Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan - August 2016 Newsletter

every child ready to read

Every Child Ready to Read in Michigan  -  August 2016

In This Issue:

This Month's Wisdom...

"When sharing books with few words (such as point-and-name books), model to the parent how to extend the text by describing the object."

~ Sue McCleaf Nespeca


Focus on Babies and Young Toddlers!

baby with book

For the next three newsletters, the focus will be on various age groups targeted for increasing early literacy skills. This month the focus will be on babies and young toddlers (ages 0-2); next month ages two’s and three’s, and the following month ages four’s and five’s.

A reminder that a webinar was already held for two of the groups above.  June 14 was on babies and toddlers and August 22 covered children ages two and three. On November 10, the final group, ages four and five, will be highlighted. I am not going to repeat here what was covered in the webinars, and I highly recommend that if you are interested in the topic, that you access the archived webinars when you have time, and listen to them. You can find them here; scroll down to webinars, and click on the date.

In the webinar for babies and toddlers, the following topics were covered: tips for incorporating books and activities on the five practices of ECRR (Talk, Sing, Read, Write and Play) into storytimes; what types of books are recommended for babies along with suggested titles; music and play activities for babies and toddlers, and fun activities that will help babies develop the small motor skills they will need later to learn to write.

So mentioned here will be some other tips for baby storytimes that were not specifically covered in the webinar. First, here are some tips on conducting baby storytimes:

·       This program is really for the caregiver. The librarian models how to share books, rhymes and songs with babies, encouraging the caregiver to continue these activities at home.

 ·       This is not a “simplified” toddler or preschool program – rather the program needs to be developmentally appropriate for infants.

 ·       Babytimes are commonly held for children newborn up to age two.

·       Programs need not be thematically arranged – the importance is sharing rhymes through the use of lap games and simple hand, feet and finger games, also using music and songs.

·       When sharing books with few words (such as point-and-name books), model to the parent how to extend the text by describing the object.

·       Generally, limit the group to ten to fifteen caregivers with their infants so that everyone can see. This can increase if you have a storytime pit, or different levels, so that no one is blocked.

·       Have adults sit in a circle holding their baby in their lap. The librarian is part of the circle. 

·       Repeat rhymes so adults will learn movements. Clap after each rhyme and song. (Babies love to clap!)

·       Keep a list of the rhymes and activities that you plan to use near you so that you can quickly move from one activity to another.

·       You might want to use a doll or teddy bear to demonstrate the rhymes.

·       Keep the program short – approximately twenty minutes in length. After the structured program you can share other types of learning activities or have some developmentally appropriate toys for infants available for playtime.

·       Provide a take-home sheet for caregivers with words to rhymes and songs used in the program. Encourage them to continue activities at home.

·       Have a display of board, cloth, high-contrast, pattern, touch-and-feel, flap, and Mother Goose/nursery rhyme books that can be checked out and taken home.

·       Programs are typically held in the morning or early evening hours due to baby nap times in the afternoon.

·       A series of programs will be appreciated, but that is not necessary if staffing does not permit numerous programs. It is more important to reach as many caregivers as possible with the importance of sharing language and music to babies from birth.

·       Consult the following resources:

Campana, Kathleen, J. Elizabeth Mills & Saroj Nadkarni Ghoting. Supercharged Storytimes: An Early Literacy Planning and Assessment Guide. ALA, 2016. 

Carlson, Ann & Mary Carlson. Flannelboard Stories for Infants and Toddlers. ALA, 1999.

Diamant-Cohen, Betsy. Mother Goose on the Loose. Neal Schuman, 2006.

Ernst, Linda L. Baby Rhyming Time. Neal-Schuman, 2008.

Ernst, Linda L. Lapsit Services for the Very Young. Neal-Schuman, 1995. Also, Lapsit Services for the Very Young II. 2001.

Ernst, Linda L. The Essential Lapsit Guide: A Multimedia How-To-Do-It Manual and Programming Guide for Stimulating Literacy Development from 12 to 24 Months. Neal-Schuman, 2013.

Ghoting, Saroj and Pamela Martin-Diaz. Storytimes for Everyone. ALA, 2013.

MacMillan, Kathy & Christine Kicker. Baby Storytime Magic. ALA, 2014.

Maddigan, Beth and Stefanie Drennan. The Big Book of Stories, Songs, and Sing-Alongs: Programs for Babies,Toddlers, and Families. Libraries Unlimited, 2003.

Marino, Jane. Babies in the Library. Scarecrow, 2003.

Marino, Jane and Dorothy F. Houlihan. Mother Goose Time: Library Programs for Babies and Their Caregivers. H.W. Wilson, 1992.

McPhail, David. My Mother Goose. Roaring Brook Press, 2013.

Nespeca, Sue McCleaf. Library Programming for Families with Young Children. Neal-Schuman, 1994. Pages 66-75.

Yolen, Jane. Wee Rhymes: Baby’s First Poetry Book. Simon & Schuster, 2013.


If you have not done a baby storytime before, here is a suggested template:

Opener (Song or Rhyme but song is suggested. Use same opener every week.)

