Blogger Tess Prendergast

Celebrating Board Books for Babies

Every year, I teach a survey of children’s literature class to MLIS students. After I have covered the history of children’s publishing, and children’s literacy development, I spend a whole class on books for babies. It’s one of my favourite classes because I get to bring an enormous stack of baby books to class and teach my students all about them.  Reading to babies I start out by reminding them that human babies are born totally helpless and frankly – they don’t care what anyone reads to them. That being said, babies do want and need to be held and touched and interacted with.  Books designed for babies do seem to offer parents and caregivers a nice way of doing just that: holding, touching, and interacting with their babies from their earliest days onwards.  When babies are born, their vision is not fully developed so high contrast books with very clear and spare black…

Blogger Tess Prendergast

Exploring refugee child experiences through picture books

Mirrors and Windows You have likely come across the metaphor “mirrors and windows” as it relates to children’s books before. It is a metaphor coined by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop when she discussed how books can mirror a child’s own experiences – thereby legitimizing them by showing that people similar to themselves are important enough to be in books.  Additionally, she said that books can also be windows through which children can see the lives and experiences of children who are different from themselves. (Bishop, 1990). I am going to apply this wonderful metaphor to some of my favorite picture books about refugee child experiences.  Come with me as I explore the ways in which these books can be mirrors (for children with refugee backgrounds to see reflections of their family’s lives) as well as windows (for other children to grow in their understanding of people who have refugee backgrounds)….

Blogger Tess Prendergast

Hands-on Storytime: Felt Stories & Early Literacy 

In a 2004 School Library Journal article called “Children of the Cloth”, Renea Arnold and Nell Colburn say that flannel (or felt) stories “are a great tool to help kids learn early literacy skills.” (p.37) and I heartily agree with them.  They acknowledge that felt stories have been a storytime staple for years in schools and libraries. They explain these fabric-based stories invite participation as young listeners try to guess what will appear from behind the feltboard or call out the name of the animal, letter, or object being put on the board. I especially appreciate that Arnold and Colburn emphasize how this kind of storytelling helps young children learn – that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Because felt stories usually emphasize sequences in visual way,  as pieces of the story are put on the board one by one, or taken off one by one, children learn how stories work….

Blogger Tess Prendergast

COVID Babies in the Library

In a Disability Scoop article about so-called “COVID-babies”, author Adam Clark explores various ways that the pandemic has affected children’s development. Clark begins with a vignette about a two-year old named Charlie who is in speech therapy to help him learn to speak more than one-word utterances. Nancy Polow, one of the speech-pathologists interviewed in the article, is quoted as saying “I have never seen such an influx of infants and toddlers unable to communicate. We call these children COVID babies.” The good news is that lots of the kids like Charlie who are now turning up at speech therapy centers quickly make strides. After reading this, I found some emerging evidence that being gestated during the early part of the pandemic is associated with some developmental lags. Babies born to two groups of mothers (those who were and those who were not infected with COVID during their pregnancies) were…

Blogger Tess Prendergast

Children’s Rights and Children’s Libraries

In her IFLA journal article, Marian Koren asks “How can the libraries’ potential respond to the child’s rights in the context of the information society?” (Koren, p.273). Later in the article, Koren says “It is important that professionals are involved in the understanding, interpretation and implementation of children’s rights in their services.” (Koren, p.278). I agree! As children’s library workers, how familiar are we with the idea of children’s rights? I am sure we all support and defend the kids we work with, but have we thought much about children actually having their own rights? In 1989, after decades of cooperation, and building on various global children’s rights documents, the United Nations adopted the framework called the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. (UNCRC) Because children have a right to know about the special rights that apply to them, a child-friendly version of the UNCRC is also…

Blogger Tess Prendergast

To Virtual Storytime and Back Again: What Recent Research Can Tell Us

As children’s library workers, we have all tangled with questions and concerns about young children and digital media. What helps and supports child development? What distracts and detracts from their learning? What information do parents and caregivers find helpful as they make decisions? If you are asking these questions, that’s a great sign – you care about the kids and families in your communities! I recently found an open source article published in 2020 with a title that caught my eye. Preschoolers Benefit Equally From Video Chat, Pseudo-Contingent Video, and Live Book Reading: Implications for Storytime During the Coronavirus Pandemic and Beyond The study authors are:  Caroline Gaudreau, Yeminah A. King, Rebecca A. Dore, Hannah Puttre, Deborah Nichols, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff. I encourage you to follow the hyperlinks and read more about these researchers’ important work in early childhood learning. In this article, they report on an…

Blogger Tess Prendergast

Child development knowledge: What do we know?

We know that children’s librarians develop and deliver services that encourage and support children’s overall development. How do we learn how to do this well? New research about child development knowledge in our field I just read an article called “Child development knowledge among new children’s librarians in US public libraries” that was published in the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science written by Jennifer Rice Sullivan. Sullivan reports on a survey of 61 children’s librarians with MLIS degrees completed within the past five years. Participants responded to a series of questions about perceived knowledge across these six domains of child development: Language Cognition Gross motor Fine motor Emotional Social Most respondents reported having moderate to high levels of knowledge about these domains. Next, Sullivan asked more specific questions about participants’ knowledge of these topics. Behavior management Early literacy skills Object permanence Attachment Separation anxiety Self-regulation Executive functions…