Friday, February 27, 2015

Baby Books I read (and didn't read)

Hapy #FridayReads Everyone! (Yes I know hashtags don't work like that. Humor me.) Here's a blog post I've been kicking around for a while about what books I've read (and not read) as a brand new parent. My baby is almost 8 months old now, so clearly I'm an expert. (Again, sarcasm.) But I am a librarian and a mom, so here it goes.

The TL;DR version of this: read Bedtiming and Headed Home with your Newborn if you only have time for two books and you are not a crazy crazy research obsessed librarian.

Books About Pregnancy
What to Expect When You're Expecting - I actually BOUGHT this book. I don't buy that many books; I check them out from the library. I bought it and barely looked at it. But it seemed like the thing to do, this was the classic one, so I got it. I also got it as an app on my phone. That I read every week. And shared with my husband. The app has kept going with updates about development. I still like it. Mostly used the book as a photo prop for announcement photo.

Pregnancy and Birth: Your Questions Answered - I skimmed and read bits and pieces of this one. It was okay.

Mostly I did most of my pregnancy reading online as symptoms came up. I understood pregnancy more or less. Plus I kept it a secret at work for the first trimester so I didn't want to check out too many books.

Books About Babies
The Sh*t No One Tells You: A Guide To Your Baby's First Year - I loved this one. A really good mix
of helpful advice and funny stories. Best pieces of advice I picked up: make other parent friends. (Might I suggest your local library's baby time as a great place for that?) Also each partner should get to keep one activity that is just for them (that isn't work) outside the house. And they should work together to make those happen for them both. My husband gets soccer and his MBA classes. I get to be on the board of a non-profit and have a knitting group.

Your Baby's First Year: Third Edition (American Association of Pediatrics) - I bought this one on the recommendation of my doctor. It is what he uses with his kids. What's great about it is that if there isn't the research to back something up, they just tell you the research is fuzzy in this area. This is unlike the internet which is full of blogs claiming to be experts. They also have a great website

Be Prepared: A Practical Handbook for New Dads -
This one we borrowed from a friend for my husband. She had bought it almost as a joke for him, but it was really helpful. I recommend it totally. (Also used as a photo prop for an announcement photo.)

The Baby Owner's Manual: Operating Instructions, Trouble-Shooting Tips & Advice on First Year Maintenance - Again I purchased this for my husband for Christmas. Surprisingly helpful. Fairly humorous. Really is owner's manual style.

Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality - I also really liked this one. Practical and
well done. One of the few books I read cover to cover instead of just skimming. Written by moms who are also pediatricians, it is good advice (research backed) with some humor and real life stories tossed in.

HappyBaby: The Organic Guide to Baby's First Months - I skimmed this one. And I didn't realize it until I just looked it up for this post that it was co-written by a "team" at a baby food company. Oh well. I really like that baby food company. There have been a couple brands of foods we have purchased for Annabelle, mostly I make her food, but HappyBaby is one. Also this is by Dr. Sears and I'm not totally on board as an attachment parent, but I'm pretty crunchy (though I vaccinate). So I read his stuff with a grain of salt.

Baby Led Weaning - I'll probably do a feeding baby post on my personal blog. This book was great. We are mostly doing baby led weaning and it is awesome. I also did a lot of research online for this. Again I rather skimmed this book, but I got the general idea.

Start Fresh: Your Child's Jump Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating - This book was a gift from a friend.
It's a cookbook for babies, starting with purees. Since we started with purees because she was hungry for food before she was ready to eat solids, this was really helpful. However I would like to contend that "steam sweet potatoes, puree" does not really constitute a recipe and shouldn't take half a page in the middle of a bunch of identical other one-ingredient purees. That said, the multiple ingredient purees and the recipes for solids are great. And I liked the intro, narrative, and general approach of this cookbook.

