Monday, October 29, 2007


As adults, most of us can still remember our favorite toy as a young child. Whether it was a hand-me-down doll with brown curls, a bright yellow Tonka truck, a bendy Gumby toy, a Cabbage Patch kid, an Erector set, or a train set, we can recall many happy afternoons spent playing with our favorite toys. Playing is an important part of childhood - for a child it is their "job". Many important concepts are learned during play. Whether it is learning basic science and math concepts (volumes, sizes, shapes, counting), trying out different roles through dramatic play, or sharing and working cooperatively with others, play provides a wealth of opportunities. Not to mention, we all know it's fun. Some of us can remember making a childhood vow that when we grew up we wouldn't stop playing!

A few of my favorite books
for boys (or girls!) about playing are below:

Below by Nina Crews

This story follows the adventures of Jack and his action-figure, Guy. Jack and Guy play on the staircase - climbing mountains, exploring cities. Then one day Guy falls down and Jack must rescue him. Wonderful photographs illustrate this story.

Changes, Changes by Pat Hutchins

Two wooden doll figures arrange and rearrange blocks to make a variety of things - a castle, firetruck, boat, train and more. A wonderful, wordless story for the lover of blocks and imagination!

The Crimson Comet by Dean Morrissey

"When the light on the moon goes out, Nora and her brother Jack take a trip in their rocket to help the Man-on-the-Moon regain power." (Syndetics) This is a cozy bedtime story full of gorgeous paintings and imagination.

Golden Bear by Ruth Young

For younger children, Golden Bear, offers a sweet tribute to a toddler's best friend, his teddy bear. Rhyming text and soft illustrations make this a good "snuggle-up-and-share" read-aloud.

Harry and the Dinosaurs at the Museum by Ian Whybrow

"When his family goes to a museum so that big sister Sam can research human ancestors, young Harry wanders off while playing with his toy dinosaurs and becomes lost, but Gran knows just where to find him." (Syndetics) Perfect for sharing with a dinosaur fan, or anyone who has imagined their favorite toys coming to life!

Red Light, Green Light by Anastasia Suen

"A young boy creates an imaginary world filled with zooming cars, flashing traffic lights, and racing fire engines." (Syndetics) Sure to be enjoyed by toddlers, fans of transportation, and anyone looking for some imaginative play inspiration.

Traction Man is Here! by Mini Grey

Know a young fan of superheroes and action figures? Treat him to this book and he's sure to enjoy the fun and laughs.

"Traction Man, a boy's courageous action figure, has a variety of adventures with Scrubbing Brush and other objects in the house." (Syndetics)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

No Need to Sit Still!

Anyone who spends time with a toddler or preschooler often knows it can be difficult to get him to sit still long enough to enjoy a book. And the last thing you want to do is force him to sit still while you read the book if he would rather be up and moving around. We all want storytime to be an enjoyable experience for everyone involved. That's crucial for developing his print motivation - a child's interest in and enjoyment of books! This is a much-needed skill for developing his interest in eventually learning to read. Sharing books together should be fun - not something he feels he must do only because mommy or daddy makes him. We all want him to enjoy books.

Choosing quiet times to share books - right before bedtime or a nap - might be the best choice for your child when the goal is sitting quietly as you share a good story. But for those active times, you can still incorporate a good read! Who says storytime must always be a quiet, still time?

These books encourage your toddler to move along to the story. It can be a great solution for those wiggly little ones. He gets to be active and enjoy a book! For more suggestions, ask a Youth Services Librarian.

Animal Fun by Zita Newcome

A group of toddlers has fun imitating a penguin, a crab, a duck, an elephant, and other animals while they exercise.

Bounce by Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin

Rhyming text offers advice on the best ways for toddlers to bounce.

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle

Encourages the reader to exercise by following the movements of various animals; presented in a question and answer format.

If You're Happy and You Know It: Jungle Edition by James Warhola

Jungle animals sing the verses of this popular song that encourages everyone to express their happiness through voice and movement.

We've All Got Bellybuttons! by David Martin

Various animals invite the reader to experience what their different body parts can do, including their tickly belly buttons.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Beginning with Books

Want to raise a reader? Begin introducing books to your baby right from the start. Think your baby is too little to enjoy a book or get anything out of the experience? Think again. Babies are busy developing important connections in their brains during the first years of life - especially the connections devoted to language skills. The more your baby experiences language, the better equipped he will be to eventually learn to read. Talk and sing with your little boy and he'll have an attentive audience to begin talking and babbling with you. Share books and rhymes with your baby. He'll gain vocabulary and begin to understand how his native language works (for instance, recognizing the individual sounds that make up words). The experiences you share with him today will are a valuable investment in his future!

