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Winters are long here in the San Luis Valley. We get lots of cold weather but not much snow (it’s actually a desert up here at 7600 feet). So storytimes on winter, the cold, animals, and the exciting times when we do get snow tie right into a child’s daily experience here.

Here’s what I’m currently doing for wintertime storytime. The kids and I are enjoying it!

Books we are reading include:

  • Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
  • Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep by Maureen Wright
  • Here Comes Jack Frost by Kazuno Kohara

Before I start reading Tacky, I show the kids my penguin stick puppet. He’s simply made out of black and white foam with a yellow beak (some kids love pointing out that he has no eyes). We talk about his colors and what he is covered with–fur? feathers? scales? hair? Once we’ve figured out penguins have feathers, we can talk about other animals that have feathers–birds! And then we can talk about birds that fly–and birds that swim like penguins!

Lots of talking happening, and of course, only for as long as the kids are interested. It’s easy talking, though, and easy for the kids to join in with their thinking and ideas and words.

Then my puppet acts out this rhyme (pardon the bullet points, WordPress inserts double spacing otherwise):

  • Little penguin black and white,
  • On the ice, what a sight!
  • See them waddle, see them glide.
  • Watch them as they slip and slide.
  • Little penguins black and white,
  • On the ice, what a sight!

Then we read Tacky with lots and lots of expression! After Tacky we talk about what other animals do in the winter and bears and sleeping come up. Before reading Big Bear, though, I tell the kids I’m going to tell the same story two different ways (a great way to build narrative skills, btw).

First I do this rhyme to the tune of  “Up on the Housetop.” As a sing through it, I place first a picture of a brown bear, then of a blue cloud with a face drawn on it (like Old Winter in Big Bear), and finally a bear sleeping in a cave onto my makeshift flannel board (I use pictures printed in color from MS Publisher and place them on a white memo board with double sided tape).

  • There once was a bear who love to play (Put up brown bear)
  • In the woods most every day.
  • But then the winds began to blow (Put up winter wind picture)
  • And soon the ground was covered with snow.
  • Oh, oh, oh, ice and snow,
  • Oh, oh, oh, I better go-o
  • Into my cave to sleep all day (Put up bear in cave picture)
  • Until the cold winter winds go away.  Jean Warren

I’m amazed at how much the kids love this! Then on to the Big Bear book. We follow it with some snow fingerplays (see the left hand side bar for those) and wrap it up with Jack Frost. Don’t let this book fool you though! It looks far too simple to hold a bunch of squirmy kids attention but it works like a charm. And they love puzzling out the ending!

There you go, lots of conversation, vocabulary, print awareness (especially in the final pages of Big Bear, narrative skills,  and phonological awareness through rhymes. All wrapped up in one winter package.

Stay warm,


I’m so excited! I’d like to personally hold each of your hands and guide you to click the mouse here.

Why? Because this made my day and I’d love for it to make yours. It’s well written, well delivered, thoughtful, insightful–and inspiring especially if you are into stories, writing, books, libraries, and people getting along together in the world.

Need I say more? Enjoy!


Here’s an excellent reading (with music and pictures) of Mem Fox’s book, The Goblin and the Empty Chair. Click here.

So sit down with the kiddos of all ages and enjoy! (And it just happens to be read by Mem herself).



This is from Lise Quintana on Flashlight Worthy Books.  She lists and reviews some of her favorite read-alouds–and makes suggestions for music to acommpany your dramatic readings!

My favorites of her favorites are Fanny’s Dream and Little Black Sambo.

What a fun idea! I may have to think of some of my own. 😉 What are some of yours?

Have fun!


  • catrow-spot-1June 3  Lisa Moore and The Penny Project by the Train
  • June 10  Games in the Park: Get Creative with Play, Cole Park
  • June 17  Christine Jones-Daboll, drama & music, by the Train
  • June 24  Games in the Park: Get Creative with Play, Cole Park
  • July 1  Peggy Godfrey,  Sidewalk Poetry, check back for location
  • July 8  Games in the Park: Get Creative with Play, Cole Park
  • July 15  Games in the Park: Get Creative with Play, Cole Park
  • July 22 Shadows & Journeys, Now or Never Theatre from Boulder,  CO, Special location: Boys & Girls Club, Alamosa
  • July 29  Games, Awards, and Ice Cream by the Train

It’s hhheeeerrreee! What you’ve been waiting for! All the gory details on


summer reading! Read on! 🙂

Looking  for fun, games, and creative ways to fill those summer hours? Then come “Be Creative @ your library” with the Sum

mer Reading Club at Southern Peaks Public Library in Alamosa from June 1 through July 31.   The program is open to all young people, from birth through young teens, with visiting guests, prize drawings, storytime for toddlers, Mornings on the Lawn, and new this year—Games in the Park.

