Thursday, December 11, 2014

The Sheep Go On Strike by Jean-Francois Dumont

" 'Why are we always the ones who get sheared? Why don't they make cat-hair sweaters, duck down socks, or donkey-hair britches?'  'Let's refuse to be sheared! Everyone who agrees, raise your hoof!' They all raised their hooves, down to the last sheep. And that's how the strike began.'

The sheep are tired of losing their wool, so they decide to go on strike. The dogs, however, are determined to keep the sheep in line. When the other animals on the farm choose sides, things soon turn into a furry, feathery scuffle. But eventually all the animals sit down together and manage to find a creative solution in this hilarious book about the importance of compromise." (Book jacket)


This book is an interesting way to introduce the inequality in this world. While I am sure this book was in the works way before the most recent bouts of protesting and violence we have been experiencing here in the U.S., there are themes in this small picture book that I am finding to be a mirror of what we are seeing now. I think that Dumont's book is a great teaching tool to talk to your kids about the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, and a well timed resource to talk about the violence we are seeing from the protests in Ferguson, Missouri and other places in this nation.

I don't think this book would work well in a story time group setting, but it will work for a one on one reading time.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Welcome to Stories in Their Hearts!

I started this blog back in 2009 as two separate blogs (Amber's Tween Reads and Story Time Smiles) but last year I decided to combine the two blogs intoto be helpful to people with children for birth until they hit the teen years. I will have book reviews, craft ideas, story time plans and music recommendations. My new vision for the blog is to be one stop shopping with anything you may need for story times or just an afternoon with the kids. 

Who am I? I am Amberdenise. 

When I am not at work, I like to relax with my friends, curl up in a chair reading a great book, blog or go to the beach.

I am super blessed to live near the Atlantic Ocean so I get to see it when I want to. I may not go as often as the next Florida girl, but I love knowing that I can.
As for the books I read, I typically read Contemporary fiction. I love a story where something can happen in real life. I will read other genres, but not nearly as often and they aren't usually as enjoyable for me.

If  you would like to know more about me and my journey through life, please take a look at my other blog Who is ADP?, a blog specifically designed to help me figure out just who I am and what my purpose on this planet is.

Feel free to contact me at or
Love and Happy reading!

El Deafo by CeCe Bell

"Going to school and making new friends can be tough. But going to school and making new friends while wearing a bulky hearing aid strapped to your chest? That requires superpowers! In this funny, poignant graphic novel memoir, author/illustrator Cece Bell chronicles her hearing loss at a young age and her subsequent experiences with the Phonic Ear, a very powerful—and very awkward—hearing aid.
The Phonic Ear gives Cece the ability to hear—sometimes things she shouldn’t—but also isolates her from her classmates. She really just wants to fit in and find a true friend, someone who appreciates her as she is. After some trouble, she is finally able to harness the power of the Phonic Ear and become “El Deafo, Listener for All.” And more importantly, declare a place for herself in the world and find the friend she’s longed for." (Barnes and Nobel)
I will be the first person to tell you I am NOT a Graphic Novel fan. I've never been a big fan of the comics in the newspaper. Graphic Novels are just not my style. However, I have been trying to branch out lately and expand my comfort zone of reading. 

That being said, I really liked reading El Deafo by CeCe Bell. I found myself surprised by the size of the Phonic Ear that CeCe had to wear during the 1970's. All of the hearing aids/ devices I've ever seen have been MUCH smaller and easier to hide. I thought the idea of using rabbits as people was really cute and a great way to tell her story. 

El Deafo ©2014 by Amulet Books

Monday, September 22, 2014

American Girl History Club: Julie Albright (1970s)

So, I have been a fan of the American Girls Series since I was 11 years old. (I know, a little old to start the series, but that's when I found them.) With finding the 2 newest historical figures, I decided I wanted to start a year long (10 month) series using the girls.
Since I've been floating around Library land and different branches this past year (my home branch is under renovations, but I'm going back in about 3 weeks!) I decided to try my American Girl History Club again. This time, it was a HUGE success. This time I had about 28 girls attend (with a sign up of 35) and each girl made 3 crafts.

