Wednesday, July 18, 2018

RAISING A READER, PART I

Every parent hopes to raise an enthusiastic and successful reader.  If you hope to raise a strong reader you need to first understand that your child begins building pre-reading skills from birth.  Today we will explore some strategies that can help you engage your littlest little ones to help build a love of reading from infancy.

Pre-Talkers (Birth - 2 Years)

Talk
Your baby loves hearing your voice.
  • Make up stories, explain what you're doing, and ask your baby questions.
  • You baby will begin to respond with facial expressions.
  • Talking to your baby helps language development and increases brain activity.
  • Babies who are spoken to will begin to participate in conversations, responding with coos and gurgles.
Sing
Singing is another way your baby learns language.
  • Sing while holding your baby and she will feel your voice as well as hear it.
  • Repeat songs again and again.  Baby loves repetition.  Repeating songs also helps your baby to hear small sounds (pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake).
  • Sing at bath time, in the car and everywhere in between.  Your baby will try to sing along, cooing and babbling with you.
Sign Language
Babies are capable of learning simple sign language.
  • Teach your baby simple signs such as cup, more, all done and clean up.
  • Signing with your baby helps you communicate with more ease and reduces baby's stress levels.
  • Babies who are taught to sign learn to speak faster and have larger vocabularies.
Play
It looks like simple play to us but this is how your baby learns about their world.
  • Allow your baby to play with books and other safe items.
  • Shaking, throwing, tugging and tasting are how your baby will explore books.  Use sturdy board books or cloth books at this age.
  • Let her play freely with the book, discovering how pages turn and finding more pictures inside.
Read
Sharing books with your baby is a bonding experience.
  • Set aside regular reading times every day - nap time, after meals and bedtime are good examples.
  • Choose books that your child will enjoy.
  • Find a comfortable place to sit away from distractions such as the television, radio, computers, phones, and other devices.
  • Be sure to hold the book so that your baby can see the picture and words.
  • Encourage your baby to participate in the story by asking her to point to specific pictures and say simple words.
  • Talk to your baby about what you see in the book.
  • Reread your baby's favorite stories again and again.
  • Keep plenty of books around your home.  Borrow books from the library so you always have new titles to share with your baby.
  • Take books in the car, to the grocery store and to appointments.  Read with your baby while you wait.
Remember to always keep reading times fun.  Keep it short.  If your baby becomes fussy or loses interest simply move on to another activity.  Reading with your child should be a fun, stress-free, bonding time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

SILLY BEGINNING READERS


Another Jan Thomas silliness in My Friends Make Me HAPPY! Sheep asks his friends to guess what makes him happy and they guess things that begin with the letter F, such as fish, fans and turnips.  Turnips!?  Oi.  Silly fun reads like other Jan Thomas books. 

In Louise Loves Bake Sales by Kelly Light Louise and her brother Art get creative with the school bake sale with some help from their cat who her expresses feelings with hilarious facial expressions.  

For readers in Kindergarten through 2nd grade.  

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

PREPARING FOR THE FIRST DAY OF KINDERGARTEN


It’s almost time, parents.  Kindergarten is just around the corner.  And believe me, that first day is going to be a hard one. There will be fears and there might be some tears but hopefully it can also be a great moment for both you and your not-so-little-anymore kiddo.

Here are a few steps you can take to prepare both yourself and your child for that important first day.

1. First of all, take a deep breath, parents.  Everything is going to be okay.  Your child is growing up.  And as hard as it is for us to say goodbye to baby smells, and favorite wubbies, snuggle time and wide-eyed innocence, your child is ready for their next big adventure.

And, if your child isn't as ready as they could be, you'll work to get there together.  Your child might be heading off to big kid school but they still need you to help them make that transition.  Let's make it as smooth as possible for both of you.

2. Plan to visit your child's new school with them.  Most schools will have open house days so families can do this.  Explore the school and the classroom your child will be in.  If possible, plan for you and your child to meet their Kindergarten teacher before the school year starts.  

