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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Storytime Suggestions: The Noisy Counting Book

We’re trying some new today, kids.  Bear with me.

Today marks the official re-release of one of the greatest storytime picture books of all time.  Ladies and gentlemen, I have been a one-woman-band for the power, glory, and overall wonderfulness that is The Noisy Counting Book.  It is my storytime staple.  I might forget the Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin Jr.  I might eschew the Old MacDonald lift-the-flap book by Jessica Souhami.  But never will I ever give up my Noisy Counting Book.

Until today, literally today, The Noisy Counting Book (written by Susan Schade and illustrated by her husband Jon Buller) has been out-of-print.  But as of RIGHT NOW it has appeared back on the market.  At long last, you too can buy a couple copies.  I won’t have to rely on New York Public Library’s single, dilapidated, near-death circulating edition for much longer.

Which got me to thinking about how I could properly celebrate this release.  What would be a proper send-off into the world?  Then it hit me.  For a while I have toyed with the notion of a regular series called Storytime Suggestions.  These would be fairly simple.  Children’s librarians are constantly in need of new ideas for their storytimes.  I know I am.  I have some fun staples on hand, but I always need new books.  Yet even when a fellow librarian tells me how great a book is to read for kids, sometimes I want to see them present it firsthand.  I mean, if you read Bark, George by Jules Feiffer while wearing rubber latex gloves for effect, I wanna see how you pull that off!  How do you modulate your voice for Snip Snap, What’s That? by Mara Bergman?  The solution?  Video.

Here’s the notion.  Starting with this book, I intend to regularly film myself reading some of my favorite picture books for different audiences.  My ultimate hope is that other children’s librarians will start doing the same thing.  Then maybe we could have an exchange of different ideas.  I’m sure people have been doing this on YouTube for years in some capacity, of course.  I’ll just dip my toe in.

Now first, I’ll show the video of me reading the book.  You won’t be able to see the pictures in the book all that clearly thanks to my use of a Flip Camera, but at least you’ll be able to get a sense of how I like to read it.  Then, I’ll offer background on the book and some alternative reading ideas.

We begin.

Name: The Noisy Counting Book
Author: Susan Schade
Illustrator: Jon Buller
In Print?: Yes! Yes!  By the power of all that is good in the universe, YES!
ISBN: 978-0-375-85937-3
Best For: Toddler Storytime

Storytime Suggestions: We’ve a couple different Folkmanis puppets floating about the children’s room. Generally, I like to grab one of the froggy puppets for a reading. I tuck it away in a place that is far away from the grasping, greedy hands of the tots until the time comes to present the book. My preferred frog is this little guy:

Ain’t he a doll?  Now I keep him on my left hand as I hold the book up with my right.  That means, of course, that to turn the page I have to put the book on my lap and turn with my right hand then immediately pick it up again.  Fortunately, after each GA-DUNK the audience is momentarily shocked by the sound (and, I have just now learned, my weirdly wide eyes).  That gives you the adequate amount of time to conduct the page turn.  It might take some practice, but in the end it’s worth it.

Now generally speaking I like to begin a storytime with a couple hand rhymes and songs and then make The Noisy Counting Book my first picture book, roundabout four minutes in. This sets the tone for the rest of the storytime. I wish I had a video of the faces of the kids when you read this, but you’ll have to experience it for yourself. They are entranced. Something about the colors, the clear pictures, the sounds of the creatures, and the final GA-DUNK just gets to them.  Also, in the video I wasn’t able to properly show it, but with each animal sound I sort of pan the book around the room so that all the kids can see the pictures.

Expect more of the same in the future.  I’ll attempt a mix of toddler storytime books, preschool storytime books, and older picture book readalouds.  And if you start doing your own storytime videos, please let me know.  I’d love to link to them in some manner.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. This is wonderful! Just this morning I was re-reading the section on Storytime recommendations in your Child.Lit.Gems books & bemoaning the fact that The Noisy Counting was not owned by QBPL & that I could not even see a preview on Google Books….. till…. I realized that it was indeed being reissued…. and now…. glory of all glories, a master children’s librarian herself has treated us to a performance & viewing.

    As a somewhat new children’s librarian still trying on a view different voices, I’m thrilled to watch for more of these Storytime Suggestions videos, thanks B!

  2. Well, I think it speaks volumes that I teacher older kids, have older children of my own, know absolutely no one to whom I might read this counting book, and yet still sat here and listened to you read the whole thing over my coffee. (and laughed at every single Ga-DUNK.) Thanks! This was a fine way to start the morning.

  3. Elizabeth Bird says

    Thanks, guys! And like I say, feel free to make your own. I’ll have to figure out something for the older kids, Kate. Booktalk videos, perhaps.

  4. Tammi Sauer says

    Slam ga-DUNK!

  5. Emily Calkins Charyk says

    I can’t tell you how excited I am about this! I know I have a LOT to learn about storytelling before I get out there in the real world of children’s librarianship. I can only hang around library story times so often without starting to feel creepy– this will be an awesome (and creepless!) resource. Thank you thank you!

  6. JMyersbook says

    Hooray, hooray, hooray! I am indeed ancient of days and remember owning and loving The Noisy Counting Book during its first incarnation, and reading it aloud to my little one (who has now graduated from college! See? I told you I was ancient of days!) Your video rendition is FABULOUS! Thanks for making my morning!

