Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora


I just love this book Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora. Omu means “queen” in Igbo, a language spoken in Nigeria, a country in Africa. It is what the author, Oge Mora, called her grandma. Let’s say Omu together. What do you call your grandmother?

[There are lots of aspects of this book that can be discussed and build on to support various aspects of early literacy. Here are a few.]

Background knowledge—book and story knowledge: Let’s look at the cover of this book. What do you see? What do you think this book might be about? Choose a repeated phrase to have the children join in with. Have children retell the story in order, using a flannel board or props.

Background knowledge—content knowledge: How do you think the author made the picture? It is called collage, cutting out shapes from paper and painting them or coloring them with marker. Have children make a collage.

Print Awareness: Point out the word Knock! and Thank you, Omu or any of the text written in caps. Point out word in the pictures such as TAXI, Open. Note that Omu is reading a book. The writing of a thank you card.

Phonological Awareness: make the sound of knocking, and point it out.

Letter Knowledge: Point out shapes such as the star on the police officer’s shirt, other shapes in the collages. Spell out Omu as you point to the letters. Letters spelling Thank you Omu on the last page.

Vocabulary: so many words that mean delicious—tasty, scrumptious, delectable. Say repeated phrase together “scrumptious scent wafted out the window”—talk about what the phrase means.

Vehicles by Xavier Deneux

Our next book is called Vehicles by Xavier Deneux. It is part of the touch-think-learn series which is great for many ages from babies to preschoolers. That’s because it has touch-feel which is great for babies and toddlers. It also gives words to think about for each topic which is good for all ages. The kinds of words they use can build vocabulary for preschoolers too.


[Show page with cars.] Here is a page with lots of cars. As we look at the picture we can talk about some of the words noted here, like traffic light, gas pump, and exhaust pipe. And we can add our own words too, like the pump hose, the colors, the bridge.


Early Literacy Tip—Example—Vocabulary and Background Knowledge—Content Knowledge: No matter our children’s ages, we can add some new words and information to what is in the book to build their vocabulary, the words they know, and information about the world around them. Both these activities will later help them understand what they read.

Who Lives Where? by Stephanie Babin


Our next book has sliding pictures so that we can guess. It’s like a book of riddles. Let’s see if you can help me find out the answer to some of the riddles.

Let’s look at the page that says In the Garden. Here is a picture of a bee. What sound does a bee make? [They respond.] Buzz buzz. Great! and where does a bee live? [They respond.] Yes! in a bee hive. [Slide the tab to show the bee hive.]

[As you talk about each animal, add some information about where they live.]

Early Literacy Tip—Example Tip—Background Knowledge—Content Knowledge: When we talk with children about factual information, adding to what they already know, we build their background knowledge about the world. The more they understand about the world around them, the easier it will be for them to later understand what they read.


Early Literacy Tip—Example Tip—Print Motivation: When we involve children in a book by asking them to share what they know, they will enjoy the booksharing experience. This helps them be interested in books and later learning to read.

A Stick Until . . . by Constance Anderson


Introduction: Here I have a stick. What can we do with a stick? [Respond to replies, encourage ways people may use a stick, how about animals using sticks? Show the cover of the book A Stick Until . . . by Constance Anderson.] What animals do you see on the cover? Let's see what this elephant will do with a stick.
Read the book, pointing out the true ways animals use sticks. Point out additional factual information at the end of the book.
Early Literacy Aside: When we share factual information about topics that interest our children, it builds their background knowledge, what they know about the world. Their background knowledge helps them later understand what they read.

Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F.Isabel Campoy

Introduction: Our next book is about making a place better to live by making it more beautiful. It is called Maybe Something Beautiful and the illustrator, Rafael Lopez is the person who actually helped to make a neighborhood in San Diego, California, more beautiful by painting murals. Let's see what happened. This story is based on what really happened in San Diego. [After reading the book, or parts of it, describe what is said in "A Note from the Authors."]

Activity: Have some mural paper and paints. (if not paints, then crayons/markers) Talk about what the children might like to paint that might make a neighborhood beautiful. Then have them paint on the paper. Display it.


Early Literacy Aside (option 1): Adults, when we have children paint/draw, it is helping children develop the skills for later writing.

Early Literacy Aside (option 2): Adults, after your children have finished painting/drawing, ask them to tell you all about what they have made. Encourage them to tell you a story about it or how they got the idea. You can enrich the experience by expanding on what they say, descriptive words, words for feelings, encouraging their imagination, giving information about a topic. If they drew a butterfly, for example, you might add some information you know about butterflies. Your conversation can build their vocabulary and background knowledge, what they know about the world, which will make it easier for them later to understand what they read.

Tractor by DK Publishing (Board book)

Introduction: Our next book is a board book that is cleverly cut in the shape of a tractor. We won't read the whole book, but this is a good introduction to a tractor, its different parts, and what it does. Let's look at the cover. What do you see? (lights, tires) What does a tractor do? . . . Good ideas! Let's find out more. [Choose a page or two to share.]


Early Literacy Aside--Example:  Adults, when we talk with our children, even our young children, about factual information, we help them learn about the world. This introduces them to the background knowledge they will need to later understand what they read. Even if they do not understand everything we say, it is still important to share the information with them.

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults, you do not need a book to share factual information with your children. As you are doing things together or going places together, share information you know about any topic of interest. You are building your child's background knowledge about the world which helps with comprehension. And! they are so very curious about the world.

