Saturday, September 08, 2007

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

Creating a transportation themed storytime is one of the easiest storytimes to do. There are tons of great books featuring trains, trucks, cars, planes, etc that are ideal for sharing with a big group. Finding fingerplays is an easy task, and a rousing rendition of "The Wheels on the Bus" is a fine topper for a fun-filled storytime.

Today, I'll share with you the books I read for last week's storytime, plus a few books that I decided not to read, for various reasons (a bit too long/ran out of time).

"Down by the station, early in the morning...."

The popular children's song has been turned into a very cute book, courtesy of Will Hillenbrand (he also has a Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush, which is one of the more enjoyable "first day of school" books). The little train in this quasi-story goes around the zoo, picking up the baby animals.

This book has many neat things crammed into its "story." Neat thing #1: The baby animals in the book are given their correct name (calf for baby elephant, joey for baby kangaroo, etc).

Neat thing #2: The illustrations are large enough to share with a storytime-sized group. However, for those wishing to take the book home, there are illustrations that are best perused under close examination (the mama elephant holding a "Stop" sign, the lady with the umbrella who's along for the ride).

The children loved recognizing the animals in the story, especially representatives of the National Zoo superstars: PANDAS!

If this is a bit too long for your group, you can skip over one or two animals without losing much from the story.

Donald Crews is the king of transportation books. There's just no doubt about it! Trains, sailboats, bicycles-he's covered them all, ranging from nearly wordless books to stories with rhyme.

Given the time of year, I thought that School Bus would fit in nicely with my storytime. I like to alternate long-ish books and very short books in my toddler storytime, due to the wide range of attention spans (especially in September, when the majority of the children are new to storytime). This doesn't have much of a story, which isn't unusual for Crews's books. Instead, there are bright and bold illustrations and brief text showing school buses crossing town, children waiting for school buses, children exiting the school bus when they arrive at school, empty buses crossing town, and returning at the end of the school day.

School buses are *very* interesting to toddlers. Riding a school bus is a major marker of being a "big kid," and at this age, being a "big kid" is a very big deal. They see the big yellow (and perhaps intimidating) school bus rumble down the street every day to pick up their older brothers and sisters (and/or the older kids in the neighborhood). What's one of the things that grownups point out as being one of the cool things about going to school? Riding the school bus!

A big hit, indeed.

Trashy Town is another "Miss Jennifer" storytime standards. This is the "story" of a trash collector going about his day, collecting trash at various places around town. The illustrations are cartoon-ish and easily viewable by a large group. You can't help but get into a rhythm when reading the book:

"Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the Trashy Town!"

The book also invites audience participation: "Is the trash truck full yet?"

Nope, nope, nope, until it's the end of the day. Mr. Gilly's day is over, and he needs to take a bath!

A fun story-not too long, and not too brief that children with longer attention spans won't get bored.

Here are a few more terrific transportation themed books:

Choo Choo Clickety-Clack covers all the bases: bicycles, motorcycles, buses, etc. There's no's an example:

"Airplanes are great at fly, fly, flying.
To faraway places, people carrying.
Down runways-up, up, and away-soaring.
RoarrRR! Off they go!"

The book may be a bit long and short on action for your audience. There's no harm in skipping a few pages.

Monster Trucks is very cool. How can a book about trucks not be cool? Forklift trucks, tow trucks, mixer trucks and more are all represented in their glory.

For those needing more of a story, try It's Funny Where Ben's Train Takes Him. Ben's train, courtesy of his imagination, takes him to wild and wonderful places.

Happy reading!

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