Why games this year? “Last summer we had a program when we all learned old dances—and then we got up and danced! Kids and adults alike had a great time. It got me to thinking about how little children get to play together any more,” says Babette Reeves, Children and Youth Librarian. “Since then, several studies have come out over the past year showing that in schools where games have been recently re-introduced to recess, the kids are doing better in their learning and social skills. Finally, games help us relax and loosen up and that helps us be more creative. We’re really sensing a lot of excitement around these game days and hope folks will come out and have a good time together.” All game days will be on Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. in Cole Park behind the library.

On other Wednesdays at 10:30 a.m. the library will continue its tradition of “Mornings on the Lawn” under the tents near the train with special guests and activities. The Penny Project and Sidewalk Poetry are just two of the programs offered. A special presentation by the Now or Never Theatre from Boulder, Colorado, will also be part of this summer’s creative line-up. Toddler Time for children from birth through age 3 will happen on Thursday mornings at 10:15 a.m. Complete schedules are available in the newspaper each week, from the library at 589-6592, or on the web sites, or here at The Passionate Librarian, . All programs are free of charge.

New this year is the opportunity to register your children online at under the Summer Reading link on the left. “We realize how busy parents are and hope online registration will make life a little easier while still encouraging parents and children to read during the summer,” says Reeves. “Registration is optional, there’s no deadline, and it can be completed from any computer anywhere at any time. Registration will help us with planning, and with a good response to it this year, we may be able to move reading logs online next year.”

Reading logs can be picked up at the library beginning May 25; children can begin recording their time as of June 1 and continue through July 31. Reading logs are time-based with opportunities to log “bonus reading” time as well.  Studies show that children who read just fifteen minutes each day during the summer retain skills needed for school in the fall.  And all reading counts!  Children may read books, magazines (yes, you can check these out, too!), cookbooks, game books, comic books, hobby books, newspapers, menus, signs, even web sites!  A child may be read to, may read on his or her own, or may read to another person in order to earn their time.  The Summer Reading program hopes to encourage children and their families to be creative and enjoy the downtime of summer with books and with each other!

Come have fun!


I honestly don’t know which I like better–the You Tube of President Obama reading Where the Wild Things Are at the White House egg hunt–or Tegan Tigani’s thoughtful article on how to read a story well, using Obama’s reading as a case study.

Both are well worth ten minutes of your time; click here!



Here’s a passel of farm animals and counting to boot on The Farmbarn (or should it be a herd? :-)).

You can do this “as is,” holding up fingers as you count through the animals.

Or you can hold up (or place on a flannel board) pictures of the animals to help kids remember the order and think of the sounds.

Or I think it would be really cool to have the picture you placed up be the number that corresponded with the animal. For instance on “One is the cat that says meow,” you’d put up a picture of one cat. But on “Two is the dog that says bow-wow,” you’d put up a picture of two dogs. And so on through the rhyme. (I’m still searching for a good picture collection that will let me do this; all my pics are too big :-().

Books to go along? Any version of Old MacDonald (I’ve been using Amy Schwartz; the first verse is even the rooster!), A Chick Call Saturday by Joyce Dunbar (although I have to retell this one a bit rather than stick to the words or the kids get antsy), and Daisy and the Beastie by Jane Simmons (add some drama to this one and the kids love it; it’s just a wee bit scary! And it’s a great one for dialogic reading, vocabulary, and using contextual skills to figure new words out).

Have fun!

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.



I truly believe the smallest things can matter so much.

There’s many things you can take away from this video, Validation. That’s part of what makes it good. (Glad to see it won an award for Best Narrative Short in the Cleveland International Film Festival!)

It’s also part of what makes for a good story. Remember that when selecting books. And when you finish reading one like this, nothing more needs to be said. 🙂

(At 16 minutes, this is a little longer than the typical YouTube. Sit back and enjoy!)

three-bears1Can you tell a story? Sure, you can! Can your child tell a story? Telling stories is a skill needed for learning to read later. (The fancy name is Narrative Skills).

We’re not talking anything professional here. But can a child talk about something starting at the beginning, moving through a middle, and wrapping up with an ending? That’s basic storytelling.

How is it developed?

  • Talk about your day–what have you done, what are you doing next.
  • Put things in order. What comes first when making pancakes and then what?
  • Take things out of order! “Goldilocks came to the three bears house and decided to take a nap.” “Noooooo (giggle, giggle) she ate the porridge first!”
  • Finally read books with strong story lines that are easy to remember. Memorable events, repetitions, and emotional connections all help us remember a story.

Here’s some recommendations:

  • The Gunniwolf by Harper
  • The Hat by Brett
  • The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Williams
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Numeroff
  • Rainstorm by Lehman (a wordless book, what better way to create a story!)

Ok, so your kiddo’s watch their favorite movie and ba-zillion times. Can they tell you the story back?

But before they start, get the video camera out and capture the telling. You don’t have to post it on YouTube as this family did (Star Wars according to a 3 year old;) but it will make a great treasure later or a marvelous gift now (I have cassette tapes of the boys reading nursery rhymes that were given to me as Christmas present).

Annnd you can feel good for encouraging early literacy development of “Narrative Skills.”

(If you do post, let me know ;-))

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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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