When you visit the school, talk about drop off and pick up.  If you'll be driving your child show them where the car will let them out and talk about where they will walk when they exit the car.  Will your child be riding the school bus?  If so, show them where they will get on the bus in the morning and where the buses pull up when  they arrive at the school.  If you're walking your child to school practice that walk together before hand.  Name the streets you walk on, point out landmarks you see along the way (the neighborhood park, a corner store, your neighbor's house, etc...).  Your child will be less nervous when they understand their new routine.

3. Teach your child their address, your phone number and your full name.  This will take time.  Let them practice writing this information daily and practice with them on the phone.  Hopefully they won't need this information any time soon, but it's your responsibility to prepare them for those moments when they might.

4. Have conversations with your child about strangers.  Conversations.  Plural.  You'll need to talk about this more than once, parents.  You might even consider roleplaying different scenarios with your child.  This is a scary topic for  parents to think about but you'll need to impress upon your child the importance of never going off with a stranger.  You might want to think about having a code word that you use with your child in the event that someone other than you needs to pick them up from school.  Make sure it's something you can both remember and go over it together periodically.

Now, let's talk about backpacks for a moment.  Your child will need one and I know it's cute to get their name embroidered on it but I urge you to reconsider.  If you can read the name on the backpack than so can a stranger and your child is much more likely to go off with that stranger if that stranger addresses them by their name.  Play it smart and skip the embroidered name.  

5. Your child's favorite lunch might be PB&J but you'll need to plan on peanut-free lunches once they start school.  With the rise of peanut allergies many schools have gone peanut-free.  Consult your child's school to see if this rule applies or plan on a yummy lunch alternative.  Additionally, make sure your child can open all their lunch food.  That amazing lunch you pack will do them no good if they can't open it up.  

6. Bullies.  Every school has them and yes, they exist even in Kindergarten.  Have conversations about bullies with your child before they start school.  You might consider reading some books with them on this subject such as, Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes, The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill, Bootsie Barker Bites by Barbara Bottner, and Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney.  Talk to your child about standing up for themselves and talk to them about respecting others.  You don't want your child to be bullied and you don't want your child to be a bully.  Talk it out, prepare your child, and give them the tools they need to be a good classmate and a good friend.

7. Remember, parents, that Kindergarten can be exhausting.  I know children are busy these days and there always seems to be a half dozen or more after school activities to run around to but try to keep these activities to a minimum.  Your child will need time to unwind, to decompress from their busy day.  so much of what they're experiencing at school is new that they are likely overstimulated by the end of their school day.  Think about creating an unwinding ritual for you and your child.  Maybe go for a walk around your neighborhood after school or sit and have a snack and read a book.  Decide what works best for you and your child.  It might end up being the best part of  your day.

8. And lastly, parents, remember to savor the memories.  This year will be filled with first for both your child and you.  Take pictures, save the school projects, record all those precious moments.  They will be gone before you know it.

Enjoy the school year to come, parents.  It's going to be great!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

SCHOOL READINESS CHECKLIST

Sending your child off to kindergarten is a huge step, both for her and for yourself.  She will learn many new skills in her first year of school.  You can help make her transition into Kindergarten an easier one by making sure she can accomplish this checklist:

  • Follows rules and routines
  • Is able to transition from one activity to another
  • Participates in group activities
  • Is able to interact with one or more children
  • Is able to share and take turns
  • Is able to clean up after play
  • Is able to interact with teachers and other familiar adults
  • Is able to use words to resolve conflicts
  • Seeks out adult assistance to resolve conflicts
  • Listens carefully to instructions
  • Is able to follow single step direction
  • Is able to follow two step direction
  • Is able to be understood when speaking
  • Is able to relay what has happened (sequence of events)
  • Is able to sit and listen to a story
  • Is able to retell a story
  • Is able to sequence two or three pictures
  • Is able to use pictures to communicate
  • Writes using scribbles and symbols
  • Is able to print name without a model
  • Is able to sing and recite the alphabet
  • Is able to match upper case letters
  • Is able to match lower case letters
  • Is able to identify both upper and lower case letters
  • Is able to sort colors and shapes
  • Is able to count to 20
  • Is able to match numbers
  • Is able to properly grasp scissors
  • Is able to identify 10 colors
  • Uses objects to make believe
If your child is able accomplish the above task she will have an easier time entering Kindergarten.  Practice these skills together to help her succeed. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

GREETINGS AND SALUTATIONS FROM THE ANIMAL WORLD!


