LSC Journal Club: Fall 2018 Recap: Evaluating Early Literacy Programs

Our Vancouver chapter of the Library Services for Children Journal Club held our fall meeting last week to discuss how and why we evaluate early literacy programs such as Mother Goose and storytime. We read and discussed an article about a research study designed to evaluate the impact Regina Public Library’s Mainly Mother Goose program on caregivers support of the development of early literacy for their children.  Here’s a summary of the article and our discussion.

Article Summary

This article aimed to understand how the Mainly Mother Goose program may contribute to caregivers’ engagement in the development of their child’s early literacy skills. Noting the lack of research related to public library program evaluation, especially with regards to early literacy programs, the researchers gave a brief literature view and pointed towards studies out of Idaho and Ontario that showed positive impacts of preschool programs and parent education initiatives. This study used a quasi-experimental design to survey caregivers before and after the program and conduct interviews a few months later. They asked the following 4 research questions:

  • Do parents report an increased use of the following nine early literacy skill development activities after their participation in the MMG program? (see article for complete list of activities)
  • Do caregivers report an increased number of library visits after participating in the MMG program?
  • Do caregivers report an increased sense of confidence and competence in using storytime materials and activities after participating in the MMG program?
  • Do caregivers use what they learned in the MMG program at home?

The results of their study showed no statistically significant change in the use of the nine early literacy skill activities. Because the study evaluated for changes in frequency of behaviour it was noted that many of the caregivers reported a high usage of the skills on the pre-test thus leaving little room for improvement.  The study included results from the program when it was hosted in the library verses when it was hosted at an outreach site. Caregivers at the outreach sites had higher rates of change in the nine early literacy skills. For the remaining research questions, there was an increase in the caregivers visits to the library, their confidence, and their usage of activities at home. Yay!

Group Discussion

Our group started by discussing the nine early literacy skill development activities the researchers chose to ask about. How did they decide on these nine? The don’t give any information regarding the selection of these skills and we noted that they inquire heavily on the skills of talking and singing. None of the questions had to do with play which we know is how children learn.  Some of the skills were very similar – talking a child vs. asking them a question – that we questioned the usefulness of the nine skills too.  We wish the researchers had given a little background on how they chose those skills and how they were connected to research.

We also discussed the researchers choice to evaluate for a change in frequency of behaviour. Our criticism, which was noted in the article, is that very little change will be observed if the caregivers are already exhibiting the behaviours before the intervention (i.e. the Mainly Mother Goose Program.) Especially when surveying caregivers who are already coming to the library on a regular basis, it’s not surprising that there wasn’t a huge impact on the nine skills. Seeing the results of the outreach site visits differ was a good justification to us that our community outreach efforts are much needed and have the biggest impact. We thought the other three research questions gave more valuable information because they showed a changing view of the library and how our programs can impact caregiver attitudes.

This study led us to think about why we do evaluation in the first place. We came up with a list of reasons to conduct research studies that evaluate our programs including to prove our impact on families, to build credibility with our organizations and community members, to push for more money and funding to increase our capacity, to identify gaps in our programming, to contribute to the body of research literature on evaluation, and to assess for learning outcomes of children and caregivers.  We noted the difference, however, between outcome evaluations and satisfaction surveys. If you are wanting to gauge what your caregivers enjoy, what they’d change, what they don’t like, etc. then that is different from an evaluation that measures learning or knowledge acquisition. Before planning large scale evaluation projects it’s important to consider why you are doing them, what you hope to measure, and what you will do with the data when you are done.

This article evaluated caregivers, but there has been recent research that evaluates children and storytime presenters. We talked about the VIEWS2 research study from the University of Washington and how they observed storytimes to see if children display specific early literacy behaviours. They also designed an intervention for the storytime presenters and proved that it helped them be more intentional about early literacy in storytime which impacted the kids as well.  What are the pros and cons of evaluating these three audiences: children, caregivers, storytime presenters? How would the study change based on your audience? It all comes back to what you are hoping to gain from the evaluation. If you want to improve your skills as a storytime presenter then you wouldn’t necessarily ask for caregiver feedback. That’s something a peer or mentor could provide more meaningful feedback based on observation. It was very exciting to see the new research coming out of the VIEWS2 project and even more exciting to see free training being developed based on this research called Supercharged Storytimes.

