1,000 Books Before Kindergarten @ NPL


A couple of months ago, we began our 1,000 Books Before Kindergarten program, and it has been very successful so far! We have over 25 kids signed up through the library, and two classes at Head Start participating in the program as large groups!

The kids are really enjoying the praise for all of their work, and they are super proud when they come in with a full sheet that they colored in. I’m so glad that I decided to try this out!

Here’s our flyer, which is full of general information about the program:


Here’s our reading log, which I created using Canva. This was super easy and much more affordable than purchasing them from a vendor.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten Reading Log.jpg

Storytime Theme: Giraffes! 

We had A LOT of fun learning and reading about giraffes during my Head Start visits last week!

I like to include an engaging non-fiction book in my storytimes whenever they fit well, so we read Giraffes by Amelie von Zumbusch and we learned some fun facts about giraffes before reading our fiction books. Did you know that a giraffe calf is already 6 feet tall when it is born?!

The next two books that we read were Giraffes Ruin Everything by Heidi Schulz and The Short Giraffe by Neil Flory. The first of the two follows a young boy who has trouble with a giraffe getting in the way of his fun.. but *spoiler alert* the story has a happy ending because giraffe ends up saving the day! The second book was very silly and got a lot of laughs from the kids and their teachers. Geri is the shortest giraffe who ever lived, and the giraffes try rigging up all kinds of contraptions to make him fit into a photo with the average-height giraffes. This story *spoiler alert* also has a happy ending… but I won’t say how they solved their dilemma. You’ll have to read it yourself!

Our Community Reads @ The Apple Shed 

We had an excellent Our Community Reads program at The Apple Shed. What a great event, and it was a beautiful day for an outdoor event.  Here are some photos!

Miss Caitlin reading some veggie-themed stories to the group


The Apple Shed provided such a cool craft! Flowers made with vegetable stamps!

…casually hangin’ out in the corn slide with some books

…we have a winner!

Head Start today– Books with mostly white covers…

This week’s Head Start storytime theme was “Books With Mostly White Covers…That Also Happen to be Super Interactive and Fun”, and BOY DID IT LIVE UP TO THE HYPE. The books DID indeed have mostly white covers! They WERE super interactive and fun!

Press Here by Herve Tullet- Always super fun and interactive. They all got REALLY into the blowing, and were AMAZED at the changes that took place between each page turn.

Mix it Up by Herve Tullet- While they were all loved and drove the kids wild, the group favorite was Mix it Up. One kid even got it confused with Ellen Stoll Walsh’s Mouse Paint and asked “Does this one got rats in it?!” [insert cry-laughing emoji here]

The Book With No Pictures by BJ Novak- This group had heard The Book With No Pictures before, but that didn’t stop them from thinking it was hilarious and asking me to read it “Again, again!” I told them that unfortunately I had to go back to the library and work.. I would have loved to stay and play for the rest of the day though! We finished up with the usual giant group hug, and I went on my way back to the library for more Summer Reading fun!

Perkins and Lincoln School Visits! 

I’ve been very busy these past few weeks visiting the schools! I’ve finished Kelley School, which feels like a huge accomplishment, and now I’m onto Perkins and Lincoln (PreK-2). For these younger kids, we are focusing on community helpers!

First, we talk about Summer Reading at the library and read a couple of stories together, then we move on to these super fun (AND EASY) stations!

Station 1: Matching Puzzle Game

At this station, the kids simply have to match the community helper to a tool or object they use. For example, the librarian and her books, or the road worker and his “SLOW” sign. Hoarding puzzle pieces has been an issue with some kids, but there has also been a lot of good teamwork going on. 

Station 2: Dress Up!

Another simple station- dressing up! We have smocks and hats, and the kids get to take turns dressing as different community helpers. Super easy for the grownups in this situation– just let ’em loose!

Station 3: Community Helper Action Figures

I just love these little action figures, and so do the kids! As you can see in the picture below, we set out a table with the helpers and some books that go with them. The kids can match the figure to its corresponding book, or just play freely with them!

…and that’s it! Nowhere near as complicated as the stations at Kelley, but still very engaging and possibly even more fun!

Kelley School Visits! 

My school visits have started! Woo hoo! Last year I worked out a schedule with the awesome librarian at the three elementary schools to take over her classes at each school, and it was great, so I’m doing it again this year. I get each class for 40 minutes at a time– talk about a captive audience!

