The Sure-Fire Storytime Hits
Someone asked me the other day what was on my list of surefire storytime picture book hits. I once made a rather nice Listmania list on Amazon that summarized them adequately. And since Amazon has never paid me, and does not care to know that I exist (though they are perfectly content to censor my musing on whether or not Lyle the Crocodile is gay, growl grumble grumble growl), I shall reprint the list here and you will all have a list to turn to if seventy 2nd graders walk through your library door demanding to be amused in some fashion.
Bark, George by Jules Feiffer
One of those rare books where little kids "get" the twist of an ending. This is the first book I turn to, regardless of the age of my audience. I once read it to 50 high schoolers (who were taking a class in children's books but STILL) and they adored it. How can you not?
Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric A. Kimmel
The number two book I turn to. I LOVE this story. Now I don't know why I should think that a book in which the hero keeps knocking his friends unconscious is funny. I just do.
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Interactive in the best sense. Get the kids to shout "NO!!!" when the pigeon attempts to wheedle a bus driving pass from them. Then have them draw him. Anybody, I am happy to say, can draw a pigeon without difficulty.
Duck On A Bike by David Shannon
The rare book where you make the animal sounds and feel smart while doing so. Another go-to book. Of course, if you pair it with "Bark, George" you might as well resign yourself to an all-animal sound storytime.
Abiyoyo by Pete Seeger
Admittedly this one works best if you can wield a ukelele. But even without, it's a hoot and a holler.
Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London
Any book that utters the phrases "zoop", "zup", and "zap" has my instant love. That and the book wins kids over with its use of the word "underwear" (or lack thereof).
Swamp Angel by Anne Isaacs
Read this one with a thick backwoods accent that will truly bring to life such lines as, "Varmint, I'm much obliged for that pelt you're carryin".
Knuffle Bunny : A Cautionary Tale by Mo Willems
Another offering from the multi-talented Mo Willems. Make sure you encourage the kids to "go boneless" when Trixie does.
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
A deeply satisfying read. Some adore that it talks about workers' rights. Others just like saying "moo" at the right moments. Something for everyone in this puppy.
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
This may seem an odd choice at first, but bear with me. Kids love comparing the life-size cut-outs in this book to their own tiny hands. A great interactive book for the older set.
Bea and Mr. Jones by Amy Schwartz
Never heard of it? You should. This ranks right up there with the all-time great stories for kids. Fun, funny, and with an ending you wouldn't necessarily expect. And the author's married to Leonard S. Marcus. Fun fact.
Dusty Locks and the Three Bears by Susan Lowell
You may go hoarse doing all the different voices in this book, but your overly-engrossed audience will thank you for it later.
My Lucky Day by Keiko Kasza
So popular with the kids that they actually start laughing in anticipation long before I get to the funny parts. A great twist ending. My favorite Kasza, though I'll take a lot of heat for saying so.
Old Black Fly by Jim Aylesworth
Almost forgot this one. Have the kids sing the "shoo fly" parts and when the fly gets smashed, close the book with a vicious SNAP. Works like a charm.
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke
Every storytelling list requires at least one girls-kick-ass title. It just so happens that this one is not only readable but fun and funny as well.
Old Cricket by Lisa Wheeler
This title's got everything! Drop dead gorgeous pictures, a text that's zippy and slick, fun voices, and lots of words like "crick", "crack", and "creak".
Mabela the Clever by Margaret Read MacDonald
Get your throat in tune and invite the kids to sing along as mouse after foolish mouse disappears into the paws of a particularly wily kitty. I rather wish they got eaten, but I'm twisted that way.
Don't Make Me Laugh by James Stevenson
Want to get a kid interested in a book? Tell the child NOT to do something. Mr. Frimdimpny learns to his cost that telling kids NOT to smile may lead to serious consequences. A good interactive title.
Hattie and the Fox by Mem Fox
Let me get this straight... you've never even heard of it? Shame on you! Shame! Go and read this book and then never admit to ANYONE that you didn't know it existed. I'll keep your secret safe.
Oh! by Josse Goffin
My colleague recently used this with a class of first graders and they adored it. You open the book, look at the picture, then open the double-page spread while saying, "ohhhh". Trust me on this. They can't get enough of it.