A Penguin Storytime

A couple of months ago, I started volunteering.  I help out at a mom’s group by watching (with 2 or 3 other helpers) a sizable group of 2 and 3 year olds.  It was a little to unstructured for my librarian brain, so I started doing a little programming.

Each meeting we start off with a storytime.  The first try didn’t go so well.  I think at one point we had 7 criers and only two volunteers.  This past week we had all our volunteers and storytime went much better.  Thank goodness!

I was inspired by a new penguin that Rico got for Christmas.  His collection of stuffed animal penguins really came in handy, but more on that later.


While the kids straggled in, I had a penguin coloring sheet for them.  That way I didn’t have parents and new arrivals pulling on my listeners’ very fragile attention span.

When everyone had arrived we moved to the story blanket and I started the storytime off with the song “Open Them, Shut Them.”  I had taught this to the kids a while ago.  One or two of them followed along.  I am hoping after a couple sessions that they will pick-up all the actions.

81hgidviwcl Our first book was “Penguin Pete” by Marcus Pfister.  The book is a little long for the age group I was working with so there was a little edit in our story.

Penguin Pete spends sometime alone, when the other penguins go swimming.  He makes a friend and eventually gets to go explore the water with the other penguins.

Pete is a small penguin.  So, as I read this story I held one of Rico’s smallest penguins.

As I put the little penguin away, I got out six more of his stuffed penguins (he has quite a few) and lined them up for the rhyme we did next.

Six little penguins off an iceberg did dive,
One bumped his beak, then there were five.
Five little penguins swam the ocean floor,
One saw a whale, then there were four.
Four little penguins spun around, whee-ee!
One spun off, then there were three!
Three little penguins, with nothing to do,
One went fishing, then there were two.
Two little penguins, having lots of fun,
One fell of, then there was one.
One little penguin, when the day was done,
Went home to sleep, then there were none.

As each penguin left, I moved one of the stuffed penguins back into my bag.  The kids really enjoyed the rhyme so we did it a second time and as each penguin left, I handed it to a child.  The kids held them for the rest of the storytime, switching every once and a while so everyone got a chance to hold a penguin.

So, will all the penguins doled out, we went back to the books.  I read/sang “Your Personal Penguin” by Sandra Boynton.  There is a great song that goes with the book.  You can find it here.  Warning: it is oddly catchy.  My family is still singing it.

I didn’t use the song because it doesn’t follow the book exactly…I decided to just stick with the book.


We read a “Penguin” by Polly Dunbar next.  This might be my favorite penguin book ever.  It is about a boy named Ben and his pet penguin that won’t speak to him.  Ben tries everything to get him to talk, but nothing happens until Penguin has to rescue Ben from a lion.  It sounds a bit serious, but it is really delightfully silly.



We followed our silly book with a fun little rhyme.  Everyone stood up to do the actions. Again, the kids didn’t really pick up the motions, but I’m hoping as they get used to storytime they will participate more.  The rhyme is sung to the tune of “Have You Ever Seen a Lassie?”

Have you ever seen a penguin? a penguin? a penguin?
Have you ever seen a penguin swim this way and that?
Swim this way and that way and this way and that?
Have you ever seen a penguin swim this way and that?
(move arms like you’re swimming)

Repeat, substitute “swim” with:
“slide” (make sliding motions with feet)
“waddle” (take tiny steps and swing body from side to side)


When everyone was seated and settled with their penguin, I read our last book: “Tacky the Penguin” by Helen Lester.  Tacky isn’t like the other penguins, but when the hunters come, Tacky’s quirks might be just what the penguins need.

This is a really fun read.  The silly voices, and unusual antics kept most of the kids engaged.


We finished the storytime off with “If You Are Happy and You Know It” and a gathering of all the stuffed penguins that had been passed around.

The program was a bit long for my listeners.  I’m hoping as I adjust my expectations to their attention spans, they will become used to the routine of storytime and enjoy starting off their play time this way.


In case you are interestd, here some other great penguin books that I had in case one of my other books was a flop.

  • “Penguin and Pinecone” by Salina Yoon – Penguin and Pinecone become friends, but Pinecone needs to live somewhere warmer than the south pole.  (This was Rico’s favorite of all the penguin books I had in the house.)
  • “A Penguin Story” by Antoinette Portis – One little penguin is determined to find something that is not black, white, or blue. (This is a good story if you want to talk about colors in winter.)
  • “Tina and the Penguin” by Heather Dyer – A penguin follows Tina home from the zoo, but Tina’s room is too hot for a her new friend. (A little bit to lengthy for the age I work with, but a fun story for a little older audience.)

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