Sunday, April 27, 2008

Children's Music at your library

Looking for recommended children's music to check out? Take a look at our Children's Music web page dedicated to providing staff recommendations, a featured children's musician of the month, music selections sampled in storytimes, and recommended websites for children's music reviews.

My favorite new selection for children is They Might Be Giant's "Here Come the 123s" released by Disney Sound (2008). If you have previously listened to They Might Be Giant's earlier release "Here Come the ABCs", this is a similar, fun musical take on numbers. My personal favorites include "Triops Has Three Eyes" and "High Five!" (the latter being a funky disco tribute to the number 5). This new release also contains a DVD full of animated music videos. In addition to the number-themed songs, the discs also feature "Hot Dog!" the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse theme song.

We'd also love to hear from you. Do you have favorite children's albums that you recommend to friends and family? Send us an email or leave a comment on our blog. We'd be happy to feature your recommendations on our web page.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Staff Pick of the Week

Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose collected and illustrated by Scott Gustafson (2007)

I admit that I love Mother Goose books. I love the old-fashioned language, the alliteration, the onomatopoeia, and the illustrations that adorn these books. My personal favorites have always been the classic illustrated volumes and the very young child-friendly illustrations such as the Iona Opie/Rosemary Wells collaborations. But not all Mother Goose books are created equal. One of the best illustrated Mother Goose books that I've come across in quite awhile is Scott Gustafson's Favorite Nursery Rhymes from Mother Goose. Large, beautiful, imaginative paintings illustrate a great selection of nursery rhymes. A good introduction to these classic rhymes for toddlers and preschoolers. The large illustrations also make this a good choice for using in group settings like preschool or storytime.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spotlight on Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and play with the individual and smaller sounds in words.

Phonological awareness includes the ability to hear and create rhymes, to say words with sounds or chunks left out and the ability to put two word chunks together to make a word. Most children who have difficulty in reading have trouble in phonological awareness.

Nonsense, rhyming, and word play. These are the hallmarks of early childhood songs, rhymes, poetry and picture book language. They are also aspects of phonological awareness, an important early literacy skill. Every time you share a nursery rhyme or fingerplay, play word games, or read-aloud a picture book with rhyming language, you're helping your child get ready to read!

For more suggestions on children's books and music to help build this skill in young children, check out the phonological awareness spotlight on the library's Birth to Six web site.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Staff Picks of the Week

This week I've had a difficult time trying to narrow down just one title to share. The following titles are among my favorite new discoveries in children's picture books:

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker, illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton (Candlewick Press, 2008)

Bear's efforts to keep out visitors to his house are undermined by a very persistent mouse. Wonderful watercolor illustrations depict playful interactions between these unlikely friends. A great storytime book!

Before You Were Mine by Maribeth Boelts, illustrated by David Walker (Putnam, 2008)

A young boy imagines what his rescued dog's life might have been like before he adopted him. Warning: This one is so sweet that it's likely to prompt begging for a trip to the shelter to adopt a new pet!

Let's Go On a Mommy Date by Karen Kingsbury, illustrated by Dan Andreasen (ZonderKidz, 2008)

A mother describes several possibilities for sharing special time with her child, but finally realizes that just snuggling together and reading a book is fun and will be remembered warmly. The pressure mothers feel to turn any time with their children into exciting, educational "quality" time can be overwhelming. This is a reassuring book that begs moms to stop and remember that it's not the trip to the zoo, circus, or a movie, but the time spent just snuggling and being together that matters the most.

Princess Me by Karma Wilson, illustrated by Christa Unzner (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2007)

A little girl imagines being a princess, with her stuffed animals serving as royal subjects. Make way! Make way! Here comes the princess of the land. She's sweet and kind. She's oh-so-grand. And just who is she, this lovely Princess Me? Come inside this book to see! A child's bedroom is transformed into a magical kingdom in this bright, lively offering from Karma Wilson. And what preschooler can resist another beautifully illustrated princess book?

Wee Little Chick by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by John Butler (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2008)

When the other barnyard animals comment on how tiny the littlest chick is, the proud little one peeps louder, stands taller, and runs faster than any of them. This one is a perfect springtime read-aloud, especially for toddlers and young preschoolers.

Zen Ties by Jon J. Muth (Scholastic Press, 2008)

When Stillwater the panda encourages Koo, Addy, Michael, and Karl to help a grouchy neighbor, their efforts are rewarded in unexpected ways. A mindful, attractive addition by the Caldecott Honor author/illustrator Jon J. Muth. A treat for lovers of haiku as well. Likely to be appreciated by the older picture book audience and parents alike. Stillwater the panda is a gentle-natured character to remember.

*Summaries courtesy of Syndetics.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Beyond Picture Books...chapter book read-alouds for young listeners

As a Youth Services Librarian, I'm often asked to suggest a good chapter book read-aloud for older preschoolers or beginning elementary-aged children. I always look for a combination of a good story, short chapters and illustrations interwoven with text. Often families are looking for a story that will capture their child's interest and can be read in short increments night after night. Sometimes a great story meets the right listener and just the words alone bring the story alive for hours of shared listening! Below are some of my favorites - new and old:

Babe: the Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith

A piglet comes to Farmer Hogget's farm, where he is adopted by an old sheepdog and accomplishes amazing things

Charlotte's Web by E.B. White

The famous story of a little girl named Fern and her favorite pet pig. An absolute classic.

