Library Bonanza

Ready, Set, Program!

First Board Books for a Newborn’s Little Library


Any books are great books for newborns as their tiny eyes and fingers begin to explore our world. In fact, words are where it’s really at, so reading from your favorite books and magazines are also great ways to interact with your baby and get them used to the cadences of the language(s) they will grow up around.

But you can’t exactly stock their adorable little library with the more abstract concept of words. So here are my favorites for newborns that they can enjoy now and some even up to their toddler years. And, as always, shop local and shop bookstores!

General Favoritesllama llama red pajama-dewdneybitsy-opal.jpg


yum yum yusuke

Song Books

Singing slows down language and focuses the attention of babies and children. Essentials for any shelf!

brown bear-martin.jpg

*Tune: Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star



row your boat-cabrera.jpg

Diversity Now!

Expose your children now to the beautiful multi-ethnic world we live in.


counting on community-nagarahappy face sad face-cotter

Black and White

Great for new eyes that can focus more closely on the stark contrast between black and white.




look at babys house-linenthal

Touch-and-Feel & Lift-the-Flap

May be a bit “loved” if you check them out from the public library, so these are essentials for home libraries.




You Rolled Your Eyes Before But Now You’re All “Awwww!”

id know you anywhere-tillman


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Baby Art Playground: Texture Blocks

Part III of the Baby Art Playground Series

Texture Blocks

Oh oh oh, this was one of my favorite baby crafts. LET ME TELL YOU EVERYTHING.

Why texture blocks?

Textures are a wonderful early learning experience for growing senses. As babies explore their world, they are building curiosity, strengthening eye sight, and being able to discriminate between objects. We can increase their joy and excitement by providing language for the experience and engaging with their playtime.

I received my inspiration for texture blocks from Fireflies + Mudpies, two very inspirational things.

Caregiver Reception

Caregivers were in LOVE with this craft. While they were gluing and affixing, baby could squeeze and scrunch something that was ready to be put on the block. The options were colorful and fun to sift through. Babies were immediately interested in the final product and it was the perfect size to tuck away inside a diaper bag.

Things to keep in mind as a library program…

There was a LOT of prep time for this one. I purchased the cheaper (but lighter) blocks for the program. For extra security, I sanded down all sides of 100 blocks which took a considerable amount of time. My recommendation? Enlist the help of volunteers for this prep. Also involved in the prep time was measuring and cutting 2×2 squares of fabric, foam paper, fuzzy tape, and bubble tape. The sticky tape was the best because one side was already measured out to 2″ so this saved some time. If it’s readily available, a circular paper punch would work wonders with time management.

To save money, I went to the store at the end of the summer season and got a ton of clearance items. I also used leftover fabric, stickers, and foam letters. The foam letters were divided by letter into baggies which saved the caregivers some time as they juggled baby with their brick crushing arms. Also a time saver? Items with one adhesive side.

I have been advertising these special programs on a local caregiver networking group through a nearby hospital and it has worked wonders in bumping attendance. I would highly recommend seeking on out via social media!

Supplies List

  • 100 2″ square blocks ($70) – I preferred these over the “square blocks” because they were lighter and cheaper. I wanted every caregiver to leave with 2 blocks to stack, but you can easily cut the cost by providing only one block.
  • Sticky Foam sheets ($1.49 each)
  • Fuzzy Tape rolls ($6.99 each)
  • Foam stickers (on sale, < $1.00 each)
  • Bubble wrap roll (on sale, $1.19 each)
  • Fabric patterns cut into 2″ squares
  • Foam letters
  • Felt
  • Any other random items including buttons, pipe cleaners, pom poms, sand, rice, gem stones, etc. I tended to avoid these due to potential chocking hazards and time needed to affix the items

Total Cost = $133.08

ROI (price per 80 participants) = $1.50

Idea for next year

Get more animal stickers. Parents can play a game where they roll the dice or simply turn it about in their hands. Whatever animal comes up, the parents can make the sound!

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Bring Appiness Home – One Library’s Bibliography

I wish I could join and engage with every family that sat down at the iPads. I could encourage co-play and talking and–wait. Every family? Mmm…I take that back. But as a dutiful librarian, I know that there is a passive way to provide reference to the families I miss: bibliography time! *Cue C+C Music Factory“*


My bib included:

  1. Division between interactive book apps & educational apps. I did this because I included:
  2. Specific skills developed via educational apps. I feel like most adults will inherently see value in book apps (as they see value in print books) and I wanted to show caregivers & teachers that other game-centric apps still build certain skills
  3. The app picture–so adults will be able to identify the correct app when they’re searching the app stores
  4. If it is available in the Android Play Store. This I made sure to add after reading commentary out there about the lag in providing appvisory for Android users.