We ended the discussion by asking ourselves: As children’s librarians are we researchers? Do we view ourselves that way? Were we taught to do research and value research in our MLIS programs? There is so much data we collect through our children’s programs that has the potential to speak to library boards and donors about the significant impact we have in our community. But much, if not all, of that data remains unanalyzed as we do not have capacity in our jobs to conduct research studies on top of all the other day-to-day priorities.  It’s interesting to note that some libraries are joining with universities, such as Calgary Public Library and Mount Royal, to do this research together. Perhaps that is a model we can use in the future.

If you’re interested in starting a Library Services Journal Club in your area, please let me know and I’d be happy to help!

New to Storytime: Choosing Storytime Books

Welcome to my new series, New to Storytime! One of the most common emails I get is from people who are just starting storytime and need help figuring out where to start.  Sometimes they’ve been thrown into a children’s library position due to an illness or staff vacancy and all of a sudden they’ve got storytime tomorrow! So I’ve decided to write a New to Storytime series where I focus on the basics. Each post will cover a different topic. Here they are:

I’m going to start with how to choose books to read at storytime because books remain a key focus of storytime and there are just so dang many of them. I’ve compiled my tips, all of the storytime booklists I’ve written, and additional blog posts and booklists I’ve found elsewhere that are useful.

What other topics would you like to see as part of my New to Storytime series? What tips would you give someone on how to choose books to read at storytime? Feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts!

Things I Look for in Storytime Books

Clearly Visible Illustrations

Because my storytimes are large (50+ people in one room) I go for picture books that have large pages with vibrant illustrations that are easy to see from a distance.  It’s essential your audience can clearly see the pictures as kids give about 90% of their attention when reading to illustrations.  Two examples of books that I think are ideal storytime size are Blocks by Irene Dickson or I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry. It’s not just about the size of the pages though. Look for illustrations that aren’t busy, detailed, or crammed onto the page. Those types of books are great for one-to-one reading but make a poor read aloud because the meaning conveyed in the illustrations gets lost with distance. Finding the right size book will depend on the size of your group. If you have a small baby or toddler group you can get away with reading a board book sometimes, especially if you walk around the room while reading.

Interactive Elements

Does the book have a repeating phrase I can have caregivers and kids say with me?  Are there actions in the book we can do together as we read?  Can I sing part of the book? Does the story line or illustrations provide good opportunities for me to ask questions as I read? Are there animal sounds we can all say together? Does the book have a good rhythm that caregivers could bounce little ones to as I read? These are the questions I ask when searching for books that build participation during reading, leading to greater engagement.  Excellent examples include Spunky Little Monkey by Bill Martin Jr. and From Head to Toe by Eric Carle.

Developmentally Appropriate

This phrase is kind of loaded as kids develop at different rates, but there are some things that work best for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. Babies love high contrast books and books with pictures of other babies, especially their faces. For example, You and Me, Baby by Lynn Reiser. Toddlers thrive on simple stories with 1-2 sentences per page and objects that are easily labeled. Definitely read my Toddler Storytime Authors to Know post. Preschoolers will enjoy more sophisticated stories filled with interesting vocabulary words, humour, description, and  chances for them to connect personally to the book.  Preschoolers especially love books with a surprise element.

Clear Narrative

For toddlers and preschoolers, I look for picture books with an easy-to-follow narrative. Something with a clear beginning, middle, and end. If I find a book is confusing or goes all over the place then I skip it.  My end-of-the-year storytime favourites booklists are filled with examples of clear narratives.

Everyday Diversity

I look for books that show people from a variety of backgrounds. Due to a lack of diversity in picture books in general it’s really easy to go an entire storytime session featuring books with only white, middle class, typically developing children.  So this is something to be aware of and to seek out in order to reflect many ways of being in the world.  Definitely check out the blog Everyday Diversity for recommendations.

