My Penguin Osbert StoryTime

I love that my library had a My Penguin Osbert StoryTime today.  Story time is such a crucial part of a child’s life.  It is so important that we read to our kids, and by incorporating story time each day, we create a positive environment for our children. Story time is great because it shows children that reading is fun and really engages them in the books being read.  Story time goes beyond simply reading books.  It makes reading an exciting adventure for children.

Howie and Skip

Today, I was able to be the guest reader at my local library’s story time.  Howie and Skip tagged along to sing their favorite song and hear the story. (They mostly sat in the chair and looked cute.) I always treasure the opportunity to share my love of books with kids and reading to them is so much fun.  I’d love to travel around and host Howie & Skip StoryTime sessions, but for now we’ve created the Howie and Skip StoryTime videos.  That way your child can enjoy a personal StoryTime in the comfort of their home.

Anyway,  I thought I’d share my experience with you in hopes that it encourages you to begin you own story time.  You can read what we did and do the same, or just use this as inspiration.

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1. Start With A Song

Counting Book

One of the best ways to begin your story time is with a few simple songs.  We always start by playing a few interactive songs.  This allows the children to get out their energy so that when it’s time to read they will sit quietly.  We played “The Monkey & Alligator Song,” “The Bean Bag Song,” and the MonkiSee “StoryTime Theme Song.”  The kids always love to clap their hands, shake their maracas, and follow along with the hand motions.

2. Read A Story

StoryTime Reading

Today our story time was themed around penguins.  Since we were reading “My Penguin Osbert,” we had a big penguin stuffed animal at the front of the room for the kids to see.  Before I began reading, we handed out raffle tickets to all the children.  They each placed their tickets into a container and were told that at the end of the story we were going to raffle off the penguin.  Whoever had their ticket chosen would win the stuffed animal.

“My Penguin Osbert” is a cute story about a little boy who asks Santa for a real penguin for Christmas.  When he gets his penguin Osbert, he’s super excited, but as time goes on he’s not sure he asked for the right present.

*If you’re reading this story at home, you can really make this a fun experience.  While you read the story, let your child sip on hot cocoa and wrap up in warm blankets.  You could go all out and even decorate the room where you are reading – cut out snowflakes, make the room chilly, and create an atmosphere that fits the story.

Penguin Prize

Once I finished reading the story, we raffled the tickets.  Andrea was our winner! She loved her prize. It was so cute to see her dragging her giant penguin around the library. It was as big as some of the kids!

3. Make A Craft

Penguin Craft

A great way to end your story time is by making a fun craft.  We printed out a penguin coloring page for the kids to color.  If you have younger children, you may want to keep the crafts relatively simple.  However, if your child is a bit older, you can have fun helping them create a craft that’s more complex.

Penguin Coloring Page

Here is a cute penguin coloring page for your child to color.

Soda Bottle Penguin

This Soda Bottle Penguin is super cute and simple to make. If your child is older they will love making this craft. You may need to help them with the cutting and gluing, but it’s very easy to make.

Reading to kids is so much fun.  You can really make story time an exciting experience.  I’d love to hear about your story time.  Do you make crafts or snacks?  What are your favorite books to read to your child?  Please comment below and share your ideas with us.  We’d love to hear them!

Best Poetry Books for Children

Finding the best poetry books for children can be difficult at times, and that is why today I’m sharing a list of my very favorite poetry books for children.  As an avid book reader and poetry lover, I have come across quite a few gems throughout my years of reading.  I am not a fan of all poetry books -they have to meet a certain standard for me.  Personally, I don’t care much for free verse or irregular meter.  I appreciate it when authors take the time to create perfect meter and really make their poems flow.  I love reading poems that have great meter from the beginning. You can just sense the rhythm as you read.

If you’ve had trouble finding great poetry books to read to your children, I hope this list will be a great help to you.  I am sharing the 20 Best Poetry Books for Children and I hope you will love them as much as I have.  Enjoy!

