Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Going on a Fall Walk

As Fall arrives in Benton County, take an opportunity to go on a walk with your small child and talk about the changes that the new season brings. Green leaves change to shades of yellow, gold, orange, and red. Leaves fall to the ground. Animals build shelter for the winter. The air grows crisp and the daylight hours grow shorter. There are so many opportunitites to talk about what you see around you, answer those "why?" questions, add new vocabulary and share seasonal changes and traditions with your child. A cool, rainy day may require a change in how we prepare for a walk outdoors. Our shorts and sundresses retire and make room for raincoats, sweaters, long pants, rubber boots and jackets.

As you share an autumn walk, talk about what is going on around you. What colors and textures do you see? What shapes are found in nature? What are the names of the things your child finds? Is that a pine cone? A street sign? A squirrel?

The following books can be good starting places to discuss the new season with your child:

Apple Farmer Annie by Monica Wellington

Annie the apple farmer saves her most beautiful apples to sell fresh at the farmers' market.

Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell

In preparation for Halloween night, a family visits Mr. Comstock's farm to pick apples and pumpkins

Fall Is Not Easy by Marty Kelley

A tree tells why, out of all four seasons, autumn is the hardest. This one is sure to get some laughs!

Fall Leaves Fall! by Zoe Hall

When fall comes, two brothers enjoy catching the falling leaves, stomping on them, kicking them, jumping in piles of them, and using them to make pictures. Includes a description of how leaves change through the year.

Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert

A man made of leaves blows away, traveling wherever the wind may take him. Lois Ehlert's natural collages offer a surprise and a treat for the eye. Follow this one with a craft of your own leaf man!

Mouse's First Fall by Lauren Thompson

Mouse and Minka experience the delights of nature on a windy autumn day. Recommended for toddlers and preschoolers who have loved the other titles about Mouse by Lauren Thompson.

Tucker's Apple-Dandy Day by Susan Winget

Tucker promises Mother he'll bring home apples from Farmer Sam's Apple Orchard. His family is looking forward to apple pie! But Tucker gets busy helping out his friends— and forgets his promise.
Susan Winget's sparkling fall scenes are a visual treat, and her gentle touch shows Tucker's friends helping him in a most believable way. This endearing story ends happily with a delicious pie and news of Tucker's apple-dandy day. {from Syndetics}

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Favorite New Read-Alouds

Reading-aloud to a child is one of the most important things you can do to build a love of books, language, and help prepare them for learning to read. It's also such a fun way to laugh, share, learn and bond together!

There are so many wonderful books to choose from. If you need more ideas, two great books to turn to are Jim Trelease's Read-Aloud Handbook and Esme Raji Codell's How to Get Your Child to Love Reading.

A few of our favorite read-alouds at the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library include:

Baby Bear, Baby Bear, what do you see? by Bill Martin, Jr.

The final collaboration between Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle. Colorful collage art and rhyming text follow a baby bear and its mother as they meet numerous North American animals. Fans of previous Martin/Carle collaborations (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?) will want to check out this book. Place a hold today - the title is on order!

Chewy Louie by Howie Schneider

Anyone who has ever had a puppy that tried to eat them out of house and home can relate to the family of the adorable, hilarious character of Chewy Louie! In this book, a family may have to get rid of their new pet, a cute puppy that eats everything in sight, including toys, bowls, and porches.

Dooby Dooby Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin

While Farmer Brown sleeps, his animals prepare for a talent show at the county fair. Be prepared to laugh and sing with this book! Author Doreen Cronin always presents funny, yet wise animal characters that challenge and surprise people!

Emily's Balloon by Komako Sakai

A little girl's new friend is round, lighter than air, and looks like the moon at night. This understated, beautifully illustrated book by Japanese author Komako Sakai is sure to resonate with toddlers.

The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster

The first picture book by the author of the classic "The Phantom Tollbooth" tells the story of a little girl who finds a magic gateway in the kitchen window of her grandparents' house, and the voyage of discovery she takes. Winner of the Caldecott Award.

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Their Food? by Jane Yolen

Following the tradition of Jane Yolen's other dinosaur books (How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and How Do Dinosaurs Get Well Soon?), this picture book illustrated by Mark Teague depicts dinosaurs eating their food in a variety of ways. The questions and rhythmic text offer table manner suggestions in a fun, positive way to young children. These books are always a hit at storytime!

Hurry! Hurry! by Eve Bunting

Hurry! Hurry! Come meet the new addition to the barnyard! All the animals of the barnyard community hurry to greet their newest member, who is just pecking his way out of an egg.