Genre Variety

I’m trying to get better at this one, but I look for storytime books in our fiction and non-fiction section.  Information books make great pairings with story books and can appeal to children who enjoy learning facts. I have a co-worker who starts every storytime with a poem and I think that’s a great way to expose caregivers to our poetry collections.  I’ll be writing a blog post soon with my favourite information storytime books.

Books You Love

When you pick a book you personally enjoy your love for the story will show.  Maybe you are drawn to the artwork. Maybe it’s a book you remember reading as a child. Maybe it made you laugh so loud your partner looked at you like you are from another planet. Choosing books these types of books allows you to bring your enthusiasm for stories into circle time in an authentic way.

Choosing Storytime Books

Want more tips? Check out these blog posts from around the web with additional tips for how to choose storytime read alouds.

Jbrary Storytime Booklists

You can also browse our Pinterest boards for books by theme.

Additional Storytime Booklists

  • Everyday Diversity: This blog is a “tool to help librarians find storytime books that predominantly feature People of Color and Native Americans as main characters in contemporary everyday life.”
  • Storytime Share: This blog hosted by Saroj Ghoting features book reviews and more that include early literacy messages you can pair with picture books when reading them at storytime.
  • New Books for Storytime: A 2017 Infopeople webinar that features “new picture books that will engage the storytime audience.”
  • New Books for Storytime: A 2016 Infopeople webinar by the same presenter, Penny Peck.
  • What’s New for Storytime: A 2012 Infopeople webinar that “give you ideas to refresh your storytimes with new books to engage your audience.”

A Link Extravaganza!

Anyone binge watching RuPaul’s Drag Race right now? Just me? Anyways. One of the things I said I would blog about are all the cool things I find online that relate to the field of serving children.  So here is my first link extravanganza! Check out these awesome resources.

Webinars

New Ways to Supercharge Your Storytimes
October 9th, Free! Archived version available.
“With early literacy instructor Saroj Ghoting and other experts in the field, WebJunction recently updated and expanded the training to fully cover the early literacy components, to consider storytimes through an equity lens, and to strengthen assessment of the impact of library storytimes. Find out why HOW you interact with children and families is as important as what you do or how frequently you do it.”

Story-times and Transitions with Heart: Lessons for Early Educators from Youth Librarians
October 24th, Free!
“Participants in this webinar will learn simple ways to make whole group experiences more lively and inclusive by incorporating the power of music, rhyme, and social-emotional concepts. These same building blocks can be used to ease transitions and make for a happier classroom environment.”

Trauma-Informed Care in ECE: Key Strategies for Healing and Behavioral Change
October 17, Free! Archived version available.
“Children with a history of trauma often “act out” their distress through behaviors that are challenging for adults to understand.  This session, presented by Barbara Sorrels, Ed.D., author and child development expert, will focus on understanding the message of challenging behavior and strategies to help children heal.”

Blog Posts

Teaching Poetry to Middle Graders
Chalk full of resources that are super helpful to anyone running a writing program for school-age kids.

The Canadian Children’s Book Centre (CCBC) Book Award Finalists Announced
Check out some amazing Canadian children’s books for the 8 award categories.

2019 Picture Book Preview, Part 5
So many good books coming out next year!

Monolingual in a Multilingual World? Let’s Talk (and Maybe Sing) about It
I loved this post on the ALSC blog that pushes us to incorporate a variety of languages in storytime. Videos included!

Feel free to leave a comment with a professional resource you’ve recently discovered!

 

Guest Post: Using Mirrors in Storytime

Did you know we have an open invitation to write a guest post? Well we do! Today I am delighted to feature a guest post by Katherine Hickey, a Children’s Librarian with the Metropolitan Library System in Oklahoma City.  She also wrote about Art Making for Earliest Learners awhile back and folks, let me tell you, she needs a blog of her own! Now she’s here to teach us how to use mirrors (squee!) in storytime.  Take it away, Katherine!