1. “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss

Green Eggs and Ham

I had to begin my list of the best poetry books for children with a classic.  “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss has long been one of my very favorite books.  The simple rhyme scheme and playful story is one that has delighted children for years and years.  In this story, Sam I Am is trying to convince a quite disinterested character to try green eggs and ham.  He strongly protests – in rhyme of course – but will Sam I Am make him change his mind?

2. “But Not the Hippopotamus (Boynton on Board)” by Sandra Boynton

But Not the Hippopotamus

I have been reading my children this book since they were just babies.  Sandra Boynton has such a great writing style and her books are perfect for babies and young children.  In this simple book, all the animals are having fun together – but not the hippopotamus.  Throughout the book we see the poor, lonely hippo being excluded from all the fun.  Will she ever join the others?  Find out in the delightfully playful story.

3. “Is Your Mama a Llama?” by Deborah Guarino

Is Your Mama A Llama

Lloyd the llama can’t find his mama.  Where could she be? He asks his friends if their mama is a llama, but all of them say she is not.  Will Lloyd ever find his mother?  I’ve loved this book for as long as I can remember.  If your child enjoys picture books, then this is definitely one of the best poetry books for children.  It is simple, sweet, and easy to read. Find the story here.

4. “Time for Bed” by Mem Fox

Time for Bed

“It’s time for bed little cat, little cat.  So snuggle in tight, that’s right, like that.”

My children have always loved this bedtime story by Mem Fox.  This simple story is perfect to read to your child before bed.  In this lovable picture book, it’s time for the baby animals to go to sleep.  The sweet rhymes of each mama animal are sweet and soothing as you put your own child to bed.

5. “Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose: One Hundred Best-Loved Verses

Mary Engelbreit's Mother Goose

It’s all your favorite nursery rhymes in a whole new way!  Mary Engelbreit’s beautiful illustrations bring these classic rhymes to life.  This enchanting picture book will captivate your children.  Engelbreit’s pictures are bursting with fun color and lovable characters.  We’ve read this book so many times it’s quite worn and falling apart.  You may have read nursery rhymes before, but you’ve never read them like this.


6. “Falling for Rapunzel” by Leah Wilcox

Falling for Rapunzel

All of my children, from five to fifteen, love the princess books by Leah Wilcox.  They are some of the best poetry books for children – especially girls.  Poetry can be so fun, and Leah Wilcox does an amazing job of showing that with her fun books.  With a creative twist, Wilcox tells the classic fairytales in a whole new way.  This is not your average princess story.  Rapunzel is in no need of rescuing and apparently not hoping for true love.  This silly story will have your children laughing together as you read the story of the hard of hearing rapunzel, her cute maid, and the unfortunate prince who turns out to be quite pleased.


7. “Waking Beauty” by Leah Wilcox

Waking Beauty

You’ve heard of “Sleeping Beauty,” but have you ever read “Waking Beauty” by Leah Wilcox?  Having read and loved her book “Falling for Rapunzel,” we began searching for more of her books.  We were all so delighted to find that she had written another silly princess story.  We all know the prince must kiss the princess to wake her from her sleep, but unfortunately… he doesn’t know that.  Will Sleeping Beauty sleep forever, or will the prince finally understand what the fairies are trying to tell him?


8. “Random House Treasury of Best-Loved Children’s Poems” by Patricia Klein

Treasury of Best Loved Children's Poems

I’ve shared a lot of picture books with you, so I wanted to mix in a few traditional poetry books that I love.  While the books I’ve mentioned above have mostly been stories, this is simply a book of poems.  When my children were very young, they received this book as a gift and we still have it to this day.  The jacket is gone, the cover has torn, but this precious book is still held together by some tape.  This truly is one of the best poetry books for children.  The “Treasury of Best-Loved Children’s Poems” is one of my very favorite poetry books for kids.  The rhymes are perfect for young children and the sweet simplicity of this book makes it great for a beginner in poetry.


