Library Bonanza

Ready, Set, Program!

Ya’ll Can’t Stop These Babies

Another session of Baby Bounce comes to a close and I am itching to start planning again. For my past two sessions I was working with this structure. It was an excellent framework for a freshly released graduate student because it allowed room for flexibility. It identified rhymes by what they accomplished, not by theme. This helped to avoid overstimulation and boredom, while giving me a structure to find rhymes.

But now I can create a new creation, one that is my own, my sweet, my precious! *cough*gollum*cough* *cough* Golly, these kids are getting me sick with their sticky baby hands. My one-year-old class structure has changed quite a bit and my baby class has remained the same.

Story time class playing with babies

Baby class

Baby Bounce (6 weeks-1 year), also known as pre-walkers:

  1. Name song: Hello Everybody
  2. Self and Clapping rhymes—little bit slower
  3. Lap-riding/action songs—faster
  4. Self and Clapping rhymes—little bit slower
  5. Choral Reading Book
  6. Lullabies & Sign Language (alternate between sessions)
  7. Toys

Funsies with Onesies (1 year – 2 years), also known as walkers:

  1. Name song: Hello Everybody
  2. Clapping Rhyme
  3. Weekly song – Wind the Bobbin Up
  4. Book
  5. Song with Instrument or Prop (egg shakers, bean bags, scarves, rhythm sticks, bells)
  6. 2 Activity Rhymes (stand up and use whole body)
  7. Pretend Rhyme
  8. Closing song: Snuggle Up
  9. Toys

I’ve found the one year olds to be the trickiest class. They’re finally able to walk on their own and want to explore everything within eye sight. They want to touch, touch, touch, and they have a hard time understanding restrictions. Because they can see clearer,  they’re more interested in the other cute lil’ thing next to them. So, I’ve decided to implement three courses of action.

  1. Have more repetition – Encourages excitement and showing off and develops memory – I will incorporate my favorite song, Wind the Bobbin Up, every class. Not only does this have a sweet beat, but it encourages several processing skills such as mimicry, memory, and gross motor skills.
  2. Move the book up in the class – The whole fluid process of getting your jiggles out and then settling down with slower rhymes and then reading just did NOT work for my group of kids. I could examine their small attention span under a microscope, so I decided to push the book earlier in the class, hopefully harnessing their fresh attention.
  3. Utilize songs with instruments or props – Another way to play and have fun with songs and allow babies to manipulate toys to create music, sounds, or fascinating effects. I just hope this doesn’t open up a barrel of crazy time.
  4. Have a settle song handy – I like to use rhymes that include rain where I can imitate the natural shushing sound of rain falling. I might readily use this after the songs and props.

After all these changes I hope to go from thisbored child

to this!

happy child

Ah, storytime. Always a work in progress. Below I have included several rhymes used for the littlest ones. Enjoy!

Hello Everybody (Tune: London Bridge)

Hello everybody and how are you,
How are you, how are you?
Hello everybody and how are you?
How are you today?
Hello little _______ and how are you…

Snuggle Up (Tune: Bunny Hop)

Snuggle up together
Baby’s in your lap.
Snuggle up together
And clap, clap, clap

Snuggle up together
Don’t you nap.
Snuggle up together
And tap, tap, tap.

You’re workin’ out together
Baby don’t stop.
You’re workin’ out together
So hop, hop, hop.

Now our song is over
Get ready to stop.
Now our song is over
So stop, stop, stop.

Rain, Rain – Settle Rhyme

Rain, rain falling down.
Falling on the ground.
Pitter patter, pitter patter,
What a lovely sound!

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Stop…Baby Time: Creating an Early Literacy Program for Babies

Talking, singing, reading, writing, playing. With these 5 activities, little tykes are on their way to developing skills and a love for reading. Sounds like fun, right? You’re darn tootin’!

As the school year approaches I have been given the opportunity to develop programs for children ages 6 weeks to 2 years. Baby Bounce is ages 6 weeks – 11 months and Funsies with Onesies is 1 year – 2 years. There are 4 sessions throughout the year, each lasting 6 weeks, once per week. Finally, I get to stretch my academic muscles and use my knowledge in a practical, influential way. After 20 years of school, I can go out into the world and make a difference. This is my chance to shine, ma!

