Back to Basics Part IV: Keep on singing!

As a children’s librarian, one of the things I miss most about pre-Covid-19 public library life is the sound of children singing—singing with others at storytime or just singing out loud as they and their adults go about their business in the library. When children sing, their joy in this activity is contagious. And it makes me especially happy because I know, thanks to the research behind the Every Child Ready to Read (ECRR) parent education initiative, that singing is not only a fun activity for children, it helps children develop important early literacy skills. Singing is one of the five practices ECRR encourages adults to use to build a child’s early literacy skills. Singing helps children: hear the sounds and syllables in words, practice the rhythms and rhymes of spoken language, learn new vocabulary words and their meaning, learn the names of the letters that make up words, discover…

Singing and Laughing at Guerrilla Storytime

Today at #alaac15 I attend a rousing Guerrilla Storytime! No matter what I try to make it to at least one per conference. I always come away with new ideas, songs, and rhymes. I also feel energized by the positivity of so many wonderful children’s librarians! (If you want to know more about Guerrilla Storytime, check out StorytimeUnderground.org.) Here are a few tips I picked up today: Looking to model using vocabulary for caregivers? Try swapping out synonyms in familiar songs and rhymes. For instance, “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” could also be sung with “sparkle”, “flicker”, or “shine.” To encourage talking is ask adults how to say a word in another language. This is especially great for caregivers who speak multiple languages. To incorporate writing try having a brainstorming session at the beginning of storytime. This is a clever way to introduce a new topic or theme, especially one that…

Spellcasting and Singing

#alsc14 Maxim of the Day: Sometimes you’ve gotta sing outside of the shower. Take it from Gay Ducey, a speaker on the “Using Volunteers to Expand the Walls/Books for Wider Horizons” panel. She warmed up Thursday’s #alsc14 audience by asking us to stand up and sing the storytime smash hit “To Stop the Train”–several times in a row. Singing not only works with kids, but is an effective tool when leading a storytime training for adult volunteers: people loosen up, get active, and have fun. After this clever icebreaker activity, their brains are primed to soak up the content rich presentation that follows. She also emphasizes to volunteers that their storytime presentations will make a lasting  impression on kids. “Storytimes are a kind of spell children need to have.” By creating this special timeless moment in a child’s life, a storytime volunteer is helping the child associate reading with fun…

Talking, Singing, Reading, Writing & Playing with Technology

“We all have only one life to live on earth. And through television, we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it in creative, imaginative ways.”                                                                                                   Fred Rogers When Mr. Rogers looked at the new medium of television in the 1950s, he saw nothing of value for children. But instead of writing it off, he saw the potential of the new medium to reach children and crafted an entirely new approach and way of using television. That is the model that I look to in using technology with children. Do you approach new media with fear or look for the potential, for “creative, imaginative ways” that enrich life? Many librarians are familiar with and emphasize the five practices of ECRR2 (Every Child Ready to Read 2) in library programs. Can we highlight these practices with intentional use of…

Singing in the Bathroom!

Of course we are all rock stars in our own bathrooms, but what about at the Library! I can’t think of a better place to encourage customers to sing than in the bathroom!  Just simply post the words to songs and nursery rhymes with a few eye catching photos on the back of stall doors, next to Changing Stations, on the bathroom mirrors and next to the sink. We use a hand washing song in the Children’s room bathroom to encourage children to wash their hands well and get them to sing! We also have Nursery Rhymes by all the changing stations to encourage parents to sing with their babies while in the bathroom. What songs can you think of to put in your libraries bathrooms?

It’s Just Stories, Isn’t It?

At some point working in a children’s library setting, this may happen to you. Whether it’s the library board, the city council, an administrator, or even one of your customers, they will observe a story time program, be suitably impressed by your event, and ask quite innocently about what exactly you are doing. To the uninitiated, what happens in the room is fun and entertaining. A great place to be in and of itself, but we all know there is lot more to it. Admittedly, in one way or another, these questioners are the ones who pay for what we do, so this provides a great opportunity to inform and enlighten. It’s time to break out your best elevator speech that lends method to the madness. Here at the library, during our infant, toddler, and preschool programming we build a foundation so when young children are taught to read, they…

Back to Basics Part III: Making a Mark through Writing

Writing development starts early. Just as librarians, parents, caregivers and teachers know that snuggling up to read side by side with little ones is the best and most basic way to promote a love of reading, and everyday play is the powerful, natural way to explore the world and make learning fun, it’s also important to remember that positive early writing experiences are also fundamental to building strong and balanced literacy. I was an elementary literacy specialist for years before hopping over to the wonderful world of libraries over a decade ago. In the classroom, it was awesome watching children beam with confidence when they gradually made sense of those squiggly marks on the page, solving the mysterious puzzle that is reading. I now love nothing more than connecting the dots from joyful library storytimes to later reading success. The power of storytime is remarkable. I recently watched a virtual…