Mirrors are often present in early childhood play areas as they help support important developmental milestones.  French psychiatrist Jacques Lacan even named an entire developmental stage associated with the use of mirrors, called “the Mirror Stage.” In this stage, infants and toddlers learn to recognize their reflection which is a crucial step to later being able to identify themselves as “I.” Even though the Mirror Stage has been replaced and renamed in other more popular Child Development theories, reflection and recognition remain essential.

My library has handheld mirrors for children to play with during our playtimes which are always wildly popular.  This got me ruminating on ways to use them during storytime to build early literacy skills, and so I bought a box of 24 mirrors and did some experimentation.  They have been a fun alternative to the traditional props like bells and scarves, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned so far! All of these activities can be modified for a baby, toddler, or preschool audience.

Here are a few logistical considerations and suggestions:

  1. Hand the mirrors to the caregivers, not the child, for safety reasons. The caregiver can then decide if they want to hold it or allow their child to hold it.
  2. Clearly communicate the “ground rules:” if a mirror gets broken bring it to the librarian and we will hand you another one, be gentle with your mirror, when you are not using the mirror, keep it next to you.
  3. Decide when you are going to gather up the mirrors (at the end of the program, at the end of the activity, etc.) and communicate this to the group so that the children can anticipate when they will have to hand them back.

Developmental Tips to Share with Parents:

  1. Children begin to develop self awareness (e.g. recognizing self in a mirror) between 15 and 24 months[1].
  2. Using mirrors with infants is a great practice, even if they are not yet developmentally able to recognize themselves. Mirrors provide sensory exploration and encourage curiosity. They are also great for bonding between caregiver and baby, which helps form a secure relationship to later learn how to read. [2]
  3. Self-awareness can take a while to develop.  It’s normal for children to be inconsistent in their self-awareness. Sometimes they’ll recognize themselves in a mirror or picture, sometimes they won’t. [3]
  4. After the age of two, this self awareness leads to the development of “self consciousness.” They are becoming aware of how they are perceived by others. [4]
  5. Having your child grip the mirror will help them strengthen their motor skills and hands.  This is important for them to learn how to hold a book and turn a page, and later learn how to write.[5]

Mirror Activities:

  1. Exploration before storytime.  Handing out mirrors to children as they enter the storytime space gives them something to explore and fidget with while waiting for the program to begin.
  2. Learning facial features.  Have the grownup hold the mirror up to their child’s face and point to their facial features while singing songs like “This is the Way we Wash our Face,” “Eye Winker,” or “Here Are My Knees.” This helps reinforce vocabulary.
  3. Looking at clouds. Take the group outside and have them set the mirrors on the ground and look at the reflection of the sky.
  4. Looking at scarves. Put the mirror on the ground and have the child float a scarf above it to see its reflection.
  5. Peek-a-boo. Have the child play peek-a-boo with themselves while looking in the mirror. You can pair this with the song “Peek-a-boo.”
  6. Mirrors to see behind you.  Have the caregiver hold up the mirror above the child’s head, slightly tilted forward. The child should be able to look in the mirror and see what’s behind them. You can use this as a prompt to learn directional words, like “in front of” “behind” “to the side,” etc.
  7. Counting.  Hand every other caregiver some kind of plastic toy (a ball, a block, in this case, a little frog). Have two caregivers pair up and put their mirrors together, with the toy on the ground. Have the children count how many frogs their see.

Book Pairings:

  1. Eye Color: Brown, Blue, Green, and Other Hues by Jennifer Boothroyd. Talk about different eye color and have the children try to identify their own eye color by looking in the mirror.
  2. Find a Face by Francois Robert.  This simple book is all about finding faces in every day objects.   There are few words on each page so it’s great for a baby or toddler audience.
  3. Fiona’s Feelings by Dr. John Hutton. Caregivers can hold the mirror up to their baby’s face and try to replicate Fiona’s facial expressions. This is also a great prompt to talk about feelings!
  4. What I Like About Me! By Allia Zobel Nolan and Miki Sakamoto. Each page of the book celebrates a body part. Have the children point to the corresponding body part while looking in the mirror as you read.  This rhyming book is a little text-heavy for babies and toddlers so I usually just read a few of the words on each page. You can also have the child look at themselves in the mirror and say what they like about themselves.

