Baby Storytime: Favourite Books

I am so excited to write this post!  I’m always on the hunt for new books to share at storytime, especially babytime.  This post includes old books and new books, but they’ve all served me well in a baby storytime setting.  Make sure to check out the other posts in our baby storytime series too:

It is completely possible to do a baby storytime without reading a single book.  But I like to read one book at each session as a way to promote the library’s collection, model to caregivers dialogic reading, and talk to caregivers about how to choose books for babies.  The Canadian Children’s Book Centre and Zero to Three have great talking points to share with caregivers that can help them feel confident and comfortable selecting books and reading to their babies.  Now on to the  books!

1.  A Book of Babies by Il Sung Na
book of babiesI’m in love with everything Il Sung Na writes and illustrates. This book has big, bright illustrations of animal babies with short descriptive sentences. The illustrations have a touch of humour and provide ample opportunities to model asking questions and talking about what we see.

 2.  Baby Bedtime by Mem Fox and Emma Quay

baby bedtimeThis book made my 2014 Favourite Storytime Picture Books list and it’s still a babytime favourite. When I read this book I encourage caregivers to mimic the mama elephant, and we talk about using books as part of a bedtime routine.

3.  Baby Party by Rebecca O’Connell; illustrated by Susie Poole

baby partyIf you loved O’Connell’s  book, Baby Parade, then you have to get this new release!  When I read it in storytime we practiced the skill of clapping. I love that it includes a diverse cast of babies and is filled with different shapes. In addition to clapping you can encourage caregivers to draw the shapes on baby’s hands.

4.  Bunny Roo, I Love You by Melissa Marr; illustrated by Teagan White
bunny roo i love youI learned about this book from my colleague Jane, and her assessment is spot on. The illustrations are gorgeous, and when I used this book in babytime we made the animal noises featured on each page as a way to make it interactive.  I love sharing books that help caregivers develop a loving relationship with baby, and this one hits the mark.

5.  Clip Clop by Nicola Smee
clip clopThis book is traditionally used in a toddler or preschool storytime, but I simply ask caregivers to plop baby on their lap and we clip clop away.  Babies get to experience bouncing while we say the refrain together, and they can be dipped to the side when the animals fall off.  It’s a great way to show caregivers how to adapt picture books to meet their baby’s developmental stage.

6.  Everything by Emma Dodd
everything emma doddThis book is a bit small, so I would recommend it for small groups. It starts with the premise, “which part do I love the best?” and precedes to go through different body parts. A great chance for caregivers to identify the parts of baby’s face.  It’s told in sweet rhyming sentences that flow beautifully.

7.  Faster! Faster! by Leslie Patricelli
faster fasterAn old standby for me.  Because there’s basically only one word in this book, caregivers can read it with you.  We practice bouncing babies very slowly, and then faster and faster as we read.  I love when caregivers realize the different animals are actually the dad – always a delight!

8.  Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla; illustrated by Amy Cordova
fiesta babiesI wish this book were bigger, but it still doesn’t stop me from sharing it in babytime.  The rhythm of the text mimics a fiesta and I chant the words rather than say them.  A beautiful introduction to Latino culture that encourages singing, dancing, and celebration.

9.  From Head to Toe by Eric Carle
from head to toeIt’s Eric Carle at his best.  Repetition, movement, and bright, colourful pictures.  When I read the refrain, “Can you?” I ask caregivers to help their baby make the actions in the book.  A great introduction to the “I can do it!” attitude their babies will soon sport as toddlers.

10.  Giddy Up! Let’s Ride! by Flora McDonnell
giddy up let's rideAnother book to bounce to!  I think it might be based off of the song, “This is the Way the Ladies Ride.”  As I read this book, we practice bouncing babies to different rhythms and at different speeds.  I love how big McDonnell’s books are too – the images really travel.  Great use of repetition and sounds.

11.  Hands Can by Cheryl Willis Hudson; illustrated by John-Francis Bourke
hands canBabies love looking at pictures of other babies. This book features a diverse cast of little ones using their hands to clap, say hello, and touch things.  Caregivers can model how to do these things as we read.  It’s also a great segue to talking about the skill of pinching and grasping which helps develop hand and finger muscles they will need later when they learn to write.

