I go to the Pre-K once a week to read to all of the classes. They come in two classes at a time, so I have five twenty minute sessions in all.
Since I have never met these kids before, I briefly explained to them who I am and what I do as the children’s librarian for the public library. I asked each group if any of them had ever been to the public library and most of them raised their hands (yay!) Then, I told them that I wanted to tell them something about myself so that they could get to know me. I got out my kitty puppet and told them that I love cats! I showed them this sweet cat puppet (Pound Purries–blast from the past, huh?) and told them about my childhood pet, a cat named Smokey.
Big Cat, Small Cat, written and illustrated by Ami Rubinger. I really like the concept of this book. Each page has two sets of opposites, and the words rhyme so that you can guess the adjective describing the last cat. For example, the first page reads “This cat is big. This cat is small. This cat is short. This cat is…” The illustrations, for the most part, really depict the kind of cat described in the text. My only problem with this otherwise wonderful book is that, toward the end, the scheme sort of breaks down. “This cat is young. This cat reached old age. This cat is on the moon. This cat is in a…” Meh. I think the book would have been stronger if it had just stuck to the basics. The ending was also a little troublesome because it references bedtime, which obviously didn’t apply in our case. All that being said, this book was a lot of fun to read. The participation factor was high and the illustrations were funny, which made it a great icebreaker.
Pete the Cat, written by Eric Litwin and illustrated by James Dean. This is a cat who needs no introduction. All you have to do is hold it up and children lose. their. minds. As a children’s librarian, I have to tell you that I LOVE it when kids shriek with excitement over a BOOK. Warms my heart. Anyway, as you all probably know, Pete loves his white shoes so much that he sings a song about it. He encounters some surprises along the way, but “it’s all good.” Great book, great message. I think everyone should own a copy of this book. Period.
Next we did an extension activity for Pete. I put a flannelized Pete up on the board and told the kids that I wondered what color his shoes would turn if he stepped in other things. Basically, I made a set of flashcards. On one side was a picture of something and the word (oranges, grapes, lemons, grass, bubbles) and the other side had a colored shoe with the name of the color, like this:
Cat Secrets, by Jef Czekaj. I introduced this book by asking the kids what a secret was. Most of them could tell me that it was something you didn’t want other people to know about. In this book, the cats want to make sure that ONLY cats are present before they reveal all their feline secrets (wouldn’t we just like to know why they act so crazy sometimes? What? Just me?) This book is so funny, but I did have some reservations about using it for storytime. It’s sort of challenging to read aloud, since there are three different cats, so you more or less have to use different voices for them. There is also something of a trick ending, which might annoy some people (personally, I think it’s funny). The best thing about it that it has high participation (listeners have to meow, purr, and stretch to prove their cathood) and it definitely gets their attention with lines like “Hey, you! Yes, you! You don’t look much like a cat!” Overall, it was fun to read and well received by the kids.
What Will Fat Cat Sit On? by Jan Thomas. (For some reason, I only had time to read this one with the first group. Still, I love it and want to share it with you as a very good candidate for a cat storytime).