I’ve just started scratching the surface of all of the early literacy activities that can be done with mirrors, so please feel free to comment with your own ideas!

References:
[1] http://www.parentingcounts.org/information/timeline/baby-begins-to-develop-self-awareness-15-24-months/
[2] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10862960109548129
[3] Courage, M., Edison, S., & Howe, M. (2004). Variability in the early development of visual self-recognition. Infant Behavior and Development, 27(4), 509-532.
[4] Vyt, A. (2001). Processes of visual self-recognition in infants: experimental induction of ‘mirror’ experience via video self-image presentation. Infant & Child Development, 10(4), 173
[5] Julius, M., Meir, R., Schechter-Nissim, Z., & Adi-Japha, E. (2016). Children’s ability to learn a motor skill is related to handwriting and reading proficiency. Learning and Individual Differences, 51, 265-272.

We’ll Link to That: Fall 2018

We are so lucky to have a provincial newsletter written by youth services staff in British Columbia. Every quarter we contribute a column called We’ll Link to That! where we share our favourite resources. The Fall 2018 edition is here! Be sure to read the whole thing for some excellent youth services ideas. Want to catch up on our column? Browse through the We’ll Link to That category on our Professional Development page.

We’re kicking it old school this time around with a link round-up of some amazing ideas we’ve seen floating around the web. Need some fall inspiration? We’ve got you covered.

Over on our Jbrary blog we’ve been fortunate to have some amazing guest bloggers contribute to our Talking to Kids About Race series. Use a curated list of racially diverse storytime books and learn how to give early literacy tips around the topic of race. Following the social justice topic, we also wanted to share an inspiring post by Hi Miss Julie about Outreach in a Time of Uprising where she addresses how to be vulnerable in our work and how to pay attention to the needs of a community. And you know how strongly we feel about community outreach!

Looking for new ideas to serve your early years community? Short on funds? Check out these Homemade Interactive Play Stations intended to foster creative and imaginative play without costing a fortune. If you’re looking to build up your STEM programming for preschoolers, this Computational Thinking in Storytime with Robots blog post shows you the books, songs, felt activities, and extension activities that blend early literacy and technology seamlessly. Over on the ALSC blog we found these visual schedules a great first step in making storytimes inclusive for all families. We are so excited Miss Meg is back blogging and were wowed by her Fairy Tale Ball that capitalizes on the lasting power of folk and fairy tales for a wide age range. Lastly, we had heart eye emojis for this Mini Masters of Library Science program that is sure to inspire a new generation of youth services librarians!

Summer Reading Club is officially over (thank GOODNESS!) but how are you going to keep those eager readers plugged into the library? We got you. LibraryLaura and her coworker Jen reminded us that book character parties are a blast any time of the year. Their Elephant and Piggie Party is full of fun ideas for budding readers and could honestly be a monthly program. For more book character program ideas, check out our round-up post. Another Mo Willems inspired program (but you could use your favourite rhyming read) celebrates Nanette’s Baguette and its glorious rhymes. We love how Allison the Lightsome Librarian focuses on the importance of rhyme beyond the early years crowd and includes an awesome BINGO template in her School-Age Storytime. You might be all slimed out but Karissa the Ontarian Librarian shares some brilliant new stations for a slime program and also why libraries are the perfect place for slime. Finally, if you’ve been itching to try an escape room this post if for you! We love how Jennifer Johnson breaks down her process, shares resources and makes this Battle of the Bands Escape Room for Tweens and Teens seem downright doable.

The Fall is a wonderful time not only for new books but to start checking out what’s coming out next year too. Mile High Reading has not one, not two, but three glorious posts (so far!) featuring 2019 picture books to feast your eyes upon. And finally, we leave you with an absolute gift of a post by Abby the Librarian. Abby is new to her collection development role and her post on Building a Collection Development Toolkit is incredibly helpful if you purchase for all ages, but even her strategy of subscribing to a blog or weekly email would be helpful for youth services folks.