12.  I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More! by Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow
I ain't gonna paintI love singing this book and having caregivers tickle babies based on the different parts of the body the child paints.  Most of the time I can get the adults to sing with me.  I’d love to buy a set of giant paintbrushes and let the babies play with them after reading this book.

13.  I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy
i kissed the babySo many good babytime books by Mary Murphy!  Make sure to also check out A Kiss Like This, Say Hello Like This!, and I Like it When.  I chose to focus on this one because I can talk to caregivers about choosing books for newborns with graphic black-and-white illustrations that are good for developing eyesight.  We also get to give lots of kisses!

14.  If You’re Happy and You Know It: Jungle Edition by James Warhola
happy and you know itThere are so many books to sing – seriously, check out our board full of them!  This one stands out to me because the pages are nice and big, and it has actions like clap your hands, flap your wings, beat your chest, and blink your eyes.   I like to model to caregivers how to take a familiar song and change it up.

15.  Is Everyone Ready for Fun? by Jan Thomas
is everyone ready for funA toddler classic can easily be turned into a babytime gem.  Just have the caregivers wiggle, jump, and dance with their babies!  I love showing adults that kid’s books can be fun and silly, and Jan Thomas does that the best.  I have never not gotten some laughs after reading this book in babytime.

16.  Jazz Baby by Lisa Wheeler; illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
jazz babyI love reading this book in babytime because it’s got such great rhythm.  Because it’s a longer book, I’d use it at the beginning of storytime.  The entire family gets involved in the singing and dancing which is a wonderful reflection of community.

17.  Jump! by Scott M. Fischer
jumpThis book is so much fun to use with babies!  On the pages that say, “Jump!” all the caregivers lift baby into the air and say it with me.  If you’ve got some older babies in the crowd, you can encourage them to practice jumping themselves and point out the sense of accomplishment that comes even if they don’t clear the ground.

18.  Nose to Toes, You are Yummy! by Tim Harrington
nose to toesThis new release would work great for babies or toddlers. Simple sentences lead caregivers in interacting with their babies.  You can even listen to a song version.  I love the bright, colourful pictures.

19.  Overboard! by Sarah Weeks; illustrated by Sam Williams
overboardThis book hits home because many caregivers have experienced the “drop/throw object repeatedly on the floor” game that babies and toddlers love to play.  When I read it at storytime I have the caregivers hold baby in their lap.  When we say “overboard!” we dip babies to the side as if they are the ones falling out.

20.  Peekaboo Bedtime by Rachel Isadora
peekaboo bedtimeI pass out scarves before reading this book.  Then we play peekaboo with the babies as we read, mimicking the surprise of the child in the book.  I tell caregivers that peekaboo games are easy to recreate with blankets or washcloths at home.  Isadora has a companion book called Peekaboo Morning that’s just as good.

21.  Peek-a-Moo! by Marie Torres Cimarusti; illustrated by Stephanie Peterson
peek-a-mooAnother favourite peekaboo book.  You can use scarves with this one too, but the early literacy tip I share is about animal sounds.  Even though they aren’t real words they still help babies learn the sounds of our language.  All the caregivers help me out with the sounds when I read this one.  Cimarusti has a whole series – Peek-a-Pet!, Peek-a-Choo-Choo!Peek-a-Zoo!, Peek-a-Bloom!, and Peek-a-Booo!.

22.  Ten Tiny Tickles by Karen Katz
ten tiny ticklesThis entire post could be made of Karen Katz books, but this one is one of my favourites.  You get to count, caregivers get to tickle babies all over, and the illustrations are super cute.  My other favourite Katz books for babytime are The Babies on the Bus and Counting Kisses.

23.  The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell; illustrated by Ken Wilson-Max
the baby goes beepIt’s O’Connell’s second appearance on the list! I love reading this one in babytime because of the repetition.  I’ll say the first part – “The baby goes beep” and then we all say the second part together, “The baby goes beep, beep, beep, beep.”  The vocabulary is great too – boom, flip, splash, smooch.

24.  Trains Go by Steve Light
trains goThis big board book is perfect for introducing new sounds to babies.  Each vehicle is given a sound that I have the caregivers say with me.  I like that the sounds aren’t ones I’d think of myself.  For example, the diesel train goes “zooosh, zooosh, zooosh.”  Because it’s a board book I found caregivers much more likely to take it home with them after storytime. There’s a whole bunch in this series like Trucks Go, Boats Go, Planes Go, and Diggers Go.