Davey's Blue-Eyed Frog by Patricia Harrison Easton

Davey finds a talking frog that claims to be a princess and plans to take her to school to show off, until he begins to consider the consequences of his actions.

Frog and Toad All Year by Arnold Lobel

Two very good friends are back in "a quintet of tales loosely set around the seasons--one for each with a bonus Christmas number. Another winner for (Frog and Toad) fans young and old".--Booklist. ALA Notable Children's Book.

Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park

In her own words, a young girl describes her feelings about starting kindergarten and what she does when she decides not to ride the bus home.

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik

Little Bear's four adventures include taking a trip to the moon and having a birthday party.

Maybelle in the Soup by Katie Speck

When Mr. and Mrs. Peabody invite a guest to dinner, Maybelle the cockroach, who lives under their refrigerator, ignores the warnings of Henry the flea to be sensible and ends up "splashing" into a big adventure.

Mercy Watson to the Rescue by Kate DiCamillo

After Mercy the pig snuggles to sleep with the Watsons, all three awaken with the bed teetering on the edge of a big hole in the floor

Mokie and Bik by Wendy Orr

For two rambunctious twins, living on a boat means always being underfoot or overboard.

Moose and Hildy: The Show-Off by Stephanie Greene

Hildy looks forward to a visit from her cousin, Winston, but when he arrives he bores her and annoys all of her friends by declaring his superior intelligence and expertise on every subject, until Moose convinces him to try something different. Also recommended: Moose and Hildy: Moose's Big Idea.

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lives in an upside-down house ans smells like cookies. She was even married to a pirate once. Most of all, she knows everything about children. She can cure them of any ailment. Patsy hates baths. Hubert never puts anything away. Allen eats v-e-r-y slowly. Mrs Piggle-Wiggle has a treatment for all of them.The incomparable Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle loves children good or bad and never scolds but has positive cures for Answer-Backers, Never-Want-to-Go-to-Bedders, and other boys and girls with strange habits. -- San Francisco Examiner Chronicle.

The Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron

Relates episodes in seven-year-old Julian's life which include getting into trouble with his younger brother Huey, planting a garden, what he did to try to grow taller, losing a tooth, and finding a new friend.

Stuart Little by E.B. White

An adventurous and heroic little mouse, with very human qualities, searches for his lost friend, the lovely bird Margalo. "Endearing for young and old, full of wit and wisdom and amusement".--The Horn Book.

The Toys Go Out: being the adventures of a knowledgeable Stingray, a toughy little Buffalo, and someone called Plastic by Emily Jenkins

Six stories relate the adventures of three best friends, who happen to be toys.

Two Times the Fun by Beverly Cleary

Jimmy and Janet are twins, but that doesn't mean they are just alike. When we first meet Jimmy, he wants to dig a real hole. He likes to use a real, grown-up shovel. While he's working, his sister, Janet, pretends to be a bird! She likes to use her imagination. But the twins both like silly jokes, brand- new boots, and talking to Mr. Lemon, the mailman.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pick of the Week

My First... by Eva Montanari (Houghton Mifflin Company, 2007)

All Alice wants for her birthday is a doll. When the moment arrives, Alice is ready for her new doll with her baby basket and embroidered socks. But Alice has to fight back tears when she opens her present and realizes it is not a doll! "It's much better than a doll, Alice," explains her mother. "It's alive. It tells stories. It will stay with you all your life." What did Alice receive? Will she learn to love and appreciate her gift?

This is a delightful celebration of the surprises awaiting for us in books and the attachment children find in the most unexpected gifts. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Literacy Outdoors

Ah, the weather is finally warmer, sunny, and springlike! This always inspires me to get outside more. Whether on foot or bike, to the park or trail, heading outside can be refreshing, inspiring and also (you figured it was coming, right?) another way to incorporate literacy into your routine with a little one. What, you say? How does heading along a trail or swinging on a swing, climbing a tree or running down the sidewalk relate to literacy? Next time you're enjoying the great outdoors, take a look around with an eye open for print and literacy experiences and you'll be surprised at what you find.

Signs are everywhere! Whether they're telling us about trail closures, identifying plants, or who can use what part of the park, signs offer a great way to point out environmental print (and visual literacy) to your child as you pass by. Additionally, parks and trails offer a great way to build vocabulary. Talk about the things you see around you and let your child ask questions and describe what he or she experiences with you!

An easy non-fiction series that introduces signs in a variety of locations is the Welcome Books: Signs in My World series by Children's Press. To start, try this one:

Signs at the Park by Mary Hill (Children's Press, 2003)

Sally explains the signs that she and her mother see while walking their dog in a park, such as those that direct them to a trail and show who can use that trail. (courtesy of Syndetics)

Head outside and enjoy the weather while it lasts!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Gai See: What You Can See in Chinatown

Gai See: What You Can See in Chinatown by Roseanne Thong, illustrated by Yangsook Choi (Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2007)

Gai See means "street market" in Cantonese. Take a walk through Chinatown with a little boy and his family throughout the seasons and find many textures, tastes, and surprises on each page. Discover everything from "velvet shoes with pearls and beads are just the ones that sister needs" and "soybean milk salty or sweet - a nice, cool glass sure beats the heat!" to incense sticks, firecrackers, sweets, and more. Gai See: What You Can See in Chinatown is a great introduction to Chinatown to share before a child's first visit, or to relive the memory of family tradition of visiting the outdoor market throughout the year.