Busy Buzzy Bee by Karen Wallace

Introduction: Our next book is Busy Buzzy Bee by Karen Wallace. This is a true book about how amazing bees are. [You can read the whole book or pick out a few pages to share. This book is chock full of information!] 
Early Literacy Aside: When we share books about factual information, children learn about the world around them. This develops their background knowledge which makes it easier to understand what they read when they learn to read. You need not read the whole book at once.


Little You by Richard Van Camp

Using a baby doll or stuffed animal as a baby, demonstrate reading this book using more words than what is in the text. For example page 1: Little you, little wonder. Point to the parents and to the child. Here is the father and the mother and there is the little baby. There is a big round red sun in this picture (as you point to it) and a little flower with a ladybug. They look happy together, they are smiling. Another example, page 3: Little wish, gentle thunder. Let's see what is in this picture; there's a cat and a little kitten, a baby cat, just as this mother is holding her baby. And look out the window, there is a crescent moon. It looks dark outside. We see a flash of lightning that also comes with thunder. When I was little I used to be afraid of storms, especially when the thunder was so loud.
Early Literacy Aside--Explain: In today's storytime I'll be pointing out different ways you can read with your baby. Reading with your children is the single best thing you can do to help them become good readers later. There are many ways to read and share books with young children and I'll be pointing out some today.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: When you read to your baby and the book has only a few words on the page, take time to add your own words about the picture or about things the picture makes you think about. This adds to your baby's vocabulary and background knowledge which will make it easier for them to later understand what they read.

You can have a few minutes of Read Together time where you pass out board books for each family and have them add words to the few in the book. They may not get through the whole book. That's fine! They are enriching their babies' language experience.

Song: If You Want to Know an Answer

If You Want to Know an Answer is a good opening song especially when you want to emphasize what we can learn from factual books. You can substitute words to emphasize any aspect of learning. Song: If You Want to Know an Answer (tune:  If You're Happy & You Know It) If you want to know an answer, read a book! If you want to know an answer, read a book! If you're wondering where the moon goes; If you're wondering how the grass grows; If you want to know an answer, read a book!

If you'd like to learn to draw, read a book! If you want to learn to draw, read a book! If you'd like to draw a dog, Or a frog sitting on a log; If you'd like to learn to draw, read a book!

If you'd like to learn to bake, read a book! If you'd like to learn to bake, read a book! If you'd like to make some candy, Or a pizza that is dandy; If you'd like to learn to bake, read a book!

Early Literacy Aside--Explain--Background Knowledge:  Factual books offer many opportunities to add to children's knowledge based on their interests. Sharing factual books not only helps children learn about the world around them, but also will help them later understand what they read. In today's storytime, I'll be pointing out different ways to share factual books and information with children.

Night/Noche Storytime Handout

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: I have a handout for you on the topic of our storytime today--night. It has some book titles which I have also displayed here.  I hope you'll like the suggestions of ideas and techniques you can do with your children at home to help develop their pre-reading skills, just as you saw me do in the storytime. You are with your children more often than I am so you have many opportunities to use some of these ideas. Let me know which ideas you enjoy doing with your children.Storytime Handout for storytime on the theme of Night/Noche Handout in English  Nighthandoutkc Handout in Spanish  Nochehandoutkc

Submitted by Katie Cunningham

Ideas que  le ayudarán a fomentar la alfabetización temprana en casa:  Al final de este parrafo encontrará un folleto con el tema de la noche. El folleto habla de algunos libros que también se presentan aquí.  Espero que estas ideas y técnicas le ayuden en casa a sus ninos a desarrollar las habilidaes necesarias para que puedan aprender a leer, así como lo ha visto en nuestra hora de cuentos.  Usted pasa mas tiempo consus hijos del que ellos pasan conmigo, así es que tendrá muchas oportunidades de usar algunas de estas ideas.

Magnet handout

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: I am gong to give you a pre-literacy skill magnet that says "Talking" to put on your frig. This will remind you to extend your conversations with your children. In this way you are building on what they know and they will be able to better understand what they read. The magnet also lets you know you are already your child's first teacher! Great job, parents!Workshop Participant, Sacramento (CA) Public Library

Itsy Bitsy Spider Rhyme

Early Literacy Aside--Explain: Talking with children as you read books and share rhymes can add to the words they know and to their knowledge if YOU use words they are not familiar with or add information they may not yet know. Both adding to their vocabulary and to their knowledge will help them understand what they read when they learn to read. Say/sing the rhyme with actions: The itsy bitsy spider went up the waterspout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out.                                        Out came the sun and dried up all the rain.                                       And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again. Early Literacy Aside--Example: Here are some examples of the kinds of questions you can ask your children. Then add to what they say to introduce new words and information. [Then you ask the children a couple of questions. Some possibilities are below. Be careful to keep it fun and engaging, not like a test of knowledge.] Where was the spider going? What happened when the rain started? Where do you think spiders live? Have you seen a spider? Where? What was it doing? What do you know about spiders? Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Sometimes we do not know much about some of the topics our children are interested in. We have lots of factual books on a variety of topics like spiders, snakes, dinosaurs, trains, and more. Just let us know what you and your children would like to read about. These books not only  make reading enjoyable because yuou are building on your child's interest, you are also setting a good foundation for helping them learn new words and knowledge.

Submitted by a library staff person at Public Library of Charlotte and Mechlenburg County (NC)

Don't Worry Bear by Greg Foley

Before reading the book, talk about the process of how a caterpillar grows and then goes into a chrysallis or cocoon and then emerges as a butterfly or moth.Early Literacy Aside--Example: Talking about what you know, even if it is not in the book, helps your children understand the world around them. Use words that your child may not already know, just explain them. This is how you build their vocabulary and background knowledge which will later help them understand what they read. Read the book Don't Worry Bear by Greg Foley.