Baby-Gami: Baby Wrapping for Beginners - Another gift from a
friend. Really pretty pictures of swaddled babies and step by step instructions for swaddling babies. I was hugely pregnant so I mostly skimmed it and admired the pretty happy babies. I recommend borrowing a friends baby to practice swaddling. Please note that when you begin, your baby will probably not be as happy as the ones in the book. Husband and I practiced on a teddy bear (also how we practiced using the baby carrier) but it wasn't the same. We needed 2am refresher courses from the hospital nurses. He was much better at it than I was. I pretty much relied on the velcro swaddling blankets. Our daughter escaping from one of my swaddles is pictured on the book.

Our Babies, Ourselves - Another recommendation from a friend (who also recommended Bedtiming). This is really good look at different philosophies across different cultures about how we raise babies. It doesn't have as much practical advice, but if you're a nerd and you like big picture/psychological/anthropological/sociology stuff, you will like it.

I also did a lot of reading online. So much online reading and I took everything with a grain of salt. It is either the best or worst thing to be able to google stuff at 2am.

Books About Sleep
When I went back to work, sleep became a big issue. That also deserves its own post. Short version: she had been sleeping and then wasn't and I didn't know how to fix it. Everyday at lunch I would go to the parenting section of the library, choose a different sleep book, go to my office, hook up my breast pump, read the sleep book, try not to cry in exhaustion. I got REAL SERIOUS about sleep books. I took notes. I used post it flags to mark sections for my husband to read. I read over half that section and won't talk about all of it. (A personal blog entry at some point, maybe.)

Bedtiming: The Parent's Guide to Getting Your Child To Sleep At Just The Right Age - There is one
book that I recommend time and time again. I've recommended it to a couple of friends expecting a baby, I've lent out my copy (because I purchased my own). My copy was covered in notes and stickies. And when parents ask at the library for books on sleep training, I give them this one. It focuses mostly on WHEN not how to sleep train your baby. Some ages work better than others based on developmental things happening with your baby. And at the end it also overviews the different sleep training techniques. This book is solid gold. Read it.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Reading Goal 2015 - My Dirty Dozen

In early 2004 I started a spreadsheet to track what I was reading for a librarians read challenge. I kept going past the end of the challenge and past the end of the year. I kept that spreadsheet going until 2014 when pregnancy brain and baby brain caused it to fall apart.

I've had middling success with goodreads. I go on a tear for a few months and then abandon it again for the next 6 months. I'm going back to my spreadsheet again. If you ignore the last year, it worked for me for a decade and I know I can commit to it.

However I want to try a new reading challenge. There are lots of them floating around. Cannonball read (a book a week, 52 books), or two a month (24 total), or this one by category/feature is really cool. (ie a book more than 500 pages, a book by a female author). I also saw one group of people dedicating to reading books only by women and/or people of color this year. There are a lot of ways to do a reading challenge. I encourage you to choose one.

My reading challenge is to conquer my personal dirty dozen. In library school, my children's librarianship professor defined your "dirty dozen" as the classic children's books you are a little bit ashamed to admit you have never read. It is probably more or less than a dozen (probably more), but it is a good term.

This year I will read one classic children's book I've never read before a month.

Fair warning: many of them will probably be as audio books, that is how 80% of my reading gets done since the baby. (And before the baby it was still probably half of my reading. I love audio books.)

I'm also defining what is a classic. It may be a newer book that is an award winner. It may be 70 years old.

Some adult books may sneak in there, particularly adult books with teen/advanced child appeal. Today I helped a teen find To Kill A Mockingbird which she had expected to find in the teen section. She was a little bemused to be going to the adult section. I read that as a teen and adored it. In fact I was so excited about her starting that journey, getting to experience it for the first time that I almost hugged her. But I didn't because that is creepy. I just tweeted about it instead.

This morning I started Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White. So far it is okay, sweet, a bit didactic, but good. I'll try to blog about the books as I read them, but no promise.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Manners Storytime

Happy Almost Thanksgiving! Turkey day is my all time favorite holiday. Food, family, togetherness, and no gifts, love it. Plus it isn't necessarily tied to religious traditions and can be more easily celebrated by a wide swath of the population. (Okay I married into an Alaskan Native family and I know many Native American groups do not advocate it - my mother-in-law calls it the feast of the oppressors, but I think she's joking.)

