Stories With Ms. Jenna

Storytimes, Programs, Booklists, and More!

“Aiken Drum” Flannel

For my first Fall Family Storytime, my theme is going to be Names (I will have a post detailing the entire storytime after the fact). My flannel for this storytime goes along with a unique version of the song “Aiken Drum” from the Wiggleworms Love You CD. Below are the flannel pieces, the face, and the lyrics. I can’t wait to use it!



Aiken Drum
Wiggleworms Love You

There was a man lived in the moon
In the moon, lived in the moon
Was a man lived in the moon
His name was Aiken Drum

He played upon his maraca, maraca, maraca
He played upon his maraca
His name was Aiken Drum

His head was made of a frying pan…
He played upon his tambourine…
His eyes were made of birthday cake…
He played upon the jingle bells…
His nose was made of a piece of cheese…
He played upon his rhythm sticks…
His mouth was made of a banana split…
He played upon his instruments…


On Being a Newbie Librarian

This month is flying by. I realized I haven’t posted in nearly two weeks, and although I’ve been busier than ever at work, I don’t have anything to show for it (yet). Our Summer Reading Program recently came to an end, and now I am an in full fall-planning mode. I’m preparing for my fall evening family storytimes and a 2nd/3rd grade book club. I’m in the progress of creating a juvenile graphic novel section, and I’m always working on ordering and withdrawing for my various juvenile collections (Audiobooks, Playaways, Music CD’s, DVD’s and Blu-Rays).

I’ve been a librarian for over two months, but it seems like I just started yesterday! I am still working on finding my place and discovering what unique ideas I can contribute. Everyday, I am learning something new. Here are a few important tips I’ve learned so far:

Making mistakes is how you learn. I’ve always been terrified of making mistakes. I’m a perfectionist, and I feel really uncomfortable when I don’t know how to do something/ discover I did something wrong… even if it’s the tiniest, most inconsequential thing. Luckily, I work with wonderful people who are understanding and helpful. I just need to keep reminding myself that a little mistake is not the end of the world. It’s how I learn to be better.

Share your passions and ideas. As a new librarian, sometimes I struggle to find that balance between learning the ropes about how everything is done here and following in those footsteps as opposed to branching out with my own ideas. I want to bring something new to the table to prove that I am valuable, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or come in too strong trying to change too much at once. I found the best way for me to do this was just by talking to my boss and co-workers about what I am most passionate about. Then, we can work together and discuss ideas and possible projects. This is how I ended up being put in charge of creating the juvenile graphic novel section. I shared with my co-workers my love for comics, and found out they’ve been wanting a GN section for a while but everyone’s always been busy with other projects. I jumped in and said that is something I would love to do, and now that project is well underway!

Get to know your co-workers. No, you don’t have to be best friends with everyone you work with, but working together is a much more enjoyable experience when you can talk about shared interests and know who to defer to about different topics. I was a little intimidated when I started working because the rest of my department is a pretty close-knit group  of awesome ladies. I wanted to be valued for my work ethic as well as liked for my personality. I felt young and inexperienced and extremely shy. However, I really didn’t have to worry. My co-workers are all incredibly kind. I am so grateful that my first job as a librarian is alongside these wonderful women.

Have a non-work related hobby. Okay, I’ll admit, most of my free time outside of work is spent reading children’s and teen books which I’d say is very work-related. I put so much pressure on myself to know everything about children’s lit and programs and early literacy and development… However, I’m learning that sometimes I need to take a moment and step away from that whole world. I’m enjoying improving my cooking skills and am hoping to take French classes again soon. Just gotta tell myself it’s okay if I don’t read every notable children’s book that is out there.

Being a newbie librarian, I still have so much to learn. I’ve really enjoyed the experience so far though and look forward to honing my skills and becoming more involved and connected.


Kids’ Audiobooks

Not too long ago, I posted about the “Benefits of Comics” bookmark I made for caregivers. Now, I made a similar one about kids’ audiobooks. On the front side of the bookmark is a list of benefits of audiobooks, and on the back is a recommended booklist. I have them in a little stand in the middle of the audiobooks shelves for anyone to take.


