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Do your kids know the story of Little Red Riding Hood?

Can they retell the story?vw-bus

Now, can they retell the story in a really different way? Here’s some inspiration!

This reminds me of my favorite version of  The Little Red Hen illustrated by Barry Downard.




circle-timeToddler Time yesterday so clearly showed why we do the things we do in libraries–and then encourage parents in homes and teachers in preschools, day cares, and home cares to do the same. It’s truly glorious to watch growth happen!

My toddler group actually runs in ages from birth through age 3-ish. I saw the magic make itself known with the two age extremes yesterday, all in the course of about twenty minutes.

On the youngest end, two little ones who have literally been coming since they were newborns anticipated actions and words. Before we got to a movement, they were ready to do it! Before the word was said, they were saying it! Their brains have learned the words, learned the movement, and most importantly, learned the sequencing.

Sequencing is all about creating order and meaning out of our world. It is a deeper level of thinking; the brain is wired for it; it’s a unique part of being human.  It would be so easy to have said for the last 12-15 months that these moms and babies were doing “nothing” or “wasting their time” week after week sitting through Toddler Time. But brains were picking it up, taking it in,–and doing something with it all. It was waaay cool to see it beginning in these little ones.

Give a child what they need and they will grow themselves up. 🙂

On the other end of the age range were two young three year olds. One was a fellow who actually had to take a break from Toddler Time for a while.  He simply wasn’t happy coming–and made that very clear to everyone. Mom was encouraged to keep bringing him in to check out books and to continue to read at home. And to try Toddler Time again later. We didn’t want to “make him” come, be extremely unhappy while here, and then associate those feelings with books, music, and the library.

The break worked. He’s here most weeks now but something of a “sideline sitter” by his choice. Not a problem. But yesterday, due to the snow, the group was very small. He spent time beforehand looking at a truck book with a friend, side by side in their chairs. And then he sat and listened intently while I read Red Truck.

Promptly at the end of the reading, he shouted, “AGAIN!” I wasn’t about to pass up the opportunity to reinforce such a positive response. We read it again, (much to everyone’s enjoyment). It was a surprising and illuminating moment.

The other boy burst into giggles when I read the word “Sploosh!” in the first reading. He repeated it several times. He was delighted with it, like a novel, new toy. On the second reading? He “knew” the word when we got back to that page. Print awareness in action and again, the pairing of a positive feeling with new learning.

Most weeks we do what we do, over and over, wondering if we are accomplishing anything. What a joy when we have a day like this one!

redtruckRed Truck by Kersten Hamilton has become one of my storytime kiddos favorite books. It’s terrific for print awareness and–

here’s a link to a variation on the song “Wheels on the Bus” that I’m doing after reading the story. It’s a loose retelling of the story and builds narrative skills.

are-you-a-horse1I twittered last week that the Best Book for March was Splat the Cat. I really like the pictures–the truly fuzzy looking hair and the full-of-expression eyes. You just want to give Splat a great big hug!

But then yesterday I read Are You a Horse? at storytime–and I’m having second thoughts. It’s lighthearted, has a funny ending, and all the kids feel so much smarter than the poor ol’ cowboy as he tries to figure out what a horse is.

But the story is actually built around a thinking process. Is a wagon living? Is a horse? How do you figure out what something is? By looks? By how it acts? By process of elimination? By perserverance? By observation, gathering info from other sources, and deduction?

Of course, as with most well-written stories, none of this has to be discussed. Just read and re-read; you’ll be surprised years later to discover how much was absorbed.

Bonus points: fun with phonological awareness with the snake!

Today’s the 40th birthday of Eric Carle’s classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

It’s a classic because it’s gooooood.theveryhungrycaterpillarl

For early literacy it covers:

  • Print motivation (who can resist all those cute little holes the caterpillar ate out of everything and the way the pages grow as the caterpillar grows)
  • Vocabulary (days of the week, food names, stages of a caterpillar’s growth)
  • Narrative skills (and what happens next?, repetition of  “but he was still hungry”)

Three new fingerplays on podcast, all about fingers and thumbs and even a heavy dose of phonological awareness for the letter “f.”fingerpaint-hands1

So play away!

So, I’m a few days late! It’s still funny–even if it happened on Friday the 13th in February!

Click here.

musical-note1Another week and it will officially be Spring! So let’s celebrate with little bugs and such.

Click here for “I’m bringing home my baby bumblebee” and “Caterpillars.”

Remember, click the green play button to hear the podcast you want.

cnnFrom CNN, here’s more on what makes a good children’s story–and therefore, how to choose a good one to read, buy, or give away.

As mentioned in post “Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Mo,” good stories have a beginning, middle, and end, with some kind of problem in-between. In the article, Allison refers to that movement as “home, away, home” and it certainly applies to many classic children’s stories.

My favorite quote from the article is: “The plot isn’t just reassuring to children but also reinforces the lessons of good parenting.” That’s one reason I recommend reading to children so highly. It’s not just about improving their chances in school. It’s about improving their whole family life and childhood.

What was your favorite book as a preschooler? Did you or do you read it to your children?

Read the entire article here.

I don’t remember chapter books being around when I was a kid, but they are a fixture in libraries and classrooms today.

What’s a chapter book? You’d probably recognize one if you saw one but here’s a few characteristics: They are little skinny books, they are often a series, they have some pictures, the print’s a little larger.

Need help finding a chapter book? Here at Southern Peaks, all ours have a green chapter book sticker on the spine.  Or ask a librarian. 😉

Here are some that check out well at SPPL:

  • Time Warp Trio
  • Time Spies
  • Just Grace
  • Hank the Cow Dog
  • The Fairy Chronicles
  • The Knights Tales
  • Clementine
  • Stink
  • The Littles
  • Mercy Watson

Once your kiddo finds one they like, here are two sites that can help them read them in order:

The Series Binder and What’s Next (I use this one lots and it’s not just for kids’ books).

Hammy the Hamster at

Hammy the Hamster at

No, this is not the title of a children’s book. Hammy is for real and part of an experiment.

Quoting from the website CooksDen, “We brought in an unbiased test subject — one who has superior taste buds, is unaffected by marketing hype, and is unafraid to express her opinions publicly.”

Watch the video but then take a look at the results chart. (And you homeschoolers out there, there are some neat science fair follow-up ideas here, hint, hint).

Hammy is making me think twice about my food choices–especially those baby carrots!

train-pic-14-croppeWe’re all excited here at Southern Peaks! News of our new early literacy project, the Storybox Special, made PBS WETA’s Reading Rockets website.

Check it out here; look for the link at the top of the right hand column.

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Contact Info for Babette

email babette(dot)reeves(at)gmail(dot)com
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73 State Avenue
Alamosa, CO 81101

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