Kiddosphere: Happy Birthday, America
I love celebrating holidays and seasons with my toddler story time. I break out the Santa and winter picture books for December and rabbits and chickens stories for Easter, but some holidays require some “outside the box” thinking for my toddlers. Parents and caregivers love it when we acknowledge our other traditional holidays such as Thanksgiving and Fourth of July, but picture books about these holidays tend to be suitable for older children (preschool and up). Toddlers definitely know about Santa, and generally have some understanding of Halloween and Easter (secular and sacred meanings), but for Thanksgiving, I tend to read stories about families.
I generally don’t do a specific story time for Independence Day for my toddlers, until I decided to do a birthday themed story time! (We had a Happy Birthday program earlier in the week for older children, complete with stories and birthday-themed crafts and games). Toddlers definitely know about birthdays, so this was my way of celebrating the holiday in a way that they could understand. It was a great success! Toddlers loved the stories, and the parents/caregivers enjoyed the fact that we noted the upcoming holiday. And if you’re in need of a birthday gift, consider these terrific books for a birthday boy or girl:
Bulldozer’s Big Day features a bulldozer who’s convinced that all the other construction vehicles have forgotten his special day. It is a busy work day, after all, and everyone has lots to do. Until the final whistle blows, and everyone is ready to PARTY! Give this to a construction-obsessed toddler; this one was a huge hit!
I read Clever Jack Takes the Cake to the children and parents/caregivers who attended our Happy Birthday program. As it’s a bit longer than the others in this post, I decided (after much deliberation) to not read it to my toddler group. Jack wants to give the princess a present for her birthday, but all he can afford is a cake. No problem–except he runs into disaster after disaster after disaster in his journey (every fairy tale involves a quest!). All he can offer the princess is the wild tale of his attempt to honor her birthday….and receives a giant surprise in return! Not only is this a fun story that even the slightly older kids than the intended audience liked (without showing it too much), it also has a lovely underlying message about the joy of storytelling (without being too obvious).
I use Flower Garden for many story time themes: spring, gardening, Mother’s Day, and now for my birthday story time! This simple story about a young girl and her father creating a lovely present for a special someone’s birthday is gorgeously illustrated. Urban gardeners/container gardeners will especially appreciate this!
Happy Birthday, Lulu celebrates the special touches of birthdays: receiving cards in the mail, getting ready for a party, and rejoicing with friends (and saying thank you when you receive presents!) Lulu’s family is biracial (Caucasian mom, African-American dad), which adds a sweet touch of diversity.
Happy birthday, USA!
Looking for more program highlights and staff suggestions for children and young adult readers? Make Kiddosphere your source for all the latest on what to read and what to do for kids!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library