  • Use sound effects, music, and multiple voices to make books come alive!
  • Provide a model of fluent reading.
  • Increase listening skills.
  • Help children develop a sense of narrative structure.
  • Encourage children to think critically, use imagination, and make connections.
  • Increase vocabulary.
  • Inspire children to read aloud with inflection and intonation.
  • Are a great way to introduce children to books above their reading level.

Recommended Listening

Grades K-2

Lobel, Arnold. Frog and Toad Audio Collection. Read by the author.
Milne, A.A. Winnie-the-Pooh. Read by Jim Broadbent.
Osborne, Mary Pope. Magic Treehouse Collection: Books 1-8. Read by the author.
Pennypacker, Sara. Clementine. Read by Jessica Almassy.
Steig, William. The One and Only Shrek: Plus 5 Other Stories. Read by Meryl Streep and Stanley Tucci.

Grades 3-5

Carroll, Lewis. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Read by Jim Dale.
Clements, Andrew. No Talking. Read by Keith Nobbs.
Funke, Cornelia. Ghost Knight. Read by Elliot Hill.
Lin, Grace. Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. Read by Janet Song.
Nelson, Kadir. We Are the Ship. Read by Dion Graham.
Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Read by Jim Dale.
White, E.B. Charlotte’s Web. Read by the author.

Grades 6-8

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. Read by Kate Reading.
Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. Read by the author.
Levine, Kristen. The Lions of Little Rock. Read by Julia Whelan.
Palacio, R.J. Wonder. Read by Diana Steele, Nick Podehl, and Kate Rudd.
Reedy, Trent. Words in the Dust. Read by Ariana Delawari.
Tolkien, J.R.R. The Hobbit. Read by Rob Inglis.


The Literacy Benefits of Listening.” Scholastic.
Olivera, Monica. “Using audiobooks to boost your child’s literacy.” NBC Latino.
Johnson, Denise. “Benefits of Audiobooks for All Readers.” Reading rockets.
Hannegan, Lizette & Grover, Sharon. Listening to Learn: Audiobooks Supporting Literacy.


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The Water Castle


The Water Castle by Megan Frazer Blakemore
Published January 2013 by Walker Childrens

I have a new favorite middle-grade novel of 2013 (or at least a tie for favorite… I really loved Holly Black’s Doll Bones as well). The Water Castle is a brilliant novel that combines science and fantasy, interweaves past and present, and showcases unique family dynamics and friendships. It is reminiscent of timeless classics. I believe this is a strong contender for Newbery 2014.

The Appledore-Smith family relocates to Crystal Springs, Maine after the father has a stroke and is no longer talking and barely moving. The three siblings and their parents move into a grand house called the Water Castle; it’s a house that has been in their family for generations. They quickly discover the house holds many mysteries and is filled with secret rooms and passageways. At school, middle-child Ephraim meets Mallory and Will and discovers that their families have had ties for generations: Mallory’s ancestors were always the caretakers of the Water Castle, and Will’s family has always been the enemy of the Appledore family. What has really brought these families together in the past and the present is the search for the Fountain of Youth which will cure all illnesses and lead to immortality. The story jumps back and forth between the present day and the early 1900s to show the explorations of the Appledore, Darling, and Wylie families then and now.

Many people are drawing comparisons between The Water Castle and Tuck Everlasting because the Fountain of Youth element. Tuck Everlasting is even mentioned in one of the school scenes. However, as I was reading this book, I was reminded more of Holes. Both books focus on past and present and have a strong link connecting the different times. Also, both have this slightly-fantastical mystery that has been part of the family for generations, and must now be solved by the present protagonists. Just being able to draw these comparisons shows the timeless nature of The Water Castle and speaks to its merit.

There are many powerful elements of this book that make it so strong and noteworthy. For example, the book addresses the issues of different types of prejudice. There are issues of race, gender, financial status, and intellect. These provide many outlets for great discussion. The story as a whole is about exploration and growing up, but by bringing in prejudice, rivalry, and family issues, a depth is added to the book. There is a lot to relate to in this story, and a lot to talk about.

