How the Fun Happens: My Baby & Me Outline

Today I am sharing the general outline I use each week as I plan Baby & Me. In the next few weeks I will put up some more specific storytime plans and information about parachutes and some of my other activities. Enjoy!


My welcome message goes something along the lines of: Welcome to Baby & Me! My name is Allison and we have a lot of songs, stories and more planned for today. It is perfectly normal for your child to crawl or wander the room, though if you do have an upset child, feel free to leave the room and come back when they are ready for more.  Everything we’ll do today is something you can do at home with your child every day! Read with your child, sing with your child, talk with your child and your child will be on their way to learning to read.

Bubbles and Music

I hand out bubbles to all the caregivers and we blow bubbles while families are entering the room and getting settled. I play a song or two from a CD as we play with the bubbles. The littles can’t get enough!

The More We Get Together

I play this song on the ukulele. We sing the song once through and on the second go around we add the children’s names to the song.

Open Them, Shut Them

I do a shortened version of this popular rhyme and we repeat it at least 3 times each week. By the end of the session, most of the one-year olds are doing the actions along with us and I love to see that!

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Give a little clap

Open them, shut them
Open them, shut them
Lay them in your lap

Book 1

With our hands  in our laps we are ready for a story! I do use themes, though the books are usually some of the only elements that will fit the theme. I like having a little structure and direction when picking books. There are too many good ones to choose from otherwise.

Familiar Song

Flannelboard or Parachute

We have a lovely selection of flannel stories to choose from (really, they are magnet stories, but hey, tradition). This spring was my first time using the parachute and I’ll be blogging about that more later.

Go In and Out the Window

I added this one to my weekly routine thanks to the lovely ladies of Jbrary. Check out their video for a description of how it is done. We also do the second verse where you turn and face your partner. Occasionally I’ll think about putting something else here, but the delight on the babies’ faces keeps me doing this one every week.


We also do scarves every week. My co-worker had some she frugally made herself for a program a long time ago and I had been using those. This year we had some money to invest in some of these Rhythm Band Scarves. They’re so purty!



Book 2 or 1-on-1 Reading

Sometimes 2 books feels like too much for this crowd and I often end up cutting the second book short. But there are so many great books I find it hard to limit myself to just one.

Egg Shakers with Music

I’ll put the CD on and hand out the egg shakers. I alternate between “Alabama Mississippi” by Jim Gill and “I Know a Chicken” by Laurie Berkner because I can’t find any shakers songs I like as much as these two.

If You’re Happy and You Know it

The closing song is also played on my ukulele. I’ve got these two songs down!


After the closing song I’ll get out an activity and parents and babies are welcome to stay in the room as long as they want. Sometimes the activity is blocks and a big bag of toys and other times it is a craft or a sensory experience. I love trying new things for this portion of Baby & Me.


Favorite Books: Baby Storytime Edition

These are some books I’m loving right now for the under twos. I use them in my baby storytimes again and again.

Selecting books to read aloud for this age group is a challenge. A lot of our favorite toddler books are just a bit too long or too complex for infants and one-year-olds. I get a mix in my storytimes from the occasional newborns up to very active walkers, so I do target my books more towards the older babies to capture their attention.There are many board books that I also love, and while I use them occasionally and recommend my favorites to parents, I try to stick to the picture book format during storytime for easier viewing.

Plot is not the main thing when picking books for this group, in fact, with the possible exception of Baby Danced the Polka, none of these books have any plot at all. They are simple, repetitious books about every day events that babies can recognize from their lives.  Illustrations are simple and clean and in bright primary colors. I Like it When… is especially exemplary in this way.

Baby Danced the Polka by Karen Beaumont. A charming, romping, rhyming story of a little one who does not want to go to bed. I absolutely LOVE a book with a good rhythm, and this one is just begging to be read aloud.

The Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell. A day in the life of a toddler, complete with fun sound effects on every page as the “baby goes yum, yum, yum” eating lunch or “the baby goes splash, splash, splash” while taking a bath. I love the level of interaction the sound effects bring and parents often join in.

Hello Day! by Anita Lobel. This one has the feel of a classic and is just perfect for an animal sound theme. I quite love the cheerful watercolor and marker illustrations. It is a quiet book compared to some I use, so it also adds balance that way.

I Like it When… by Mary Murphy. I like to read this one around Valentine’s Day because it is a very sweet tale of a little penguin and her parent and the things they like to do together. It’s sentimental but in a fresh and non-saccharine way. And I can’t say enough good about the illustrations

Toddlerobics by Zita Newcome. This one’s perfect for your very active one-year-olds. It is not a sit still and listen book, it is a get up and move book! The actions are lots of fun, and the pictures show a very cute group of toddlers having a blast moving around.

Please share your favorite books for baby storytime! I would love to hear what books you read to your under two lapsits.

Day in the Life of a Youth Librarian

Thursday, February 30, 2014

8:30: Arrive at the library, open blinds, turn on computers, and feed the fish. Start pulling the holds list for the Children’s Room. It’s a long one today. Someone requested lots of fox books. They look like fun!