Whelp, shining certainly takes time, dedication, research, and action.

1. You gotta love da babays. And I do love the babies. Since my Early Childhood Literacy class at Indiana University, detailed in the blog post “Revolutionary Thinkers: Early Childhood Librarians,” I have felt a strong connection to early childhood literacy and I believe passionately in its philosophy.  Librarians can help nurture pre-literacy skills at the most decisive ages of a child’s life, and that is something of which I’m proud to take part.

Kalexanderson's Flickr

Gotta love ’em–even the baby stormtroopers.

2. Apply your education to the task at hand. Keep your books, keep your notes, keep your contacts, and remember what you learned! I went through my school notes and the Every Child Ready to Read 2nd Edition handbook in order to identify what my programs were going to accomplish. I was trained in the American Library Association’s Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) 2nd edition. This program supports 5 early literacy activities: talking, singing, reading, writing, playing. The power in these activities is their simplicity. Parents understand what these mean. They are reassured that their everyday interaction is building their child’s ability to succeed.

3. Research in your own terms. After sifting through my notes on ECRR, I needed to narrow it down to the basic fundamentals: what do these activities accomplish? Here are the blurbs I made for our website.

Talking: Children learn language by listening to their parents and others talk. Building vocabulary and learning about the world around them will help your child make connections between stories and real life. Furthermore, when your child talks to you, she is engaging in self-expression and developing her narrative skills by creating her own stories. By imitating the story structure she loves, she is developing an early desire to read and reinforcing her vocabulary.

Singing: Songs are a wonderful way to slow down language and separate syllables. Most songs rhyme which allow a child to distinguish similar sounding words. All this develops phonological awareness, or the ability to hear and play with the smaller sounds in words. Most importantly, singing develops a powerful bond between caregiver and child that creates a loving environment for early literacy.

Reading: Reading together is the single most important way to help children get ready to read. Not only does it increase vocabulary, but children can develop print awareness, or knowing how to handle a book and how we follow the words on a page. Creating a fun environment for reading encourages more reading in the future.

Writing: Writing begins with scribbles, then comes letter knowledge. Children can start by knowing that letters are different from each other, and that they have different names and are related to sounds.

Playing: Children learn a lot about language through play. Play helps children learn symbolically, so they understand that spoken and written words can stand for real objects and experiences. Play also engages children in problem solving, improves social interactions, and builds comprehension for reading.

One of my coworker’s concerns about the new ECRR was that it strayed too far from early literacy research. This is addressed in the 2nd ECRR edition, but it could be overlooked.

Two broad sets of skills are needed for early reading success and beyond: decoding and comprehension.

  • Decoding: Strong predictors of early reading success–learn the code, noticing print, knowing letter names and sound, hearing sounds that make up words
  • Comprehension: Foundation to become proficient readers–knowing what words mean (vocabulary recognition), understand the meaning of printed language
    • Comprehension Boosters: show print concepts, think aloud (model how a critical thinker approaches a book), give info, explain, question

Decoding and comprehension skills are intertwined with the 5 early literacy activities (talking, singing, reading, writing, playing). This academic vocabulary gives the 5 early literacy activities a backbone.

All in all, I would highly suggest researching all the literature behind ECRR and developing your own cumulative understanding. If you have already been introduced to ECRR or briefly trained, revisit the research and reinforce your knowledge.

4. Identify your audience. For the very young (6 weeks – 1 year), the parents are the main audience. This will be their first time in a baby class and, perhaps, their first exposure to the theory behind early literacy. Therefore, education is key. I have created a handout for parents to take home that includes all rhymes, and the early literacy skill I highlighted for that program. I will discuss the handouts later. Unfamiliarity is a key barrier you must overcome.  Parents might be nervous singing and bouncing along next to other parents, so I repeat each rhyme at least twice. Bring back successful rhymes from previous classes. Use at least one familiar Mother Goose rhyme per session that, hopefully, all caregivers will know. In our summer program, I used a baby doll to imitate what caregivers should do with their child.

