Blogger Abby Johnson

Librarians’ Favorites: Thinking Beyond Themes…

Fellow ALSC blogger Katie Salo wrote a post about storytime themes in October that got me thinking about the way we plan storytimes at my library. Inspired by her post, I decided to try something a little different with our spring storytime session. For our six weeks of storytimes, we planned five themed storytimes and I told everyone that the last week would be “Librarian’s Favorites”.

There are five of us that present storytimes in my department and for our spring and fall storytimes, we each plan at least one themed storytime week and we’re each responsible for presenting one session a week. It was really interesting watching my staff wrap their heads around planning a Librarian’s Favorites storytime. Unlike the themed weeks where we’re all reading some of the same books and doing some of the same flannels and stretchers, each person’s Favorites storytime will be unique.

I put together a handout each week that we send home with the kids along with their take-home crafts. Generally, I include a thematic book list and several related early literacy activities that families can do at home. For this week, I asked all of my staff to tell me three or four of their very favorite books for preschoolers and I sent home a list of “Miss Abby’s Favorites”, “Miss Theresa’s Favorites”, etc. For that week’s take-home craft, we’re sending home scratch-art bookmarks, leftover from our Afterschool Storytimes.

So what are some of my staff’s favorite books for preschoolers?

Where’s My Teddy? by Jez Alborough (Candlewick, 1992).

Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman (Henry Holt, 2006).

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry (Dial, 2007).

The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2010).

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Don and Audrey Wood (Child’s Play, 1984).

I’m a firm believer in the power of GREAT readalouds and I hope that by encouraging my staff to select books that they LOVE, their passion for sharing stories will shine through even more than it already does. However, thinking thematically can stretch us as storytime presenters and might lead to finding a new favorite or adapting a book in a new way to make it more engaging. And I also firmly believe that no one was ever harmed by having a non-themed story or song snuck into a themed storytime program. If there’s a special favorite that doesn’t go along with your theme, just put it in there anyway.

And now I want to hear from YOU! What are your very favorite readalouds for preschoolers??

— Abby Johnson, Children’s Manager
New Albany-Floyd County Public Library
New Albany, IN


  1. Carol Hampton Rasco

    Thanks, Abby, great additions to the bookshelves for my grandsons!

  2. Sharon

    Every time I do a My Favorite Storytime the materials change … But I generally always include the flannel Monkey Face by Frank Asch and a telling of Too Much Noise by McGovern. Lately My New Sock by Shea makes the list and the pop-up If You’re Happy and You Know It by Carter is always read when I do Saturday storytime. I wish Scholastic would re-print that one!!

  3. Sarah

    I really love Bark, George. The kids are always surprised by the ending (even though I’ve done it in story time before). A recent new fave, and one I’m sad I hadn’t read until this year, is Eric Carle’s Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me. It’s an oldie but the kids really enjoyed it and I had multiple requests to read it again as soon as we finished. I have no qualms about throwing either of these books into a theme story time because they’re just wonderful stories.

  4. Natalie

    I LOVE The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen and Noisy Nora. Children love to see others being a little naughty!

  5. Miss Courtney

    I have lots of favorites: Go Away, Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems, Where is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz, Ten Little Caterpillars by Lois Ehlert, Boo to a Goose by Mem Fox. Those are just a few!

  6. Alissa

    Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes

    So much fun! I use it regularly in my storytimes and at all of my sensory story times. The kids love it… it encourages great participation and once they are familiar with it, they can sing along with me.

  7. Pat

    Two of my preschool favorites are Where Is the Green Sheep? (Mem Fox/Judy Horacek) and It Looked Like Spilt Milk (Charles G. Shaw).

  8. Abby

    This is a great idea for a storytime. Thanks for sharing, Abby!

    My favorite preschool read alouds include:
    Oh no, George! by Chris Haughton (the kids quickly catch on to the pattern in the story: George the dog does bad things even though he’s trying really hard to be good. He ends up turning it around and behaving well. The end is sort of a cliff hanger and sparks some discussion among the kids).

    Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas (this book encourages participation and the kids love to jump up and down, dance, and even pretend to take a nap along with the characters in the book).

  9. Denise

    Mem Fox’s Time For Bed is a favorite. Jack Prelutsky’s poem Willie Ate a Worm Today is another fav, especially when you have gummy worms and eat one at the end!

  10. Frances

    These are some of my favorites, too! I also love The Wide-Mouthed Frog by Keith Faulkner, Shark in the Park by Nick Sharrat (with paper towel tubes as telescopes for the kids), From Head to Toe by Eric Carle (acting it out), Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea, and Cock-a-Doodle-Moo by Bernard Most. So many good ones!

  11. Jennifer

    Even though I always have themed storytimes, I do at least one “Favorites” storytime every couple of months. I love to include “I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More” by Karen Beaumont, “Yes Day” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, and “What Will Fat Cat Sit On” by Jan Thomas.

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  13. Jane Breen

    This is great to see the “favorites”. I am also a big fan of Carter’s pop-up book, If you’re happy and you know it. I love to read Martin Waddell’s Owl Babies to three year olds. Paul Galdone’s version of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is always fun.

  14. Herolose

    Thanks a lot for sharing information.

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