to pick short, very repetitive songs whenever possible, and we sang everything at least twice, to help the newbies get the hang of things.

I can’t believe we’re wrapping up until July – some of my little guys will have grown so much by then, they’ll be graduating into family story time!