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Oh! And Aunt Judy how INSANE is it that you not only know this book but read it to Jessie growing up! I had absolutely no idea we had a family connection to this title. I feel all the prouder.

  7. I love this much mucher, muchest!

    One question, is the book only being released as a board book? OK a second question, is the board book truncated from the original?

    If I could stand to see myself on camera I would love to do this on my blog. I will give it some thought.

  8. I love it! What a wonderful idea. Like a child, I like to be read to also.

  9. Good idea, Fuse. Thanks for being willing to link to others’ video read-alouds as well. It is helpful to see a variety of styles and what works for others.

    Emily, in my role as curmudgeon and librarian-storyteller and hoping to be helpful, I do have to point out that read-aloud is not considered the same as storytelling, which is oral tradition–no book in hand.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Ah, yes! It’s always a good idea to distinguish between storytimes and storytelling. I might do some storytelling posts at some point, but truth be told I really only comfortable with one story in particular (Margaret Read MacDonald’s “The Little Rooster and the Turkish Sultan”).

      As for the release of The Noisy Counting Book, excellent question. I see that the record does say “Board” but that may refer to the fact that the covers don’t have jackets. They just have the cover image printed directly onto the board of the cover. I will need to get a new copy myself to make certain of this, though.

  10. Betsy, I just looked this up in Baker and Taylor, and the annotation reads “In a board book edition of a popular concept title…”

    I love this idea of story time suggestions! If I could figure out how to do that here, I’d love to do one. Storytelling posts would be fun too. My favorites are Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock and Too Much Talk.

    Emily, if you feel creepy about observing story times, introduce yourself to the children’s librarian and let her know that you are a student. I rarely have library science students (or new children’s librarians) observing story time programs, but when I do, I always enjoy talking with them. I just hope I don’t scare them by being too eager and talkative!

  11. Good ol’ ‘Noisy Counting Book!’ Reading aloud that worn-out Donnell reference copy to a bunch of appreciative toddlers was probably as close to feeling like The Beatles as I’ll ever get.

  12. Betsy, you had my kids (4 and almost 2) rapt for 2 minutes and 42 seconds.

  13. Ga-dunks a million!

  14. DaNae, I’ll film you if you film me. 🙂

    Doing “storytime suggestions” via web videos is a BRILLIANT idea — especially for librarians in rural or isolated areas. If I make my own video, should I let you know?

  15. Elizabeth Bird says

    I insist upon it! Now I need to find that “Too Much Talk” Jennifer mentioned. You see? We’re already getting great suggestions here!

  16. I love this so much! Somehow this noisy book escaped me, but another great book on the subject that I read to my kids a million times was TOO MUCH NOISE, by Ann McGovern, with hilarious illustrations by Simms Tayback. “The bed creaked. The floor squeaked. Outside, the wind blew the leaves through the trees. The leaves fell on the roof. Swish. Swish. The tea kettle whistled. Hiss. Hiss. “Too noisy,” Peter said.” To banish his noise problem, Peter is ordered to bring all sorts of noisy rambunctious animals into the house, and the situation gets worse and WORSE, until….

  17. While I like this idea, I do wonder about the copyright implications. Anyone have a legal opinion? (Not to be a spoil-sport of course!)

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Anne, regarding the legal implications I believe this falls under Fair Use. I’m using these videos for educational purposes, after all. What’s more, you can’t see the images particularly well at all in a video. It might be different if I scanned in every page and presented it that way, but in this format I think we’re free and clear. Folks can feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

  18. Fuse, if you only have one story to be familiar with for storytelling, that’s a good choice. I’d love to hear you tell it. If I’m remembering correctly, as I am not in my library today, there is a lovely version of the story in Seredy’s The Good Master, though that may be the same as MacDonald’s version–drat being away from my books. I’ll have to check when I go back in. Eric Kimmel has his picture book version, “The Valiant Red Rooster,” too, which my younger students like to look at after I’ve told the story to them.

  19. It is a board book, but it is unabridged.

    This is so great, BTW.

  20. Emily Calkins Charyk says

    Oh, of course. I do actually know the difference between storytelling and story time read alouds, books in hand, but remembering to be precise is a different matter–thanks for the reminder, IF.

    Jennifer–ah yes, I suppose introducing myself might help! The times that I have done that the librarian has always been super welcoming and excited to talk kid’s lit and storytimes. Y’all are a great bunch!

  21. This was just wonderful. But please please please, when introducing the book, say the illustrator’s name too! A non-minor quibble to something so much fun, the book and your rendition.

  22. Hi Betsy:

    Can you please tell me which songs/fingersplays you suggest to start off this storytime? Thanks a million, just picked up this book from NYPL and can’t wait to read it to my Kindergarten kids.

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Sure! I always begin with a hello song of some sort. I immediately follow that up with If You’re Happy and You Know It (3 verses) and then launch into an Itsy-Bitsy Spider song that does the original spider, then the big brother The Biggie-Wiggie Spider, then the little sis The Teensy Weensy Spider. After that it’s time for the first book, which is The Noisy Counting Book. Works like a charm every time.

  23. Thank you! And perhaps “Five Green and Speckled Frogs” would tie in nicely? 🙂 Happy reading!