Book Appropriate for Babies (Share with group or provide copy for each parent to show to baby while you are reading a copy)

Rhymes (3 or 4 – different types of rhymes; repeat each one)

Song (Live voice or recorded music – but emphasis should always be on live voice)

Book Appropriate for Babies (Share with group or provide copy for each parent to show to baby while you are reading a copy)

Rhymes (3 or 4 – different types of rhymes; repeat each one)

Song (Live voice or recorded music – but emphasis should always be on live voice)

Closing Song or Rhyme

Share Time (Optional – can be educational toys, choosing books specifically pulled for storytime, open-ended art, etc.) 

New Book of the Month

Sing with Me

Sing With Me: Action Songs Every Child Should Know. By Naoko Stoop. Holt, 2016.

ISBN: 978-0805099041. $16.99.


Here is a new book for babies and young toddlers that you will definitely want in your collection. But, more importantly, it is a great book to recommend to new parents, or to give as a gift at a baby shower, or anytime you need a gift for a baby. We know the importance of singing with babies, and this book certainly encourages the practice. The thirteen songs are familiar ones including: Down by the Station; Head Shoulders, Knees and Toes; Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear; Pat-a-Cake; Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; Row, Row, Row Your Boat; Wheels on the Bus; If You’re Happy and You Know It; Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush; and some less familiar ones: What Does Your Kitty Say?; Rain is Falling Down; and Polly Put The Kettle On

What I like is that the motions given are developmentally appropriate for the ages for which the book is intended. Motions for preschoolers would be more complicated for these same songs, but here, the simplest of actions allows the youngest listener to be involved. My only quibble: though it is clear they expect the parent to do the difficult first finger motions in Itsy Bitsy Spider; how nice it would have been if a motion would have been given that a toddler could do – simply wiggling fingers up and down, or climbing fingers up one arm. But this is a minor quibble, and everything else is appropriate. The illustrations, by the same artist who illustrated the well-received Red Knit Cap Girl, are perfect. Sweet animal characters join very young children in colorful spreads that were done in acrylics, ink, pencils and paper collage on plywood which gives the pictures a wonderful texture. 

Websites of the Month

baby singing

There are so many web sites that I would like to share with you in regards to babies, it is hard to limit them. But I will stick to four (one was already mentioned in the June issue, but I am listing again in case you missed it.)

If you have listened to any of my webinars thus far, you will know that I love to sing. That does not necessarily mean I am good at it, but I know how important it is to share songs with the 0-5 set. Thank goodness there are others that agree, and here is a wonderful article on “10 Ways Babies Learn When We Sing to Them.”

The authors, singers who have recorded music for children, say singing to babies is important because it helps with: 1. Bonding 2. Handling transitions 3. Language comprehension 4. Learning new vocabulary 5. Recognition of rhythm and rhyme 6. Playing 7. Family Fun 8. Baby learning his/her name 9. Listening skills 10. Showing baby you love him/her!

 On a similar note, what are the advantages of sharing nursery rhymes with babies? In this article a case is made here for the benefit of nursery rhymes for the following skills: Cognitive, Verbal, Motor, Listening, Reading, Language, Social, Auditory, Imaginative, and Memory Skills.

How does the state of Michigan compare with other US states in relation to reading to their babies daily, telling stories and singing daily? You can find out by clicking this link.

There is also a link to detailed Michigan State Baby Facts on the same page.

Don’t forget about this wonderful site I shared with you in June:

Babies Need Words Every Day: Talk, Read, Sing, Play by The Association of Library Service for Children, a division of the American Library Association. There are wonderful free resources for you here.


boy with mom

How often have you heard parents talk to their baby in a high-pitched voice saying nonsense words such as “Goo-Goo” or sentences like “Who's my li-i-ttle baybee?” Maybe you are a parent and have done the same yourself. There is a term for this type of high-pitched talk, "parentese," which includes using nonsense words, stretching out vowels when talking to a baby, using a sing-song language, and exaggerated facial expressions. It is not just an English-speaking habit – parents all over the world engage in parentese. Patricia Kuhl, a University of Washington neuroscientist has done much research on how infants master the complex task of acquiring speech. She is a proponent of parentese as is the Center for Early Literacy Learning (CELL), funded by the U.S. Department of Education. See their article on this subject here.

Despite its supporters, there are others who disagree, feeling parentese hinders language development.

What could possibly be the benefits? Researchers from Vanderbilt University and the University of Colorado at Denver actually conducted some studies of parents using parentese, but also parents who were considered depressed (information gained through interviews) and spoke in low, flat-toned voices. Research by these institutions found that children may actually be hindered in their learning over the long term if exposed only to flat low-pitched tones. Speaking parentese actually was shown to help babies learn the sounds of their native language. So, go ahead and use parentese and encourage parents attending your programs to do the same. But, more importantly, share with them how important it is to talk to their baby whenever they can. Even if baby is not old enough to respond, it is great for a parent to continue a running conversation with their child, talking while changing diapers, while doing chores around the house, while dressing baby etc. Well, that is, unless the baby is sleeping!