Pets storytime is sometimes hard because I feel like we always focus on the dogs and the cats, being the most popular. There’s just not really great books on lizards and gerbils, etc… Hotrod Hamster sometimes makes it on the list, I just don’t think it’s as great as a read aloud as these classics.

Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin HenkesI read Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes because we talk about the Caldecott award and what it’s for. Sometimes the kids wonder why a book that is in black and white won the award. They expect pictures with color to be “better.” But they like how the moon is portrayed different ways and can see the perspective of the cat and how she might think it’s a bowl of milk. I have the kids guess what kitten might do next to try and get the bowl, and what might happen. We inference how kitten feels by looking at her facial expressions and thinking about what is happening in the text. And you can tell they all feel great relief at the end when kitten finally gets a bowl of milk, even if it’s not the moon. They say, she’s so tired from searching for the milk she has to take a nap! I like how they read so much into the simple text and pictures and I think that’s why it really won a Caldecott. And it’s always nice to have a Caldecott that actually has kid appeal.

The action song, “Animal Action,” we do is on a CD. I used to play this all the time when I taught gymnastics for the tiny tots warm up. Basically the song tells you which animal to act out and the kids go in a circle acting like animals. And what child doesn’t love that. Meanwhile, the parents are laughing at how ridiculous we are and the kids get their sillies out.

Bark George by Jules FeifferBark George by Jules Feiffer was introduced to me by colleagues at my current library. They even have the puppet which makes it even more fun. I barely use the book anymore. I just prop it up and use the puppet to tell the story. Basically, this puppy isn’t barking but making other animal noises. When they take George the puppy to the vet, the vet pulls out all these animals he ate, which was why he was making those noises. So with the puppet, there are little animal puppets velcroed to his stomach and you reach through his mouth to pull them out. The kids think it’s hilarious. Some of them even get at the end when George says “hello” instead of bark and they make a bug eyed face and refuse to pet him (After the book I walk around and let everyone pet George because they really want to). Some of the kids are afraid George will bite them even though they know it’s my hand. Strange kids.

Fingerplay: Here is a Bunny

Here is a bunny  (Hold up 2 fingers on right hand)

With ears so funny (Wiggle fingers)

Here is her hole in the ground  (form circle with left hand)

When a noise she hears (cup ear)

She pricks up her ears (straighten out fingers)

And jumps in her hole in the ground (right hand into left)

 

Flannel: Dog’s Colorful Day by Emma Dodd. I read the book to go with this one and the kids put up colored spots on the dog. It’s not the best book but it’s a very popular flannel because it’s easy and predictable for the kids and they are already experts at colors. The parents seem to get a little bothered when the child doesn’t put the spot on the corresponding place from the book that the dog got it on (like pink ice cream on his paw or something), but I don’t really care. So it’s a very simple kind of boring book, but with the cool idea of a rainbow colored dog because of how mesy he gets. I think it’s amusing when the dog takes a bath and still has his black spot and some of the kids don’t get that that one is permanent. It’s a fun developmental marker wouldn’t you say?

I Spy Pets by Edward GibbsI Spy Pets by Edward Gibbs is also a super easy book, but the illustrations are awesome (my favorite being Gibbs’s farm version which is gorgeous). One side says I spy and gives a clue as to what pet and you can see a little cut-out circle of a patch of that animal’s body. The kids love shouting out guesses (once again the kindergarteners think this is a competition because they’re crazy this year). And this also saves my butt by discussing more pets than dogs or cats.

It would be fun to have the kids bring in a stuffed animal “pet” to storytime, but they’d probably end up playing with it and making it bark (or whatever noise it makes) during the books, so that might not work out. Has anyone tried this before?