9:00: The library opens and I’m still pulling holds. I help some families get on the computers. There is a 2-hour school delay this morning so people are here to fill those extra morning hours. But after many days off school, kids are finally going back to school today. I love to see our AWE Early Literacy Station always in use.

9:30: Some parents come in looking for some Magic Tree House books for their son and all the titles they want are checked out so I help them put 5 or so of the books on hold. I start replying to an email reader’s advisory question for young adult books. I love reader’s advisory challenges like this one!

10:00: A co-worker who is on vacation comes in and we work on some scheduling issues. Our region’s Mock Caldecott was postponed due to the crazy winter weather so now we have to work out who can go and what programs we have that day, etc. We also chat about the Youth Media Award winners since we haven’t seen each other since the announcements.

10:40: I spend twenty minutes practicing the ukulele for my debut performance at baby storytime next week. I am learning “Mary Had a Little Lamb” and “If You’re Happy and You Know it” I am still building up calluses and strength in my wrist, so twenty minutes is still about all my poor hands can handle.

11:00: I work on approving and sending book orders while also answering several requests for popular titles like Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Llama Llama. It’s so much fun to select the new books for the collection and think about our patrons and want their wants and needs are.

12:00: It’s time for lunch.

1:00: I check in a couple bins from our deliveries from our branch locations. This and a request for a particular book about the states keeps me busy for most of the hour. The 50 states book proved to be a bit of a challenge to find because the patron did not remember the name and it turned out to be not in the 973’s with the other state books but in 917 with geography books. Oh, the imperfections of the Dewey Decimal system.

2:00: Time for a shift on the information desk! I get many, many tax questions and repeat myself several times. “Sorry, the forms we have out are what we have. We are still waiting on more from the state/IRS.” And, “No, I cannot give you tax advice, but we do have a great volunteer organization here Monday, Wednesday, and Saturdays to offer free tax aid!” All offered with a smile, of course. I’m so glad we are able to provide this important service for our community.

3:00: Back on the children’s desk. A young girl is participating in Read Away the Fines and is such a fast reader, I am up and down helping her find her next book to read. I am really impressed with her knowledge of picture books, as she asks me for specific titles and authors like Kevin Henkes, Extra Yarn, and Skippyjon Jones. She and her sisters end up reading for so long they each get almost $5.00 waived from their cards!

4:00: I check in with the Young Adult area and talk to some of my regular teens who are participating in the CSLP Teen Video Challenge. We need to discuss our next meeting time to start working on making and collecting props. It’s almost time to start filming. I’m getting pretty excited, and the best part is, I can tell our teens are too!

4:30: I answer a few emails about our first annual Battle of the Books competition, pull a couple book ideas for baby storytime, and before I know it it’s 5:30 and time to go home!

On the Hunt for a Job

Well, it’s an exciting and scary time around here. With graduation less than two months away, the job hunt is full under way. People love to give students job search advice. I think it’s probably because we really love to receive said advice. Our main goal in life is to find a job and in this economy and this job market, things can get pretty desperate. However, when there is too much advice on any one subject, a lot of it can start to sound pretty contradictory. Start applying for jobs early they say, but don’t apply if you aren’t available yet they say. Really all it comes down to is try to convey why you are right for the job.

There are some really fantastic job openings out there right now. I’m getting really excited about some of these. I read the job descriptions for children’s and youth services librarians and I just think to myself, that is the perfect job. I can’t wait until I get to be doing that every day! The other thrilling aspect of all this is thinking of all the different parts of the country I could be living in by summer. I seriously have no idea what state I’m going to be in next, and that is really exciting! I am so lucky that I am in a situation where relocating is an option. All the cities and areas I’ve researched sound like wonderful places to live. I just can’t wait to find out where the next stage of my journey will take me.

Allison’s Favorite 2011 Reads (Part Two)

It’s time for part two, highlighting five of my favorite reads of 2011.

The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Adult Scientific Nonfiction.

I am really fascinated by medical/scientific nonfiction books for some reason.  This book is a history or ‘biography’ of cancer. It is a fascinating history! I really loved that the author tied the history in with his own stories and experiences working as an oncologist to make it more readable.  Mukherjee has a wonderful way of making even the most technical details easy for the average reader to understand. I am so glad I read this book and I came away with a much greater awe for science and also for the mysterious and scary thing that is cancer.

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. Ages 9-12. (I listened to the audiobook read by Lincoln Hoppe).

I really hope this book wins a Newbery! I think it totally deserves it. This book tells the story of 14-year-old  Doug Swieteck. He recently moved with his parents and brother to Marysville, New York. And he doesn’t like it. But with the help of a new friend, Lil Spicer and a book of Audubon prints Doug comes to love this new town as well as learn how to grow into the type of person he wants to be. There is a ton going on in this book but Gary Schmidt weaves it all together into a story that will have you crying and laughing and in the end, cheering.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Ages 10 and up.

