You are currently browsing the monthly archive for May 2010.

from the Richmond Times-Dispatch Preschool is Good Investment: 18% return on investment; that’s better than the stock market!

for fun, the Bookulating Suggest-O-Meter: The Bookulator did not work well for me but the intro is well worth a watch!

from Miller-McCune, Advantages of Home Libraries: Another reason to make sure all kids have access to and own their own books!

from NY Times, Pervasiveness of Choking Hazards: Even if you’re a “good parent” and think you know about little ones and choking, read this.

Be thoughtful!


I’ve had folks ask for specifics on the storytime that turned into such a great moment for developing the early literacy skill of print awareness (read more here).

I start off with a picture of a real sheep; her name is Miss Molly. And I have a bag of her wool. While the kids pass around and feel some of it (you may have to teach them “passing around” :-)), we talk about what wool is and what it’s used for. Then we read stories about sheep!

Here are the books we read:

The Surprise by Van Ommen: This is the wordless book I start with. The first spread is great for beginning to discern whether the kids have a sense of print awareness or not. It shows a sheep standing on a bathroom scale–and nothing else! The entire background in solid yellow. No distractions. Can they recognize that there are no words on the page?

Where is the Green Sheep? by Fox: If they can’t “see” that there a no words in The Surprise, show them Green Sheep and read a few pages. What’s neat about it is that you’ll have page with words and picture, another page with words and picture, another page with words and picture–then! boom! page with only words. Can the kids “see” the words on the picture-less white page?

The two books were just made for each other and made for highlighting print!

After reading both, we read Snow Lambs by Gliori. It takes a little preparation; show them the map on the end papers. Point out the house and river and tree on it. Various pages through out the story need some pointing, highlighting something in the picture, just a few extra words of explanation. But don’t overdo it. The kids may start off squirmy, but it’s a good story, well told, and they will be quietly engrossed if you give them time. They all want to know what happened to Bess!

Songs we sang:

  • Baa, baa, black sheep
  • 1 little, 2 little, 3 little lambies
  • Cows on the the farm (go moo, moo, moo) to the tune of Wheels on the Bus

This is one of my favorite storytimes! The kids love it, the teachers love it, and I love it! Try it with your groups!


And the prize goes to Zoopa by Gianna Marino! What’s Zoopa?

Zoopa is a yummy looking bowl of tomato based alphabet soup that attracts first an ant to the table–and then a whole alphabet’s worth of animals! And it’s the “funnest” alphabet book I’ve seen in ages.

Each double page spread shows a bowl of soup on a placemat. Each new spread shows the next alphabet letter floating in the soup. For each letter, there is a picture of an animal whose name begins with that letter. None of the animals leave the pages so as the story progresses, things get a little chaotic and crowded.

And did I mention Zoopa wordless? So you and your kiddos can find lots and lots to talk about from page to page. What’s that letter? What’s that animal? What’s he doing? What’s she carrying? What’s different? (On one spread the baby elephants that decorate the edge of the soup bowl come to life and start spraying each other with tomato soup.) Where is the (blank) now?

Something new catches my eye every time I look at this book. Hope it catches yours too!


It’s three minutes. It’s pretty funny. Your kids will love it. Preview to judge whether to show to you “the boys” (of whatever age) in your life. 😉

Click here.

(Now aren’t you glad it’s not the week after Christmas right now?)


My kind of prank! 🙂 Go NYPL! I can’t say too much or I’ll spoil your fun!  Click here.

For a number of years now, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended zero TV time for children under age 2 and under 2 hours a day for older childern.

A new report now links a variety of troubles children have later in life to how much TV they watched as toddlers (yes, toddlers!). These include the expected ones like obesity, high blood pressure , and problems with language development and attention span–but it also included suprise ones like lower math achievement and higher incidence of being bullied. These effects were found years later when the children were in school.  Click here to read more.  And here.  (And both articles share some amazing statistics.)

What’s a parent to do? Is it really that important? Dr. David Elkind offers help in sorting this out; click here.