Hi there! Howdy! Hey! Hi-ya! Hello Hello, written and illustrated by Cadecott Honoree Brendan Wenzel, is a triumphant and jubilant picture book greeting from the animal kingdom. All sorts of animals welcome the reader from page to page: 

Hello Quiet
Hello Loud
Hello Wild
Hello Proud

The deceptively simple text-told in a cheerful rhyme tailor-made for storytime--celebrates the marvel, curiosity, inclusion, and diversity in the natural world, while the exquisitely vibrant illustrations showcase just some of the myriad of animals children could encounter in the world around them, from a cuttlefish to an aardwolf. An appendix of the animals is included in the backmatter, along with an inspirational author's note inviting young readers to find out more, especially about the many threatened and endangered animals they might see in the pages in an effort to help save them. 

Share this book with babies through kindergartners to spark a joy of nature and celebrate it's extraordinary wonder. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

PARENT & CHILD ACTIVITIES, PART III

It's time for our last batch of Parent & Child Activities.  I hope you and your little one have been having a great time exploring all these activities together.

Babies

  • Dance Party: Listen and dance to music 
  • E-I-E-I-O: Sing 'Old MacDonald Had a Farm' 
  • Check Out the Library: Come to your local neighborhood library
  • Sing, Play, Learn: Come to Storytime at your local neighborhood library
  • That's My Jam: Come see a performer this summer at your local neighborhood library
Toddlers
  • Easy as 1, 2, 3: Count stairs as you go up or down
  • Check Out the Library: Come to your local neighborhood library
  • Sing, Play, Learn: Come to Storytime at your local neighborhood library
  • Tinkering Around: Enjoy a STEAM activity at your local neighborhood library
  • Shake Your Sillies Out: Have a dance party with your toddler.  
  • That's My Jam: Come see a performer this summer at your local neighborhood library
Preschoolers
  • With a 1, 2, 3: Sing a Storytime song to a favorite stuffed animal or figure
  • Stroll for the Senses: Go for a walk and discover 5 new words to describe what you see, hear, and smell
  • Cast Your Vote: Have your preschooler vote 'Good', 'Better', 'Best' on items in a category (songs; hats; fruit, etc...)
  • Check Out the Library: Come to your local neighborhood library
  • Sing, Play, Learn: Come to Storytime at your local neighborhood library
  • Tinkering Around: Enjoy a STEAM activity at your local neighborhood library
  • Shake Your Sillies Out: Have a dance party with your preschooler. Let them choose the music.
  • That's My Jam: Come see a performer this summer at your local neighborhood library
Remember, these activities are great for you and your little one year round.  Keep exploring with your baby, toddler or preschool and have fun together!

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

PARENT & CHILD ACTIVITIES, PART II

I hope you have been enjoying your Parent and Child Activities so far this summer.  Here are some new ideas to keep the fun going.