And here is da bib. Do you have an app bibliography at your library? Wanna share, friend?


Early Literacy iPads–Implementation, Public Response, & Upkeep

And she looked upon her creature, all the potential good and all the bad it might bring, and she screamed, “IT’S ALIVE!”


and then she went to the settings and couldn’t find the restrictions and when she finally had she forgot the password and then found some wrinkled, discarded post-it note with the password then she set the iPad to download apps automatically but it went into idle mode as she purchased them through the computer and all hope was lost so she decided to take a rage nap.

In all honesty, setting up iPads to be used in your library won’t make you lose hope in humanity, but it will take time–and time that pays off in a huge way. My last post was about the preliminary steps taken to bring iPads to your library including the research, proposal to the people that keeps all the money, and staff training. Now I’ll present part II about the implementation, the public response, and how to upkeep your iPads.


Once our proposal was approved, we got the ball rolling with (1) publicity, (2) setting up security restrictions, and (3) downloading apps onto the iPad.


We approached publicity in a variety of ways. First, we set up Teaser signs at the Apple Stand to promote the up-and-coming devices. We then printed out or Apple Stand rules just to give people an idea about how to interact with the iPads (these would then stay up when the iPads were available). We sent a press release out to the newspapers (even garnering an interview with a local newspaper!), and we put an alert in our newsletter:

Come try out our 5 new Apple iPads now available for parents to use with children ages 2-8 in the Youth department!  Check one out to use in the department or visit the Apple Stand in the preschool room. The tablets include librarian-approved educational apps that support the early literacy skills of writing, talking, singing, playing and reading.  Already have an iPad? Come test out our apps before you buy them. Don’t have an iPad? Come see what all the fuss is about and provide your child with another way to learn.

The iPads are an obvious draw for those without the devices at home, but they are also beneficial for parents when they want to test out educational, librarian-approved apps suitable for young ages–before they have to buy them.

Before Release Picture

Preparing the iPads for Public Use–Security & General Settings

I present a remarkably short list of the steps you’ll follow to get your iPads to be public ready:

  1. Set Up Your Apple ID–Then sign in each iPad to your new apple ID.
  2. Set restrictions (Settings–>General–>Restrictions) to secure iPads from wandering fingers (See picture below for restrictions settings). Although patrons can still access your settings menu, there can be no permanent damage done, such as accessing your account, purchasing apps, or setting up an email.
  3. Gather admin apps into one folder and put on second page. Unfortunately, you cannot delete these apps from the iPads, but, once your restrictions are set, even roving fingers won’t be able to do any damage to them.
    *Creating a folder: Press and hold any app until they start to do a lil jiggly dance. Press, hold, and drag an app over another app that you would like to group together. Once a black background appears with a title, release the app and rename the folder.

Preparing the iPads for Public Use–Getting Apps on the iPads

So we had chosen our list of apps and now I needed to get them onto all 5 devices. I also needed to record the steps I took because I would be sharing this responsibility with 2 other team members, alternating months when we would purchase apps. Because of this shared responsibility, I created a folder called “What to do when it’s your month.” Sure, it sounds like the title of a menstruation pamphlet but it was easy to understand. In this folder I have five documents. Click on the links to view the detailed steps/lists:

  1. Monthly Check-Up & New Apps Steps
  2. Weekly Check-Up
  3. Apple ID (and password)
  4. APPS-abbreviated names & location (to understand how to arrange the apps on the iPad)
  5. APPS-official name (to be used in cataloging, and to be sorted alphabetically)

As you can see, downloading apps can be detail-oriented, so make sure you don’t miss a step. Because apps are purchased only once per month, a step-by-step process is important for remembering all the details.

Public Response

So we finally made it! All our apps were bought! All our settings were set to maximal! The mounts were newly gleaming and ready to be felt up! But would people actually like them as much as we hoped? Would parents sit with their children and be engaging with their children and the iPads? Would people yell at us for bringing more technology into the library?


