Toddler Storytime: Animal Heroes

Monty's Magnificent Mane by Gemma O'Neill (Photo source:

Monty’s Magnificent Mane by Gemma O’Neill (Photo Source:

To continue this week’s storytime theme, I read a book about animal heroes to the toddlers and babies (and caregivers). I held on to Monty’s Magnificent Mane by Gemma O’Neill (Candlewick, 2015) after the the family storytime and read it again today. Not all books about heroes resonate with this younger audience, but this one did. I think part of its appeal is the artwork, which is beautiful, colorful and nicely expresses the text of the story about friendship and courage in a very whimsical way. Using mixed media and collage, O’Neill produces a crocodile, for example, just scary enough to create a mood without being the stuff nightmares are made of. This double page spread offers an interesting perspective:

Monty's Magnificent Mane: at the watering hole (Photo source:

Monty’s Magnificent Mane: at the watering hole (Photo Source:

The book’s text also played nicely with the early literacy tip of the week because words like magnificent, mane and meerkat are fabulous words not often included in day to day conversation.

Weekly Early Literacy Tip:
Having a rich vocabulary will help growing readers decode words and to understand what they will read. Reading books helps grow young children’s vocabulary because books often include words we don’t use in everyday conversation. If you come across a word that is new to your child explain it. When talking with your little one, use the real names of things. Avoid replacing unfamiliar words with familiar ones.

Several of the songs and rhymes I chose are familiar and work well with the diverse group I often have. Babies to toddlers can join in. I chose a couple songs about opposites to go along with the large and small opposite represented by the lion and meerkats in today’s story.

Welcome: The More We Get (Read) Together (with ASL)

Action Song: Dance Your Fingers
Dance your fingers up, up high
Dance your fingers down, down low.
Dance your fingers side to side and dance them all around.
Dance them on your shoulders.
Dance them on your head.
Dance them on your tummy,
And put them all to bed!

Action Rhyme: I am Big
I am big, big, big (stretch hands far to sides)
I am small, small, small (crouch down)
I am short, short, short (stay low)
I am tall, tall, tall (reach for the sky)
I am fast, fast, fast (roll hands or march quickly)
I am slow, slow, slow (roll hands or march slowly)
I say yes, yes, yes (nod head)
And sometimes no, no, no (shake head)

After our story (or stories depending on the length and audience attention span), we always pop and play with bubbles. Bubbles is often a little one’s first library word!


Action Song: Going to Kentucky (with shakers)
We’re going to Kentucky.
We’re going to the fair,
to see the senorita with the flowers in her hair.
Oh, shake it, shake it, shake it.
Shake it all you can.
Shake it like a milkshake,
and do the best you can.
Rhumba to the bottom,
and rhumba to the top.
Turn around and turn around until I holler stop!

Closing (Action) Song: If You’re Happy and You Know It (with shakers)
If you’re happy and you know it give a shake.
If you’re happy and you know it give a shake.
If you’re happy and you know it and you really want to show it.
If you’re happy and you know it give a shake.

If you’re happy and you know it give a clap.
(Clap shaker against palm.)

If you’re happy and you know it give a tap.
(Tap shaker on the floor.)

If you’re happy and you know it do all three.
(Shake, shake, clap, clap, tap, tap)


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