I Could Eat You Up! by Jo Harper

How do I love you? Like a sugar lump, like a juicy berry, like a plump little peach. Mothers and fathers love their little babies so much, they could just eat them all up! This winsome picture book depicts loving moments between human parents and babies, mare and pony, hen and chicks, as well as other cuddly friends from the animal kingdom.

I Stink! by Kate & Jim McMullan

A big city garbage truck makes its rounds, consuming everything from apple cores and banana peels to leftover ziti with zucchini. Get ready for a roaring, stinky time!

It's Okay to be Different by Todd Parr

Illustrations and brief text describe all kinds of differences that are "okay," such as "It's Okay to be a different color," "It's Okay to need some help," "It's Okay to be adopted," and "It's Okay to have a Different nose." Todd Parr's bright, colorful drawings illustrate the meaning behind each reaffirming sentiment well.

Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes

When Kitten mistakes the full moon for a bowl of milk, she ends up tired, wet, and hungry trying to reach it. Kevin Henkes black and white illustrations landed him the Caldecott Award for this sweet picture book.

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

In this infectious rhyming and read-aloud, Baby Llama turns bedtime into an all-out llama-drama. Young children will relate to Baby Llama's need for comfort, as much as parents will appreciate Mama Llama's reassuring message.

Looking for a Moose by Phyllis Root

This hunt for an elusive moose through woods, swamps, bushes, and hills is just as fun as the final surprise discovery of moose en masse. Children will laugh at the running visual joke--what is that little dog looking at?

Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner

Move over, Eloise and Olivia. Make room for SkippyjonJones, a Siamese kittenboy who can't resign himself to being an ordinary cat. Having a time-out in his room, he resorts to his imagination. Taking on the superhero persona of the great Spanish sword fighter Skippito, he has the adventure of his life, and readers are invited along. Zany, wild, and over-the-top, this utterly original book truly begs to be read aloud. [Syndetics]

Traveling Babies by Kathryn O. Galbraith

Follow the toddling babies through a photographic and illustrative journey past cuddling babies and parents of all kinds. Celebrates both animal and human babies and the variety of ways they travel - bouncing, hopping, clinging and swinging...

A good title to be enjoyed with little ones!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Great Read-Alouds

What was your favorite picture book as a child? One of the most treasured memories from childhood is often being read to right before bedtime. If you're looking for ideas for reading aloud with your young child, the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library is the place to go!

A few staff favorites that have stood the test of time include:

A Hole Is To Dig by Ruth Krauss

This classic children's book features charming first definitions such as "a hole is to dig" and "arms are to hug."

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Little Sal and Little Bear both lose their mothers while eating blueberries and almost end up with the other's mother.

Goodnight Goodnight Sleepyhead by Ruth Krauss

In simple rhyming text, a child says goodnight to the things around her. First published in 1964.

A House is a House for Me by Mary Ann Hoberman

Where does everyoneand everythinglive? A House Is a House for Me is a rollicking rhyme about houses. Some of the houses are familiar, such as an anthill and a dog kennel, while others are surprising, such as a corn husk and a pea pod.

I Like to Be Little by Charlotte Zolotow

Charlotte Zolotow is a prolific children's author that truly knows the hearts, dreams, thoughts and concerns of a small child. In this book, a little girl, answering her mother's question about why she likes to be little, describes some of the special pleasures of being a child.

A country house is unhappy when the city, with all its buildings and traffic, grows up around her.

Mother, Mother, I Want Another by Maria Polushkin Robbins

In this newly illustrated edition, Mrs. Mouse is anxious to get her son to sleep and goes off to find what she thinks he wants.

The Napping House by Audrey Wood

One of our all-time favorites, this book is wonderful for the preschool set. In this cumulative tale, a wakeful flea atop a number of sleeping creatures causes a commotion, with just one bite. This is also a great book for supporting vocabulary skills. How many different ways are there to describe napping?

Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Mr. and Mrs. Mallard proudly return to their home in the Boston Public Garden with their eight offspring. Winner of the Caldecott Award.

"Even when a hungry lion comes to pay a call, Pierre won't snap out of his ennui. Every child has one of these days sometimes. Mix in a stubborn nature, a touch of apathy, and a haughty pout, and it can turn noxious. Parents may cajole, scold, bribe, threaten--all to no avail. When this mood strikes, the Pierres of the world will not budge, even for the carnivorous king of beasts." (from

A little rabbit who wants to run away tells his mother how he will escape, but she is always right behind him.

