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Author Archive for Morgan Reeves

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

by Morgan Reeves on November 23rd, 2015
Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate Cover Image

A couple of people told me I had to read Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate. Now I have to add my own recommendation, please read this book. This story made a huge impact on me in just a few hours (because that’s all it took to finish this page turner). Ostensibly, a middle grade novel, it brings hard issues front and center in a way that people of all ages can relate to. Poverty and homelessness are not issues often featured in middle grade fiction, but Applegate portrays them masterfully here. A father with a crippling disease too proud to ask for help. A mother underemployed after being laid off. A boy trying to cope. A little sister to be protected from the truth. A true friend. And one imaginary cat named Crenshaw.

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Storytime Recap: So Happy

by Morgan Reeves on November 18th, 2015

As the weather turns colder and grayer, it becomes a bit more difficult to be cheerful and happy. So I thought everyone would enjoy a storytime all about what makes us happiest. As usual, we began our time together with our welcome song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” Then I talked a bit about some things that make me happy, like my dogs and cat, or reading a good book. I asked everyone to think about their happy things as I read our first book 100 Things That Make Me Happy by Amy Schwartz.

Each rhyming pair of happiness possibilities evokes such fun responses from the kids. “Chocolate chips, camping trips…hula hoops, double scoops,” received the most enthusiastic sounds of approval.

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Storytime Recap: Veterans Day

by Morgan Reeves on November 11th, 2015

In honor of Veterans Day, we had a veterans and peace themed storytime. As usual, we began our time together with our welcome song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” Afterwards, I introduced the concept of honoring our veterans for their contribution to keeping the peace by reading excerpts from Veterans Day by Arlene Worsley. I talked about how Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day, honoring the peace agreement after World War I.

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IC Farmer’s Market Harvest Storytime Recap

by Morgan Reeves on October 3rd, 2015

With a chill in the air, it was time for the last Farmer’s Market Storytime. I found a sunny spot on the Chauncey Swan Park lawn to spread my blankets for a cozy place to read. A small but dedicated group joined me as the band started playing in the opposite corner of the park. Some of us were still finishing breakfast buys from the market, so I took a moment to talk about the fall harvest and what it brings to the farmer’s market.

Then we read our first book, All for a Dime by Will Hillenbrand. This story follows three friends as they get ready to sell their wares at Market Day and shows what they get for just a dime.

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Storytime Recap: Banned Books

by Morgan Reeves on September 30th, 2015

Today we visited a topic near and dear to every librarian’s heart: intellectual freedom. It’s banned books week so of course we had to read some banned and challenged books. We started storytime off as usual with our welcome song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” I explained that challenging a book is an attempt by a person or group of people to have materials restricted or removed, while banning is actually removing those items from the collection. One boy summarized the concept as, “they don’t like those books.” I also talked briefly about how it is often parents or other adults challenging books in an attempt to protect children from difficult ideas and information, but that the library believes in intellectual freedom. We believe that only parents have the right and responsibility to restrict access to ideas to only their children and no one else. A bit of serious talk for storytime, but an important subject. I told everyone I would be reading some banned and challenged books and that they could guess the reasons for the challenge or ban after each story.

Then to get us in the mood for some stories, I led the room in a nursery rhyme.

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone;
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

Poor puppy! After another repetition for those new to the rhyme, we moved on to our first story, Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray.

A lot of voices shouted out “because he farts” as the reason behind this challenge, which was pretty on target. This story in which a family learns to appreciate and love their especially flatulent dog was challenged for its use of the words “fart” and “farting” 24 times.

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Storytime Recap: New Books!

by Morgan Reeves on August 26th, 2015


It may be a new season of storytime, but we started out with our old standard song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” We had a lot of new faces today, but everyone caught on to the song quickly. I chose to read only books from our new shelves today, which was a great reminder that while repetition is a great way for kids to learn, they also need to keep hearing new words and concepts to keep expanding their vocabularies.