However I don't love most kids Thanksgiving books. They either present the rosy version of what is actually a fairly troubling history or I just don't like them. There are a few exceptions, but I didn't want to do only Thanksgiving stories. Instead I chose to do a manners storytime to help prep kids for the big meals. Several parents thanked me for it; it was one of my more popular themes.

I did this as a toddler (18 months to 36 months) storytime, but I'm giving you suggestions for going a little older with the books.

Intro and sign:
I talked about thanksgiving was a good time to practice manners because it was an extra special meal with people we maybe didn't get to see very often, but we should use good manners all the time. Our signs (American Sign Language) for the week were please, thank you, and you're welcome.

Books I used:
Please Say Please: A Penguin's Guide to Manners by Margery Cuyler and Will Hillenbrand, a cute story about penguin's animal friends coming over and showing good and bad manners. Easy to encourage audience participation since every situation ends with "Is that right?" followed by "No, that's wrong." This is the longest book I used and I skipped a few animals because my group was getting restless. Sadly out of print.

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen and Mark Teague, honestly the entire "how do dinosaurs" line is a great one for kids and very well known. But it is always a crowd pleaser, it rhymes, and has nice big clear pictures that work well in groups.

The Nice Book by David Ezra Stein, this is as much a behavior as a manners book, though it has some manners in there. But it is quite short with clear simplistic pictures. It is a great third book for a toddler group because of it's brevity and eye catching illustrations. It is also my choice this week for (the only book I'll read in) baby storytime.

Other Book Options:
Thank You Thanksgiving by David Milgrim, I would have used this if I had reserved it in time. Short, simple, all about saying thank you and about Thanksgiving. Perfect. My favorite kids Thanksgiving book.
Suppose You Meet a Dinosaur: A First Book of Manners by Judy Sierra, Tim Bowers. Good book, but I already had one on dinosaurs and it was a bit too long. (It would be fine as a first book for toddler storytime, but not as a second.) Plus it focused on general out and about manners not mealtime manners.
Emily's Out and About Book by Cindy Post Senning. Good book, written by the heir to the Emily Post/Miss Manners empire. However it is again a more general manners book and I was focusing on mealtime manners.

I don't know specific manners songs, but I added verses to favorite songs.

If you're happy and you know it...
(After the three traditional verses)
If you're polite and you know it, say please & thank you...
If you're polite and you know it, and you really want to show it, if you're polite and you know it...

The Wheels on the Bus
(Do however many traditional verses you want)
The children on the bus say please and thank you, please and thank you, please and thank you...
The driver on the bus says you are welcome, you are welcome, you are welcome...
(Here we use the signs for those words)

By the by I always end "The Wheels on the Bus" with: "The librarians on the bus say READ A BOOK" and use a motion like opening a book (the American Sign Language sign for book).

Flannel Board:
I cheated here and used the Very Hungry Caterpillar flannel board. Hey, it's about eating!

Craft/coloring page:
We don't do crafts, just coloring pages. So we did a turkey coloring page. A very simple craft is to let kids decorate placemats. Either just coloring placemat sized sheets of paper or even gluing on shapes that represent where the fork, knife, plate, etc go. They can be "flash laminated" with contact paper. I have done this in the past and it was widely popular.

Hand Stamp:
A turkey for thanksgiving, or a star because stars use good manners. Or a Thank You one from the card making section of the craft store.

There you go - this is a widely popular storytime (at least for the parents). And it probably reaffirms the role of librarians in socializing to a specific set of class norms, but I can live with that.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rhythm Storytime (flannel friday)

This week I did a rhythm lapsit storytime inspired by a book I found on the new book cart last week. It was so much fun and so easy. Almost any song or fingerplay works with this theme!

(Lapsit storytime = 18 to 36 months with caregivers in the room) Here's a general outline, though of course I'm talking about our "core" songs that we use every week, feel free to substitute in your own.

