We’ll Link to That: Fall 2016

The Fall 2016 issue of YAACING, a youth services newsletter published by the Young Adult and Children’s Services (YAACS) arm of the British Columbia Library Association, is here!  This quarter we’re sharing our favourite things to do in babytime. Make sure to read the entire fall issue.  If you’d like to catch up on our past columns you can find them here:

Fall is here! Kids are heading back to school, the leaves are changing colours, and most importantly, storytimes are back in full force. One of our favourite storytimes is babytime – those special 30 minutes where you are surrounded by giggling and babbling babies and their caregivers. For this column we thought we’d share our 10 Favourite Things to Do in Babytime.  Need more babytime ideas? We got you covered.

  1. Welcome Puppet Kisses – Before babytime begins and after it ends, we love going around and asking babies if they would like a kiss from Duckie. Babies love seeing the puppet up close and it gives us a chance to connect with families one on one.
  2. Sing a Fun Hello Song – This song can become both a ritual and a signal to both parents and infants that Babytime is about to begin. We love the sign language in Hello Friends, the awesome opportunity Gilly, Gilly, Gilly Good Morning offers to talk about how singing lets us practice sounds like guh and m and the interactiveness of Wake Up Feet.
  3. Sing a Song Using Baby’s Name – At least once during babytime we sing a song where caregivers can insert baby’s name in the song. Our current favourites include Cool Cat, Baby Put Your Pants On, and What Shall We Do with Lazy Katie? It’s a great chance to encourage caregivers to personalize songs at home too.
  4. Share an Early Literacy Message – We take a relaxed, informal approach to talking about early literacy and baby brain development in storytime, but we do believe it’s part of what makes us a professional resource for families. Personal stories work great, and check out our list of recommended resources.
  5. Use a Parachute – Have babies lay on their backs, sit in their caregiver’s laps, or take a ride on top of the chute! Any way you do it is sure to be a fun experience. We recommend singing songs and rhymes caregivers already to know as their attention will be focused on helping their little ones enjoy the parachute.
  6. Play – Play is one of the five early literacy practices and there are so many creative ways to infuse it into babytime. Kendra at Read Sing Play has so many fabulous ideas – play boxes, baby art in a bag and sensory hoops, and draw-on mustaches and eyebrows! These ideas would make great standalone programs for babies as well.
  7. Use scarves or egg shakers – Easy to create at home, these two manipulatives or storytime props are an excellent way to equip parents with ways to play and add some fun to babytime! Try one of our favourites like Rain is Falling Down, Popcorn Kernels or The Fish in the Sea.
  8. Dance and have caregivers lift babies into the air – Nothing brings a smile to a little one’s face quite like blasting off after Zoom, Zoom, Zoom. But you can try with All the Little Babies or Mama/Papa’s Little Baby Loves Dancing. Inspired? Why not throw a Baby Dance Party to celebrate?!
  9. Read an interactive book – When parents are concerned that babies do not seem interested in books we like to recommend books which demand interaction. Try Nose to Toes (Harrington), Planes Go (or any in this series by Steve Light!) or Jump (Fischer). For information on these titles and more check out our post all about Babytime Books.
  10. Get baby his or her first library card – While this may seem obvious, it might not be obvious to parents that their little one, no matter how little qualifies for a card. Hosting a Baby Welcoming is a great way to introduce baby to their new library, sign them up for a card, oh and promote your Babytimes of course!

What are your favourite things to do in babytime? We’d love to hear about it! Give us a shout at jbrary@gmail.com.

2017 CLEL Bell Award Suggestions

November is Picture Book Month! It’s also the last month to suggest a picture a book for a CLEL Bell Award. Colorado is doing some super cool stuff around early literacy. The Bell Awards are their “annual recognition of five high-quality picture books that provide excellent support of early literacy development in young children.”  These awards are a great reader’s advisory tool as well as providing ideas for storytime sharing.  Check out the 2016 winners and the early literacy activity sheets that go with them!

When the Bell Awards first launched, we participated in a blog tour highlighting books that support the early literacy skill singing.  This year I wanted to share some of my suggestions for each early literacy practice for the 2017 award.  You can suggest titles until November 30th, 2016 so it’s not too late to get yours in too! Here is a list of selection criteria to follow.  Many of my favourites have already been nominated this year!


goodbye-summerGoodbye Summer, Hello Autumn by Kenard Pak
In this beautifully illustrated autumn tale, a child walks through forest and town greeting parts of the natural world and learning how they change with the seasons. This book models conversation skills and has worked the best for me when I take on a distinct voice for the child and different voices for the things that respond to her. After reading it with my niece we took a fall walk and imagined what all the plants and critters would say to us. An excellent choice for promoting the early literacy practice of talking!



Two of my other favourites for this category are Return by Aaron Becker (who doesn’t love a good wordless picture book to get kids storytelling!) and Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee; illustrated by Eliza Wheeler.



City Shapes by Diana Murray; illustrated by Bryan Collier
Follow a young girl as she walks through her neighbourhood noticing all sorts of shapes hidden in the city landscape.  This book goes way beyond a simple concept book, inviting readers to search for shapes in everyday objects and in the world around them. I suggest this title for the “Write” category because learning shapes is the very first step in learning letters.  When kids can distinguish between a circle, square, and rectangle, they apply that knowledge to the lines and arcs that make up our alphabet. This book models to caregivers an easy way to practice identifying shapes which not only strengthens this early literacy practice but also contributes to a sense of community pride.




Another book I would suggest for this category is Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!: An Alphabet Caper by Mike Twohy featuring a dog and mouse chase game that promotes letter awareness.



The Summer Nick Taught His Cats to Read by Curtis Manley; illustrated by Kate Berube
Cats, books, pirates – what’s not to love! A young boy decides to teach his cats to read only to find they aren’t as interested as he’d hoped. Super funny and engaging, this book gets to to the heart of print motivation – finding something you love to read about! I also love that the cat gets its own library card and the book depicts Nick and his dad borrowing library books to take home. All the right ingredients to promote the early literacy practice of reading!






I would also recommend Let Me Finish! by Minh Le; illustrated by Isabel Roxas for a silly tale of a boy who keeps getting his book interrupted.



Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz, illustrated by Eda Kaban
A vehicle-themed version of the classic children’s song.  Nominating this one for obvious reasons – it’s so fun to sing! I like singable books that are a twist on traditional songs because they show caregivers you can play with music and create your own verses.  I also love that Ms. MacDonald is right there by her partner’s side repairing and driving. In addition to the song there is a story that progresses through the pictures as all the characters – humans and animals – help to build a race track for a race truck.




I also recommend Sing With Me! by Naoko Stoop for a lovely collection of nursery rhymes and songs that include suggestions for hand motions.



Dig In! by Cindy Jenson-Elliott; illustrated by Mary Peterson
A child explores the garden by playing in the dirt. So simple and so brilliant!  This one is perfect for toddlers and encourages outside play that isn’t afraid to get messy. I suggest this book because it sends the message that play doesn’t have to involve expensive toys. Just step outside and get your hands dirty. We also know that children learn with all five senses and this book does a great job of showing how to learn by using your sense of touch.  After reading this book I could see many little ones anxious to go out and play in backyards, parks, and gardens.





Two of my other favourites for this category have already been nominated – the toddlerific title Blocks by Irene Dickson and the perfect preschool pick This is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter.

Have you read any picture books published in the past 12 months that exemplify one of the five early literacy practices? I’d love to hear about them and see them suggested for the 2017 CLEL Bell Awards!