25.  We’ve All Got Bellybuttons! by David Martin; illustrated by Randy Cecil
we've all got belly buttonsLike Carle’s From Head to Toe, this book has an interactive question on each page that encourages caregivers to play with their babies.  The rhymes flow well and the images are bright and cheery.  Lots of room for talking about the pictures if caregivers want to spend more time with the book after storytime.

If you’re looking for even more to read in babytime, make sure to check out Abby the Librarian’s series and The Show Me Librarian’s survey results.

What are your favourite books to read in baby storytime?  Let me know in the comments!

Nursery Rhymes and Storytime: A Love Story

We received a lovely request for a post about nursery rhymes this week and after some searching realized they’re scattered all over our blog, the poor things. So thanks to Julie for the nudge, we’ve collected links, resources and ideas together and we hope you enjoy our ode to nursery rhymes!

The why (always the why when it comes to the pursuit of Early Literacy and all things good!) has been explored by our dear friend Mel in a way that reads like a good detective novel. In her hunt to unearth the study behind Mem Fox’s adage “if children know eight nursery rhymes by heart by the time they’re four years old, they’re usually among the best readers by the time they’re eight” Mel shares several studies and articles which link nursery rhymes to positive early literacy outcomes.  A snippet which I like from Bookstart states:

Evidence suggests that a familiarity with rhymes helps children to detect the phonetic constituents of words. Children at a very young age can recognise that cat rhymes with mat. In making this connection, they detect the word segment ‘at’. Because rhyming words – words that have sounds in common – often share spelling sequences in their written form, children sensitive to rhymes are well equipped to develop their reading. By making children aware that words share segments of sounds (e.g. the -ight segment shared by light, fight, and might) rhymes help prepare them to learn that such words often have spelling sequences in common too (Goswami, 1986, 1988).

We know that reading and sharing rhymes with children is integral to their development as readers and nursery rhymes provide a natural way to do this. They also have a cultural component. While many parents today may not be familiar with or remember some of the classics, when we incorporate nursery rhymes into library programs we help both kids and parents connect to the history and culture which they represent. Finally, concepts and characters from nursery rhymes show up everywhere! Sharing nursery rhymes at a young age helps children recognize Jack and Jill when they show up later in a rhyme or in a new story. These deep connections contribute to children’s understanding of narrative norms as well as fuel print motivation as they enjoy revisiting old friends in new stories. Ok, nursery rhymes are IMPORTANT, enough said. Now let’s explore some ways to use them!

                                          nurseryrhymes Traditional Songs and Rhymes Playlist SongCube-288x300

  • Starting out nice and easy we’ve recorded a bunch of nursery rhymes and they can all be found in the Traditional Storytime Songs and Rhymes Playlist
  • A nice way to begin incorporating nursery rhymes, especially if they’re new to you or your crowd is through the use of a Song Cube. The visual on the die helps kids “read” which nursery rhyme you’ll try today. You can pair the rhyme with movement as Sara on Twitter suggested which is a perfect way to encourage little bodies to feel the rhymes.
  • Now things are gonna get super duper cool, like these 10 Creative Ways to Share Nursery Rhymes by Story Time Secrets.
  • Anne at So Tomorrow throws down with her Mother Goose Games and Parachute Play and nursery rhymes. Dang she makes rhyming cool!
  • Mel, who should be awarded the Mother Goose Crown (for so many reasons) shares her recipe for a Mixed up Mother Goose. The possibilities for literacy play are absolutely endless.
  • Emily at PoesyGalore puts it all together (complete with books!) in her C is for Classics storytime which is well worth a read.
  • And finally, if you’re flannel inclined the fantastic Flannel Friday collection includes a Nursery Rhymes board as well as a board of over 300 general rhymes.

That about does it for now, but we’d love to hear how you use nursery rhymes in your programs or even why YOU think they’re so important. Please leave us a comment down below!

