So my library does some pretty amazing stuff delivering books to local children’s agencies. There’s TOTES–Tubs of Totally Engaging Stories containing 25 books apiece–that are circulated to 15-16 daycares once a month. We have a dedicated collection for TOTES, but twice in the last week I’ve had to pick storytime appropriate picture books from our general collection: 30 for Head Start, and 52 for an after school program (only 15 were picture books, though). I’ll be repeating the pulling of the after school program books two more times before the month is out, and once more for Head Start. I’m not good with numbers, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be trying to find over 200 storytime picture books. Bananas!
With that task at hand, I’m finding myself gravitating towards standby materials (same authors, similar stories) when I call. One author and illustrator I really love for baby storytime is Mary Murphy, and this week I read one of her books from 2014, Say Hello Like This!. Murphy’s more recent work is the gorgeous Good Night Like This, but I like the “Hello!” and animal noise theme better for Hello. Both books are perfect for toddlers because the story is simple and easy to understand, with full page colorful illustrations, and large, visible font. The best part that will enchant babies is the flaps: every page has a sentence that explains the illustration, and then a half page that flips over to show the action that finishes the sentence. One example from Hello is “A dog hello is licky and loud…like this! Bow-wow-wow-wow!” The content and illustrations are just pure fun, and I’ll be sure to be using this in the future for my book picks.
Another pick that comes from 2015 that is appropriate for younger storytime audiences is Happy in Our Skin written by Fran Manuskin and illustrated by Lauren Tobia. One challenge I take very seriously is trying to find storytime picture books that portray a diverse audience, and this book is a perfect fit. The illustrations and writing highlight how everyone has different skin, but it all serves the same purpose (such as, “Holding our insides in and our outsides out!”). The illustrations fill the page and portray lots of babies, perfect for 1 year olds and above who love seeing babies. The illustrations are so creative and colorful, and generally clear even for little ones (though for very young children, I recommend one-on-one or a few babies at most). I love stories like this and was excited with how great it will be for toddler storytime.
Overall, it’s really helped finding Mary Murphy and Fran Manushkin, both of whom have written several children’s books. Both of their works run the fine line between beautiful illustrations and creative stories, and yet it’s simple enough even for small children to enjoy.