Well, guess what, haters–it worked! Not without hitches in the plan, but it worked! Cue one of the most beautifully looped, super happy gifs out there:


Yes, patrons were quite appreciative of the new activity to do in the library. We have three mounted in the Early Ed room and two behind the desk for in-house use only. The mounted ones are definitely the way to go. Our iPads behind the desk have only checked out 6 and 7 times since August 1, but the mounted tablets are used all the time, oftentimes having all three in use. Here’s some picture from the week of our grand release before Preschool Stories (ages 3-5):

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There were a few unexpected trials to test our diligence and our patience but we succeeded in the end. These included:

  • Quick Troubleshooting the iPad guidelines for the desk (very easy, simple solutions; anything more challenging will be sent to the iPad committee)
  • Unattended children at the iPads: This is a tricky situation. There are usually three situations with three responses:
    1. Sometimes the child might be completely unattended in the library and she finds a fun toy to play with while her caregiver is off in never never land. It is explained to the caregiver that they need to be with their 7 and under child at all times while in the library. They must also sit with their child while at the iPads because the devices are expensive and they can unintentionally alter the settings.
    2. Other times, the child may be old and responsible enough to be by themselves while his caregiver is looking for books in the same room or doing a puzzle with the younger sibling. We have had no problems with children mishandling the iPads. They are typically entranced and respectful of the technology. Also, the way the devices are mounted discourages shaking (because you have to reach to touch it and it is not in your lap and you don’t have to hold it up) and dropping (obviously).
    3. If the child is toddler/preschool size (size works, quizzing everyone’s age all the time does not) then we identify the parent and explain to them that the devices are expensive. They can also unintentionally alter the settings so they need to sit within touching distance of the child. And look! There are headphones for you, too!
  • Speaking of headphones, we’ve found that the BeBop Kids Safe Headphones are much too small for adults so we’ll soon have 1 kids headphone and 1 one-size-fits all headphone at each station.
  • Revising the document about the steps for purchasing apps because I missed a few things the first time.
  • The mounts did not quite live up to our expectations. We purchased ours from the Human Solution and its security features weren’t quite what we were expecting. The pole mount is very nice and I love that it flips from portrait to landscape; however, the pole mount is only tightened to our table, not screwed in and the casing around the iPad is plastic and not very durable. Also, the case can be slipped off with the press of a button so we had our facilities team drill a hole through the case and secure it with a wire cable. Finally, the lock on one iPad broke within the first 2 weeks. Thankfully, the Human Solution sent a whole new case to replace it and it has been fine since. So, they are one of the only options out there that provide the ability to turn the screen and they are nicely mounted to a table, but I’m not sure how long they will last. In a survey of area libraries, here are some other options for securing your iPads: MacLocks (used at 4 other libraries–seems to get a great response) and Kensington

How to Upkeep Your iPad

Once again, you can find the more detailed description of upkeep in these two documents: Monthly Check-Up & New Apps Steps, and Weekly Check-Up. But a brief over view of your monthly duties include:

  1. Buy your apps
  2. Update iPads with current iOs software (about quarterly)

And an overview of your weekly duties:

  1. Clean screens with alcohol/water mix
  2. Manually close all apps
  3. Delete all pictures and reset background & lock screens to default, pre-loaded pictures
  4. Ensure that all apps are in their folders

It’s honestly not too bad once you set it up. Keep at it, I belieeeeeve in you! Please ask me about any of the particulars and I will try to create some type of answer that includes words. Next step for our library? Grade school iPads for all kids and teens.

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Early Literacy Talking Points Ages 0-2

Whenever I get a chance to research I get a lil elated. To give you context, in undergrad, I studied for a semester at the Newberry Library in Chicago and wrote an 80-page-paper on the Mexican Revolution of 1910 and how the US press portrayed the Zapatista rebels. I am, without a doubt, the coolest human. So, when I started my Youth Services job a year ago, I was given storytimes for babies and one-year-olds and I went on the research hunt to borrow and create my own structure for storytime. I was PUMPED.


You can check out the structure I came up with on my Stop…Baby Time post and the revised storytime at the Ya’ll Can’t Stop These Babies post. At the beginning of each storytime, I focus on one of the 5 Every Child Ready to Read (2nd edition) practices: singing, playing, talking, reading, and writing. I’ve compiled a list of quick tips from a variety of sources including: the ECRR 2nd edition handbook, Saroj Ghoting’s What Can I Say? and Handouts and Activity Sheets, Talk to Me, Baby by Betty Lynn Segal Bardige, Developmental Tips from Websites from Mother Goose on the Loose, The Importance of Play from ALSC, and several more resources that are alluding me at the moment.