Intro: After our standard opening song, I asked the kids if they knew what rhythm was. Then we all clapped together. Than faster. Then in a very simple rhythm. (Four beats, clap clap rest clap)

Wiggle game (follow the monkey)

Book: Cha-Cha Chimps by Julia Durango
This is one of my all time favorite books. I will read it for any possible theme: monkeys, dancing, jungle friends, counting, rhythms, etc. I love the repeated chorus "ee-oo-ah ah ah 9 little chimps do the cha cha cha". I get the whole group to say it with me. And it rhymes and has a great beat to read it to.

Songs and movement: Here we did our normal, every week songs (I'm a little teapot, head shoulders knees & toes, etc). As well we did the Grand Old Duke of York, repeated that faster and slower.
Grand Old Duke of York is a great faster, slower rhythm, but it also happens to be one of my favorites.

Wiggle Rhyme

Book: I Got The Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison and Frank Morrison
This was the new book that inspired me. Very fun, happy, colorful story of a girl who walks around her neighborhood hearing and finding the rhythm. Quite short text on each page, one sentence plus a rhythm you can do (stomp stomp or clap clap). Great for toddlers with short attention spans and great for audience participation. Definitely going into my storytime rotation. Bonus points because it is a diverse book.

Songs We sang a piggyback version of "If you're happy and you know it" with "If you've got the rhythm and you know it". The only other words I changed in that song was "and you want the world to know it" became "and you want the world to hear it". You could add in other rhythms besides clapping and stomping like snapping and ding-dong-hip-shakes.

Wiggle Rhyme

This flannel board is in our library's collection and pre-dates me. I'm not sure who made it, but it was printed on pellon with a standard printer and then colored in. I don't believe it was purchased as a commercial set. Of course it is the illustrations from the amazing Peanut Butter and Jelly by Nadine Bernard Westcott. Printing on pellon (or another non fusible interfacing) is a great way to expand your flannel board set without having to have incredible artistic abilities. I will do a post on it someday.

I love this rhyme as a story, but as a flannel it works really great too. We put up each piece as we sing that verse of the rhyme and do the hand motion and in between each verse, we clap with the chorus.

Early Literacy Moment:
At the end we have all the illustrations up and I did a quick talk about how when we make a PB&J sandwich we do this THEN this THEN this and how great it is to learn about steps and orders things happen in (what Every Child Ready to Read v1 called narrative skills). I told parents that learning about sequences of events and being able to tell things in sequence was an important part of building reading comprehension and would help them all the way up to their SAT tests. I encouraged them to talk through the steps of making lunch that afternoon together.

More Songs & ABCs & Counting
Instead of just counting, we did this rhyme (to the tune of 10 little Indians):
1 little, 2 little, 3 little fingers
4 little, 5 little, 6 little fingers
7 little, 8 little, 9 little fingers
10 little fingers on my hand!
10 little fingers dancing in the air,
10 little fingers dancing on the ground
10 little fingers dancing in the air,
10 fingers dance everywhere!

Book: Tanka Tanka Skunk! by Steve Webb
This is another one of my favorites. Tanka and Skunka love to play the drums. You say their names and the names of other animals and play the drums so you can hear the beat of each name. For example caterpillar's name has four beats. I've passed out rhythm sticks to kids so they can beat along with me, but this time we just played our leg drums. Bright cheerful pictures, so much fun for audience participation, and amazing early literacy phonological awareness! (also easy to skip pages if you have a rowdy group like I did.)

Close it up:
Insert your favorite closing songs and rhymes here.

That was this week's rhythm lapsit storytime. We had tons of fun - hope you can do it too!

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Guidelines (Rules) for Storytime

Recently we've been tightening up on some of our storytime procedures and it has led to confusion from the patrons. We're using signs outside the storytime areas when necessary and we are adding guidelines to the back of our storytime flier.