I’m doing different activities for the primary (PreK-2) and intermediate (3-5) schools, but I’m started with Kelley (intermediate), so here’s what we’re doing:

I start out with talking about the Summer Reading Program and show the kids our calendars and game boards and telling them about how AMAZING the library is. Because the SRP theme is Every Hero Has a Story, I chose to focus on crime solving detectives, so I read them one of the cases from Two-Minute Mysteries by Donald J. Sobol, and we work through the case until someone comes up with the answer and wins a prize! After this, we move onto…


Activity Station 1: Dusting for Prints

Supplies needed for this station were dishes to put our prints on, baby powder, cheap makeup brushes, washcloths, and small plastic bins to contain the stray powder.

The procedure for this station is as follows:

1. Use the washcloth to make sure the surface is clean

2. Press a finger (or fingers) onto the clean surface

3. Dip your brush into a bit of baby powder and apply to the surface

4. Brush gently until all excess powder is removed and you can clearly see your prints

My thoughts: This was the station that the kids were the most impressed with. Most of them were just mystified when they successfully dusted for their own fingerprint just like the detectives in the movies. During the first class, I let the kids use the actual baby powder containers, but after they used way too much, I decided to let the following classes use the powder that was already in the container, and it worked out beautifully.

Activity Station 2: Play-Doh Fingerprints


Supplies needed for this station were just Play Doh and magnifying glasses.

The procedure for this station is very simple: Just press your fingers into the dough and take a look at the imprints through the magnifying glass.

My thoughts: The kids had A LOT of fun with this station. They were thrilled to be able to use Play Doh at school, and although they didn’t spend the entire time doing fingerprints, I was just as happy to let them play with the dough and be creative. As you can see above, someone even made a pet snake!

Activity Station 1: Ink Fingerprints


Supplies needed for this station were big pieces of paper, washable ink pads, magnifying glasses, and baby wipes

The procedure for this station is just to press your finger into the ink pads, then press onto the big pieces of paper and check out your prints through the magnifying glass.

My thoughts: This one was definitely the messiest, but the baby wipes were great for getting the ink off of the tables. The first class to use the stations had some different ink that didn’t come off of their hands (oops!) but I swapped those out before the next class got to them. This station also turned into a sort of art station, with kids using their fingerprints to make designs and write their names. Kids even asked to bring them home at the end of each class, which was fine with me!

These activities are so simple to put together and fun to do! The kept the kids engaged, and the mess factor of the baby powder and ink wasn’t as big of an issue as I had anticipated. It was important to me to have a hands-on activity, and that the activities are (for the most part) reusable, so I didn’t have to spend millions of dollars on supplies, and these definitely fit the bill.

Free Lunch at the Public Library!

Here is some information that I shared with some librarians a few months ago, and I’m sharing it again in case there are any other librarians out there reading this who would like more information on providing this at their libraries:

Host a Summer Lunch Program at Your Library

In partnership with Newark Baptist Church, Wayne ARC, Week of Hope, Newark Housing Authority, and other programs, we offered a free lunch every Monday-Thursday of July 2014 at Newark Public Library. The lunches were funded by New York State, prepared by Wayne ARC, and served by Week of Hope volunteers. This program brought us many new faces, and I hope to continue it next summer as well. An impressive 267 children enjoyed lunches at Newark Public Library throughout the month of July. Many of these children were new faces, and most of them started attending more library programs after attending the lunch program.

Why offer Summer Lunch:

The library is a comfortable site: Many summer lunch sites are located in churches, and some people might not be as comfortable in a specific church than in a neutral community space like the library. Also, when patrons come to the library, it’s not obvious if they’re just coming for the free lunch, which can take away any possible self-consciousness.

There is a real need for it: According to hungersolutionsny.org:

“During the school year, over 1.1 million children and teens across our state rely on school meals to power their learning. However, when school is out – both after school and over summer vacation – many low-income children experience a nutritional void. “

“Low-income children and teenagers who lack access to quality and consistent food are likely to be sick more often, have less energy, and be less focused on learning. Other linked issues include hyperactivity, anxiety, undernutrition, and even weight gain.”

The program brings in new library users: We noticed that many of our summer lunch attendees were not previously regular library users, but because of this program, they came into the library more often for lunches and other library programs.

