Big-Top Reading

Pierre's Dream by Jennifer Armstrong
Madeline and the Gypsies by Ludwig Bemelmans
Circus Girl by Tomek Bogaki
Circus Alphabet by Linda Bronson
Cannonball Simp by John Burningham
Circus Family Dog by Andrew Clements
The Clown Said No by Mischa Damjan
Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty
Circus! A Pop-Up Adventure by Meg Davenport
Circus by Lois Ehlert
Ginger Jumps by Lisa Campbell Ernst
Olivia Saves the Circus by Ian Falconer
Bearymore by Don Freeman
Clowns on Vacation by Nina Laden
Chicken Chuck by Bill Martin Jr
Mirette on the High Wire by Emily McCully
Esmeralda and the Children Next Door by Jenny Nimmo
The Saint and the Circus by Roberto Piumini
Emeline at the Circus by Marjorie Priceman.
Star of the Circus by Michael and Mary Beth Sampson
Circus Girl by Jack Sendak
If I Ran the Circus by Dr. Seuss
Circus Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina
Circus Train by Joseph Smith
Peter Spier's Circus by Peter Spier (small illustrations, better for lap or small group)

In the Center Ring…Circus Fun!

Children love the imaginative play of the circus, so follow up any circus storytime with a silly circus game, craft or treat! Thanks to ringmaster Christine for her ideas and her permission to reprint them here!

  • Play "Monkey, Monkey Clown" instead of "Duck, Duck Goose!"

  • King of the Clowns!
    One child is named King or Queen of the Clowns. One at a time, the children kneel before the royalty and say, "King (or Queen) of the Clowns, I am your loyal subject. Never shall I laugh or smile. Meanwhile, the Royal Highness can make any funny face or expression he wants. If the child can go one minute without laughing or smiling, she takes the throne and the game continues with the next child.

  • Lion Tamers
    Explain to the children that sometimes the lion tamer will have lions jump through a flaming hoop. Have the children pretend that they are animals trainers and are teaching their animals to jump through a hoop. Let the children take turns throwing stuffed animals through a hula-hoop or other large ring.

  • Tight Rope Walker
    Lay a rope on the floor, and walk it! Show the children how to use arms for balance. How about a parasol for effect?

  • Paper Plate Clowns
    Tell kids to make everything except the nose. Use pre-cut triangles for hats, yarn hair, facial features cut from magazines, crepe paper streamers…your imagination! Cut a small hole in the center of the plate. Then stick in a small balloon and blow up partially as the red clown nose!

    Or, make paper plate elephants! Let children poster paint paper plates with gray poster paint, then add construction paper ears and big wiggly eyes. Cut out a circle from the center of the plate…this is where children stick their arms through to make the trunk!

  • Circus Train
    The children may draw any animal they wish. Paste the animal on to a Styrofoam meat tray. Make the bars of the cage with pipe cleaners. Add black construction paper circles for wheels. The animals in their cages can be displayed up on a wall as if they were in a circus train. Or, for a going-home treat, draw stripes with permanent markers on a zip-lock bag, and glue circles for wheels at the bottomŠthey can put animal crackers in the bag!

  • Old Fashioned Cracker Jacks
    Pop four quarts of popcorn. Melt a 1/2 cup butter in a heavy pan. Add to this 1 tablespoon of molasses and 1/3 cup honey. Mix into the popcorn. Add peanuts. Spread mixture in a greased pan and bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Stir once. Let the Cracker Jacks cool and serve in paper cups. Add a small prize to each cup!

  • Music, Maestro!
    Did you Ever See a Clown (Sung to: "Did You Ever See a Lassie?")
    (Have children form a circle. One child in the middle should perform actions. Take turns.)
    Did you ever see a clown,
    A clown, a clown
    Did you ever see a clown,
    Move this way and that?
    Move this way and that way
    And that way and this way
    Did you ever see a clown
    Move this way and that?

    Clown Song (Sung to "I'm a Little Teapot")
    I'm a little clown short and fat
    Here is my tummy and here is my hat.
    I can do a trick as you will see
    Just turn around and look at me.
    (Grown-up points to a child to do a trick)

    Search: Enter keywords...

    Home to Planet Esmé