I’ve made a bit of a (small, vague) New Year’s Resolution to read more non-fiction at storytimes this session. I read so many I loved, but these are my favorites which I thought would be fun to read at storytimes. I do storytimes for a wide range of ages, so I tried to include ones for multiple age groups.
Redwoods by Jason Chin (2009)
A boy’s subway journey takes him back millions of years into the fascinating lives of redwood trees. Although the story might be a little long for younger storytimes, I think pages can easily be paraphrased or skipped altogether because each page is so full of interesting information. It would be great for an outdoor-themed storytime either for preschoolers or school aged kids. The soft-textured illustrations really fit the natural theme of the book and the different angles provide neat perspective for kids who may not have ever seen redwood trees in person.
Me…Jane by Patrick McDonnell (2011)
This biography of Jane Goodall is a wonderful introduction to a fascinating scientist. The language and illustrations are so gentle that I think this would be suitable for storytimes as young as 3 years old and possibly even a calm 2 year old group. It would also make for a cuddly bedtime story—with the benefit of being true!
Ben Franklin’s Big Splash: The Mostly True Story of His First Invention by Barb Rosenstock, illus. by S.D. Schindler (2014)
Another fun addition to an outdoor-themed storytime (or inventions, water, etc.), this biography of a young Ben Franklin includes a lot of silly language and imagery. I think it would also be a great early introduction into the scientific method (think of questions, formulate hypothesis, etc.). I especially liked the fun, colorful illustrations, use of alliteration, and use of mixed fonts. Preschoolers will appreciate the silly additions about body odor, while older storytimers will identify with Ben’s passion and curiosity for the world around him.
Amazing Animal Journeys by Chris Packham, illus. by Jason Cockcroft (2016)
I used to work in Outdoor Education and I was always impressed with how early kids learned the idea of migration or “flying south” but they often didn’t know why or even that animals other than birds migrate. This is a beautifully illustrated book presents a lot of this information without being too overwhelming. The scientist in me also loves how specific the author gets with the species of animals. For example, many birds migrate but not all birds migrate south—the pied wagtail simply moves from rural areas to more populated areas. Of course the book goes into more detail about the more interesting migration patterns of blue whales, leatherback turtles, and others. The text is informative and accurate without being too much for an older preschool or younger school-age storytime.
Luna and Me: The True Story of a Girl Who Lived in a Tree to Save a Forest by Jenny Sue Kostecki-Shaw (2015)
This story of the bond between a girl and tree gives equal attention to them as main characters. I love how easily the book introduces interesting language—a menagerie of forest friends, an ancient cathedral of redwoods, and a tapestry of starlight— which makes it an ideal learning experience for storytimers. The illustrations in this book are just as beautiful as the word choice—colorful and natural at the same time. Just like in Redwoods, the perspectives are fun and unique. Although the book would be suitable for preschoolers, the author’s note at the end offers additional information about the fight to save Luna the tree.
Miss Dorothy and Her Bookmobile by Gloria Houston, illus. by Susan Condie Lamb (2011)
I like to do a “Welcome to the Library” themed storytime at the beginning of each year, and I am so glad I found this non-fiction addition. I haven’t used it during storytime yet, but I think it would be interesting for kids to think about how things would be different if they couldn’t make it to the library so easily. It was also a timely discovery because my library just purchased their own “Mobile Library” this past year and we’re already seeing that we reach patrons who previously didn’t come into the library. It would be a fun debate to ask older storytimes if they think a bookmobile or physical library would be better and why.