Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Books You Can't Storytime (Because You'll Cry)

I was lurking in a Twitter conversation between Brooke (@berasche) and Kendra (@klmpeace) yesterday. They started out talking about read-alouds for older kids--around 3rd grade--and while that's a terrific topic for a future, more serious post, I was completely drawn in when one of them mentioned this fact of librarianship: she couldn't share such-and-such book because it would make her cry.

The scenario goes something like this. We start off reading great books (and showing kids the pictures, ahem):

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, something about the story blows up the dam and we lose it:

At which point it's all gasping breaths, snotty nose, wiping away tears, and trying to regain composure:

And maybe trying to turn the whole thing into an early literacy moment by talking about feelings.

Yep, that's what we're talking about: books you can't storytime* because you'll end up in tears. I'm about to share mine, and I hope you'll feel free to share yours as well--on your blog, in the comments, on Twitter, etc. What read-aloud stories make you cry, and why?

And, without further ado, the children's book that reduces me to a puddle of tears:

Charlie the Caterpillar by Dom DeLuise -- Charlie is a wee caterpillar who just wants to play with the other animals. Yet they all turn him away in disgust, saying cruelly, "We don't play with ugly caterpillars!" That line--even just thinking of that line when I'm still on the first page!--gets me every time. Every. Stinking. Time. Of course the story ends happily and it's a great tale of being friendly and not judging by appearances. But I only get to share that message if I can stop sobbing long enough to actually read the thing.

*why, yes, I did just use "storytime" as a verb.


  1. I tried using Mo Willems and Jon Muth's City Dog, Country Frog with a group of preschoolers, just a day or two after I first read it. Utter disaster. I was crying, the teachers were crying, and the kids were just staring at us like we'd all lost our minds.

    That was one of the first times I was able to see first-hand how kids will filter stories to their own experiences. Not a SINGLE kid thought the frog died - went away, was still hibernating, got lost, was hiding, found a new friend - they had innumerable ideas. But death never even crossed their minds. I, however, was a blubbering mess, and have never attempted that book in ST again.

  2. A gal I used to work with always loved "Rocking Horse Christmas" for the holidays, but could never do it for storytime. She tried, and failed. I was like, "well if she can't handle it, I'll do it with the kids!" Nope. One read through and I knew there was no way.

  3. Puppy is Lost by Harriet Ziefert always gets me. I know they'll find each other in the end, but the PUPPY IS LOST! The poor puppy is trying to find his person and wondering why the boy doesn't come and find him. I picture my dog lost and looking for me, and it's so sad. I don't really care much about the boy missing his dog, though...hmm.

    A Ball for Daisy makes me tear up, too. The way Daisy's head hangs when she realizes the ball, her best friend, is gone's making me tear up just thinking about it! I guess I have a thing about dog books.

  4. I was browsing the stacks for storytime books and came across The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce. I cannot for the life of me read that book without crying. It's one of my favorite picture books of all time; I love that it so beautifully portrays how a love of reading can change a person's life for the better. I really want to share it with my young patrons, but I can't!! I'm getting choked up just thinking about it!


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