Have you seen any amazing program or collection resources out there? Send us an email at jbrary@gmail.com to tell us all about it!

Bilingual Storytime Resources

Over the years we’ve received many emails inquiring about bilingual, specifically Spanish language, storytime resources.  Though I grew up in California and took over four years of Spanish in high school I don’t program in Spanish in my current job. But that doesn’t stop the librarian in me from wanting to do the research! I’ve compiled all of the websites, books, and songs I could find on this topic.  If you know of something I missed, please leave a comment so I can add it in!  I view this post as a living document that will constantly be updated as new resources become available.
Looking for languages other than Spanish?  Dana wrote a guide to Multilingual Storytimes.

Courses

Professional Development Books

Webinars

All of the webinars listed here are free.

Songs and Rhyme Videos

Websites

Blog Posts

Please feel free to leave a comment with advice, tips, or resources related to running a bilingual storytime program! If you know of resources for bilingual storytimes in languages other than Spanish and English let me know and I’ll create a separate section at the end of the post for those.

Where Have All the Bloggers Gone?

Why hello there. It’s been a minute.  I decided mid-way through the summer to give myself a break from blogging.  Mostly so I could soak up the sun that makes a rare appearance in Vancouver and partly because my brain needed a break from writing and planning.  It’s been a struggle to get back into blogging if I’m honest.  Partly because I’m still trying to be outside as much as possible before the weather turns and partly because my brain feels overloaded with other things.

I don’t think I’m alone in this feeling.  When I first started blogging in 2013 there were tons of children’s librarians blogging regularly about storytime and beyond. I mean just look at our blogroll. Nowadays the number of people who post regularly are few and far between (major fist pumps to you all who do it!).  And I get it.  There is a lot happening in the world that demands our energy and attention, and the platform of blogging has been replaced in part by Facebook groups where you can ask a question or share an idea easily and get instant responses. Which is great! But I’d be sad if blogging went away entirely.

One of the main reasons I still prefer blogging is that the posts are findable and searchable on search engines like Google.  If someone doesn’t know about groups embedded in social media platforms or how to effectively search those groups, they don’t have access to the information shared there.  Blog posts are also easy to organize which is helpful when referring people with questions about services to the early years.  All this to say I still value blogging as a way to share, connect, and help others who serve children and I’m going to try my best to consistently post throughout the fall.

Which brings me to my next question. What should I blog about?  I’ve got lots of ideas floating around in my mind, but I would love to hear from you about what types of posts you enjoy.  Here’s what I’m considering:

  • New to Storytime Series: My toddler storytime series are among our most popular blog posts and we get a lot of email questions from people who have never done storytime before. I’d like to do another series where I get even more basic. Things like how to choose books for storytime, choosing rhymes and songs, preparing your storytime space, using a simple outline to plan effectively, etc. I might even create a landing page of some sort with external resources as well for storytime beginners.
  • Storytime Booklists: I want to continue doing my yearly favourites list but I’ve also got a non-fiction storytime booklist in the works. And I really need to update my favourite babytime read alouds.
  • Cool New Resources: I feel like I’m always bookmarking journal articles, blog posts, websites, webinars, etc. that have caught my eye. I’d like to start occasionally posting round-ups of these resources for others to learn from too.
  • Round-Ups: Okay what I mean by this is when I dig up a whole bunch of resources around a certain topic and share it in list form. Examples are my babytime beginner’s guide and my book character parties blog post. I definitely want to do one multilingual storytimes as I get emails about that one a lot.
  • Community Work Strategies: I would love to write about how I do community work and the different tools that support me. I’m big into Google maps.
  • School-Age Programming: I run an Early Readers Book Club program and a Creative Writing program right now. I’m considering sharing the activities we do in each.
  • Reflection Pieces: The way I do my work and the way I program has evolved over the past five years. I would like to spend some time writing about what’s changed and why. Where do I place the most value and importance nowadays? I love reading these sort of posts by other children’s librarians.
  • Guest Posts: We are still accepting guest posts! In fact, I have an awesome one coming your way very soon about how to use mirrors in babytime. If you’d ever like to submit a guest post for publication here, just shoot us an email.

