Second Grade Visits

I don’t usually confess this publicly, but back when I had my first full-time library job, I was an adult services librarian. (I know, I know, but adults aren’t SO bad once you get used to them. They’re a lot like kids, just bigger.) One day a week, though, I got to work downstairs in the children’s room while one of the children’s librarians went upstairs to work reference. The day this happened was Tuesday, and on Tuesdays at this particular library, a teeny tiny private Christian school would walk their second graders over to use the public library, since their school didn’t have one (!!!). After several weeks of noticing them show up and helping them find materials, I asked if the teacher would like me to read them a story every week, and the teacher said yes.

Jason says I have magic with second graders, and this is why. They’re the first age group of kids I started to learn how to work with–one book at a time, the same kids each week. They taught me a lot about how second graders think, and, honestly, a lot of us could learn a thing or two from the average second grader.

So, anyway, I’ve had classes of second graders visiting the library over the last couple days, and I’ve been enjoying having them around. This year, I decided to mostly booktalk. I started out asking who had visited the library before and talking about some of the types of things one can borrow from the library, and then I launched into the books. Here are some of the more successful books I shared:

String Games from Around the World by Anne Akers Johnson
String figures are an obsession of mine, and so I show the book, but what I *really* show are some of the figures you can learn from this book and others in our collection (including one where it looks like I’m pulling the string through my neck–I will often insist that all the children say “ooooo” after I do that one). If you want to get the attention of a room of second graders (or third or fourth graders), learn some of these. It’s the kind of thing that makes them decide to take you seriously.

Life-Size Zoo by Teruyuki Komiya
Can I just say how much I enjoy booktalking nonfiction like this? Hold up the book, show a few pictures, and it’s sold. The concept and oversized format are just perfect.

Stinky by Eleanor Davis
This is my favorite in the TOON comic book series. I told the kids in the first group about it, and then they asked me if I would read the whole to them. In my head, I was kind of freaking out because I had never read it aloud before and was completely unprepared to do so, and, really, how does one read a relatively small comic book to a group? Then I thought, “They asked. Try.” And it worked out surprisingly well.

Knock, Knock!
I’ve been using this one with school groups for years, and it does not get less brilliant.

I also showed the kids Playaways, which they and the adults in the room were very interested in. I wasn’t sure how these would catch on when we started buying them a couple years ago, but they circ very well here.

6 thoughts on “Second Grade Visits

  1. Once upon a time, all 2nd graders in my district were required to come to the library. For a couple of years it felt like all we did were second grade visits including tours and stories. It is still one of my favorite things to do.

  2. I wish I had more of those repetitive opportunities. They can be kind of grueling, but they also force me to hone what I’m doing and give me the opportunity to really become comfortable with material. That’s especially helpful when I’m trying to, say, really commit a new story to memory. You can only tell your cats the same story so many times; sometimes you need a fresh audience.

  3. Adrienne, THANK YOU. I am going to get Knock, Knock! from the library for my last second-grade read-aloud of the year. It sounds perfect. I will really miss my kiddos over the summer, but may read to a summer-school group at another elementary school.

  4. I think you’ll all enjoy the book!

    I would really miss reading aloud to kids if I didn’t get to do it on a regular basis. It’s just very life-affirming.

  5. Score! Thank you, Adrienne, for recommending Knock, Knock! Reading it was a perfect way to end the year with the second graders. I always give the kiddos a notepad and a pen so that they can write their own stories, and that always consumes a bit more time than usual. Knock, Knock! was a fun, quick read.

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