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Notes from a Children's Librarian: Sequencing and Coding

Sequencing is the step-by-step order in which instructions are given, also referred to as an algorithm. This basic coding concept can be taught using these picture books, perfect for introducing step-by-step actions. In terms of reading comprehension, they can also be used to develop students’ ability to recall and retell events from a story for Kindergarten to Grade 3.

Our Children's Librarian columnist, Julie Booker, brings us a new view from the stacks every month.


Book Cover Pumpkin Orange Pumpkin Round

Pumpkin Orange, Pumpkin Round, by Romana Battigelli, illustrated by Tara Anderson, is great for kindergarteners, with its simple rhyming text. A family of cats prepare for Halloween, through the lens of all-things-pumpkin, including finding the right gourd, carving (”Pumpkin drawing, pumpkin trace, pumpkin carving, pumpkin face!” ), dressing up, trick or treating (“Pumpkin flashlight, pumpkin chum, pumpkin neighbour, pumpkin mom”), then going home, tired, to bed.


Book Cover I Dar You Not to Yawn

I Dare You Not to Yawn, by Helene Boudreau, illustrated by Serge Bloch, features another chain of events. When a yawn pops out of the main character, his mom sends him upstairs for pyjamas. “Pajamas lead to bedtime stories. Bedtime stories lead to sleepy-time songs,” which lead to goodnight kisses and being tucked in. The second half of the book includes a yawn broken down into sequential actions: arms up, eyes squish, mouth opens, tongue curls back, then yawn (and bedtime!).


Book Cover Stop Thief

Sequential relationships abound in Stop Thief!, by Heather Tekavec, illustrated by Pierre Pratt. When a farmer tells his dog, Max, to find who’s been eating all the fruits and veggies on the farm, Max first encounters a blue bug on the carrot tops. He chases it to the strawberry patch, then the cornfield and the berry tree. Along the way he meets, in order: a rabbit, pig, goat and crows, who all tell him they’ll “guard” the food. In the end, the reader realizes (even if Max doesn’t!) that he’s been chasing the wrong thief.


Book Cover This is the Dog

This is the Dog, by Sheryl McFarlane, illustrated by Chrissie Wysotski, is a rhyming romp about a rambunctious dog who’s let out of the house. The reader follows the pet as he tears through a family picnic, snags a fish from a fisherman, plays frisbee with teens on the beach, stomps on a sandcastle, almost embroils a cat, before coming home grubby to a bath, towels, cookies and a bone.


Book Cover It Couldn't Be Worse

It Couldn’t Be Worse, by Vlasta van Kampen, features a farmer and his wife, six children and some grandparents, all living in a one-room farmhouse. The wife complains to a respected fishmonger, who tells her to put the goat inside the house as well. She reports back, saying things couldn’t be worse. Each day he tells her to invite in another animal—the sheep, the pig, the rooster—until frustration is at boiling point. When the wise fishmonger advises her to take them all out, she exclaims, it’s “much better than before!” A small picture of each animal beside the larger illustrations will help young ones remember the order of events.


Book Cover Have You Seen Josephine

Daniel has the type of cat who disappears some days in Have You Seen Josephine?, by Stephane Poulin. Daniel follows her trail through the city of Montreal. He checks the basement, asks the garbage man, and looks under the bridge near his house. From a rooftop vantage, he sees Josephine meander through the neighbourhood, past the corner store, the fish store, and finally to a “cat party” in Mrs. Gagnon’s backyard.


Book Cover The Enormous Potato

The Enormous Potato, by Aubrey Davis, illustrated by Dusan Petricic, begins with a farmer planting a potato eye which unexpectedly grows to be the biggest potato in the world, too big to come out of the ground. Each page adds another family member to the tug of war with the potato—farmer, wife, daughter, dog, cat and finally mouse. It ends with the whole town feasting on the potato until its gone and “the story is gone too.” 


Book Cover Bone Button Borscht

Bone Button Borscht, by the same author and illustrator, also works well for sequencing, when a beggar fools a town into contributing a series of ingredients, beginning with a button, to a pot of water, making soup for everyone.


On her first day as teacher-librarian, Julie Booker was asked by a five-year-old if that was her real name. She's felt at home in libraries since her inaugural job as a Page in the Toronto Public Library. She is the author of Up Up Up, a book of short stories published by House of Anansi Press.



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