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I despise cancelling any storytime but especially Toddler Time for babies through 3-ish. Most of the kids are between 12-24 months, and I appreciate (and vividly remember) how difficult it is for someone that age to change gears quickly and deal with disappointment.

So I never, ever, ever cancel Toddler Time unless I have to. Which includes getting caught at a specialist’s appointment.  There should have been plenty of time for the appointment (and you know how specialists are; you’ve got to take the appointment they’ve got open). But there wasn’t.

Back at work that day, I learned how the morning had gone without me. There were no tears, no fits, no meltdowns–not even a wimper. Why?

Because the parents stepped in and did it themselves!

They did rhymes, fingerplays, songs, circle games. They even read a book. They did this all with no planning and no advanced warning. And their kids had a great time!

These parents come week after week. They sit in the circle with their children and do all this “silly” stuff with smiles on their faces and excitement in their attitudes. I affirm nearly every week how important the time is for language development–and how they need to do the same outside of the library, at home, in the car, in the doctor’s waiting room, at the restaurant. Learn here and do there is the message. Learn here and do there is the purpose of Toddler Time.

What a terrific bunch of parents!

Babette

I was only eight when Mr. Rogers went to Washington and spoke at this Senate hearing concerning children and television.  I was mostly too old to watch him (except when nothing else was on TV) and it wasn’t many years before I joined the ranks of folks who loved to make fun of him. He did have a very distinctive speaking style. 🙂

His sincerity, integrity, and authenticity could not be beat though. He was as real in front of the Senate and a grumpy Pastore as he was in front of a Hollywood award crowd, his own show’s TV cameras, or a flesh and blood child. His manner overshadowed everything else that one might initially want to poke fun at–his speech, his slow style, his puppets, his focus on the simple (but ever so important) events of children’s lives.

I was “reintroduced” to Mr. Rogers in grad school and then later when I had children. He informed my attitude about and understanding of children immensely–especially concerning their feelings and lives.

The first video clip of the Senate hearing is a bit long at 6 minutes, but it really is worth a watch. It starts slowly (just like the man speaking) and then the passion begins to come through–and as a bonus, you get to see Pastore melt.

The second one is a couple of the best minutes of true humility you will ever witness.

These clips will renew your faith in what one person can do and inspire you to be your best in your neighborhood. Grab a cuppa and visit for a few minutes with Mr. Rogers.

Take care, Neighbor!

Babette

I wish I could have taken a picture! I couldn’t so a thousand words will have to do. 🙂

It’s Saturday, mom and dad have brought their whole crew of kiddos into the library. All the kids in their range of ages are off getting their books.

At one point I look up from working the front desk and there mom is, holding the youngest one (about two months old, much younger than the picture!) up to her shoulder.

Standing behind that shoulder is dad–with a board book, slowly flipping through the pages one by one so the baby can look at them! (Which, by the way, she is doing.)

That little girl and all her siblings will be readers!

Support on!

Babette

You already know many of these, about how storytimes for the youngest ones are:

  • exposing children to a rich language experience,
  • modeling language play to the adults who love and care for these kiddos,
  • teaching rhymes, fingerplays, songs, and simple games to adults to share when they leave the library,
  • teaching adults through tips about the importance of early literacy.

That’s certainly not an exhaustive list, yet it covers a wide range goals for baby and toddler storytime.

Here’s one that’s easy to overlook though. 🙂

After storytime, mom’s checking out. She asks me, “Can you recommend any good books?”

I paused. “For you or for the kids?” I asked.

“For me. I just started reading recently and I’m still figuring out what to read.”

Oh my! It was all I could do not to race around and give her a gignormous hug!

She didn’t tell me that all she’d seen and heard and done in storytimes (she has two kids and so has been coming for years) encouraged her to take up reading. But I truly believe it played a part.

And the best part? Her children will grow up to be readers now!

So on the days you’re feeling like you’re just filling twenty minutes up with silly, inconsequential nonsense, remember her. You both deserve one of those hugs!

Babette

All children’s books do not have to address a “growing up” issue. Some books are teetotally just for fun, for imagination, for the story, for the pictures. Children’s books “exist” for a million reasons.

Yet I am a complete pushover for books that capture a child’s view of themselves and the world. Why Do You Cry? by Kate Klise is my latest fave in this category. (Red Is Best by Stinson is another; I’ve been having a blast reading it at storytimes the last few weeks.)

Little Rabbit is turning five and planning the guest list for his birthday. Since when he turns five, he is going to be too old to cry, he doesn’t want anyone else coming to his party who cries. Of course, he finds out everyone cries, no matter their age, even his mother.

The premise is very much a child’s way of measuring “growing up.” And it’s a true discovery each time he talks with someone and finds out that they still cry. Life is still new; Little Rabbit is still learning. (And here’s a bonus: Notice how his mother helps him.)

The list of reasons people cry is well done and covers a nice gamut of reasons without being cloying, melodramatic, trivial, or overdone and scary. Each reason is stated as just a fact–which each is.

Adults often forget that emotions are high on the agenda of “things to learn” in a child’s life. We come “pre-programmed” to experience feelings but not to know what they are, what to call them, how to live with them, how they are a part of us and our relationships with others and the world. Why Do You Cry? gracefully helps little ones in its own little way with that part of “growing up.”

It’s all life!

Babette

What’s the latest news today in the world of encouraging literacy and discouraging obesity? The Alliance for a Healthier Generation and the American Academy of Pediatrics have made your friend and mine, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, the poster child for obesity prevention. (Read more here.)

Yeah for fighting the evil twins, illiteracy and obesity, let’s all stand up and cheer, right?

Wrong. AHG and AAP–you blew it. Here’s how:

While children are not adults in miniature, they are still rational beings. Using TVHC to talk about obesity doesn’t make sense. Why? Because by the end of the book, despite having one tummy ache, the caterpillar does what caterpillars are supposed to do after eating LOTS. The caterpillar makes his “house” and then comes out of it a beautiful butterfly.

Do you see the incongruency when you pair THAT message up with the message of “don’t overeat” and “don’t eat unhealthy foods like lollipops and cake”? That’s what the caterpillar did and look how things turned out for him–SPLENDIDLY!

Children are smart. They are going to know that the message is mixed. The message sent by the book (caterpillars eat a lot and then they become beautiful butterflies) and the message from AHG and AAP (eat healthy food in moderation) do not go together.

Kids may not be able to figure out what’s wrong, that the messages don’t mesh, but they will pick up the disconnected vibe–and that will drown out the intended message.

When we work with kids and with kids’ books, we’ve got to give them both more credit than that.

A better choice? How about Little Pea by Amy Rosenthal? Like TVHC, it’s an all-around fun read. And it would be a great conversation starter about food and good eating habits.

Other ideas?

Here’s to thoughtfully thinking like a kid,

Babette

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Contact Info for Babette

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

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