Canadian Libraries Spotlight: Cumberland Public Libraries

We are thrilled to bring you the 12th post in our Canadian Libraries Spotlight series from the small but mighty Cumberland Public Libraries in Nova Scotia.  Feeling behind? Check out past posts. Feeling inspired?  Submit one from your corner of Canada! Now, we’re going to sit back and listen to Jenn Atkinson share about an incredible community partnership she’s been working on.

jbrary-flagI Get by with a Little Help from My Community Partnership

Cumberland Public Libraries is the smallest library system in Nova Scotia. We serve a large geographic, but sparsely populated, area.  Our 26 employees, 7 branches and Borrow by Mail program serve a population of about 31,000. As a rural librarian with a small staff and budget, community partnerships are a boon. Partnerships can give you access to more ideas, staff and resources; they can take your programs to levels you couldn’t achieve on your own.

CPL has a long-standing partnership with Maggie’s Place, our amazing local family resource centre.  Every Wednesday for the last 10+ years, the Amherst branch has hosted Once Upon a Time, a 1.5 hour-long program for ages 0-5. An employee from Maggie’s Place and the Youth Services Librarian sing songs and do action rhymes, read a story, and deliver a snack. It’s a fabulous little arrangement: the library provides the venue and story, while Maggie’s Places brings the songs and snack. It’s easy to execute and we consistently draw anywhere from 30-60 people (children and adults) per week.

Logo_MaggiesPlaceThis spring I proposed an expanded partnership with Maggie’s Place. The main impetus was to improve our summer program attendance, specifically in Amherst. There are several organizations in our community that offer summer programs to children, but with a population of 9000, there are only so many children to go around. Since we target the same youth population as Maggie’s Place, I wanted to work together this summer to maximize our programming.

In April, the Deputy Chief Librarian and I set up a meeting with the Executive Director and one of their early childhood educators. We went in with three program ideas, and to our happy surprise they readily agreed to all of them. They loved the idea of increasing our partnership and were as keen to work with us as we were with them.

We ran 3 summer programs in partnership with Maggie’s Place:

  1. Summer Storytime – Last year I held a weekly storytime in a local park without knowing that Maggie’s Place was also doing an outdoor storytime. This year we combined our storytime forces and held weekly 1.5 hour programs in 4 Amherst parks on a rotating schedule. In the event of rain, the Amherst Library was the storytime venue. I planned the half-hour story segment while Maggie’s Place staff planned our outdoor games and brought snacks. My storytime attendance increased by 11% from last year, and together we were able to offer a longer program with more engaging activities.
  2. Family Fort Night –I’d wanted to do this program since reading about it on Tiny Tips for Library Fun, but never tried it because I was too worried that no one would show up. I find family-oriented programming to be challenging in Amherst, especially in the evenings. I hoped that our partnership with Maggie’s Place would draw in families who use the centre, but might not normally visit the library (as is often the case with Once Upon a Time). We had 22 people show up, which I consider a huge success for a beautiful July evening. We invited families into the library with pillows and blankets to make reading forts in the library. We provided books, games, puzzles, and colouring sheets to occupy the kids when in their forts. After reading and playing in the forts, everyone gathered around a fake campfire, ate a s’more treat, listened to stories, and finished up with hide-and-go-seek in the dark. Every kid who attended had a blast.
  3.  StoryMob – This Paper Bag Princess-inspired flash mob was the crown jewel of my summer programming. It was by far my most ambitious undertaking and I couldn’t have done it without the help I received as a result of this partnership. I was responsible for promotion, volunteer recruitment, and script direction, while Maggie’s Place took on the vast majority of craft and prop making. We were fortunate that Maggie’s Place lent us 2 staff members for the crafting session the day before, and 3 for the StoryMob itself. In all, we had 30 volunteers, 80 spectators, and a ton of fun!

Photo_FamilyFortNight Photo_StoryMob Photo_StoryMob_Crafts02 Photo_StoryMob_Crafts

What I’ve learned about community partnerships:

  • Start early – Don’t ask an organization to work with you a week before your planned program. They will probably say no, even if it’s something in which the organization would have been interested. Like us, Maggie’s Place plans months in advance, so we were sure to meet with them in early spring to propose our summer partnership. This allowed ample time to advertise our programs in their flyer and make the appropriate staffing arrangements.
  • Communicate – Be clear about what you expect from your partner organization; they don’t want to be caught off-guard by unanticipated costs or staffing needs. I recommend a meeting (either in person or on the phone) to establish your partnership, and another  the week leading up to your joint program/event to make sure everyone’s on the same page and ready to go.
  • Appreciate – Like in any good relationship, be sure to let your partner know how valuable they are, and thank them for helping you accomplish more than you could on your own.