This guy is LOVING your program.

For a little bit older (1 year – 2 years), I focus on both parents and kids. They are beginning to notice you and notice each other. Use a child’s name in songs. Make eye contact. I go a little lighter on the academic talk, but I still include pointers.

5. Create a consistent structure – for the baby’s sake and yours. Routines are essential in planning your program. “For young children, every day is packed with learning and excitement, and routines provide relief from the chaos” (Wang, J. B. “Why Is Routine Important for Babies?” American Baby). Being introduced to too many new things can be overwhelming. Other than the relief it provides, routines provides repetition which lead to more effective learning (Hogg, T. & M. Blau. The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems). This is where structure comes in. I used the structure provided in Babies in the Library by Jane Marino and tweaked it a little. The pre-walkers include:

  1. Self and Clapping rhymes—little bit slower
  2. Lap-riding/action songs—faster
  3. Self and Clapping rhymes—little bit slower
  4. Choral Reading Book
  5. Lullabies
  6. Toys

The walkers include:

  1. Longer, warm-up song (get settled into the program)
  2. Clapping Rhymes
  3. Pretend Rhymes (nursery rhymes, used around the house, outside, etc.)
  4. Activity Rhymes (stand up and use whole body)
  5. Lap-sit bounce
  6. Book
  7. Finger/Clapping Rhymes
  8. Toys

While some librarians rely on themes as structure, I feel like this would severely limit your ability to create a flowing, organic program. Now, I haven’t tried this structure out so I will reflect on the effects of this in the future. Babies generally lose focus towards the end of a program, so the reading time might have to get moved. However, Marino states that after softer rhymes, the babies will be more settled and focused. We shall soon see…

6. Choose short books, read together, and read as a leader.Book reading is a delicate balance. From a survey that my library conducted last year, several parents mentioned that their child only disliked reading time. At such a young age, it’s hard to get them focused on anything for longer than a passing moment. (Although, a friend of mine likes to bring up the day she gave her baby a box lined with newspaper. She was in there for close to 30 minutes giggling like a tickled baboon. I empathize.)

It’s good to keep the story short with lots of white space and bold colors. Rhythmic stories are fun and memorable. At this point in their development, exposing them to book reading TIME is key. They can begin to understand that pages turn and they can be exposed to pictures, peek-a-boo flaps, and, in some cases, real photographs. Another example of books in storytime is represented on a former classmate’s blog, The Show Me Librarian.

For babies, I will utilize choral reading, where the whole group reads together. This allows caregivers to model the librarian by being more expressive and reading slower. In order to do this, Fremont PL has non-circulating copies of exemplary board books. Each session I bring in 15 of the same book and we read the first half together and the second half alone. For onesies, I will read a very short book to the group.


7. Handouts encourage engagement at home. My handouts include the program’s rhymes, songs, books, and the early literacy tip of the week. Because there are only 5 in ECRR, The first program is an introduction to early literacy. When the caregiver gets home, remembers the tune but not the words, they have something to reference (if the handout makes it home alive, lord willing).

As stated before, this program is ready to be tested. I’m excited for it, but certainly willing to alter things around if they don’t work for me, for the audience, or for the sanity of us both. More to come later.


Graphic Novel Primer

I’m sure we’re all avidly aware that teens gobble up graphic novels like free pizza. While the patron’s interest is there, is the librarian’s? While it’s easy to see that graphic novels bring in teen AND children readers (especially reluctant readers) it is important to align this new format of literature with collection development policies, curricula, and mission statements. It’s also nice to present the big boss with extra incentive to build your collection. Before I explain the benefits of Graphic Novels (GNs), let’s take a look at the four main categories of GNs: cartoon, comic, manga, and long form.

-Cartoons are comical and bubbly and most can be read on their own in 3-5 panels. Their main audience appeal is juvenile. Examples include Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes.

-Comics include superheroes with a lot of action. The main publishers are DC and Marvel. Watch out for newer editions of popular heroes and heroines because their main focus is to an adult audience.

