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.

Found by Salina Yoon


This book can is a good one for mixed age groups. It can be understood on many levels. Even adults will enjoy the humor in the "Lost" signs, such as "Anyone see an elephant in the room?" or "Lost track of time."
Introduction: Here is a story called Found written by Salina Yoon. I see Bear on the cover. What do you think he has found? Yes, a bunny, a stuffed animal bunny rabbit. Let's see what happens when Bear tries to find bunny's home.
Read the book. On the page with all the Lost signs, read some of them, pointing to the text.
Early Literacy Tip--Example: [After reading the book, go back to the page with the lost signs. Point to and read a couple of the signs.] Pointing out the words in signs is one great way to help children develop print awareness, that print has meaning, that we are reading the text, not the pictures. This will make it easier for them to focus on the text when they learn to read.
Early Literacy Tip--Empower: Whenever you see signs, as you are driving, walking, at a store, pointing out what the text says is one way to help your children develop print awareness, one of the pre-reading skills they need to learn to read.

Bus for Us by Suzanne Bloom


Introduction: In this book, The Bus For Us by Suzanne Bloom, you will be helping me tell the story by saying this sentence throughout the book, "Is this the bus for us, Gus?" [Point out Gus as the boy on the cover. Practice saying the phrase together.
Point to each word as you say the sentence together, each time.]
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Adults, when we point to words as the children say them, we develop their print awareness, helping them understand that the words we are saying is what is written in the text. This helps them understand how reading works and will help them later focus on the words as they learn to read.

Don't Wake Up the Tiger by Britta Teckentrup

Early Literacy Aside--Example: Adults, in our next book there are many words written in bold and large letters. I will be pointing to these words and saying them more loudly, and encouraging you all to say them along with me. By pointing out these words, we help children notice the text which will help them later focus on the text when they learn to read.
Read Don't Wake Up the Tiger and point out some of the words in bold, saying them more loudly, with emphasis. Point to the words as you have children repeat some of them. You can sing "Happy Birthday" to Tiger.
If you like, you can make or bring in a happy birthday banner, or use the flannel board to spell out happy birthday.


Tree Poster

This poster is available in English and Spanish through the Library of Virginia: It is downloadable and has print specs if you want to get it printed by a printer in poster format. I print off a picture of an apple blossom and tape it to the branch of the early literacy skill I am highlighting that day. Early Literacy Aside--Explain: Our early literacy tip today is on print awareness, helping children understand that print has meaning. Today in storytime I'll be pointing out ways we can support this pre-reading skill as you read and play with your children.

Fold a Book

Craft Activity: Folding a book from one piece of paper can be used in a variety ways. You need one piece of paper and a scissors. The larger the piece of paper, the larger the book.Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Have your children draw a story with a picture on each page. Let them tell you what is happening on each page and you write it down. Your children are learning how stories work and they are learning how books work. Both are skills that will help them as they learn to read.

Fold a Book Handout:  foldbook How to Fold a Book video clip

Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Read the book Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems. Then flip back to a page with big angry font and read it in an angry tone of voice while pointing to the words.Early Literacy Aside--Example:  Parents, here you can see how the text is reflecting the meaning of the words. From time to time, pointing to the words and having your voice reflect what is being said, or how it is said, helps children understand the meaning of what is going on. In this way you are supporting both print awareness and comprehension.

Laura, Sacramento (CA) Public Library

Pop Goes Pre-Reading

Song for Explain Early Literacy Aside:To the tune of Pop Goes the Weasel
Our early literacy skill today
is letter knowledge [fill in the name of the skill].
Getting to know lots of shapes [Substitute aspect of skill being highlighted]
will HELP children read.

Add information related to skill: Researchers have found that children recognize letters according to their shapes.  Talking with young children about shapes is one way to support emerging literacy skills.

Some examples for other skills, to fill in:
Skill=vocabulary: Explaining unfamiliar words . . .
Information on skill: Researchers have found that children who have larger vocabularies, who know more words, can more easily recognize words they sound out and can also more easily understand what they read when whey learn to read.
Skill=print motivation . . . Having fun while sharing books
Information on skill: Researchers have found that children who have enjoyable interactions around books and reading are more likely to stick with learning to read even when it is difficult.
Skill=phonological awareness . . . Clapping out the parts of words . . . OR Having fun with rhyming words . . .
Information on skill: Helping children hear the smaller sounds in words will help them later to sound out words when they begin to read.
Skill=print awareness  . . . Pointing to signs all around . . . OR Pointing to words in a book Information on skill: Understanding that the written word stands for the words helps children understand how reading works.
Skill=background knowledge . . . Reading information books . . . OR Telling your children what you know . . .
Information on skill: Children are naturally curious. By adding to the information they know on topics that interest them, they will later be able to better understand what they read. Skill=background knowledge . . . Having children retell stories . . .
Information on skill: When children retell stories they learn how stories work, that the have a beginning, a middle, and an end. This will help them later when they have to write stories in school.