Craft one: Flower/Daisy crown. I cut several flowers out of pink, blue, yellow and light green cardstock and green bands to go around each girl's head. The girls then picked the colors they wanted for their crowns and glued them on.

Craft 2: CD Wall flowers
I found the idea for this craft in Cool Crafts with Old CDs by Carol Sirrine. The book called for 8 Cds, a permanent marker, glue gun/hot glue, 4-foot long ribbon, small gems and adhesive wall hooks. What I actually used was: 8 Cd's, permanent marker, long ribbon and GLUE STICKS. (I wasn't about to have 7 year olds use a glue gun and there weren't enough adults to help out, so GLUE STICKS worked very well.)
The permanent marker is used to mark where each cd goes before you glue them together. The girls LOVED making cd wallflowers and it got rid of a lot of old cd- roms, so this was a win-win proect!

Craft 3 was probably my favorite: Make Your Own Daisy Barretts.
For this project, the materials needed were: artificial daisies, medium size barrette, Ailene's Craft Clue or a hot glue gun, and glitter, I used glitter glue that I found for $1 a bottle.

I went to Michael's (our local craft store) and bought a huge daisy chain (which was on sale!), and 2 packages of medium size hair barrettes. I took each daisy off the daisy chain and plucked several leaves off as well. Then I glued a leaf and daisy to the barrette, held it until it adhered to each other and then decorated it with glitter.
I think this was the favorite craft of the program.
 Another craft idea is one I used from the first time I did an American Girl: Julie program.
I grabbed some old c.d's (most of them from AOL) and started breaking them apart with a pair of kitchen shears. I cut different shapes and sizes and set them aside in a plastic baggie. Then I cut a sheet of  foam board in half and cut a hole in the center that was big enough to frame a 5 x 6 photograph. (roughly 7 x 8 for the boarder). I then glued the side with a hole to the other half of the sheet of foam board, leaving the top unglued so a picture could slide through. This particular craft really gives a disco ball feel to a 70's celebration.

On the day of the program, I grabbed several books that were published in the '70's and books that won Caldecott's and Newbery's and also a few books about the 1970's and major ecological events ( Love Canal and Three Mile Island) since Julie loves nature.
To incorporate the 1970's I wrote out some of the major events of the decade on poster boards and posted them in the room. I also got a map of Pennsylvania and charted the route Julie may have taken on the Freedom Wagon Trail during the Bicentennial Celebrations. (Remember Julie went to visit her cousin and rode in the Pennsylvania wagon train) I also charted the route we would take if we were going from Philadelphia to Valley Forge like Julie.

I made a cd of hits from the 1970's to play in the background of the program. It was totally groovy!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

American Girl: Addy Walker (1860s)

In February, I did another American Girl's History Club program and in honor of African American History Month, I chose to showcase Addy Walker. Addy Walker is the Pleasant Company's first American Girl of non-white origins and is still the only African American Historical figure for the company. Addy is a young slave who runs away on the Underground Railroad with her mother during the Civil War. Since quilts were such an important part of slave life, I had the girls design their own "Freedom Quilts" for their dolls. I had patterns that would have been used in the Freedom Quilts slaves owned, but also allowed them to make their own patterns. The girls had a blast creating quilts for their dolls.

American Girl History Club: Felicity Merriman (1770's)

To continue the American Girl History Club Series, we are going to focus on Felicity Merriman. I chose to showcase Felicity in the month of April largely because of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem Paul Revere's Ride. I remembered how much I like the poem as a child and decided April would be the best month to talk about the Revolutionary War.

To prepare for the program, I visited the Colonial Willimasburg website: and . I also visited the American Girl's website: and the Mount Vernon website (did you know the Mount Vernon site has a link to "Harpsicord Hero"  how cool is that?!). I wanted to make sure I found some cool things for the girls to do and learn.

Two books that were extremly helpful in finding activites for the girls wereLittle Hands Celebrate America! by Jill Frankel Hauser and Colonial Kids: an Activity Guide to Life in the New World by Laurie Carlson.

The crafts I chose to use for the program were paper lanterns (to go with the poem Paul Revere's Ride by Hendry Wadsworth Longfellow), churning butter and making Wampum.

For the paper lantern craft, I found the instructions . I found the instructions to be simple enough that on the third lantern I made, I no longer need to look at the instructions and felt comfortable teaching the kids how to make the lantern.