How can one activity lead to so many difficulties so many years later? There are two huge factors at work here.

First, if a child is sitting in front of a TV or other screen, that child is not doing the things his or her body and mind was made to be doing developmentally at that time. Simple things like putting things into a box and taking them back out again, rocking a doll, watching the birds outside, playing in the sand or water, or singing, talking, and reading with a living, caring human being–these are all critical to a child’s physical, emotional, and intellectual growth.

Second, as intimated above, if a child is spending time with the TV, they are not spending time with an adult. The basis for all future relationships is established in the years between birth and age six-ish. We are socials beings, we are wired to learn about the world and life and ourselves through our relationships, and no machine can come close to fulfilling those roles.

As Elkind puts it, “…infants and young children learn best through direct interaction with caregivers, whether it is reading, talking or playing games like Itty Bitty Spider, Patty Cake and so on. Computer games (my insert: and other screens) for infants put an unnecessary barrier between child and caregiver and dilute the potency of that interaction.”

It is cliched, but they are only little once. Turn off the screens. Find other things for your baby and little one to do and explore; find other things to enjoy doing together. And not sure what to do? Ask your friendly neighborhood children’s librarian for ideas! 🙂


I’ve got a million topics that have been screaming to be blogged. It’s been weeks since Bird finished the Top 100 Children’s Novels run-down. I convinced myself the  time was past for blogging anything about it (especially when these other things are wanting their time).

And then I made the mistake of looking over her “Everything Else” list, the one’s that didn’t make it. And I just couldn’t resist.

Before moving on there, though, let me say that I love the Top 100 list. I could spend hours and pages telling you why I love its books. And why I would put them in different orders.  🙂 But suffice it to say I have very few disagreements with any book on the list (except Holes; I’ve never understood why anyone, kid or adult alike, thought Holes was so fabulous).

But the “also-ran’s” tug at my heart–and remind me of some of my all time favorites that didn’t make any of the lists. So here they are!

Voyage of the Dawn Treader by Lewis: This is the Narnia book that my boys loved. We even had a stuffed animal mouse, big and fuzzy with red ears and tail, that was named Reepicheep.

Homer Price by McCloskey: I loved all the fixes Homer got into but especially the doughnut machine.

Rascal by North: Everyone should read Rascal. There weren’t many books that made me want to live in another place and time, but Rascal was one of them. I thought it was a perfect life.

Soup by Peck: Got a boy that doesn’t like to read? Soup made readers out of both of mine.

Clementine by Pennypacker: One of the best kids’ books I’ve read in years! I love Clementine–and her parents. Funny, touching, and so spot on from a child’s view of the world.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Park: Fun and funny–and it gets the Christmas story right with no one even noticing (at least not at first ;-)). Forget the movie though; it’s horrid.

Secret of Hidden Creek by St. John: This one’s not on the also-ran list but it’s a companion to the Ghost Next Door which was. Another all time favorite of 10 year old self, probably the first mystery that really grabbed me and made me want to have a similar adventure. And they were so much more realistic than Nancy Drew. These stories had the delicious feeling of  “this  could really happen.” And I couldn’t figure it out–and the ending was so cool! I was terribly disappointed as an adult to discover that no one else knew of  these wonderful books by St. John.

The Cricket in Times Square by Selden: Another one that I am truly heartbroken to see did not make the list. This book taught me (and later my own boys) what it means to be a friend, again with no preachiness. It’s up there with Charlotte’s Web in my estimation.

Encyclopedia Brown by Sobol: I read everyone, multiple times, and had a blast! Glad to see they are being reprinted for a new set of kids!

Treasure Island by Stevenson: Must be read aloud but if it is, kids love it!

Farmer Boy by Wilder: My boys loved the first two Little House books but then that was enough–except for Farmer Boy! This really is our favorite of the series. I love the ending; it’s just right.

Now a few more of my favorites that didn’t make any list. 😦

The Hundred Dresses by Estes: I’m appalled this book did not make it. Again, it catches life as a child so well. Not a bit preachy but one that stayed with me forever. I still remember the ending in my gut.

