I enjoyed putting last year’s Monsters storytime together so much that I decided to transition our Wild Things storytime kit to a more general Monsters theme. I think the original kit idea came from the ready availability of puppets and other fun stuff to go along with the classic Where the Wild Things Are. However, the other books in the kit are somewhat dated and a little scary. I wanted to make the kit friendlier. It also makes a great Halloween-time theme, because monsters can be a little spooky, but you don’t have to come right out and call it Halloween. I did do a Halloween theme last year, but then I felt terrible about it because some kids had to skip because of religious reasons. I wouldn’t say I’m overly concerned about political correctness, but when I discussed the issue with friends who mostly said, “Pff, that’s ridiculous. Let them skip if they’re going to be babies,” I thought, “Wait a minute!” I don’t do Christmas storytimes because Muslim, atheist, and other non-Christian families come to our programs. If I’m making programs neutral and inclusive for them, I should make programs inclusive for the Christian families, too. I’m sure some families are still strict enough that they’d object to monsters, but at that point, they’re probably going to object to the content of most picture books and I have to draw the line somewhere. Anyway!
Ten Birds Meet a Monster by Cybèle Young
Ten adorable blackbirds with big shiny eyes are just hanging around with some laundry, as birds do, when they see the shadow of a horrible monster! The first bird uses a shirt to make himself look like another monster, but that doesn’t work, so the other birds start to pitch in one by one. Finally, bird number 10, who has the attention span of a gerbil, wanders into the room with the monster and realizes it’s just the shadow of a glove, inspiring some flashlight/shadow monster play with the other birds. The illustrations are black and white and gorgeous all over.
Interactivity factor: Medium. Count the birds!
Big Scary Monster by Thomas Docherty
Big Scary Monster is king of the mountain. He scares all the little meadow creatures who live with him at the mountaintop by yelling “Boo!” But when they learn to hide, he decides to go scare the really small animals down in the valley. After a traumatic lesson on visual perspective involving a giant rabbit, he runs home and learns to be a friend to the little animals on top of the mountain.
Interactivity factor: Low, but cute and funny pictures. Plus, it’s a good way to introduce the concept of “things look small from far away.”
If You’re a Monster and You Know It by Rebecca and Ed Emberly
Not only is this book cute and vibrant, it doubles as a wiggle song. Asking more of it would just be plain greedy.
Interactivity factor: High
The Monster’s Monster by Patrick McDonnell
Funny, sweet, and beautiful, this book tells the story of three grouchy, miserable little monsters who decide to build the baddest monster ever, only to have their creation teach them how much fun it is to be happy instead.
Interactivity factor: Low
Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems
Leonardo is a terrible monster, or rather, he’s terrible at doing monster things. He’s not scary! When he tries to scare Sam, the most scaredy-cat kid in the world, he learns it’s more fun to be a good friend than a bad monster.
Interactivity factor: Low
I used last year’s flannel set, Five Little Monsters, which can be seen in last year’s post.
Monster masks! I had a volunteer cut mask shapes out of craft foam, then put the masks out with glue, pom poms, and wiggle eyes and let the kids go to town.
How It Went
For such scary critters, monsters sure do make hilarious picture book subjects. We all giggled our way through this one. Even a couple of 2-year-olds who don’t generally understand what’s going on seemed to mostly grasp these stories. It’s the perfect kit for the lazy librarian, too, or in my case, for one who’s got weird health stuff happening. I say that because if you use If You’re a Monster and You Know It, you don’t have to find/memorize a wiggle song for this one.
Next up, the Farm kit!