Our storytime flier is a quarter sheet/post-card sized flier that lists every storytime in the system. Each location has slightly different challenges and rules so we needed to be generic enough to apply universally. At our main location, people coming late can be extremely disruptive because the only way into the room is to walk directly between the audience and the storyteller. Thus the door is closed and there is only one "late admittance" window during the songs after the first book. Also we sometimes hit firecode maximums and have to close programs due to being full. All programs are first come first served, no reservations. Other locations have entrances in the back and less stress on space and are able to allow parents to come and go freely.

I'm verbose (no kidding) but we wanted to keep the guidelines on the shorter side. It was also important to focus on reinforcing positive behaviors rather than listing "don'ts". That is why we are calling them Tips or Guidelines and talking about making storytime successful. I wanted to start with a bolded action statement and then an explanation. Of course all language is gender-neutral, but I also wanted it relationship-neutral. All sorts of caregivers bring children to storytime so we avoided the "your child" phrasing.

Number three is the one we debated the most. I started with the phrase "overly emotional" which another librarian pointed out was too formal and "bad day" was better. We left in disruptive as well as bad day because some kids are having great, happy, exuberant days that are just as disruptive to storytime as a child having a meltdown. They just hit the other end of the scale and are too happy/excited to sit during stories.

Naturally we reinforce all these things verbally at the start of every storytime. But, especially with the latecomers issue, it can be helpful to parents to have advance warning about those expectations. I've had some very disappointed parents when they couldn't get into a storytime that was full/already started. And if you've never been to a storytime, it can be good to get a sense of expectations. Anchorage is a very diverse community with a large immigrant population who might not have a cultural tradition of library storytime.

Why yes, I did rather overthink this. And the thing is, I'm sure I'm not done overthinking it. I bet I'll edit again before the year is out. But for now, here is what we have.

Tips for a Successful Storytime
  1. Sit, sing, & listen to stories together. The more you participate in storytime, the more children will participate, enjoy, and learn from storytime.
  2. Please be timely. Storytimes are short and every minute is full of fun and learning opportunities. At some locations, we may not be able to accommodate late comers or have size limits.
  3. Don't be afraid to leave. Some days children aren't in the right mood for storytime. If a child is having a bad day or becomes disruptive, please feel free to take a break and try again.
  4. Please enjoy your food, toys, and cell phones after storytime.
We're working on putting these on a sign outside our storytime door as well. I'm interested in hearing what everyone else is using as storytime rules/guidelines/tips, parent expectations!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Piggyback songs - baby specific customization

Let's keep talking about piggyback songs. Once again these are songs that take a familiar tune and change a few or all of the words. They can be customized for themes, your location, or your family.

It's a great early literacy trick because it helps kids hear the rhymes/phonemes in words even more clearly when contrasted with what they are familiar with. Also parents/caregivers can catch on to the new song much easier than tackling new words and a new tune at the same time.

Last time we talked about Alaskan piggyback songs, this time let's talk about baby storytime piggy backs.

There isn't a storytime that goes by without me doing a piggyback song, but they are my favorite for baby storytime. Here we call baby storytime, Mother Goose time, and I took it over when I came back as youth services coordinator in December. I structure it as 90% songs with one flannel/puppet activity and one story  followed by open playtime. but that's another post.

This piggyback to Frere Jacques is one of our Mother Goose staples. We sing it every week.

I Love Baby
(tune: Frere Jacques)
I love baby, I love baby
Yes I do, Yes I do
And my baby love me
Yes, my baby loves me
Very much, Very much

This is a great framework to modify for any situation. You can insert any caregiver (I love mommy, I love daddy, etc.) I've got a version I sing to my new blender when I'm making smoothies at home.

For Mother Goose time, after we sing it once through with "baby" I ask the caregivers to sing their baby's names. (I just sort of hum a noise or sing my child's name.) The first time I did it, about half the caregivers turned the baby around from facing me and sang directly to their child. Perfect response! While I don't know that anyone is doing that at home, I can hope! And I'm showing parents on the spot how to modify a song quickly.