9. “Now We Are Six (Winnie-the-Pooh)” by A.A. Milne

Now We Are Six

You may know of Winnie the Pooh, but have you ever read the original books by A. A. Milne?  They are phenomenal!  All of my children absolutely LOVE these books. Winnie the Pooh is a great favorite in our house.  We can’t seem to read one of his books without laughing uncontrollably.  The characters are so lovable, and Pooh is especially endearing.  Because of our great fondness for Winnie the Pooh, we decided to read A. A. Milne’s book of poems.  “Now We Are Six.”  Although these poems are not about Winnie the Pooh or his friends from the Hundred Acre Wood, we still enjoyed them immensely.


10. “A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee” by Chris Van Dusen

A Camping Spree With Mr. Magee

This book was recommended to me by a good friend of mine.  It’s a great rhyming picture book about Mr. Magee and his dog Dee and their adventures while camping.  The illustrations are fun for kids and the silly story will definitely delight your children.


11. “Wild About Books” by Judy Sierra

Wild About Books

“In a flash every beast in the zoo was stampeding, to learn all about this new something called reading.”

I happened to pick up this book one day when we were visiting our library.  Being the book-lover that I am, the title caught my attention.  Sure enough, this book is now one of my very favorites.  I  love everything about it.  The illustrations are so cute, and the story is absolutely wonderful.  When I was creating this list of the best poetry books for children, I knew this had to be on there.  When by mistake the librarian, Molly McGrew, drives her bookmobile into the zoo, the animals get wild about books.  This is a must-read for every child.  Not only does the story encourage children to read, but it may help them learn the names of some animals.


12. “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson

A Child's Garden of Verses

Robert Louis Stevenson is one of the classic children’s poets, and so of course I had to include him in the best poetry books for children.  I love that he writes in a way that is relatable to children.  He writes as if he is a child speaking.  His poems are about being tucked into bed, or the little treasures he collected, or the adventures he imagines.  Stevenson’s classic poems are sweet and simple.  My children have always enjoyed them and they are essential in your personal storybook collection.


13. “The Llama Who Had No Pajama: 100 Favorite Poems” by Mary Ann Hoberman

The Llama Who Had No Pajama

I love Mary Ann Hoberman’s books.  “The Llama Who Had No Pajama,” is a collection of her poems about childhood and all things relating to children.  Kids will love reading about “The Birthday Bus,” or “Butterfish Bay” and all the other silly poems in this book.


14. “A House Is a House for Me” by Mary Ann Hoberman

A House Is A House for Me

I loved this book by the very first page.  It is, in my opinion, a poetry classic.  I love the repetitive rhythm of the story and the clever ways she opens a child’s eyes to see that everything has a home.  This beautiful book is the perfect read aloud and a great way to introduce children to poetry.


15. “How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?” by Jane Yolen

How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?

“How does a dinosaur say good night when Papa comes in to turn off the light?”

Mom and Dad say it’s time for bed, but will the dinosaurs listen?  My kids loved reading this story about the different dinosaurs and how they might respond when being put to bed.  Will they pout or slam their tail?  Children and parents will enjoy reading the crazy antics of the eleven dinosaurs in this bedtime story.


16. “Favorite Poems Old and New: Selected For Boys and Girls” by Helen Ferris

Favorite Poems Old and New

If you’re only ever going to buy one poetry book, this would it.  I have read many poetry books throughout my life, but if I could only have one, I would choose this collection.  “Favorite Poems Old and New” offers such a vast selection of poems.  You are sure to find at least on poem to your liking.  There is such a great variety in this collection.  The book includes over 700 poems from poets such as William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and many others.  I believe it is the most comprehensive poetry book for children.  I can’t recommend it highly enough.  If you want to begin introducing your child to poetry, be sure to read this book.


17. “Each Peach Pear Plum (Picture Puffins)” by Allan Ahlberg

Each Peach Pear Plum

In this delightfully engaging book, children play “I Spy” with familiar nursery rhyme characters.  Each page features a little poem encouraging the children to find the character hidden in the picture.  With it’s charming illustrations, and simple text, this book is great for beginning readers.  It’s the perfect book to read aloud with your child during story time.  Children will be exposed to simple rhymes while having fun searching for the hidden characters.