The Witch Family by Estes: I was entranced and enamored and enraptured by this book. I can still see the pencil drawings in my head. I didn’t own a copy but I alone probably wore out a library’s copy. Also The Moffats, Rufus M. (my boys loved both), and Ginger Pye. Well, maybe everything by Estes. I’m so grateful that her books are being reprinted. They are just about kids and their life as kids, nothing more and nothing less. Just what a child wants to read about.

Gentle Ben by Morey: This was a “read and re-read” favorite of mine. I can still “feel” this book when I think about it.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Latham: I stumbled on this one for my oldest son and wondered how I had missed it as a child. It captured the imagination of both my boys around age 9-10–as a read-aloud. Not an easy book but well worth the time and effort especially for boys.

Dolley Madison by Nolan: I loved this book so much that I tracked down an old copy to read to my boys. I wanted to be Dolley Madison after reading this book (still would in the broadest sense). Her story single-handedly cinched my love of history as people’s stories, (rather than events). Anyone looking for strong heroines needs to find this book (yeah, this particular one :-)).

Whew! That’s long! Thanks for indulging me!

Do you have faves that didn’t make a list?


It’s almost that time, everyone! Summer Reading does fast approach. We’ll start registration this Saturday, May 15th, either online at (and then look for the link in the left column) or register at the library. (It makes our planning easier if you register online.) But don’t panic! Registration runs through June 30th.

Click here to see info on the program in brief.

Click here for summary of directions (and keep reading here, too).

Click here to see the schedule of programs. Notice this year we have one set of programs for all ages, one set for ages six and under, and one for ages seven and up (especially “up’ ;-)). Dates and times will vary between the groups so check it carefully!

Also new this year will be weekly drawings (rather than the big end-of-the-summer drawings). Each week that your child completes his or her “reading brick,” they’ll get to put their name in for that week’s drawing. Drawings will happen at the programs and you must be present to win. (We will still have a weekly prize box they can select from, too, after turning in their brick.)

To complete a “reading brick,” your child needs to be read to, read to someone else, or read on their own for fifteen minutes a day. Why fifteen minutes? That’s the amount of reading that prevents “summer slide.” If children do not read during the summer, they will actually begin school in the fall at a lower reading level than when they left in the spring. So get ’em reading! And remember, they can read anything–really, truly, honest to goodness, any type of reading works! In fact, if they pick it out, it “works” even better.

If your child is too young for fifteen minutes a day, never fear! Activity bricks are here! Each of these bricks list six activities that support the growth of early literacy skills. Early literacy skills are very basic skills that help your child be ready to learn to read years later when they begin school. No teaching is involved; just having fun with some simple, do-it-together activities.  Each time you and your child complete an activity, check it off. Once completed, bring in the brick and we’ll put your child’s name in for the drawing. (Selecting from the weekly prize box is an option but it is at a parent’s discretion; all prizes may not be suitable for ages three and under.)

For more information, email me at or call 589-6592 and speak with any staff librarian. There will also be program updates in the Valley Courier newspaper each week and a few more postings here as well. Help spread the word!

Looking forward to a great summer! Let’s build it!


I don’t know how often this has happened to you, as parent or teacher or librarian, but it’s happened to me more and more over the last several years. I pick up a new book. It is the size, shape, and thickness of a picture book for little kids. It has gorgeous or cool illustrations like a picture book for little kids. It might even be shelved in the little kids’ picture section of the library.

It walks like a duck, sounds like a duck–but heads up, folks! It ain’t no duck.

It’s a picture book for elementary kids–and not just the youngest ones of even that set! 🙂

I love these books! Most are so well done. Most tell such awesome stories. And they all give us the chance to read aloud to an older kiddo, something that read-aloud experts like Jim Trelease say older kids still need. But they often get lost in the little kids’ picture book section and never reach their intended audience, the older kiddo.