Welcome back, friends.

We’ll Link to That: Summer 2018

The Summer 2018 edition of the YAACING newsletter is here! Be sure to read the whole thing for some excellent youth services ideas. Here’s our column, We’ll Link to That!, where we shared 10 upcoming Canadian titles we can’t wait to read. Want to catch up our column? Browse through the We’ll Link to That category on our Professional Development page.


There are so many great Canadian books for kids coming out this year! We thought we’d take some time to share some of the titles we can’t wait to get our hands on.

Red Sky at Night by Elly Mackay
Mackay’s beautiful paper illustrations have stunned us before and this one looks to be a stunner too. A grandfather takes his grandchildren on a fishing trip that is filled with weather sayings. Sounds like the language will be beautiful too!

Good Night, Good Night by Dennis Lee

Dennis Lee’s poetry is timeless and seeing its resurgence in board book format does our verse-loving hearts good! Pair Lee’s language with one of our favourite illustrators, Qin Leng, and this nighttime themed title is sure to be a gem.

Forest Baby by Laurie Elmquist; illustrated by Shantala Robinson

This board book was made for B.C. families! Victoria, B.C. author Elmquist writes of a little one who hitches a ride in a backpack as they go on a hike through a forest. A great way to promote the outdoors.

Wallpaper by Thao Lam

I think we’ve got ourselves a new Canadian wordless picture book superstar. Lam is back with another wordless adventure featuring a shy girl who peels back the wallpaper in her new house to reveal an imaginary land.

Rooster Summer by Robert Heidbreder

Ok, ok another poetry book – but bear with us! Usually Heidbreder’s work is combined with goofier illustrations but the more sophisticated images by Madeline Kloepper give this book a more serious tone and wider appeal. The story is based on Heidbreder’s experiences growing up on a farm and all written in verse, making it a perfect way to introduce poetry to pre-readers.

Ten Cents a Pound by Nhung N. Tran-Davies; illustrated by Josée Bisaillon

The author came to Canada in 1979 as a refugee from Vietnam and it was this experience that informed this book. A mother urges her young daughter to leave their village to explore the greater world. This looks like a beautiful depiction of a mother-daughter relationship from an own voices author.

Tinkle, Tinkle, Little Star by Chris Tougas

Finally a gender neutral book on potty training! This one looks funny and it can be sung to the tune of the classic nursery rhyme. An oft-requested topic by parents, this one is sure to fly off the shelves.

Poetree by Caroline Pignat

It’s not our fault there are so many poetry based picture books being published- so let’s just embrace it, ok? This gorgeous lifecycle book has many levels of word-play on each page that will engage the attention of independent readers, or keep pre-readers coming back for more. Rich verse about the lifecycle of a tree all beautifully illuminated by François Thisdale.

On My Swim by Kari-Lynn Winter

Finding books for babies and toddlers can be challenging – when On My Walk came out it was a welcome storytime addition. Now, author Kari-Lynn Winters and illustrator Christina Leist are continuing the series with On My Swim, On My Bike and On My Skis and we could not be more pleased! These books feature a nice mix of urban and wild environments all seen from a little one’s perspective plus a healthy dose of playful language.

Swimming with Seals by Maggie de Vries

If you’ve read anything by Maggie de Vries or heard her speak you know her work is thoughtful, imaginative and real. This book portrays a girl who does not live with her mother, but does get to spend time with her, which can be both happy and painful. Though Swimming with Seals deals with a difficult topic it is lovingly rendered, accessible for young readers, and accompanied by lucious watercolour illustrations. A perfect, quiet read.

What 2018 Canadian books for kids are you looking forward to? Give us a shout on Twitter at @Jbrary.