Cindy McConnell started her career 33 years ago at Wake County Public Libraries, presenting children’s storytimes. We asked her to pick out her all-time favorite books so that we could share them with you. If you haven’t read these yet, now is the time to check them out and enjoy.
Cindy McConnell’s top 10 favorite storytime books
EASY Books (E)
- “Before You Were Mine” by Maribeth Boelts
A little boy imagines what life was like for his new dog before he adopted him from a shelter. Maybe he had a boy who loved him, but the family had to move and couldn’t keep him. Maybe he belonged to someone who didn’t appreciate how mischievous puppies can be. Maybe he was treated badly, and now he can be shown all the love he’s been missing. This boy wonders about all of these things, but maybe they don’t matter, because now, his dog is home. Winner of the Humane Society KIND Children’s Picture Book Award and the ASPCA Henry Bergh Children’s Book Award, this touching story celebrates all who support, care for and adopt shelter dogs.
- “Stellaluna” by Janell Cannon
This award-winning picture book, a clever, original variation on the theme of the ugly duckling, follows the adventures of a lost baby fruit bat and her efforts to fit in. Accidentally dropped by her mother, helpless Stellaluna falls into a nest of bird fledglings, where she is graciously accepted as one of the family — as long as she acts like a bird and doesn’t confuse her adoptive siblings. The little bat does her best, but she can’t help wanting to fly at night or hang upside down to sleep. The only time poor Stellaluna feels as graceful as a bird is when she’s flying.
- “Angelina Ballerina” by Katharine Holabird
In this charming picture book, a young mouse named Angelina Mouseling wants to dance more than anything else in the world. She dances everywhere—at home, at school, even in her dreams. She’s so wrapped up in her dancing that she forgets to listen closely, tidy up her room, get ready for school and watch where she’s going. Not knowing how to handle the situation, Angelina’s parents put their heads together and devise a clever plan. They purchase a pink ballet dress and slippers and enroll their young dancer in Miss Lilly’s Ballet School.
- “The Doorbell Rang” by Pat Hutchins
Ma makes some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies and her two kids sit down to eat when, ding dong, the doorbell rings. More kids arrive to share the cookies, but just when they sit down, ding dong. Finally, when there is only one cookie for each child, the doorbell rings again. Who is it? Grandma with a new tray of fresh baked cookies and no one bakes cookies as good as Grandma’s. Hutchins sneaks a bit of math into this funny tale.
- “There’s a Nightmare in My Closet” by Mercer Mayer
A little boy anxiously awaits a nightmare he knows lives in his closet. When it finally appears, the little boy shoots it with his popgun. Looking more sheepish than terrifying, the nightmare starts to blubber, and the little boy realizes the nightmare isn’t scary at all. He takes the nightmare by the hand and tucks it into bed. Silly and comforting, this is the perfect book to get rid of those bedtime bogeys.
- “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney
In this simple story, a father and son try to outdo one another in expressing their affection. Little Nutbrown Hare says that he loves his father as high as he can reach. Big Nutbrown Hare replies that he loves his son as high as he can reach, which is very high. Father seems to be winning until the young rabbit tells dad that he loves him right up to the moon, which his father agrees is very far away. But as he kisses his son goodnight, he replies, “I love you right up to the moon and back.”
- “Caps for Sale” by Esphyr Slobodkina
A cap peddler wakes from a nap to find all his caps are gone; a bunch of naughty monkeys have taken them up a tree. Angrily shaking his finger at the monkeys, the peddler demands his caps back, but the monkeys only shake their fingers and say “Tsz, tsz, tsz.” No matter what the peddler does, the monkeys only imitate him. Finally, the peddler is so enraged he throws his cap on the ground, and all the monkeys follow suit.
- “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak
Max is being so wild that his mother sends him to his room without supper. But Max doesn’t care — he sails off to the land of the Wild Things, and they make him their king. There, Max can be as terrible as he pleases, and the Wild Things join in the rumpus. Finally, Max is tired of being wild, and yearns to go home. Marvelous pictures and the superb story combine to make this a quintessential picture book. Readers will recognize their own wild side.
- “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein
“Once there was a little tree…and she loved a little boy.” So begins a story of unforgettable perception. Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk…and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he wanted more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave. This is a tender story touched with sadness and aglow with consolation, a moving parable for readers of all ages.
- “The Polar Express” by Chris Van Allsburg
This is the delightful tale of a young boy and his struggle with believing in Santa Claus. When he goes to bed on Christmas Eve, he is sure there is no such thing as Santa. Much to his surprise, a train pulls up in front of his house to take him to the North Pole. Along with other children, he experiences the reality of Santa and Christmas and is brought to the obvious conclusion that he was wrong. Adventurous, heartwarming and fun to read alone or to share, this is one of those children’s books that is sure to be treasured for many years.
Did you know? …
Sunny is retiring from the library, too. We’re having a special program to celebrate Sunny’s retirement at the Fuquay-Varina Community Library on Thursday, March 28 at 4:30 p.m. We will read the special poems and messages that area kids have created for Sunny. You can contribute to “Sunny’s Scrapbook” by creating a page of your own. Just ask for a scrapbook page at the front desk, fill it with your message or poem or drawing, and return it to the library by March 14.