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Stortime Recap: Farm to Fair

by Morgan Reeves on August 12th, 2015

Welcome back to  Preschool Storytime! Summer is a fun but busy time, so it is was nice to get back to our regular schedule. We jumped right in with our welcome song “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” The consistent use of a welcome song provides structure and behavior cues to children who attend regularly. Today I began by asking if anyone had been to the Johnson County Fair a couple of weeks ago. Then I asked if anyone would be headed to the Iowa State Fair this weekend. We shared what animals we saw at the fair. I told everyone that we would start off by finding out what all of those animals eat in our first book, The Cow Loves Cookies by Karma Wilson. While the idea of a cow eating cookies gets plenty of laughs, I like sharing this book for its rhyming text and building narrative.

Next I brought out felt animals to provide a visual aid for the song “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” with some fair flair at the end.

Old MacDonald had a farm
And on his farm he had a cow
With a moo moo here
And a moo moo there
Here a moo, there a moo
Everywhere a moo moo
Old MacDonald had a farm

Repeat with pig, duck, and sheep.
Last verse

Old MacDonald went to the fair
He took his cow, he took his pig, he took his duck, he took his sheep
With a moo moo here (point to cow)
And an oink oink there (point to pig)
Here a quack, there a quack (point to duck)
Everywhere a baa baa (point to sheep)
Old MacDonald went to the fair

After being such good singers, I told everyone we would read Dooby Dooby Moo by Doreen Cronin. This is a funny story about farm animals who want to sing at the county fair.

At the end of the story, the pigs have almost ruin the show by falling asleep. So we followed sleeping piggies up with hungry piggies, and did a quick fingerplay rhyme.

Three little piggies and one piggy more (hold up 3 then 4 fingers)
Knocked upon the kitchen door (make knocking motion)
The farmer came out (hold hands flat together then open them)
And gave them their lunch (make bowl with hands and move hands forward)
They ate it all
With a munch, munch, munch. (bring thumb and fingers together and motion towards mouth)

I finished up with our last story, I Know a Wee Piggy by Kim Norman, which follows the colorful misadventures of an escaped pig at the fair.

Our after storytime movie was an animation of the book Bink and Gollie : Two for One by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. The story follows two best friends who spend a day at the fair playing carnival games, entering contests and getting their fortunes read. At last, everyone received a goodbye hand stamp of a cow.

Have fun at the fair!

IC Farmer’s Market Gardening Storytime Recap

by Morgan Reeves on July 1st, 2015

This past Saturday, I took an early morning trip to the Iowa City Farmer’s Market to do a special storytime. I had been worried about rain, but the day started off nice and sunny. I sat under the trees in Chauncey Swan Park and spread out some colorful tablecloths for the kids to sit on. After  a nice little crowd took their seats, we sang a welcome song together.

“We Clap and Sing Hello” to the tune of “Farmer in the Dell”

We clap and sing hello,
With our friends at storytime,
We clap and sing hello!
(Repeat with stomp, wave, etc.)

As an appropriate start to storytime, our first book was Farmer’s Market Day by Shanda Trent, which follows a little girl throughout a farmer’s market as she tries to decide what to buy.

I followed this by asking what the kids had gotten today at the farmer’s market. I told them about my delicious breakfast at Griddle Me This (blueberry lemon pancakes!). Conveniently one girl was still eating a muffin she had gotten, which led right into singing “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”

Oh, do you know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Do you know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane?

Oh, yes I know the muffin man,
The muffin man, the muffin man,
Yes, I know the muffin man,
Who lives in Drury Lane.

Next I asked everyone if they knew where the fruits and vegetables they could get at the farmer’s market came from. Everyone knew they came from the garden. Then we read my big book version of Up, Down, and Around by Katherine Ayres to see how these plants grow.

Afterwards, I asked everyone to pretend they were corn and grow up towards the sky. When I asked what is a tasty treat that comes from corn, everyone shouted out “POPCORN! So then we had to pretend we were popcorn by doing an action rhyme.

I’m a piece of popcorn (point to self)
Put me in the pot (make small tossing motion)
Shake me up, shake me up (jump around)
And watch me (freeze)
POP! (big jump with hands spread out and up)

Next we continued thinking about gardening, but this time with flowers instead of food, by reading Lola Plants a Garden by Anna McQuinn.