How I Did It:

  1. Called Hunger Solutions New York and asked for details on how to participate.
    1. Asked if my community qualifies. Qualification is based on the poverty level.
    2. Asked for the contact info of nearby organizations already offering free lunch
  2. Got in touch with the different sites to find out who their site sponsors were
  3. Got in touch with the site sponsors and asked if they would be willing to add our library as a site
  4. Once a site sponsor (Wayne ARC) was willing to add our library as a site, I set up a meeting with the person in charge to talk about the specifics.
    1. Will we serve breakfast, lunch, snack, or supper?
    2. When and where will we serve the lunches?
    3. Who makes, delivers, and serves the food?
    4. Who sets up, cleans up, and records statistics?
  5. Confirm the details. Here is what we decided:
    1. We served lunch in the Community Room, every Monday through Thursday at 12pm in the Newark Public Library Community Room
    2. Wayne ARC prepared the lunches
    3. Week of Hope Volunteers delivered, served, cleaned up, and recorded statistics.
  6. Decide how to integrate the meal with your programs to increase attendance
    1. We had our lunch program from 12:30-1:00, immediately preceding our daily 1:00 programs.
  7. Spread the word!
    1. Include the free lunch program on your event calendars, create separate flyers, and tell everyone about it!

How It Went/Tips


  1. An impressive 267 children enjoyed lunches at Newark Public Library throughout the month of July. That’s an average of over 15 kids per day!
  2. Many of the families that came to our lunch program were not library regulars, but ended up coming to many of our other programs throughout the summer.
  3. We found that some families even got lunches at more than one site per day, which really demonstrated to us the need for this type of program.

Week of Hope Volunteers

  1. We got very lucky that the Week of Hope folks were already delivering meals to different sites in Newark, so we just chose a time slot for them to come to our library. There may not be a program like this in your area, so it is possible you will have to find the volunteers yourself, or volunteers from one of the other sites will be able to help you out.
  2. Week of Hope is a religious service program, where volunteers from all over the country spend a week doing different community service projects. Although they are from a religious organization, their service and conversation was separate from that.
  3. Because we were at the end of their day, the Week of Hope volunteers had some extra time to kill and they stayed and helped out with our 1:00 programs, which was a big help.


  1. I definitely recommend calling Hunger Solutions first, for a good overview of the program’s structure, and to see if your community qualifies. Also, they have the most accurate and up-to-date information about the sites, which I found to be different from what I saw online.
  2. Getting in touch with the sites and site sponsors was a lot of work and got confusing at points. I even got turned down by one person from an organization, and then was called back by someone else in the same organization with accurate information. You really have to call around until you get in touch with the right person
  3. When planning around your programs, I would recommend more space between the lunch time and the next program, for eating, cleanup, and setup time. Also consider whether you would like to have programs before or after your mealtime.


  1. Make sure you plan early enough so that you have everything finalized in time to include the lunch program on your summer reading calendars
  2. Make it clear that the lunches are only for kids and teens, to avoid having to turn away adults.
  3. Create a special flyer for the program. I had a flyer that one of the other sites made that included the location and serving times for the other sites, which was great.
  4. This year, I plan to send out a press release, post about it on social media, and distribute flyers everywhere.
  5. If kids are in the library for other reasons, offer them a lunch! I found that many parents were surprised and impressed that we were offering this program, and once they knew about it, they came back again and again.

iPad Storytime at Head Start!

I visit Head Start every Wednesday and see four classes. Every time I walk into a classroom, someone shouts, “Did you bring your tablet today?!” Usually my answer is no, but this week, I got to say “YES!!!”

When I use the iPad in storytime, I sometimes use just an activity or sometimes just a story, and pair them  according to a theme with regular books. This time though, I did just iPad stories, and even though the apps I chose had nothing in common, it was still a blast!

Here are the apps I used-  Go Away Big Green Monster! by Ed Emberley- This is a book that is perfect to be used in an interactive app, with the facial features that appear and disappear. We also liked that when I touched each new feature, it wiggled and made a sound. Ed Emberley’s narration of the book is also great.  Red in Bed by Josh On– This story is so great for use in a storytime. It’s quick and easy, and the interaction is perfect. You change the colors of things by touching them, and it’s magical! Red can’t go out in the morning to color things, so the other colors offer to color for him, but they color things the wrong colors! The orange strawberries, blue firetruck, etc. were HILARIOUS to the kids. Then when Red starts to feel better, he comes and fixes the colors and everything looks right again! Each color also makes a noise when touched, and when Red is feeling sick, the sound it makes.. well, let’s just say it has been compared to a toot.  Don’t Let the Pigeon Run this App! by Mo Willems- I’ve posted about this one before here. It’s always so much fun!