I’ve mentioned that this book feels timeless. Part of this is because of the plot, but it’s also largely due to the setting. A mysterious tale in a small town where something is not quite normal and inside this huge old house with a name and history… it all just feels very classic. Add to that Blakemore’s beautiful, descriptive, intelligent writing and even the little black and white illustrations at the start of each chapter. I think this story has the potential to stick around, and I hope that it does.

One last thing that makes this book truly stand out in my opinion is that the author relies on the reader’s intelligence to piece parts of the story together. Not everything is explained in the end, but there are many clues throughout that enable the reader to infer connections and answers.

The Water Castle is a brilliant story, and I highly recommend it. I hope it receives the recognition it deserves.

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Must-Reads For Kids 9-14

Yesterday, NPR posted The Ultimate Backseat Bookshelf: 100 Must-Reads For Kids 9-14. Earlier this summer, they sought out nominations. Then, they had an expert panel made up of authors, a librarian, and a bookseller narrow it down to the top 100 titles.

As a children’s librarian, I’m ashamed to say I’ve only read about half of the titles. (I fared much better on last year’s 100 Best-Ever Teen Novels). I couldn’t come up with an exact number because there are a lot of classics, and I just don’t remember which ones I all read when I was a kid. Also, there are a handful of series, many of which I’ve read some of the books but not all of them.

I was glad to see a mix of timeless classics and new books; there’s everything from To Kill a Mockingbird to The One and Only Ivan. I also like the variety of genres. The list is separated into categories such as “American Stories” “Family Life” “Fantasy Worlds” and “Mysteries and Thrillers” among others. One of my favorite categories is “Graphic Novels” which includes some of my all time favorites: The Bone Series, The Arrival, and American Born Chinese.

My absolute favorite children’s book made the cut: Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. However, some of my other favorites were not on the list. Here are a few titles I would add:

No titleneverendingprincess


Smile by Raina Telgemeier. This graphic novel is one of the best portrayals of middle school, and I love Telegemeier’s cartoon-y art. Even my mom, who claims not to like comics/ graphic novels, enjoyed this book after I insisted she read it.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende. I remember when I first read this in upper elementary school, it was the longest book I had ever read, but I devoured it. It was also the first chapter book I remember choosing to re-read just a couple years later (and I have never been much of a re-reader). This is the ultimate fantasy novel in my eyes.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. Miri is the toughest and coolest girl in middle-grade literature. Superb story.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I was glad to see Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book on the list, but it’s Coraline that has always been the favorite for me. I read this book in middle school just after it’s release, and I was blown away. It’s a book that has always stuck with me.

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Early Literacy Kits: Rhythm and Rhymes

At my library, we have an area called the Preschool Pavilion. It’s a gorgeous, spacious area at the end of the library next to floor to ceiling windows. In this area we have puzzles and puppets and ipads and toy cars… and now we also have early literacy kits. Each kit is just a simple plastic box filled with some toys and a paper explaining how to use these items to encourage literacy. One kit that I created is called the “Rhythm and Rhymes” kit. Inside, there are laminated sheets hooked together with a loose-leaf ring. Each sheet has  a rebus rhyme on it [see below- click to view larger]. Also in the box are two eggshakers, and an explanation sheet stating:

Ideas for How to Play Together:

1. Read the rhymes with your child. Point to the words and pictures while reciting and have your child help say the words as able.

2. Have your child shake the eggshakers to each syllable to practice rhythm. For example, hey did-dle did-dle the cat and the fid-dle.

3. Ask your child to help you find the words that rhyme. For example, in “Hey Diddle Diddle” you can ask your child to point to the picture of the word that rhymes with ‘moon’.

I’m pretty happy with how my first kit turned out, although we have had an issue with the egg shakers not being placed back in the box! We are going to rotate the kits every month or so (still haven’t completely decided). Next up, I’m creating a grocery kit, and I’ll be sure to post about it when it’s finished!