-Manga is originally from Japan and has created its own subculture of devout fans. Manga involves a single tale over a series of volumes.  Depending on the popularity, some manga, such as Bleach, extend past 400 Chapters and 40 volumes.  Shojo manga is geared towards girls and shonen is geared towards boys.

-Long form GN are usually the most supported GN by librarians and adults. Long form is multifaceted, plot-driven, and as diverse as prose in the genres it offers. Recently, popular prose has been converted to GN format (Shakespeare, Warriors, Twilight).

It’s also important to note that GN can be used with children, too. You can tell the difference between a picture book and a GN by the presence of panels, word balloons, and sound effects. A great example is Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie series.

So, why are these important to have in your collection? First, it motivates kids to read more. Nuff said. Second, the actual graphic layout can reveal parallel events within a time period as fully intertwined, much like the effect movies can have. For early literacy, GNs help build valuable decoding skills. As children follow action across the page, their eyes are duplicating left to right movement.  Furthermore, children can visually attach words to emotional expression, movement, and objects. This is also important for autistic children that have difficulty reading the emotions of others and can precisely see the exaggerated emotions in cartoons.  Finally, programming around GN is a great way to inspire creativity, provide a springboard for creative writing, and teach valuable lessons such as drawing.  Manga clubs are a popular patron-led option.

Now that you have a bit of the basics, here are some great suggestions to build or add to your collection:

Bleach – Tite Kubo (2001-current, fantasy/ghosts)
Age Recommendation: YA
Synopsis: “Ichigo Kurosaki has martial arts skills and the ability to see ghosts, and his life is about to change when he meets Rukia Kuchiki, a soul reaper and protector of innocents.”

Bone – Jeff Smith (1994-2004, humor/fantasy)
Age Recommendation: 10-15
Synopsis: “The series chronicles the adventures of the Bone cousins–plucky Fone Bone, scheming Phony Bone, and easygoing Smiley Bone– who leave their home of Boneville and are swept up in a Tolkienesque epic of royalty, dragons, and unspeakable evil forces out to conquer humankind.”

American Born Chinese – Gene Luen Yang (2006, humor/balancing two identities)
Age Recommendation: YA
Synopsis: “This fable stars the mythological Monkey King, realistic youngster Jin Wang of Taiwanese parentage, and TV sitcom teen Danny. All three are dogged by an unwanted identity and humiliated by others’ prejudice.”
Read-alike: The Accidental Genius of Weasel High – Rick Detorie

Anya’s Ghost – Vera Brosgol (2011, mystery/balancing two identities)
Age Recommendation: YA
Synopsis: “Anya, embarrassed by her Russian immigrant family and self-conscious about her body, has given up on fitting in at school but falling down a well and making friends with the ghost there just may be worse.” Simple and beautiful artwork convey the wide range of Anya’s teenage emotions.Read-alike: Mercury – Hope Larson

Shaun TanThe Arrival – Shaun Tan (2006, immigration)
Age Recommendation: 10-18
Synopsis: “Tan captures the displacement and awe with which immigrants respond to their new surroundings in this wordless graphic novel. It depicts the journey of one man, threatened by dark shapes that cast shadows on his family’s life, to a new country. The only writing is in an invented alphabet, which creates the sensation immigrants must feel when they encounter a strange new language and way of life.” Excellent for discussions, circle time, and classrooms.
Read-alike: The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick

Rapunzel’s Revenge – Shannon and Dean Hale (2008, action/heroine)
Age Recommendation: 9-12
Synopsis: “Rapunzel is raised in a grand villa surrounded by towering walls. Rapunzel dreams of a different mother than Gothel, the woman she calls Mother. She climbs over the wall and finds out the truth. Her real mother, Kate, is a slave in Gothel’s gold mine. In this Old West retelling, Rapunzel uses her hair as a lasso and to take on outlaws–including Gothel.”
Read-alike: Ella Enchanted – Gail Carson Levine

Zita the Spacegirl – Ben Hatke (2010, science fiction/heroine)
Age Recommendation: 9-12
Synopsis: “While exploring a meteoroid crater, young explorers Zita and Joseph discover an unusual device featuring a conspicuous red button. Zita’s curiosity compels her to press it, only to discover that it summons an alien creature that instantly abducts Joseph. Zita is compelled to set out on a strange journey from star to star in order to get back home.”
Read-alike: Jellaby – Kean Soo