When your little boy is a baby, it doesn't matter what you read to him. The point is that you are reading aloud and sharing the beauty of language with him! So pick up the newspaper, your favorite magazine, a recipe, the latest novel, or a picture book. If he sees you reading - and enjoying it - he'll associate reading with pleasure.

Check out board books - sturdy books made just for babies and toddlers - at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library. Carry them in the diaper bag and have them ready to share during those waits at the doctor's office or in line at the grocery store. Keep a book or two in the crib for your baby to play with on his own. Have books in the toy box.

When your boy flips through the pages quickly, touches, chews, and tosses his board books, this is reading! It may not look like it, but this is the beginning of reading - figuring out how a book works! Don't force your little one to sit still for a book. If he looks away or disengages, put the book down and try at another time. Eventually, he'll be able to pay attention for longer periods of time. In the meantime, keep it short and fun!

And you'll be helping grow a reader...

Need a few suggestions? Look for board books with simple, bright illustrations. Too much action or detail on a page can be overstimulating. Photographs of other babies, people, and common experiences are always appealing to little ones. Try touch and feel books, as babies are sensory learners. Nursery rhymes and books based on songs provide the beginnings of phonemic awareness - a skill he'll need to become a reader someday. Common themes such as bedtime, dressing, and family life are really interesting to babies. For more ideas, just ask a Youth Services Librarian!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Spotlight on Boys

Resources for Parents and Caregivers of Boys

Recent popular magazines such as Time have addressed the issue of whether education and society are failing boys or if boys are doing well. Similarly, in the world of libraries and education, journals like School Library Journal have concentrated on topics such as gender differences in education, reading ability and motivation.

During the month of October, check out the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library's Birth to Six site for recommended picture books and resources for little boys. Visit us at this blog again soon for additional resources and fun ideas!

Here are just a few online resources and books to look for at the Library that discuss the topic in more detail:

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Playing with Words

Vocabulary is one of the most important literacy skills a child needs in order to become a successful reader in life. When reading aloud to a child, you will often encounter a "rare" word - a word not regularly used in conversation. This might be a word that you understand or recognize, but think your child will not know the meaning of it. Instead of skipping over this word - or substituting an easier word - take a moment to explain what the word means to your child. Knowing the meanings of large number of words helps a child when she begins reading on her own. It helps her make that connection between sounding out a word and recognizing a word she has heard before and knows the meaning of. Picture books are a great way to introduce new words. In normal conversation, we encounter roughly 9 rare words per 1000 words spoken or heard. But in picture books, we encounter approximately 27 rare words per 1000!(

Children love to play with the silly sounds of words - which is one reason Dr. Seuss books have remained so popular over time. Many picture books celebrate words in a variety of ways. In Fancy Nancy, Nancy makes sure we know she prefers fancier rather than simple words. In Max's Words, we meet a wonderful boy who collects words like some boys collect coins or stamps! In The Boy Who Loved Words, Selig also collects words and discovers their power.

For even younger children, sharing books like The Napping House by Audrey and Don Wood or Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming introduces them to a variety of different words used to talk about the same concept. For truck lovers, try The Mighty Street Sweeper by Patrick Moore. Descriptions of various heavy equipment give readers a great chance to expand their vocabulary: "The boom pump can squirt tons of concrete. The street sweeper can squirt a small puddle of water."

Enjoy these books!

Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor

A young girl who loves fancy things helps her family to be fancy for one special night. Sure to bring out your own fancy side! If you love this one, be sure to catch Fancy Nancy in her return to picture books with Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy.

Max's Words by Kate Banks

When Max cuts out words from magazines and newspapers, collecting them the way his brothers collect stamps and coins, they all learn about words, sentences, and storytelling.

The Boy Who Loved Words by Roni Schotter

Selig, who loves words and copies them on pieces of paper that he carries with him, goes on a trip to discover his purpose. Words. Selig collects them, ones that stir his heart (Mama!) and ones that make him laugh (giggle). But what to do with so many luscious words? After helping a poet find the perfect words for his poem (lozenge, lemon, and licorice), he figures it out: His purpose is to spread the word to others. And so he begins to sprinkle, disburse, and broadcast them to people in need. {Syndetics}

Time to Sleep by Denise Fleming

When Bear notices that winter is nearly here he hurries to tell Snail, after which each animal tells another until finally the already sleeping Bear is awakened in his den with the news. {Syndetics}

The Mighty Street Sweeper by Patrick Moore

Despite its size, the street sweeper has one mighty job! The street sweeper is a little truck with a very big job. While it is not the largest, fastest, or most powerful truck, a street sweeper does something that no other truck can do: it keeps our streets clean. And a street sweeper is so much fun to watch.Colorful illustrations and an engaging compare-and-contrast text make this picture book a delight for budding truck-lovers. {Syndetics}