Babies

  • One Potato, Two Potato: Sing to your baby at feeding time
  • Pat a Cake, Pat a Cake: Play clapping or fingerplay games like 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' and 'Pat a Cake'
  • Walk and Talk: Name and describe what you see along the way
  • Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes: Say and point to body parts
  • Silly Voices, Serious Fun: Read a book using funny voices
Toddlers
  • The Big Picture: Read a book and talk about the picture on the cover
  • Toy Story: Make up a story about your toddlers favorite toy
  • Show and Tell: Draw shapes and letters with crayons
  • Snuggle Spot: Make a reading fort with blankets and cushions
  • Old Favorite, New Twist: Play 'Say it loud, say it soft, say it fast, say it slow' with new words
  • Silly Noises, Serious Fun: Make silly sounds
  • A, B, C, Wheee!: Sing the alphabet in rhythm while pushing your toddler on the swings
Preschoolers
  • Sorting Hat: Give your child a bag to fill with items in a category (a color; a texture; used for bedtime, etc...)
  • Kitchen Band: Make a pots and pans band
  • Fun Fact, Paddywhack: Read an information book and write a fact your preschooler remembers and have her draw a picture 
  • Explore: Read a new book in a new place
  • Puzzled: Do a floor puzzle with your preschooler
  • Let's Listen: Listen to an audiobook together
  • Fresh Air: Play outside together
  • Ready to Write: Maker your preschooler a writing kit with papers and writing tools in a portable container
Check back next time for the third and final installment of our Parent & Child Activities.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

PARENT & CHILD ACTIVITIES, PART I

As parents of little ones, you have hundreds of interactions with your baby, toddler or preschooler every day.  To help you get the most out of your time together try incorporating these fun activities below into your daily or weekly routines.

Babies
  • Groove and Move: Sing and move to a song
  • Baby's First Bookshelf: Create a special place for books within babies' reach
  • See and Say: Point out pictures in a book
  • Monkey See, Monkey Do: Get silly with animal sounds
  • Nature Walk: Go to the park and talk about the colors you see
Toddlers
  • Follow the Reader: Read a book side by side ("my book" and "your book")
  • I Spy: Find letters and other symbols
  • My Favorite: Write a list of your toddlers favorite things
  • Family Portrait: Draw simple figures and write the names of people in your family
  • Tune Up: Learn a new nursery rhyme to share with your toddler
  • Walk and Talk: Name and describe what you see along the way
  • Rhyme and Ride: Sing a Storytime song in the car
Preschoolers
  • Show and Retell: Read a new book and ask your preschooler to retell the story using the pictures on each page
  • Once Upon a Time: Tell a family story
  • I Spy: Look for symbols, letters and words on signs while driving
  • Rhyme After Me: Play 'Follow the leader' rhymes: "I say hat; you say (cat)." Made up words are great!
  • Who Made This?: Talk about the author and illustrator names for a favorite picture book
  • Cups, Teaspoons, and Dishes: Follow a written recipe together
  • Sincerely...: Draw and write a letter to someone
  • Art Inspiration: Draw a picture with your preschooler. Listen to music while you draw.
  • Tune Up: Memorize a new nursery rhyme or poem together 
Check back next time for more Parent & Child Activities!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A DIFFERENT KIND OF TOY STORY


Teddy is a kid who likes to play with all kinds of toys--trucks and hula hoops and puzzles and action figures and rockets--but his favorite toy of all is his doll, Bren-Da, Warrior Queen of Pacifica. After all she has the best manners, is the most versatile to style, and even has some pretty impressive fighting skills. But one day, during a really tough battle, Bren-Da breaks her leg. Teddy tries in vain to tend to her wounds using the latest surgical technology, bubble gum and lots of tape, but when he goes off to school the Warrior Queen of Pacifica gets mistaken for trash and hauled away. Will Teddy ever be able to see his favorite toy again? Only if his intrepid mom--with some pretty impressive style and warrior moves of her own--has anything to say about it. 

Teddy's Favorite Toy, by Christian Trimmer and illustrated by Madeline Valentine, makes for a delightful and lively read-aloud, and is sure to be embraced by preschoolers through second graders who understand the strong bond between a kid and their favorite toy--and their valiant parents alike. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

LET'S BUILD A FORT TOGETHER


A group of school-aged children have a couple of things in common: they enjoy spending time with one another, and they love to build forts. Why? Because Fort-Building Time is a great way for put their imaginations to work during any time of the year. From building igloos to setting up a tent to building a life-size castle and tree house, creating and building with different materials can be so much fun. What kind of fort would you build with your friends?

