I’m doing a storytime presentation for a class of Montessori kids (4-6 years old) at St. Kate’s this Thursday.
I hope you don’t mind that I’m going to take some time to talk through my process. (I’ve prepped storytimes before, but this will be my first one planned ahead of time with so many kids!)
Yesterday, I stuck on a potential theme (seeds/spring, one I prepped a storytime for previously as part of class) and then requested a bunch of books, some I was familiar with (my Goodreads account was doing some good here as I’d tagged some good picture books by subject) and some which were new.
Here are the books I’ve ruled out so far! (and why)
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
A lovely book with some GREAT vocabulary building potential, but too abstract for the Montessori group’s needs, perhaps, (from what I’ve been told) and not focused in clearly enough for my chosen subject. It’s also a wonderful book for visual stimulation, but I suspect since the cut-outs from page to page are small, it might work better in a one-on-one situation or in small groups versus a larger story-time setting. Some of the more challenging vocabulary might also be better discussed in a more free-form environment as well, but I’m not putting that past me for future projects in read-aloud time.
The Curious Garden by Peter Brown
I love this book. I love the feel of it and the imagery and the art, and its sense of community. It also has a few wordless pages which I’d love to try talking with children about in a storytime context to get them involved in the book and in their own storytelling. However, it has been requested of me that the books I read for the Montessori group be more reality-based, and in addition this book spans a variety of seasons (not just spring), so it got the axe (this time).
Yucky Worms by Vivian French and Illustrated by Jessica Ahlberg
Okay, I was just hoping if I got this book I’d look at it and go, “Yay, it works!” because I have so much respect for this amazing science book. It does tie-in with the concept of gardening and seeds as worms play an important role in the health of soil, but alas, I think that if I were doing a series or a regular storytime, I’d go for it, but since for the moment I am only booked for this one day, I stuck more firmly to seeds and am keeping this steadily on my radar. ALSO, it might be more suited towards the 6-year-old end of the age range than the 4-year-old range. Shrug.
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
New book (for me)! Great for colors and probably call-and-response for reading aloud with younger kids re: those colors, but a ton of flower-specific information as well, which I don’t think I have the time to prep for in three days (while also doing homework).
This would be great for a mix of older and younger kids since there are multiple levels of information to entertain (same with Yucky Worms, but that to a lesser degree), and if I were doing a flower specific storytime…
Simple illustrations and a many varieties of plants mentioned. (I’d want some props for this one, too, I think.) Would also work well with a craft project, but since this is the launch of a project I’m doing, there is no craft capabilities set up yet.
I know I don’t need to read all of the text (ie, I could skip the hard stuff and specific labeling of flowers), but then it becomes a much simpler book, and unfortunately this isn’t going to be at a storytime where the kids can check out books afterwards, so I’ll be just about their only exposure for this pro-literacy moment.
Jack’s Garden by Henry Cole
Another book new to me! Similar to Planting a Rainbow in that it has examples of many types of plants, but this picture book also has multiple insects, types of eggs, clouds, birds, etc. The “simple” story text follows the pattern of The House That Jack Built, but for an older audience. The illustrations are much more technical and precise than those in Planting a Rainbow as well. Since this is such a busy book, which also is following a textual pattern (almost requesting in a read-aloud capacity to skip over the detail drawings until later for sake of the rhythm), I thought I’d let this one go this time as well. But a good addition, particularly for a science based picture book.