This is a book that stays with you. This is a book that left me speechless. Conor is a young boy dealing with the fact that his mother has cancer. Dealing with the fact that his mother is dying. But it is also a book about hope, and about the power of stories in our lives. There is a monster who comes to visit Conor. The monster will tell Conor three stories, and then it will be Conor’s turn to tell his own story. The writing in this book is amazing, and so are the darkly beautiful illustrations. I will never forget this book.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai. Ages 9-12.

A story told in verse. A 10-year-old Vietnamese girl immigrating to the United States with her family after the Vietnam War. Ha relates her travels her new home and her difficulty adjusting to the new life and surroundings. I was so impressed with how well Lai is able to say with so few words through the voice of Ha and her poems. This is a moving book and one that is filled with hope.

Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok. Adult Fiction. (I listened to the audiobook read by Grayce Wey).

This is another immigrant story, though a very different one. Kimberly Chang immigrates to the United States with her mother as a young girl from Hong Kong. They live in heartbreaking poverty as Kimberly’s mother works in a Chinatown clothing factory and Kimberly becomes a star pupil at school with her bright intelligence. They must work hard for everything they have, but Kimberly is determined to make a better life for herself and for her mother.

Also, I must add two more books: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray and Delirium by Lauren Oliver. They both receive honorable mention.

Halloween Craft Night

Thursday night was Halloween Craft Night at our residence hall library. It was the first success of our Thursdays at the Library programs! We had five families show up this week, compared to only one family for the past two weeks. So I was pretty jazzed about that!

We made owls and spiders. The owl idea I borrowed from my public library’s Crafty Creations program last week. I thought they were so fun and simple and such a big hit with the preschool age. The spider I got from our office manager and a lot of the other residence hall libraries were using it. But when the little kids tried to do it, it was more of a challenge for them to do one their own. I probably won’t do this one again with such a young group. But they are still super cute, aren’t they?

After the crafts were all done the kids even asked if they could watch a movie. Overjoyed, I put on “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!” The great part about these programs is that these families are usually already friends and it is a great way for the parents to get together and talk while the kids are participating in the activity.

My only concern is the language barrier. I believe all of the families that attended last night spoke Korean as their native language and some did not know a lot of English. It made communicating with some of the parents really hard and I feel so bad about it. I’m wishing I could learn Korean, but I know that isn’t very practical. Maybe a few phrases.  Any suggestions for programming for families when there is a language barrier? What can I do better?

A Library Filled Day

Today was a really great day because I got to do library things all day. Okay, I know for me that is pretty much every day, but today just felt especially great that way for some reason. I spent my morning at my internship at the public library. We had a rather large fifth grade class come in for a visit to work on their famous Americans research project. I had such a blast helping this group of kids out! The librarian I was working with gave a quick introduction to library resources and then we let them loose in the library for their research. And of course we were there for all their questions.

First of all, fifth graders are an age I don’t work with a lot, so that was a great change. It is also a really fun age! They were all so smart and it was great to see them scattered about the library, working away. The other cool thing was seeing all the variety in the fascinating famous Americans they had chosen to study. Yes, some of them chose topics so out there it was a little difficult to find good resources for them, but they were each so passionate about their choices that I could tell they weren’t going to give up in the face of a little challenge here and there.

Helping them with their questions gave me such a thrill and reinforced how much I can get excited about information literacy and sharing that knowledge with students. It was so heartwarming to my little librarian heart to see these fifth graders learning to use reliable databases and knowing how to look something up in an index.

In the afternoon, it was time to shift gears as I headed over to my little on-campus library. Today was our first day care visit and I was really excited. There is a day care in the same building as our library. We are trying a new community partnership with them and invited them to come into the library once a week for a visit and a short story time. The class was a group of 12 two-and-a-half-year-old children. I was a little nervous that they would be too young to enjoy the fall stories I had picked out, but it turned out that the story time went like a charm.

They were really enthralled with my choice, Fall Leaves Fall by Zoe Hall. They were able to relate to all of the fall experiences of the children in the story and it made for great talking points throughout the book. Crunching leaves, jumping in big piles of leaves, gathering leaves to look at them and study them, they really latched on to all of that. My second pick was a great fall classic, Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell. I have fond memories of reading this story myself as a child. It is not ideally suited for a read-aloud, as the illustrations are quite small and there isn’t a lot of story. But the fall experience is there and it is quick enough that it held the children’s attention.

I interspersed the stories with a few songs and rhymes. “Open them, shut them,” “Leaves are falling all around,” and “Two apples in the tree.” These were also pretty good hits. The story time was followed by about 10 minutes of letting the children pull and look at books on their own in the library. They really seemed to enjoy this, though I did feel bad for all the re-shelving my student assistants had to do!

The best part was at the end, after all the children had put their jackets back on and were getting ready to go back into the rainy weather to walk to their center, the teacher asked, “Can we come back next week?” And my answer was a resounding YES!