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.

This Is the Nest That Robin Built by Denise Fleming


Denise Fleming’s book This Is the Nest That Robin Built can be used in many ways to support early literacy. here are some possibilities:

Story Structure—How Stories Work
Our next book is This Is the Nest That Robin Built is a story that keeps building on what the sentences that went before. It is a cumulative story. [Read the page with the Squirrel. Have children repeat twigs, not too big, that anchor the next that Robin built. Tell them they can join in on every page.]
Example Tip: When we have children notice the pattern in a story, we help them understand how some stories work. This helps them predict what might happen next and helps them understand the story.

To support vocabulary, there are many words to choose from to explain—anchor, trim, soupy, bind, plaster, cushion, brittle, tufted, fledglings.
Example Tip for Vocabulary: When we explain a word, rather than replace the word with an easier word, we build our children’s vocabulary which will later help them understand what they read.

You could also talk about how the baby birds in the nest feel—worried, scared. Or you might use the word apprehensive, uncertain. This helps to develop both children’s vocabulary and their background knowledge, when you help them relate these emotions to their lives.

Clip, Clop by Catherine Hnatov


Introduction: Our next book is about the movements animals make and what it sounds like when they move. The book is Clip, Clop by Catherine Hnatov. What is this animal on the cover? That's right, a horse. When he trots about, his hooves on the ground sound like this--clip, clop, clip, clop. Let me hear you say clip, clop. Very good! [They can tap their thighs if they like.]

Read the book. [Pause to talk about the words for the movements and making the sounds together.]

Early Literacy Aside--Example: This book is full of interesting words that we might not use in regular conversation with our babies and toddlers. Sharing this book with our children offers us the opportunity to build their vocabulary as they hear new words and their listening skills as they become aware of words that sound like the sounds themselves. When we expose our children to new words, even if they don't understand all the words right now, we build their vocabulary which makes it easier for them to understand words later and to understand what they will read.
When we point out sounds, we help them become more aware of the sounds around them. This awareness can also help them later hear smaller sounds in words which will help them later sound out words when they learn to read.
[You may do either or both of these aspects of the book--vocabulary (words) or sounds (phonological awareness).]

Zoom, Zoom, Baby by Karen Katz


Introduction: Our next book is Zoom, Zoom, Baby by Karen Katz. In this book there are many environmental sounds, sounds we hear around us. We can say these sounds together. Let's practice first (children and adults say each sound together, adding repetitions till they are comfortable with saying the sounds--the boat goes putt-putt; the bus goes beep! beep, the plane goes whoosh-whoosh, the train goes choo-choo; the truck goes rumble-rumble; and the car goes zoom-zoom.
OK! let's read this book all together.

Early Literacy Aside--Example: Adults, drawing your children's attention to the sounds in the environment helps them become aware of sounds. This is a very beginning step to having them later hear the smaller sounds in words which will later help them sound out words when they learn to read. (That skill is called phonological awareness.)

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults, remember the book Zoom, Zoom, Baby by Karen Katz, which I read earlier? You can talk about the sounds you hear at home and as you go about your errands, even without a book. Helping your children become more aware of sounds will help them later hear those smaller sounds in words which will help them sound out words as they learn to read. Yes! It does start early.

Hooray for Hat by Brian Won

Introduction: Our next book is called Hooray for Hat by Brian Won. In this book each of the animals is grumpy until they get a wonderful hat. Each time an animal gets a hat, the animals say "Hooray for hat!" So, I would like you to say with me "hooray for hat." We are going to clap for each word. So, three claps--hooray--for--hat. Let's practice saying and clapping the words "Hooray for hat."  Very good. Ok, here comes the story.
[Read the book, pausing for them to say "Hooray for hat."]
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Adults, when we help children hear individual words, this is a starting point to later hear even smaller sounds within words which will help them later sound out words when they learn to read. (This skill is called phonological awareness.)


Hickety Pickety Bumble Bee

"Hickety Pickety Bumble Bee" Hickety Pickety bumble bee Who can say their name for me? First child’s name. Clap it. (Clap out the syllables in the child’s name.) Whisper it. (Whisper the syllables.) No sound. (Mouth the syllables.) Hickety pickety bumblebee, Who can say their name for me?

Early Literacy Aside--Example--Phonological Awareness
By clapping out and singing children's names, they hear words slowed down and they hear the parts of words, the syllables. This will later help them as they try to sound out words when they learn to read. The kids love the song, and parents tell me that they are clapping out the syllables to other family members names too.

Submitted by Marie Rogers, Hardin County Public Library in KY

Sing by Joe Raposo

Early Literacy Aside--Explain: Some of us can sing well, others not so well. Some of us like to sing whether we can or not and others would rather not sing. Did you know that singing is one way to help children learn the sounds in language which will then help them hear sounds as they learn to sound out words? Songs have a distinct note for each syllable so children hear the rhythm of language and hear words broken down into parts.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Our next book is a songbook. It uses the words to the song as the book itself. It's called Sing by Joe Raposo. I often feel like the third bird! I hope you do too. Let's see what happens when one of the three birds can't sing. We can all sing the words together and notice how songs help with hearing sounds in words.

Read/sing the book first describing what is happening in the wordless pictures.

There Were Ten in the Bed by Annie Kubler or Five Little Monkeys

Extension Craft Activity: Five in the BedHand out half-sheet of construction paper cut lengthwise and figures for children to decorate. Younger children glue five figures in the bed; older children decorate with more detail. Each child also gets a brad so that they can rotate their figures onto and out of the bed as in the book/song.

