Posted in early childhood literacy, story times

Baby story time 1/22/16

We resumed baby story time today after the holiday/ALA Midwinter hiatus! Philly is expecting a snowmaggedon, but we still had small yet engaged group of older babies pop by for story time. Our pig puppet kissed each baby to welcome them while I introduced the parents to how our baby story time works and what to expect. My baby story times are very low key. We have lots of toys and manipulatives on the floor, so I explained that babies were  welcome to enjoy the story time in their caregiver’s lap or crawl around and/or engage with the toys! Being babies, they have very short attention spans, so I don’t want the parents to get worried if their kid wasn’t playing attention to the book, they are still absorbing the language skills we put out there. I also provide handout (here’s the template) for practice at home, but it’s also a good way to plug some early literacy and media mentoring tips!

We start with the same song and book for every baby story time:

Welcome song: Clap and say hello

Book 1: A-hunting we will go by John Langstaff (we sing this one!)197466

Scarf song: Popcorn kernels! (They especially loved this song, thanks Anna!)

Bounce: This is the way the ladies ride

Diaper changing rhymes: Charlie Chaplin went to France & There was a little man (I love you, Jbrary!)

Book 2: Ten tiny tickles by Karen Katz (the babies weren’t so crazy about this one)

Scarf song: London Bridges

Bounce: Did you ever see a baby


Goodbye song: Open shut them (from the Storytime Secrets blog, one of my favorite resources)

I used to drive myself crazy trying to come up with themes for baby story time and then one day I realized that neither the babies nor the parents seemed care about themes. Do you use themes in baby story time? Why or why not?

Enjoy the snowpocolypse, fellow East Coasters!



Posted in conferences, early childhood literacy

Preschool discussion group at ALA Midwinter 2016

I attended a heated, yet needed, preschool discussion group at ALA Midwinter that focused on electronic media and young children. Whether or not screen time is healthy for kids is not a new debate, but it has become a hot button topic once again due to the recent questioning of the ‘no screen time before age 2’ guideline by members of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) due to the ubiquity of electronic devices.  A few points came out of the discussion that I’d like to highlight:

David Hill, spokesman for the AAP, stated in an interview with NPR, “While we acknowledged that mobile and interactive screens have become ubiquitous in children’s lives, we did not advocate for their wholesale adoption. I suspect that when they do come out, the statements will be highly conservative, reinforcing much of what we have said in the past about the known effects of electronic media use on child health and development.”  As it stands now, the AAP hasn’t actually come to a complete consensus on the topic, they are simply reconsidering their position. Attempting to ignore children’s interaction with electronic media is Sisyphean task at this point and the AAP wants to remain relevant.

Several attendees expressed alarm at the lack of longitudinal studies on the affects of media on the health of young children and were outraged that the recommendations are being changed without such studies. One attendee asked that ALSC use its clout to demand the AAP conduct more thorough investigation into longitudinal studies. Some were concerned with the rise of cancers and behavior disorders associated with too much screen time. Others pointed out that electronic media can help neurodiverse kids with communication skills and to cope with sensory issues.

Some participants in the discussion recommended thinking about electronic sources (apps, ebooks, and streaming media) as just another part of the media diet. ALSC and the AAP recommend creating a family media plan (aka media diet) to help curb the overuse of electronic media, which does have significant risks.

What does this mean for librarians/media mentors– using iPads and ebooks in story time? Counseling families on media diets and plans? One of my colleagues uses Powerpoint to project large versions of book illustrations during story time for children with cerebral palsy and it works out great in that scenario.

As a parent, I find the screen time thing is a very sensitive subject among other parents, so I prefer to be more subtle. I’ll still use iPads to instruct tweens on how to navigate the library’s various databases, with homework help, and in our storytelling/sequential art programs. When it comes to the younger crowd, I’m going to begin offering tips for positive media engagement on our story time hand outs and hopefully that spurs some discussion with the adults. I think most caregivers appreciate our low tech story times due to the omnipresent nature of screens during the day to day, therefore I’m going to continue using my felt boards, books, and other manipulatives.

Sue McCleaf Nespeca and Linda L. Ernst, co-conveners of the Preschool Services Discussion Group, complied a fantastic list of resources for librarians and caregivers. Here are a few that I didn’t link to previously:

Children’s Hospital Boston – Orienting response.