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats

The adventures of a little boy in the city on a very snowy day. A wonderful classic story for sharing anytime, but especially on a cold, wintery day. Winner of the Caldecott Award.

Tikki Tikki Tembo retold by Arlene Mosel

An adaptation of a Chinese folktale. When the eldest son fell in the well and most of the time getting help was spent pronouncing the name of the one in trouble, the Chinese, according to legend, decided to give all their children short names.

Too Much Noise by Ann McGovern

Peter thinks his house is noisy until the village wise man teaches him a lesson in perspective. Illustrations by Simms Taback.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Got 20 Minutes?

An excellent video online is available from Washington Learning Systems about the subject of talking and learning. The Corvallis-Benton County Public Library is spotlighting this video as part of this month's Birth to Six topic. The video, "Talking and Learning: Language is Key" offers parents and providers with advice on how important language is and ideas for building language skills in children. Take a look:

Making reading-aloud with your child part of your daily routine is a great way to encourage a love of language. Building literacy skills doesn't involve only books. Take time each day to talk with your child - whether it's sharing a favorite picture book or reading-aloud recipes while cooking, your mail or signs you pass on a walk downtown. Talk about new words, describe the environment around you, and ask your child open-ended questions to encourage conversation. Sing songs and play with the sounds of words!

The Corvallis-Benton County Public Library has numerous resources for building language skills with your small child. Stop by and see us!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Make Mealtime Count!

Mealtime is the perfect opportunity for sharing language with young children. Whether you are feeding your infant, guiding a toddler through messy meals, or sharing a special dinner with your preschooler, the kitchen table offers a wonderful setting for developing language skills. Talk about the food you eat. Begin by asking questions or describing the experience to a very young child:

What is the name of the food? How does the food taste? What does it look like? What colors do you see? How does the food feel and smell?

If your toddler responds that he's eating an apple, you can add more description to his answer. "Yes! You are eating a red apple. It's round and sweet. When you were a baby you ate mushed apples - applesauce!"

There is also plenty of opportunity to discuss food while you are cooking or baking together. As a child adds ingredients or takes a turn stirring the batter in the bowl, talk about what is happening. Is the batter lumpy? Smooth? Will you have to crack an egg or measure the flour? The outside of the egg is hard and smooth...what does the egg look like after we crack it open?

As your child grows, adding simple math to cooking can also help enrich their experience in the kitchen with you. How many grapes do we have in the bowl? Can you count five Cheerios? Talk about the different colors, shapes and sizes you see in the food.

Talking about food extends to trips to the grocery store or farmer's market. There are so many opportunities in a grocery store to share new vocabulary to your child. Is that a cucumber or a zucchini? Share conversations about where foods come from. How does the milk get from the cow to the bottle at the store? Where does bread come from? The library also has easy non-fiction books about these topics to share with young children.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

September Spotlight

September Spotlight: Talk to Your Child

During the month of September, the Corvallis-Benton County Public Library's Birth to Six site is putting the spotlight on the importance of talking with your young child.

One of the best gifts you can give your child is the gift of language. Babies are born ready to learn any language. Babies and toddlers are much better at hearing the different sounds that make up language than adults. It is this skill of being able to hear the different sounds that make up their native language that eventually helps them learn to read. Being able to hear and play with the smaller parts of words helps children decode written words on a page. This skill is "phonological awareness," one of the six pre-reading skills research has shown that all children need to become successful readers.

Vocabulary is another important pre-reading skill. Knowing the names of things helps a child eventually make the connection between sounding out a word and understanding it. The more words a child hears, the more prepared she is to learn to read.(1)

It's never too early to start sharing language with your child. Research has also shown a direct relationship between the growth of vocabulary in children under age 2 and the extent that parents and caregivers talk to them.(2) Additionally, if you or your family speaks another language, this is the best time to introduce the other language to your child.

The best way to teach a child new words is to talk to him - and to read to him! Picture books contain rare words that we don't normally use in every day conversation. But it's not just reading-aloud that will help your child's vocabulary grow. There are so many ways to share language with your child. The Library's Birth to Six News blog will be highlighting different ideas for talking and sharing with your child this month.

(1) - For more information, please see: Every Child Ready to Read brings together research from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, The Public Library Association and the Association for Library Service to Children.

(2) - For more information, please see: Right From Birth: Building Your Child's Foundation for Life, Birth to 18 months by Craig Ramey, pg. 88-94.