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.
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.