Common Sense Media — “Common Sense is dedicated to helping kids thrive in a world of media and technology.  We empower parents, teachers, and policymakers by providing unbiased information, trusted advice, and innovative tools to help them harness the power of media and technology as a positive force in all kids’ lives.” (from its mission statement). It is interesting to note that Common Sense has not reviewed media for children under age 2.

Fred Rogers Center – What Parents and Caregivers Need to Know When Choosing Tech For Young Children

Guerney, Lisa. Screen Time: How Electronic Media-From Baby Videos to Education software-Affects Your Young Child, with a new epilogue. Basic Books, 2007. Originally published as Into the Minds of Babes.

Guernsey, Lisa and Michael H. Levine. Tap, Click, Read. Growing Readers in a world of screens. Jossey-Bass, a Wiley imprint, 2015.

Institute for Learning and Brain Science – University of Washington. Search using “screen time” or other topics.

International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. Screen time use in children under 3 years old: a systematic review of the correlates. Helena Duch, Elisa M. Fisher, Ipek Ensari, and Alison Harrington.

LittleELit – Young children, new media, and libraries. A guide for incorporating new media into library collections, services, and programs for families and children ages 0-5. Amy Koester, ed., LittleELit, 2015.

Pediatrics – October 2001, Volume 128 / Issue 4. The Immediate Impact of Different Types of Television on Young Children’s Executive Function. Angeline S. Lillard, Jennifer Peterson.

TEDxRainrier – Simitri Christakis, MD, MPh. Professor of Pediatrics at Seattle’s Children’s Hospital Research Institute – Media and Children – topics of pacing of media and effects.




Posted in conferences

Reflection on the 2016 Morris Seminar

I missed out on ALA Annual and Midwinter last year because of being pregnant and giving birth to my son, so I was ready to jump back into the saddle and embrace ALA Midwinter for everything it had to offer. I may have been a little overeager yet anxious about socializing with a large group of people but I think I did okay. Having an adorable 9 month old baby in tow really helps break the ice!

The Morris Seminar (aka Librarian Summer camp, even though it’s in the winter)  was the missing puzzle piece my brain needed to wrap my head around book reviewing and discussion. My graduate work at Drexel suffered a distinct lack of reviewing instruction and I’ve been hungry to learn what I missed. KT Horning (subbing for Martha Parravano), Thom Barthelmess, Junko Yokota, and many others, presented the very best practices for book reviewing and how to, well, SURVIVE being on a book award committee.

Read and evaluate beyond a personal response.
Know your biases and favorites, this makes it easier to view the book with a professional mind while reading something you don’t personally prefer.

Always assume the best about a book.
Don’t look for flaws. Make a list of outstanding points so each book rises to its potential.

“Approach the book with a questioning mind.”
Ask yourself questions: Who’s reading the book? How does the book function in the real world– is it reflective of the diversity in which we live?

Educate yourself if you don’t know anything about the topic.
Read other books on the subject and contact experts for more information.

Read the books with adults & children to gain a different perspective.

Select distinguished books: 1st novels, translated books, books by people of color.

Find a place where a comment becomes a real question.
The group doesn’t have time for passive aggression or snarky comments. Find a way to make your comment into a real question that benefits the group.

Make the physical, emotional, and mental space for the amount of books to be read.
Use databases to keep track of your notes and/or corresponding pictures of book illustrations. Clear space in your office and your life so that you may focus on reviewing for a book award committee.

Remember, the group is smarter as a whole than individuals.
Every person comes from a distinct place with a different set of experiences that add something unique to the discussion.

Engage the subjective and objective while reading, as well as the adult mind and the child-like mind.
Professional book reviewing can be contradictory. It’s a fine balance.

“Every book is a clean slate!”
Give every book a chance.

“It’s just you and the book.”
Take it one step at a time, one book at a time.

And most importantly:

Learn something you may not have noticed about the about the book from a colleague.
Personally, I’ve always fancied myself a decent listener, but when it comes to books like most librarians and other book people, I can’t wait to state my opinion. American culture as a whole isn’t great at facilitating or nurturing listening skills, as most of us just listen long enough to form our own retort. There is no time during book award committee meetings for side bars, personal stories, or even agreements. Active listening during discussion, without ego, without self, is key. To listen without ego is almost a Vulcan task and the needs of the many certainly out weigh the needs of the few. Yep, I just outed myself as a Trekkie. Woo!

Lisa Nowlain, a fellow Seminarian, did a great visual wrap up of the Morris Seminar on the ALSC blog. Check it out!