Our expanded partnership with Maggie’s Place has been highly rewarding for both organizations, and we already have plans to continue working together throughout the fall and winter. They readily agreed to another Family Fort Night in late October, and we are talking about organizing another StoryMob in January. In addition to repeating two of our successful summer programs, I will perform a puppet show at the centre in December, and I will represent CPL at their popular Family Days  that happen throughout the year to celebrate Halloween, Christmas, Family Literacy Day, and Easter. At these events I will do library card registration, check out books, promote the library, and be on hand to help Maggie’s Place staff.

I strongly recommend developing a partnership with your local family resource centre, or other youth-oriented organizations in your community. In my experience, it has been positive and productive endeavour that has raised public awareness of the library and taken my programs to an exciting new level.

Baby Storytime: Favourite Dancing Songs

Our series on baby storytime continues!  This week I’m sharing my favourite songs for getting caregivers and babies up and moving.  Make sure to check out the other posts in this series before reading on.

I love to dance.  I especially love dancing with a bunch of babies. Toward the end of my storytime I ask the caregivers to stand up with their babies and guide them through some of these songs.  It’s usually the most fun part of babytime and the part where caregivers see the most smiles.  One thing I’ve learned to do is give the caregivers a few minutes to stand up and get comfortably situated with their child.  It’s easy to underestimate how much time it takes to stand up!  I wait until everyone’s had a chance to get on both feet and get baby ready too.

Here are some of my favourite dancing songs to do at babytime:

I love songs that let caregivers personalize the words. For this one, I tell caregivers to sub out the name “Katie” for their baby’s name. I love that each verse lets us do something different – dance, tickle, and lift.  Funny story – I completely forgot the tune to this song a few weeks ago and one of the moms said, “I think it’s to the tune of “Drunken Sailor.” Lo and behold, she was right!  That’s not the tune we use in the video, but it works in a pinch.

I always feel like we’re pretending to throw our babies out the window when we sing this song, but it’s super easy for caregivers to learn.  Some of the moms at my babytime have taken to swinging the babies in their arms for the first verse.  Before we start singing, I match each baby with another baby and talk about how much babies love to look at human faces. It’s a great way to make a new friend!  My friend Jamie taught me a third verse that goes, “Climb up and down the ladder” which is a great chance for babies to be lifted in the air.

Not every song has to have lifting in it. In fact, sometimes I think I forget how heavy those babies are!  This is a great song to use for some general dancing and bouncing. I always sing it multiple times and sub out “Mama’s” for “”Papa’s,” “Auntie’s,” and “Grandpa’s” just to show how you can play with the words of a song to fit your family’s needs.

A Vancouver classic! We have a lot of elevators here.  Most babies love to be lifted up and down, but one modification I suggest to caregivers is to simply move their arms up and down instead of their whole body.

In the video we show this as a scarf song, but it’s quickly become my second favourite elevator song to do with babies!  For the first part we dance and bounce babies, and then caregivers lift babies up starting from the ground to above their heads.  It is quite the arm workout!

This is a toddler favourite, but I started using it in baby storytime for two reasons.  Firstly, I wanted the caregivers and kids to be familiar with some of the songs when they transition from babytime to toddler or family storytime.  And we do this one every.single.week in family storytime.  It’s also just a really fun dancing song!  I encourage caregivers to crouch down with their baby when we count down and then jump up.  It can also be used as a lifting song.  Don’t forget to check out our extra verses.

I can barely make it through this one without laughing, but this is a super fun song to end babytime with.  When we’re up and dancing, I have the caregivers either swing babies for the first part or lift babies, depending how many other lifting songs we’ve done.  I always mention that popular music is still music – and babies will recognize the songs you love to sing and dance to.  Sometimes we keep it going with, “If you liked it then you should of put a bib on it.”

There you have it! My favourite ways to boogie at babytime.  What are your favourite storytime movement and dancing songs? Let me know in the comments!