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.