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Friendship Storytime

This week, our letter was F for Friends!

Although I tend to think of early math and literacy skills when I think about school readiness, social skills are important, too. School is much easier and more fun with friends, after all. In this session, we talked about what it means to be a good friend.

We read:

Will You Be My Friend? by Nancy Tafuri

Bunny and Bird live in the same tree. Bunny wants to be friends, but Bird is painfully shy. When a terrible storm destroys Bird’s home, though, Bunny gives her shelter and later gets his other buddies to help her rebuild her nest. The story is a wee bit treacly, but the soft, beautiful illustrations are crowd pleasers. Plus, the story gives plenty of natural openings for discussion of sharing and helping friends out. I also liked having the chance to point out that sometimes when people don’t want to talk to us or play with us, they aren’t being mean. They’re just shy!

Concept: Sharing.

Bully by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

A wonderful book about a tough topic. Seeger manages to work some pun-based humor into this story of a bull who becomes a bully. I just can’t fully explain the simplicity and perfection of this book. During a short prologue spread, we see our bully bull suffer a put down from a bigger bull. When a handful of smaller animals invite him to play, he responds by calling each one a mean name. He calls the chicken “chicken.” He calls the turtle “slow poke.” As he insults them, he gets bigger and bigger until all that fits on the page is a single giant hoof! But when the goat stands up and calls him a bully, the bull deflates like a balloon, back to normal size. After he apologizes, the other animals forgive him and agree to let him play, but the ending spread is quiet and simple, not overly jubilant. This book absolutely nails bullying: the fact that abusers often start out as the abused, the power a bully feels and the intimidating aspect he or she takes on in the eyes of the victims, and the deflation and misery when the bully’s power is taken away. You can have great conversations about bullying with this book, and it really makes the concepts easy for children to grasp without being scary or threatening. Love, love, love this book.

Concepts: Bullying and coping with bullying.

Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman

After Bully, this humorous story about a boy and his friend the robot tickled our funny bones. Boy and Bot become friends, but when Bot’s power switch gets bumped and he shuts down, Boy does everything in his power to help his friend, including feeding him applesauce. When Boy is asleep and Bot gets rebooted, he in turn does everything in his power to help Boy through what he thinks is a malfunction, including oiling him and grabbing a spare battery. Luckily, Bot’s inventor puts a stop to the madness before we find out where Bot thought he was going to put that battery. Visions of misguided open heart surgery spring to mind…

Concept: Differences don’t hinder friendships.

Flannelboard: The Rainbow Fish, based on the book by Marcus Pfister

Yes, it’s a beautiful story of sharing and caring and letting go of one’s pride, but The Rainbow Fish is also on the longish side, and I would not exactly call the text inspired. Let’s be honest. We all know the main draw is those shiny holographic scales in the illustrations. They call out to what I swear is a little tiny bit of DNA humans share with magpies. I decided to forgo the book in favor of flannel and felt.

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The top image shows the full cast at the beginning of the story. The fish were made using our Accucut machine and dressed up with fabric paint. Rainbow Fish’s shiny scales are adhesive-backed foam stuck to adhesive-backed Velcro and trimmed into scale shapes. Because of the Velcro, the scales easily detach and stick to the other fish, as shown in the lower image. I’m extremely proud of myself for thinking of this, although I’m sure I could have gotten the same idea online. The octopus comes from our store of puppets.

I retold the story, highlighting the main message that when we share and make others feel good, it makes us feel good, too.

Action Songs:

If You’re Friendly and You Know It

If you’re friendly and you know it, clap your hands!
If you’re friendly and you know it, clap your hands!
If you’re friendly and you know it, then your face will always show it,
If you’re friendly and you know it, clap your hands!

Wave hello…give a hug…shout HELLO!…do it all

Let’s Be Friends (Tune: London Bridge)
Let’s be friends with one another
One another, one another
Let’s be friends with one another
Let’s be friends today
(You can sing with a friend, you can shout with a friend, you can hum with a friend, you can jump with a friend, you can clap with a friend, you can hop with a friend)

Source: Step by Step CC

Craft: Rainbow Fish

A volunteer cut scales out of multicolored foil origami paper, and I ran a few construction paper fish using the Accucut machine. Everyone got a fish, some glue, crayons, and a bunch of shiny scales. Magpies, thou art loosed!

How It Went:

Oh my gosh. Okay, today’s storytime was awesome. I had 12 storytimers and everyone stayed engaged the entire time. I don’t know if it was the topic or just some vibe, but they sat in a perfect semicircle and regarded me so intently, I thought, “This must be what it feels like to lead a cult.” At one point, a baby sibling was screaming during The Rainbow Fish and a preschool storytimer turned around, glared at the baby, and said, “STOP.” Yikes. All right, maybe the session was awesome, but that particular moment was slightly unnerving. Anyway, we had great conversations about what we do with friends, how we know someone is our friend, what a bully is, and how to deal with bullies. We all laughed over Boy and Bot’s struggles to understand how to help each other. My favorite part was when I said, “Does a robot eat applesauce?!” and one girl (four years old) said, “No, he eats energy! Like from a battery!” We hadn’t even gotten to the part about the battery. She got that off the top of her head. We had a great, energetic time.

Yesterday was a bit different. The session was still good, but it was small and mostly full of younger kids. I had toddlers hungering after my flannel fish. My friend who lives around the corner brought her two girls, which made me so happy because they’ve been sick and are better now. They are 2 and 4 years old. Before we read Bully, I asked if anyone could tell me what a bully is. The 4 year old said, “Kids who are mean.” The 2-almost-3-year-old, whose voice naturally projects like that of a Broadway star, said, “They’re punk asses!” Oh my. I just kept right on rolling and all was well, but storytime definitely landed a PG-13 rating. On the other hand, she was correct in her assessment.

Overheard after storytime today: “Mommy? *pause* Dinosaurs pooped. *longer pause* Right?”

Next week: Prepositions!


2 responses »

  1. Jacki, I really REALLY enjoy your posts and find them to be most useful for my storytime gigs as well! I love your comments in the “how it went” section. Thank you for sharing your time and expertise. You and your sense of humor (with kid patrons, how could it be any other way?) are a breath of fresh air! Thank you!

    • Thanks, Carole! I’m so glad to hear that someone finds my posts useful. My storytimers are definitely the most interesting, exciting, and funny people in my life. What would we do without our littlest patrons?


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