For the butter, wampum and rag rug crafts, I found them in the Colonial Kids book.

 Colored Wampum
The wampum was really fun to make because I learned that you can dye pasta noodles with a little rubbing alcohol and food coloring. Since the wampum the colonist used when trading with the Native Americans was purple, I used red and blue food coloring. I tried a few different shades, and the one I like best was made of 10 red food coloring drops and 4 blue food coloring drops (the same you would use if you were dyeing eggs). All you have to do is drop the UNCOOKED noodles into the food coloring and let it sit for awhile. I let the noodles sit for at least 10 minutes. Once they were dry, they were really cool!

The butter was really easy. All I did was put some heavy whipping cream in a baby food jar, tighten the lid and shake it vigorously until it thickened into butter. The liquid you see in the picture is just the buttermilk residue that comes when the butter separates a little.

Geography Club: Washington DC

What better way to start a road trip around the country then to kick it off in our nations capital city. For D.C. I made a poster that showcased some of the many Memorials and Monuments in the city. I was able to take the kids on a virtual tour through Ford's Theatre and the Smithsonian. We talked about the unique nature of Washington D.C. and how the city has non-voting representation in Congress and how the city is NOT a state. 

Going on the virtual tour of Ford's Theatre, the kids were able to see where President Lincoln was shot and where he ultimately died. We talked about the Civil War and how divided the country was and how that led to the assassination.

The craft the kids made was really simple. I had card stock flags and I gave each kid a flag, 2 red strips of construction paper and 3 red stars for the kids to recreate the flag of Washington D.C. 

Websites that were helpful:
Books that take place in Washington DC or are about DC:
  • We March by Shane Evans
  • Madeline at the White House by Marciano Bemelmans
  • Amelia and Eleanor Go for a Ride by Pam Ryan
  • Abe Lincoln's Dream by Lane Smith
  • The First Pup by Bob Staake
  • If I were President by Thomas Troupe
  • I.Q.: the White House by Roland Smith
  • The Liberty Porter Series by Julia Devillers
  • Abe Lincoln at Last! by Mary Pope Osborne
  • The First Kids Mystery Series by Martha Freeman
  • Capture the Flag by Kate Messner    
  • The Secret of Rover by Rachel Wildavksy

Geography Club: Travel the USA

A new program that I decided I really wanted to do this school year is Geography Club: Travel the USA. In this program, I take a group of 6-8 year-olds on a field trip across this beautiful country.  We will learn about each state through books, crafts, videos, music and virtual tours when possible.

One thing  I absolutely love about this study is I get to TEACH. Most of the time I entertain kids, but with this program,  I get to set up my "classroom" and teach the kids something cool about our country.  The only drawback is I am basically creating my own curriculum to do this in a library setting. Most of the things  I find would work AMAZING if  I had more than 45 minutes a week to teach the kids about each particular state. So far, there has been a wealth of information for me to show the kids.  

In preparation for this "road trip" I created passports for each child as they signed up. Yes, I know you don't need a passport to travel across the United States, but I thought it would be a really fun way to mark their attendance and at the end of the program the kids could see which states they were able to learn about. The passport template I used was found at Guesthollow, which I found after searching PINTEREST. I only used card stock for the cover and the info pages (which I cut and glued to the inside of the passport cover.) For the insert pages,  I photocopied them on regular copy paper, ran them through the copier so it would print on both sides and changed it from 2 big blocks to 8 small blocks per side of the page to make the passports thinner. I then stapled the passports together, took pictures of the kids and glued the pictures in to make them look sort of authentic in an obviously fake way. The kids LOVE THEM!!!! 
For passport stamps, I found this website called Stickers and Charts and found these adorable statehood stickers that the kids glue in the passports each week! I also give the kids a little "bookmark" each week of the chosen state that I found at Step into Second Grade

I am really excited to take you on the field trip with the kids through our country. I hope you are ready for a road trip, just make sure you buckle your seat belt-- it's going to be a LONG drive.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

A city buried below the ground for over 200 years. The citizens have no clue that their dark sky is really underneath everything. More than 200 years underground is taking a toll on the city's electricity and resources. Blackouts are becoming more common as the city is falling apart. Doon Harrow realizes something is wrong, but without his friend Lina Mayfleet, the city may just die without a solution to be found.


