Tuesday, September 18, 2007

What to Do with the Babies-O at Story Time

My new job, as new jobs tend to, involves doing some stuff I've never done before. Among other things, I'll be creating and performing a weekly story time for babies/toddlers (take your pick of terms) aged 12-24 months.

Now, I adore this age group. Back in my distant youth, I even taught toddlers full-time, at a childcare center. But I have to admit that after nine years of mostly dealing with elementary-aged kids, I'm daunted at the prospect of keeping the attention of preverbal crowd, even with parents in the mix.

I'm going to stick to mostly songs and finger plays, and just slip a couple of books in each week. I spent a fair bit of work time in the past week flipping through picture books, immediately discarding anything that had more than four or five words on a page.

One side-effect of all this planning is that is What'll I Do With the Baby-O? by Jane Cobb has become my new favorite book in the world. I've been shamelessly cribbing from Cobb's preschool story time resource book I'm a Little Teapot! for the last several years, and now she has once again saved my bacon. Or my little piggies. Or my thumbkins. Whatever. In any case, Baby-O is a treasure trove of songs, finger plays, bouncy rhymes, and simple circle games for the very youngest storytime-goers.

Cobb lays out step-by-step outlines of a few sample story times for babies and for toddlers, and even includes suggestions for low-key informational asides to make to parents in between songs: "When you bounce your baby to the beat of the rhyme, you're helping her absorb rhythms and language with her whole body"-- that kind of thing. The accompanying CD, which I've been listening to somewhat obsessively on my commute, provides sung/spoken versions of 35 of songs. It's a teaching CD, so the versions are pretty bare-bones, but some of them are very sticky and I was surprised at how many were new to me and how many were quite lovely. I've found myself singing her version of "Mr. Moon/T'was On a Summer's Evening" at odd moments, hoping to find someone to sing it with as a harmonized round as Cobb demonstrates on the CD.

(Does it count as bragging if I mention that Cobb is not only Canadian, but a librarian at the Vancouver Public Library?)

What'll I Do With the Baby-O? doesn't seem to be available yet through Amazon. But it can be purchased through its publisher, Black Sheep Press. Independent bookstores may also be able to order it. If you do any programming for this age group, it's more than worth the list price, even with international postage.


Charlotte said...

Hi Els,

But why bother to stick to the words when you read to children that young? I would just find a book with pictures I liked, and say, for instance, "Truck! Big truck! vrm vrm!" and then I would make the book crash.


Renee said...

I think it's great you're doing a toddler storytime. I do a baby storytime birth-2 years and have also done our toddler storytime a few times. I've found that mixing it up with finger plays,rhymes, and songs between the stories makes it more interesting for the parents and children. I have also used some very simple flannels like "Little Mouse" where you have to find which house little mouse is behind. A great CD I've recently started using is called Wiggleworms Love You, by Old Town School of Folk Music. They have some great songs like Clap Your Hands, or Wheels on the Bus with added verses which are simple enough for the kids to do on their own or with their parents help.

bookbk said...

renee-- thanks for the recommendation! I've heard of Wiggleworms (a Chicago friend used to take her baby to their music times) but hadn't seen this CD.

Charlotte--you know, that's a great idea. I used to do it with my kid but felt that as a librarian I should be reading the books more or less as written. But the truth is, a lot of what I do at these story times is modeling for parents. It might be helpful for them to see how a book for older kids can be used with their toddlers.

And crashing things is, of course, always fun.

liz said...

I also like books like "Guess How Much I Love You" that have the characters doing silly things you can imitate (though perhaps not the upside-down bits)

Don't forget songs like "Put Your Finger in the Air" and "Let's Go Riding in the Car"

Cloudscome said...

This sounds like fun! At our public library Mr. Jim, the children's librarian, does a fabulous Babies and Books program. He has a great collection of puppets that go with all his favorite songs and finger plays. He has so much fun doing it the parents love it as much as the toddlers and babies. Both of my little boys adore him.

Jane Cobb said...

Hi bookbk,
Thanks for the lovely comments about my books. More a'comin as time permits. Have you had the experience yet, where a one year old baby sits enrapt in your told story? It's so delightful. Try Mother Mouse with lots of dog barking sounds.

Jane Cobb

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