Megan Wagner Lloyd and Abigail Halpin are an extraordinary team. They’ve created a picture book that shows how cooperation results in something bigger than expected. The imagination can lead to many adventures throughout the year. The beautifully drawn illustrations of each diverse character add a great amount of warmth, and invite readers to build a fort right alongside them. A sheer delight!

For 2-7.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

WHAT A TODDLER NEEDS A TODDLER GETS


A little girl tells her daddy how mommy is needed by her more than he needs her because he already has his own mommy who can help him sleep.  She goes through a list of things that she thinks may help him have a good night's rest like a cot or a big boy bassinet because she and mommy need the big bed to themselves.  

The Big Bed by Bunmi Laditan and illustrated by Tom Knight  is a very funny take on how sleeping arrangements can be overtaken by a little one.  Parents who have had to curl up in a corner of the bed or have been kicked by a child mid-slumber will get a good chuckle while reading this book. 

For preschoolers and up.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

WALT IS SMALL AND MIGHTY!




Walt is small, but does he have what it takes to overcome life’s obstacles, like a snowstorm? When the snowplow drivers and their snow plows are called to action to help care for the roadways and bridges, Walt is disregarded. Fortunately, one snowplow driver is more than happy to drive Walt, looking past his size. He’s simply determined to get the job done, and he believes that Walt is more than capable. With feelings of uncertainty, Walt really isn’t sure that he can do the job. Will Small Walt disappoint or will he show that size truly doesn’t matter?



Elizabeth Verdick’s story of how small things do matter and can make a difference is a wonderful addition to the genre. Marc Rosenthal’s illustrations adds the perfect classic touch, which is reminiscent of Virginia Lee Burton’s beautiful illustrations in Katy and the Big Snow. Both are great to share, especially during the winter season. 

For 3-7

Thursday, April 26, 2018

POLAR BEAR'S UNDERWEAR

I honestly can’t believe none of our Children’s staff have reviewed this book yet. Its hilarity is the stuff of legends, and we’ve already shared it with as many storytime families and visiting classes as we possibly could. If you get enough kindergartners in a room while you continually utter the word “underwear” in complete deadpan, the walls might actually tremble from the force of their uproarious laughter.

The premise is simple: Polar Bear, having most embarrassingly misplaced his underwear (oops), searches through the book for the aforementioned garment with the help of his friend Mouse. Spreads featuring Polar Bear and Mouse carefully examining a single pair of brightly patterned underwear and commenting on why it may or may not belong to Polar Bear alternate with spreads of each pair’s true owner donning the piece.

Pretty soon the older kids start catching on, and then come the enthusiastic guesses. Who’s itty-bitty and might like flowers on their underwear? BUTTERFLY! Who loves mice? CAT! Who enjoys carrots? BUNNY! Yes, but why is the underwear upside down? Silence here, but the answer always cracks them up.

Polar Bear’s Underwear by Tupera Tupera, a pseudonym for creative duo Tatsuya Kameyama and Atsuko Nakagawa, is nothing less than a picture book masterpiece in my mind. It just so perfectly captures the (weird) interests and humor of its young target audience. As a caveat I will confess that in my own reading of the book I tend to skip the last page. I’m not sure whether being a Japanese import has any effect on this, but the little ditty at the end has never quite worked for me. Still, a stellar book and not to be missed!

Ages 4+

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

BABY PUREES AND TODDLER MEALS

Hi grownups.  Are you tired of feeding your baby or toddler the same foods over and over?  Why not explore our new baby and toddler food books in our Parenting Collection?  These simple to use books offer hundreds of baby purees and toddler meals.


Why not try avocado soup or coconut rice with your little one?  Is your baby teething?  Around the World in 80 Purees: Easy Recipes for Global Baby Food by Leena Saini has a Peach Teething “Ice Cream” that you might like to try.

As your little one gets older try some of the toddler recipes in 201 Organic Baby and Toddler Meals: The Healthiest Toddler and Baby Food Recipes You Can Make by Tamika L. Gardner.  Your toddler might enjoy the Cinnamon Watermelon Bowl or the Veggie and Hummus Platter.

You can explore these books and many more in our Parenting Collection.