I'll admit, I was a little skeptical to read something called The City of Ember when I learned it was about people who were basically buried alive. However, when I started to actually read the story, I couldn't put it down. I liked reading about how the city worked and saddened when I realized they were underground and never had seen a blue sky. (I knew from the beginning they were underground, but it really hit me in chapter 10.)

I am looking foward  to reading the sequel, The People of Sparks.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Sunshine State Readers List for 2014-2015

The end of April is one of my favorite times of year. The sun is shining (most days. . . this is Florida), the rain last for maybe an hour or two and the Sunshine State Reader List comes out. This years list is full of books I'm not familiar with so it should be fun trying to read them as the kids do.

Elementary List (Grades 3-5)

Dorko the Magnificent by Andrea Beaty
Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein
The Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Harkrader
Elvis and the Underdogs by Chris Kurtz
Capture the Flag by Kate Messner
Hooper Finds a Family by Jane Paley
When Life Gives You O.J. by Erica Pearl
Abby Carnelia's Ibe and Only Magical Power by David Pogue
Stranded by Jeff Probst
The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors
Rump: the True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige by Wes Tooke
8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel + 1 Dog = Chaos by Vivian Vande Velde

Middle School List (Grades 6-8)

I, Emma Freke by E.J. Atkinson
Doll Bones by Holly Black
The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Jacobson
Homesick by Kate Klise
Ungifted by Gordon Korman
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal
Apothecary by Maile Meloy
The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki
Dead City by James Ponti
Half Upon a Time by James Riley
Endangered  by Eliot Schrefer
The Boy at the End of the World by Greg Van Eekhout
Variant by Robison Wells

Some of the authors are ones I've read before so I'm interested in seeing what they have for me this time. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Music Mania: Fresh Beat Band

There are only so many times I can listen to Raffi without wanting to gouge my eyes out with a rusty spoon. Now I don't hate the man, but the same songs over and over in story time not only gets old, but the songs refuse to leave your brain and all the sudden your dreaming about llamas in pajamas down by the bay and waking up at 4 am wanting to brush your teeth (ch,ch,ch,ch).

So to freshen up my story times I have been looking through our collection of Children's music and have recently discovered the Fresh Beat Band.
I know they've been around for at least a couple of years, but since I don't have small children of my own at home the Fresh Beat Band has simply been off my radar. However when I found this CD I officially fell in love with the band.  I kid you not, this is a CD I could listen to all day long. The music is energetic, fun and unique. My absolute favorite Fresh Beat Band song is Here we Go.  I find these songs in my head all day and I will start dancing in the halls at all hours of the day. I love love love these guys!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Getting Ready for Alphabet Adventures-- Let's make the Alphabet!

I am hoping to launch an Alphabet Adventures program in my Toddler Time Story Time. So to prepare for this super fun set of Story Times, I have to get  some things ready.

One thing that I found and had to make were these really cute Alphabet Stones that I found from Rachel at Bubbly Nature Creations. What I really love about this site is Rachel broke down the approximate cost of making your own Alphabet Stone Magnets. I love that I already had everything I needed laying around so these did not have any additional cost! Now I will say that instead of using Silicone Sealer, I used Mod Podge and Aileene's Tacky Glue-- both I had laying around and products I absolutely love.  The stickers are from Oriental Trading and you can find them here. How adorable are they!

I also started looking at books to introduce the Alphabet to my Toddler Time (or books their moms and dads could read to them at home) and here are a few of the ones I thought were adorable.

LMNOpeas by Keith Baker a simple Alphabet book using one of my favorite vegetables-- peas! This book has a very gentle ABC flow. There are multiple letters on a page spread and few words to accompany each letter.

Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes by Brian P. Cleary
Another cute alphabet book but not as cute as LMNOpeas.  This one is more suited for an older child, but also great for mom or dad to read to their child one on one.

Animal ABC by Marcus Pfister is really cool because it gives an animal riddle for each letter of the alphabet. While I know that can be difficult for Toddlers, I think this would be a fun book for them to be read by Mom and Dad.

More to come!