How do you find them? Well, unless your library does some special cataloging for them (mine does ;-)), it’s not easy. You have to keep your eyes open for them. Check the new shelves. Ask your children’s librarian. Often the title will give it away. You’ll think, “That doesn’t seem like a topic for a four year old.” Or you’ll flip through them and see looooots of words on each page. Or you’ll read it and think, “That’s a really (thought provoking, heavy, subtle, different kind of humor, pick your phrase etc.) book for a four or five year old; maybe it’s not meant for a four or five year old!” Voila! You’ve found one!

Here’s a list of a few to get you acquainted with this breed. Once you find one, you’ll start spotting others!

Molly Bannaky by McGill
The Goat Lady by Houle
Ben and the Emancipation Proclamation by Sherman
Abe’s Fish by Bryant
One Candle by Bunting
Rabbit Pirates by Cox
The Pirate meets the Queen by Faulkner
A Big Cheese for the White House by Fleming
Hanukkah at Valley Forge by Krensky (I’ve read this one aloud to 6th graders!)
An Outlaw Thanksgiving by McCully
Little Flower by Rand
Mailing May by Tunnell
Wolf Wanted by Machado
Summer Birds by Engle
Bird by Elliott

I’ll try to post some more of these in the future as well.

Read on (even to your 1st-6th graders who can read on their own!),


from NYT, Dnt Txt N Drv: I have something of an aversion to reading anything that has the word “Oprah” in it, but this is well written and vitally important.

And while I have your attention about cell phones, read this one, too.

That’s all for now. It’s end of semester and I’ve been just a wee bit behind on my reading. 🙂


OK, so mostly this blog is about little kids. But I am a librarian for babies up through young college aged folks. And I love reading YA (when I have the time) especially nowadays when I think some of the best ficiton writing for anyone is coming out of the YA camp.

So “life” and teaching in the last weeks, things were too crazy for me to get my top ten list into Persnickety Snark’s polling for the top 100 YA novels. But I did make a list and here it is. It’s  in no particular order (ranking things I love drives me nuts and I don’t need that right now).

Antsy Does Time by Shusterman

The Outsiders by Hinton

Go Ask Alice by Anonymous

Mortal Engines by Reeves (the whole series! although the first part of two really drags, you’ve been warned)

To Kill a Mockingbird by Lee

The Once and Future King by White

A Day No Pigs Would Die by Peck

The Crucible by Miller (I know it’s a book–but it’s soooo right for YA)

The Handmaid’s Tale by Atwood

And number 11 I throw in for good measure unofficially. I truly love this book. I’m terribly interested to see if it ever gets the readership it deserves (from guys and girls)–and what its staying power will be over time.

Crazy Beautiful by Baratz-Logsted

I have this horror of posting and then remembering all kinds of terrific books I’ve forgotten to include! But if that happens, I may do list #2. 😉

Happy Reading,


You’ve probably already seen the final countdown, (my life has been really crazy as far as trying to get this posted), but this is primarily a shopping list, not an announcement list. 🙂 So happy shopping!

25. Little Women by Alcott

24. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by Rowling

23. Little House in the Big Woods by Wilder

22. The Tale of Despereaux by DiCamillo

21. The Lightning Thief by Riordan

20. Tuck Everlasting by Babbitt

19. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Dahl

18. Matilda by Dahl

17. Maniac Magee by Spinelli

16. Harriet the Spy by Fitzhugh

15. Because of Winn-Dixie by DiCamillo

14. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by Rowling

13. Bridge to Terabithia by Paterson

12. The Hobbit by Tolkien

11. The Westing Game by Raskin

10. The Phantom Tollbooth by Juster

9. Anne of Green Gables by Montgomery

8. The Secret Garden by Burnett

7. The Giver by Lowry

6. Holes by Sachar

5. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by Konigsburg

4. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis

3. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by Rowling (yeah, the first one)

2. A Wrinkle in Time by L’Engle

1. Charlotte’s Web by White

Thanks to Bird for putting together such a terrifically fun project! And Happy Reading!


And here’s the other parts of the lists:




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