Monday, April 6, 2009

Superhero Storytime

Superhero Day

This story time is the favorite of the neighborhood. We have done it twice, though I try to switch things up, because the children requested it. The beauty of this story time is that the heroes come to story time instead of your regular children. I have had all sorts of heroes arrive, from ones that are created by the children to popular ones like Jedi, Superman, Spiderman, Wonder Woman and the like. Children love to dress up and this gives them an excuse to create costumes on a day besides Halloween.

The stories I use for this neighborhood story time are listed below.
Poem: Listen to the Mustn’ts by Shel Silverstein, found in Where the Sidewalk Ends on page 27
KaPow by George O’Conner
KerSplash by George O’Conner
Dex: the Heart of a Hero by Caralyn Beuhner, illustrated by Mark Beuhner
Super Sam by Lori Reis
Just a Day Dream by Mercer Mayer
Dinofours I’m Super Dino by Steve Metzger
Atomic Ace and the Robot Rampage by Jeff Weigel

I believe in poetry for children. I think it helps them learn to rhyme, develop rhythm and familiarity with words. The love for words and play on words comes from poetry. Plus poetry gives powerful messages in small packages and children’s’ poetry is packed with giggles. To be a Superhero, you need to believe in yourself. This poem states:

Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child
Listen to the DON’TS
Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
Listen to the NEVER HAVES
Then listen close to me—
Anything can happen, child,
ANYTHING can be.

When I repeat this poem to the children I emphasize the obvious word and when I get to the part that says, Then listen close to me – I begin to whisper and I lean in close to them to give them the next words, the words which empower them, Anything can be. I love that poem. My kids hear me quote it to them on a regular basis.

KaPow and KerSplash are two books that I found in the last few years. Unfortunately they were not around when my mom read to us because my brothers would have adored them. Even my daughter loves them. They are fabulous stories about a boy who has turned himself into the Hero, American Eagle. He and his best friend, Bug Lady, have created their own costumes. The younger brother is usually cast as the bad guy but invariably they end up working together to solve the scrapes in which they find themselves.

Dex: The Heart of a Hero needs to be read correctly for it to be a hit with the kids. Dex, a wimpy dog at the start of the story, works diligently to transform himself into a Super Hero, the kind who helps ladies cross the street and clean up neighborhoods. When called upon to help his enemy, Dex doesn’t hesitate but rushes onto the scene. As he saves his enemy the audience chants, “Super Dog, Super Dog”. I request the kids chant with me and warn them in advance of their need to cheer. We separate it by syllables. Su Per Dog Su Per Dog. The kids love this and request this book just to participate.

The rest of the books are good but not great books. They are ones that I read but wouldn’t necessarily purchase for my bookshelf, as kids enjoy them but fail to adore them. Atomic Ace is long and can lose the interest of younger children. Super Sam is simple and loses your older audience. Since I am reading to a variety of ages I have to be careful in my selection but when I have these checked out for story time, I find my kids getting into my stash to read them all. Just a Day Dream by Mercer Mayer is fabulous for teaching about working problems out with friends. I have used all of them in my story times and I read aloud from infants to 12 year olds.

Once we finish reading we move into the activity phase of our adventures. We head out back to run ourselves through our obstacle/training course that I create using what I have at home. It may involve moving marbles from one bucket to another, diving under chairs, jumping through hoops, maneuvering through cones, jumping over small boxes or balancing on boards. Whatever it is that you create the children will love it. We usually find a way to army crawl too as that provides giggles. Remember your superheroes are in costume and so the whole obstacle course is their training course and when approached that way, taken very seriously.

After all that work, your superheroes will need refreshment and an Otter Pop goes a long way to reviving their exhausted powers.

If I was doing this for a story time, I would advertise in advance that they should come dressed as a Superhero. I would make up my own Superhero, like Book Lady and design a costume that has all sorts of pockets where I can hide poems, stories and a way cool backpack in bright colors that contains all my stories.

As an activity, I would do one of the following. I believe children need to do something after you’ve read stories to use the imagination that has just been stimulated.

1. Belt Buckles – You could cut out buckles of all shapes (ovals, triangles, rectangles, squares, stars, and hearts) and colors for them to design their own symbol on. Then have strips of paper for them to staple together to make their own Superhero belt buckle.
Materials: glues, pre-cut shapes, pre-cut strips of paper (3 inches wide by 11 inches long), staplers, crayons

2. Superhero Identity Cards: Go to the Family Fun website and find their printable Superhero Identity Card. Allow the children with a parent to design their own card and fill in their super powers.
Materials: Printable Sheet, Pencils/pens

3. Superhero Parade: Find some cool music and allow the children to march in a line showing off their costumes for everyone. At the end of the parade have them pose as Superheroes, changing their pose when you yell “Superheroes!” (Our library has a separate room for story time, so this may not work if your room is not contained. As an alternative, just let them pose and use a hand signal to get them to shift their pose.)
Materials: Radio, Music

4. Obstacle Course: Some libraries are attached to parks. Why not take advantage of that and let the kids really practice what they’ve seen in books.

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