Choose only one skill to highlight (to say the aside).

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Introduction: I'd like to share this book with you called Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell. It can be tricky to use with little hands. Sometimes children tear the flaps because they don't have good coordination yet. They do like flap books because they can play with the book and it's a kind of peek-a-boo game.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: This simple story has signs which supports the early literacy skill called print awareness, helping your child understand that print has meaning. Pointing to the words on the signs as you read the book helps children understand that these are the words we are saying.
Read book. Point to the words in the signs as you read.
Early Literacy Aside--Empower: As you go around your day, point out signs to your children. Even when your children notice logos like on gas stations, stores, or restaurants, this is the beginning of print awareness.

I'm Taking a Trip on My Train by Shirley Neitzel

Introduce book: This book about a train uses pictures for for some words. You can help me by filling in the words when you see the picture.Read book: As you read the book, point to the pictures in the text so that the participants (children and adults) will chime in with the appropriate words.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: (Print Awareness) As you point to the pictures and have children say the words, you are helping them see that pictures represent words. This is the beginning to helping them understand that the written word also represents the words we say. Print awareness is one of the skills children need to be able to learn to read and you are helping to develop this skill when you point to pictures and words as you say words.
Early Literacy Aside--Empower: (for Print Awareness) Having words as part of the text of the story is a fun way to write stories with your child. As your child tells you a story, you can write it down and let them draw pictures for some of the repeated words. They see the written words for their spoken words which develops print awareness.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: (for Narrative Skills) Having your young children chime in with a word or phrase, as much as they can remember, is a first step to being able to retell the whole story. Retelling stories helps children develop narrative skills which later helps them understand what they read.
Early Literacy Aside--Empower: (Narrative Skills) This is a cumulative story, where the lines are repeated. Having your child say the repeated phrases helps to develop retelling the story which develops their narrative skills, one of the skills that helps with later reading. Retelling stories helps develop their understanding of the story as well.

Choose only one skill to highlight (to say the aside).

Pouch by David Stein

Introduce the book: Our next book is Pouch by David Stein. Mother kangaroos carry their babies in a pouch, like a little pocket in front of their stomachs. This baby kangaroo called a Joey is exploring the world and sometimes wants to feel safe in his pouch. Then he yells, "pouch". Can you say that with me? Pouch! Good, try again. Pouch! Each time we come to the word pouch, you say it with me.
Read the book, pointing to the word pouch as you say it.
Early Literacy Aside--Example (for Print Awareness): The word pouch is written in bold letters which makes it easy to point out as your child says the word. Pointing to the word helps them understand that you are reading the text, the written word. This helps develop print awareness, knowing that print has meaning, one of the early literacy skills.
Early Literacy Aside--Example (for Print Motivation): By having your child participate in the story by saying "pouch" each time, you are helping to keep your child engaged in the story in an enjoyable way. This helps to develop print motivation, your child's interest and enjoyment of books and reading. Print motivation is one of the six early literacy skills, the one that later keeps children trying to learn to read even when it can be difficult.

Choose only one skill to highlight (to say the aside).

Eats by Marthe Jocelyn

Introduce book: Our next book is Eats by Marthe Jocelyn and Tom Slaughter. You will see that they use very stark and bright colors, making it easy for young children to see the pictures. There are just two words on a page, the animal and what it eats. Children let's see what the animal is right on the cover. A monkey! and he is eating a banana. Yummy!
Read the book. Point to some of the words as you read them.
Early Literacy Aside--Example (for Print Awareness): You may have noticed when I read the book that I not only pointed to the pictures but also to the words. The words are so distinct. It is as if they are part of the artwork. Pointing to the words as well as the pictures helps your child focus on the print. They can see that pictures and words represent real things, part of print awareness, one of the early literacy skills that will later help them to read.