So now I share to you my extensive list of ECRR 2nd edition tips for caregivers of children ages 0-2.

Early Literacy: Singing


Singing (& rhymes): rhyming (distinction of words based on their sound), awareness to sounds in words (phonological awareness), separates syllables, letter knowledge, vocabulary, creates powerful emotional bond between caregiver and child, slows down language

  • Even though young children don’t understand the meanings of rhymes, it is important for them to hear them. By 6 months babies are already able to recognize the sounds of language and rhymes help introduce different forms of the language.
  • Phonological awareness allows children to hear that words are made up of smaller parts. Clapping to rhymes and singing reinforces this. This skill helps them when they later try to sound out words to read. It also gives them a solid foundation
  • Singing slows down language, allowing them to build vocabulary and identify that language is made of parts.
  • Songs and rhymes help children distinguish similar words based on their sound.
  • Sing songs about everything. Washing the dishes? Sing about it! Changing a diaper? There’s a song there too (whoop-de-doop rhymes with poop)!
  • Learning nursery rhymes is an important literacy skill. Studies have shown that children who have memorized some nursery rhymes before they start kindergarten will be more successful in school than children who do not know nursery rhymes.
  • We often do bounce rhymes in Book Babies. Bounce rhymes provide several positive experiences for babies. The steady beat with the whole body lets babies feel the rhythm of language with their bodies. The physical contact of an adult and baby also reinforces positive emotions. And bouncing is joyful and fun! The way you bounce a baby will change over time. When you bounce a young baby you will do it very gently and make sure the baby’s head is supported, as the baby gets older you can make the bounces bigger and bouncier but always remember to do what feels safe for your baby.
  • Singing together has been proven to increase cooperation. Vocalizing and moving together in time strengthens their ability act together as a unit.

Early Literacy: Reading


Reading: reading together is the most effective way to help children become proficient readers

  • Nonfiction, fact-based books are particularly helpful for babies as they begin to attach words to everyday objects. You can go further by finding a real object from the book and showing them afterwards. You are helping them realize that pictures represent real things.
  • Choose books that YOU enjoy because your child picks up on your feelings. Tell your child that you enjoy the book.
  • Although reading the same book for the tenth time might be a drag for you, your child learns by repetition and their brain NEEDS it. Perhaps that will help as you read it yet again.
  • For a baby’s short attention span, reading shouldn’t be done in one sitting but throughout the day. That’s why it’s important to always keep a book handy. Read when you and your child are relaxed and happy.
  • Reading should always be an enjoyable experience. If your child starts to lose interest, return to the book later. If you don’t, your child could start associating negative feelings with reading.
  • Associate reading with fun by keeping a few books in your child’s toy box.
  • When you read to your baby, don’t just read the words. Talk about the pictures. Describe what is going on.
  • Reading helps build vocabulary. Children’s books have 3 times more rare words than everyday talking.
  • Allow your child to participate in the reading experience, even if they can’t read. Let them turn the page. Ask them what is on the page. Point to the word they identify.
  • Choose a long word from a book and clap out the syllables.
  • It is natural for babies to bite on books. This is how they learn about their world. You can gently take it away, without scolding, and open the book to show her the pictures.
  • Hold a book upside down and talk about how you can’t read it. Ask your child to help you turn it right-side up and explain that you can read it now.
  • Before you begin a book, look at the cover and predict what the book is about. Ask questions as you read.
  • Let your child take the lead when it comes to reading. If your baby doesn’t want to read a book, just set it aside and come back to it later. It’s best not to make reading a power struggle but rather to make it a pleasant experience that your baby will learn to love.
  • Keep photo albums or scrapbooks of family events. As you look through them with your baby, tell the story of what happened using a beginning, middle and end.
  • Every once in a while as you read a book with your baby point to a word or a phrase. Very gradually over time your young child will begin to associate the print on a page as a spoken word.
  • Predictable stories are essential in the earlier years. Well-read to children develop a set of expectations of how stories are told which enhances their understanding, allowing knowledge to be easier to access. Children with a rich knowledge base find it easier to learn and remember.
  • Babies begin to associate reading books with special parent talk and cuddling time