And just for giggles, here's the other version I sing a lot, but mostly to myself at the reference desk the hour before lunchtime:

A song to sing when doing the 12-1 shift on the reference desk:
I am hungry, I'm so hungry
When is lunch? Is it lunch?
Cause I've got yummy thai food
Leftovers from last night's thai food
Yummy noodles, Nom nom noodles

Start practising creating piggy back songs on the fly (perfect shower singing) and you'll be making lots of them in no time. And hopefully if you get caught singing something like this, no one commits you. They've not stuck me in the insane asylum.

A song to sing while making a green smoothie:
Let's start blending, brand new blender
Juice that fruit, grind that flax!
I'm so glad I got the nutribullet
Even if my husband laughs at me
Add more juice
And more spinach

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Alaskan Piggyback Songs

I absolutely adore piggyback songs. For those of you who don't know, piggyback songs are songs that "piggyback" on an existing well known children's tune with slightly (or greatly) modified lyrics. They're great in storytimes because caregivers and children already are familiar with the tune and rhyme/rhythm structure and so pick up the changes easily.

Eventually I will write up a post about how I use piggyback songs. Some I sing alone and some I sing as a "second verse" to their well known cousin.

I am starting a series on piggyback songs because I use them constantly. This week (Monday) was Seward's Day where we celebrate the purchase of Alaska from the Russians. Apparently the Russians are petitioning to get Alaska back. However since that seems an extremely unlikely outcome, for now we will celebrate as I share some of my favorite Alaskan piggyback songs. It helps that I live in Alaska, but perhaps you too want to do an Alaskan storytime for the Iditarod? Or just because Alaska is ridiculously cool? A few of these will work for general Northern or animal storytimes.

Maybe someday I'll get all fancy like the good folks at jbrary and make videos of myself singing these songs.

Twinkle Twinkle Northern Lights
(tune: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star)
Twinkle twinkle northern lights
Sparkle in the Arctic night
Up above the world so high
Blue-green ribbon in the sky
Twinkle twinkle northern lights
Shimmer in my dreams tonight

(Motions: sparkly/wiggly fingers for twinkling lights, draw a ribbon in the sky, tuck your heads under your hands in the "sleep" position on dreams, or just improvise)

(tune: BINGO)
There was a musher had a dog and Balto was his name-o
And Balto was his name-o

(Continue as you would for Bingo with clapping and replacing letters with clapping. This is a great one to use during Iditarod time and to use with felt letters. You can pull off the letters one by one or cover them up with felt stars as each letter becomes a clap.)

Itsy Bitsy Grizzly Bear
(tune: Itsy Bitsy Spider)
The itsy bitsy grizzly bear climbed up the honey tree
Down came the angry bees and stung him on the knee
Out came the mama bear and kissed away the pain
And the itsy bitsy grizzly bear climbed up the tree again

(Motions: make grizzly bear claws climb up; pointer fingers are bees that circle and poke your knee, mama bear comes out in big arm motions and kisses, and grizzly bear claws climb up again.)

(tune: Here we go Loopy Loo or Here we go Looby Loo, depending where you grew up)
Here we go Moosie-moo
Here we go Moosie might
Here we go Moosie-moo
All on an arctic night

Here we go Moosie-left
Here we go Moosie-right
Here we go Moosie-left
All on an arctic night

Here we go Moosie-up
Here we go Moosie-down
Here we go Moosie-up
Now the moose goes all around

Here we go Moosie-front
Here we go Moosie-back
Here we go Moosie-front
Here we go Moose ATTACK!

(Add verses as you need. Motions: make moose antlers with your hands on head and dance around with the lyrics. Charge and giggle on the last line.)

Moose Pokey
(tune: Hokey Pokey)
You put your antlers in,
You put your antlers out,
You put your antlers in and you shake them all about
You do the Moose Pokey and you turn yourself about
That's what it's all about!

You put your right hoof in...
You put your left hoof in...
You put the whole moose in...

(Seriously you can figure out the motions to this one on your own. I have faith in you. Also can be Moosey Pokey if you need to keep the beat structure closer to the original)

I've got more, but they are mostly animals I'll save them for a future Alaskan/northern animals storytime post.

Happy singing!