18. “The Christian Mother Goose Big Book” by Marjorie Ainsborough Decker

The Christian Mother Goose Big Book

“Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall; Humpty Dumpty shouted, “Amen! God can put me together again.”

“The Christian Mother Goose” is a wonderful rendition of the typical nursery rhymes.  I absolutely love it.  Instead of reading silly rhymes that really have no meaning, why not read children beautiful poems that point to our Lord?  I love the positive messages woven into each nursery rhyme.  Marjorie Ainsborough Decker did an amazing job at transforming the common nursery rhymes into praiseworthy poems that retain the fun and silliness of the originals, yet go beyond to teach good lessons, and encourage children.


19. “Mary Had a Little Lamp” by Jack Lechner

Mary Had a Little Lamp

It’s amazing how one letter can make all the difference.

I love books that take a different angle to the usual story.  It’s always fun to see how an author can add a creative twist to a common story.  In “Mary Had a Little Lamp,” Jack Lechner does just that.  You may have heard of Mary and her little lamb that would follow her around, but Mary’s lamp is another story altogether.  Children will love this silly storybook and it will definitely have them laughing by the end.


20. “I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus” by Jack Prelutsky

I've Lost My Hippopotamus

The last book I want to share with you, is one of my all-time favorites.  I believe it was sometime last year that I happened to discover the amazing Jack Prelutsky.  My children absolutely LOVE his poems.  You can’t even imagine how silly they are.  Prelutsky is the first Children’s Poet Laureate, so naturally he’s included on the list of best poetry books for children.  “I’ve Lost My Hippopotamus” was the first book we read by him, and we could barely put it down.  My kids would always beg me to read another one.  Children will love the pure silliness of Prelutsky.  His poems are unlike any other I’ve read.  I love that he maintains perfect meter and uses big words that help build vocabulary.  If you want to start a collection of the best poetry books for children, be sure to include this one.  It’s one you’ll be reading again and again.


I hope you enjoyed this list of the best poetry books for children.  These are all my favorites and I pray that they might bless your family as well.  I am always searching for more great books, and I would love to hear what you favorite poetry books are.  Please leave your recommendations in the comments below.  Thanks!

A Whole New Kind of StoryTime for Children

StoryTime for children?  I am really excited to write this post today.  In case you don’t know this about me – I’m a HUGE book lover.

So now that I have come clean with that, it is okay to admit that I love to read picture books.  I am always searching for great picture books that I have not read.  I consider picture books to be great and comforting friends, and I know that my kids feel the same way.  One day at the library my daughter picked up a favorite book (I cannot remember which book it was) and hugged it to herself with a look of pure contentment on her face.  I feel the same way when I encounter my favorite books as well.  Thinking ahead, I wonder what I will do when my kids are too old for picture books.  Maybe they will never outgrow them just as I haven’t.

I have been to a few storytimes at my library, and they are never done the way I would like them to be.  Being such a big book lover I dream of being able to step in and take over.  Well,  I no longer need to dream about being asked to conduct storytime at the library.  We just completed a brand new project called Howie and Skip’s StoryTime.DVDs  If you know these monkeys from MonkiSee then they need no introduction.

Well in the first volume of StoryTime, Howie and Skip hear the story How God Made Everything.  The story is a rhyming retelling of the creation story from Genesis.  I had so much fun writing this story and even more fun sharing it with my two favorite monkey friends.  I got to work with my beautiful and talented daughters to write some really great sing along songs to accompany the story as well.  All in all, this has been a really fun and rewarding project.  I offer you some samples to view below.

I don’t know about you, but I wish I could read to my kids for hours every day.  I really believe in the benefits of reading to my children, but I don’t have the time to read as often as I would like.   That is where Howie and Skip’s StoryTime comes in.  With just the press of a button you and your child can enjoy storytime – anytime.  There are lots of ideas in the works for a many more volumes including more Bible stories, picture book stories, and fables.  Click the video below to see a sample of Howie and Skip’s StoryTime – How God Made Everything.  You can pre-order a copy today for just $9.95.  They will be shipped on or before October 18, 2013.  For more information check out How God Made Everything.