Dengeki Daisy – Kyousuke Motomi (2010-current, romance)
Age Recommendation:
Synopsis: “When Teru’s older brother died, she was left with little more than a cell phone containing the text-address of an elusive character named DAISY. DAISY became Teru’s pillar of strength over the next few years as he sent her encouraging words through his phone. One afternoon, Teru accidentally breaks a school window which results in her working for the grouchy school janitor Kurosaki. As Teru begins working for the unlikable janitor, her feelings begin to surpass that of servant and she begins to question DAISY’s true identity. Could Kurosaki be her beloved DAISY?”
Read-Alike: Fruits Basket – Natsuki Takaya

Calvin and Hobbes Bill Watterson (1987-1995, humor)
Age Recommendation: 10-15
Synopsis: “It follows the humorous antics of Calvin, a precocious and adventurous six-year-old boy, and Hobbes, his sardonic stuffed tiger. The strip depicts Calvin’s flights of fantasy and his friendship with Hobbes, and also examines Calvin’s relationships with family and classmates.”
Read-alike: Diary of a Wimpy Kid – Jeff Kinney

The DC Comics Encyclopedia Michael Teitelbaum, et al. (2008, nonfiction/eye-catching)
Age Recommendation: Where interest lies
Synopsis: “This copiously illustrated encyclopedia chronicles more than 1,000 DC Comics characters from the 1930s to the present. Arranged alphabetically, each entry gives the first appearance, status (hero, villain, etc.), real name, occupation, height, weight, and eye and hair color of the superheroes or supervillains. Special abilities and superpowers are also listed along with ample cross-references to other comic characters or superleague affiliations.”

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Revolutionary Thinkers: Early Childhood Librarians

In the midst of summer, one might be playing catch at the park, catching some rays at the pool, or exploring the many wonders of the great outdoors. I’m sure that last night many people were walking around downtown, laughing, and eating ice cream. For my night, I was researching and writing about the many splendid benefits that privacy awards us. Quite an applicable topic as I barricaded myself in my room away from human contact, fingers zooming across my keyboard like I was trying to rack up frequent flyer miles. On several occasions, I have asked fellow graduate students how their weekends went, only to receive a quizzical look and an airy, disconnected question “What’s a weekend?”

But while another summer will come, graduate school can’t last forever (oh, sorry doctoral students) and I’d like to get as much benefit out of my classes as I can. The first summer session I completed Advanced Storytelling (if you’ll remember my Fabio personal narrative), Web Graphics, Seminar in Intellectual Freedom, and part of my internship. I am now taking Collection Development and Management, Information Policy: Privacy, my internship, and Early Childhood Literacy.

My class on Early Childhood Literacy is absolutely wonderful. This field of expertise is very exciting and cutting-edge for librarians. In 2001, Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) was introduced in public libraries to train librarians on effective ways to engage infants and preschoolers in language and literacy before the children could read. Particular focus was on parent education, a great shift from a past, strict focus on addressing children during programs. Ten years later, they have introduced a second version that builds skill sets through five activities: talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing–all delightful activities!

By instructing or reinforcing these concepts with caregivers, librarians can reassure parents that all their activities at home make a difference, even if you can’t see an immediate result. Connecting with your child is crucial to intellectual and social development. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends zero screen time for kids 0-2 due to fear that ADD and ADHD may be connected to over-stimulus and an insufficient amount of time to allow brain connections to develop. However, I appreciate the disclaimer to this that my teacher has said. We should all be understanding of unique situations and an hour of TV instead of an hour of a parent ripping their hair out will result in better interactions after that hour is over.

It’s so exciting to think that I will be a part of this revolutionary movement towards effective, enriching, and engaging library programming for infants and preschoolers. The more I take these classes on children’s and young adult librarianship, the more I know that this career was where I am meant to be.



Reading: The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman
Listening: Wilco — Being There
Watching: Star Trek with Captain Kirk

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