Early Literacy: Talking


  • Long before babies talk, they use gestures and movements to express themselves. The rhymes we are doing in class are perfect ways to pair sounds with movements.
  • By using specific names for things, like cat and kitten, you help your child learn new words and you help them understand differences between similar things.
  • Even though your child may not be able to talk, it is crucial that you speak to him or her. This exposure builds vocabulary and shows your child that speaking is fun, giving them a desire to imitate.
  • Parentese is the sing-songing, high-pitched way of speaking to a baby. Research has shown that babies under 1-year-old listen more when spoken to in parentese. Because parentese is different from your regular tone, your baby claims it as their own–you’re talking to me! Vowels are elongated, as are pauses between words. Sentences are short and important words are stressed or repeated
  • Talk with your baby about what you are doing and what is going on around you.
  • Go beyond the words in a story. Describe the pictures you see. Ask where an object is, wait, then point out the object.
  • If English isn’t your first language, speak to your child in the language you know best. This allows you to explain things more fluently so your child will learn more.
  • Children are able to comprehend words spoken to them before they are able to produce them on their own. Sign language is an excellent way to allow your child to speak with you before their vocal chords are fully developed.
  • Business talk (initiations, commands, prohibitions) is used equally amongst parents but the striking differences are in the amount of additional talk–conversation, running commentary, storytelling, wordplay, chit-chat, explanation, and thinking aloud. Business talk is important in setting guidelines and teaching but play talk adds an extra dimension.
  • If you’re not a natural storyteller, books are great places to start. They are full of complex language and decontextualized language which is talk that goes beyond the here and now.
  • Talking and engaging with your child is infinitely more powerful than tv because it is responsive, more interesting, and emotionally affirming.
  • Babbling is the same for all babies the world over. Over time these sounds are narrowed to the sounds of the languages that surround them. By 10or 12 months he will be talking a gibberish that mimics the cadences of the language.
  • Answer your baby’s babbles by repeating them and then adding a new sound
  • Telling first stories can start with an adult telling the story and the toddler filling in key words
  • The most interesting questions are the ones whose answers the questioner doesn’t know I’m advance. Eg. What would you like to play today?, What do we need for our tea party?, where do you think that plane is going?

Early Literacy: Writing


Writing: letters and words stand for sounds and print has meaning

  • Letters are made of shapes. By learning different shapes, young children are on the fast track towards learning letters.
  • Young children learn through their senses. Give them opportunities to feel different textures and shapes. Understanding differences between objects is the best way for babies to develop early-writing skills.
  • By using specific names for things, like cat and kitten, you help your child learn new words and you help them understand differences between similar things, including later, differences in the way letters look
  • Scribbling and finger painting leads to developing fine motor skills like grasping a crayon and creating a picture. Circle crayons are a perfect way for babies to create artwork with their hands. Have your baby finger paint in the tub before a bath.
  • Large foam letters are a simple way to introduce your baby to the different angles and shapes of a letter.
  • The most important word to a child is his or her name. It is an excellent way to show children that letters and words describe something—themselves!
  • Talk to your children about what they draw and write captions or stories together. This helps make a connection between spoken and written word.

Early Literacy: Playing


Playing: builds conceptual knowledge of world, words map onto concepts, engages children in problem solving, improves social interactions, experience forming patterns and relationships, builds comprehension for reading

  • Associate reading with fun by keeping a few books in your child’s toy box.
  • Birth-12 months: Hand-eye coordination, cause and effect, communication, relationship skills (by playing with others)
  • 12-24 months: imitation, communication, problem solving, imagination, relationship skills (by playing with others)
  • Give your child plenty of playtime. Some of the best kinds of play are unstructured.
  • Even from birth, babies are playing. They use play to learn about their world. A baby may grab onto a rattle that you offer and shake it. At first he doesn’t realize that by moving his arm, he is making the rattle make a noise. Over a few months he will be making the connection between his own actions and what is happening around him.
  • Playing peek-a-boo is a little game that helps babies learn that what disappears is still there—object permanence. When you think about it, each page turn of a book is a kind of peek-a-boo, each turning of the page reveals a little surprise.
  • By describing what is happening as you play with your child, by talking about colors and shapes, even if your child does not yet understand all you say, you are helping your child develop language and laying a strong foundation for later reading.