For Vocabulary: Read the book. Add some more information as you talk about the pictures. Fore example: Bees like to eat nectar. See the black and yellow striped bees? They make a buzzing sound. Let me hear you make a buzzing sound. Good! Nectar is a sweet liquid that flowers have and the bees love to eat it.
Early Literacy Aside--Example (for Vocabulary): Even though there are just one or two words on a page, you may have noticed that I said more than just those words when I read the book. When you read books with your children take time, especially with simple books like this, to add more information to the words on the page. This helps build their vocabulary, learn new words.

Choose only one skill to hightlight (to say the aside).

A Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa by Jonathan London

Read book.Say: Some of the pictures in this book have words on the trucks or on signs. Let's see what they say. Choose a page or two with some signs such as MILK or ICE CREAM or MOVERS and point to the words as you say them.
Early Literacy Aside--Empower: In the book A Truck Goes Rattley-Bumpa, I pointed out the words in the pictures you help develop print awareness. When you are out and about, be sure to point out words as you talk about the signs you see all around you.

Amazing Adventures of Bathman by Andrew Pelletier

Book Introduction: Start with book upside down. Children will say to "turn it the right way". If not, look at the upside-down book and say, "Oh I can't read it like this, I have to turn it right side up. Read title and point out author/illustrator, running finger under the words. Early Literacy Aside--Example: Some of the words in this book are written in large type. I'll be pointing to these words as I read the book. This helps your child notice the print and develop print awareness.

Submitted by Jolene Roush, Muskingum County (OH) Public Library, Dresden Branch

Candlewick Press Storytime Plan

Storytime Plan includes these books with suggested activities and relation to the early literacy skills.Arabella Miller's Tiny Caterpiller by Clare Jarrett On the Farm by David Elliott A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker Tweedle Dee Dee by Charlotte Voake [Some activities are more for school-age children.] readtousstoryhourkit.pdf

Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

Early Literacy Aside--Example: When you choose books for your children, they like the ones that have pictures of things that are familiar to them.  So, here is one with a picture of an apple.  You can talk about the apple in the picture, its color, its shape.  Then get a real apple and show it to your child.  Talk about how it tastes--sweet, how it feels--round and smooth, the sound it makes when you bite it--CRUNCH!By showing your child the real object, you are helping them realize that pictures represent real things.  Later they will also understand that printed words represent real things as well.  This develops print awareness. I'll read this story to you once, then we'll use the flannel board to tell it again! Read Orange Pear Apple Bear by Emily Gravett

Re-tell the story using flannel pieces with the children telling the story as you put the pieces on the board.  As the whole story has four words the children learn it quickly.  This book can also be used to demonstrate narrative skills.

Submitted by Leslee Farish Kuykendal, Chicago Public Library

Little Raindrops Fingerplay

Fingerplay:  Little RaindropsThis is the sun, high up in the sky. (Form large circle with arms up) A dark cloud suddenly comes sailing by.  (Move hands through the air in a parallel motion.) These are the raindrops,  pitter, pattering down. (Bring arms down, flutter fingers) Watering the flowers, growing on the ground. (Cup hands to form flowers.) Activity: Make a book based on this fingerplay. Use the pattern here (Little Raindrops Booklet pattern) to represent the items in the fingerplay. There are four pages for your book (one for each line of the fingerplay). The pattern is a Word document so you can change the size of the objects to save paper, if you wish. The children cut out the pictures. They can cut around them to make it easier. The adults write the words to the fingerplay on each page. For children too young for this craft, the adults make the book FOR their young children. The umbrella can be used on the cover of the book. Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Making a book with or for your child is very special. By showing care in making them and including your child in the process you make this activity around a book enjoyable. Your child can memorize the words to the rhyme and can "pretend" read it to you. Praise your child. This helps develop print motivation, a child's interest and enjoyment of books and reading. OR Making a book with your child shows them how books work. This helps them with print awareness, how to handle a book, which will get them comfortable with using books as they learn to read. Submitted by Jaime Duval and Whitney Whitaker, Radford (VA) Public Library

Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley

Book Introduction: Our next story is Mouse Mess by Linnea Riley. Notice the words on boxes and bottles as Mouse finds food to eat. Read the book, saying the words on the boxes and bottles as you point to them. Early Literacy Aside--Example: Pointing out the words we see on boxes and bottles is one way to help children develop one of the early literacy skills, print awareness, understanding that print has meaning. Activity: At the end of storytime put out cereal boxes, bottles, any containers with writing on it and let the children "read" them. Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Don't forget, when you go shopping or are just out and about, talk with your children about the signs and labels they see, just as we did with Mouse Mess. This is one simple way to develop your children's print awareness.