I was going to go to a rhyme next, but a family needed to leave and really wanted to hear the last book, so I moved right into My Garden by Kevin Henkes. I love this book because it is so imaginative and inspires belief in limitless possibilities.

I had fun sharing ideas with the kids about what would be in their gardens. Lastly we finished up with a fun little action rhyme focused on fine motor skills.

10 fat peas in a pea pod pressed (fingers in a fist pressed together)
1 grew, 2 grew, so did all the rest (very slowly uncurl 1, then 2 then, all fingers)
They grew and they grew, and they did not stop (keep slowly uncurling fingers)
Until one day that pod went POP! (suddenly open hands with fingers out)

Overall it was a fun and successful experiment, so perhaps we will try to do another Farmer’s Market storytime before it’s over.

Storytime Recap: Take a Trip

by Morgan Reeves on May 31st, 2015

As I did storytime on both Wednesday and Saturday this past week, this is a combined recap of both storytimes. With summer vacation just around the corner, both days were all about travel and taking trips. As usual storytime began with our welcome song “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.”  I talked about taking trips and how I take a short trip every day by biking to work. Then I read our first book Bear on a Bike by Stella Blackstone. I asked everyone to join me in reading by responding every time I read “Where are you going bear?” with “Please wait for me!” By running my finger under their response, I encouraged print awareness, or knowing that the words we say correspond to words on the page.

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Storytime Recap: Animals Everywhere

by Morgan Reeves on May 13th, 2015

This was my first storytime back after attending the Kids First conference last week. I was happy to be able to share some of the early literacy information I had learned. In support of phonological awareness, hearing the sounds that make up words, we always start storytime with our welcome song “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” Then I asked if anyone could guess what storytime would be about today. With all of the animal books on the display, the kids were able to answer with no problem. I let parents know that focusing on the beginning sounds of words is another way to support phonological awareness in children. Our first story Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff had plenty of Bs to hear as well as colors to name.

Next I told everyone we would follow bear over the mountain to see what we could see. Because we had a wiggly group today I had everyone do full body movements instead of the finger motions that often accompany the song.

The bear went over the mountain, (marching)
The bear went over the mountain, (marching)
The bear went over the mountain, (marching)
To see what he could see. (hand over eyes and look out)

And all that he could see, (hand over eyes and look out)
And all that he could see, (hand over eyes and look out)

Was the other side of the mountain, (bring hands together above head in triangle)
The other side of the mountain, (bring hands together above head in triangle)
The other side of the mountain, (bring hands together above head in triangle)
Was all that he could see. (hand over eyes and look out)

Then I told everyone we would go on a trip to the other side of the mountain and count animals by reading Over in the Jungle by Marianne Berkes. The rhyming words in this book are another great way to contribute to phonological awareness.

I had the parents and children sing “Hey Diddle Diddle” while I set up a felt game of matching animal halves.

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Then I asked for volunteers to put the animals back together. The kids liked coming up and correctly matching the animal halves, but the also thought it was funny when I tried to match up the heads to the wrong tails. Then we did one of my favorite action rhymes.

Jump like a frog.
Stretch like a cat.
Hop like a bunny.
Flap like a bat.
Wiggle like a worm.
Slither like a snake.
Now be a wet dog,
and shake, shake, shake!

Finally we settled down for one final book. I chose an informational picture book, Born in the Wild by Lita Judge to share with the group. We skipped most of the text heavy pages but had some fun questions and answers about how the kids were like the pictured animals.

Then we finished up storytime with the Animal Crackers rhyme.

Oh, once I ate a lion,
Then a tall giraffe,
But when I ate the elephant
He really made me laugh.
Well you may think I’m silly
But I’ll tell you the truth,
They were animals crackers
And you can eat them too!

I told them all of these animals could be seen at the zoo, which was where our movie took place. We watched the animated storybook version of A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead. Everyone left with an elephant stamp on their hands.