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults, your children are not only using their art to reinforce retelling the story There Were Ten in the Bed we read today, but also to reinforce our early literacy skill.  Singing is a great way to support phonological awareness in that it slows down the words and gives a different note to each syllable, so today’s activity is a 2 for 1!


Submitted by Katie Ringenbach, Bucks County (PA) Public Library

Rock a Bye Baby

Song as lead in to book: Rock a Bye Baby[Adults rock baby back and forth] Rock a bye baby on the tree top, When the wind blows, the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks the cradle will fall, And I'm there to catch you, cradle and all.

Early Literacy Aside--Example: When we sing to babies, they hear language slowed down which makes it easier for them to hear the sounds in words. Even thugh we may not sing to our children for this purpose, it is the beginning of helping them to later sound out words when they later learn to read.

Jane Klein, Chester County (PA) Library System

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.

Llama, Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney

Read Llama, Llama Time to Share by Anna Dewdney.Point out some word pairs that rhyme, such as boat and moat. Ask children what other words rhyme with boat (they don't have to make sense). Early Literacy Aside--Example: Helping children hear words that rhyme is one way to help them hear the smaller sounds in words which will then later help them sound out words. storytimehandoutlorenasearsPA Early Literacy Aside--Empower: I have a handout for you with suggestions for some rhyming games and ways to help your children hear the smaller sounds in words. Lorena Sears, F D Campbell Memorial Library (PA)

Eensy Weensy Spider by Mary Ann Hoberman

During the storytime, introduce book: Our next book is called The Eensy Weensy Spider. It has the eensy weensy spider rhyme that we are familiar with. Let's say it together (show first page). Now the author, Mary Ann Hoberman, has made up some new verses. I'll read you one of my favorite ones: The eensy weensy spider fell down and scraped her knees. "Ouch!" cried the spider. "I need some Band-Aids, please!" "How many?" asked her mama. "I only have a few." Said the eensy-weensy spider, "Six of them will do."

Optional--talk about how many legs/knees a spider has . . . Early Literacy Aside--Explain: All of these rhymes based on the original, piggyback rhymes, have new rhyming word combinations. Pointing out the rhyming words or letting your children fill in a rhyming word helps them hear the smaller sounds in words which will help them later to sound out words when they learn to read. Early Literacy Aside--Empower: You noticed that today we read a bok with piggyback rhymes. You and your children can pick a rhyme they know well and then make up your own words to new rhymes. Having your children think of rhyming words is one way to support phonological awareness, hearing the smaller sounds in words. This is a fun activity and also helps your children later to sound out words. Enjoy!


Sing songs in English and in at least one other language during storytime.Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults, you can sing anywhere about anything in any language! Singing helps children hear the smaller sounds in words to help them sound out words later. Also many songs have new words for them to learn which will help them know the meanings of words when they get to school.

Randi Kay Stephens, Sacramento (CA) Public Library

Sing your own songs

Early Literacy Aside--Explain: Singing with your children helps them to hear words broken into smaller parts because there is a different note for each syllable. Hearing these smaller parts of words will help them later to sound out words.Early Literacy Aside--Empower: We sang some songs today in storytime. You can make up your own songs and sing about the things you do everyday. Singing helps children hear words broken down into part and you can do this throughout the day in fun ways. Heather Bratt

Baby's Bath with flannel board

This rhyme, I'll do with the flannel board. First I'll say the rhyme, and put up the figures. Then we'll all say the rhyme together.Baby's ready for a bath. Here's the baby's tub. Here's the baby's washcloth. Rub a dub a dub. Here's the baby's cake of soap, And here's the towel to dry, And here's the baby's cradle, Rock-a-baby-bye.

Early Literacy Aside--Example: As we say rhymes with our young children they hear both the rhythm of language and the rhymes. Being exposed to rhymes helps them hear the smaller sounds in words, a first step in later learning to read.

by Amy Alapati and Virginia Krute, Montgomery County (MD) Public Library, based on version in Ring a Ring o’ Roses, 9th ed. Flint Public Library, Permission granted Flint Public Library, Flint, MI


Old Macdonald Had a Farm Handout

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Today we talked about farm animals and sang Old Macdonald. Here is an activity sheet for you and your child to draw farm animals and talk about the sounds they make, which is a first stem to helping your children hear the smaller sounds in words. Don't worry if you can't figure out which animal your child has drawn. Your child will tell you what it is. Enjoy!

Old Macdonald Had a Farm Handout

Jack and Jill Rhyme and Song

Nursery Rhyme: Jack and Jill
Jack and Jill went up the hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down
And broke his crown
And Jill came tumbling after.
Preparation: Have the words to the rhyme up on a chart. Have the group say, not sing, the words. Then have the group sing the rhyme. Ask the adults what differences they noticed when singing it vs. saying it.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Singing slows down language so that children can hear the smaller sounds in words. This helps children later to sound out the words when they learn to read.

A Rhyming We Will Go

Early Literacy Aside--Example: Let's take an interesting word from this book we just read. [Choose a word.] Now we'll play this song game. Helping your children make rhymes or notice words that rhyme is one way to help them hear the smaller sounds in words which will help them later to sound out words.Song to the tune of A Hunting We Will Go A rhyming we will go A rhyming we will go We’ll catch a rhyme In the nick of time And this is how it goes.

I caught the word _____!  What rhymes with ______? Good, what else rhymes with _____? 

 Repeat as often as you like. Rhyming words can be nonsense words!

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Remember the rhyming song game we played earlier? You can play this little game any place, any time you are with your children--in the car, waiting in line, at the doctor's office. These little things you do all add up to make a difference in helping your child be ready to learn to read. When you help them hear and make rhymes, you are helping your child develop phonological awareness, hearing the smaller sounds in words so they can later sound out words when they learn to read.