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.

Feelings by Alice Le Henand


This book by Alice Le Henand is called Feelings. It is a pull-the-tab book. On each page there is something happening and it shows how the child is feeling. Then the adult does and says something and the child’s feelings change, as we pull the tab.

[Read the book talking about what is happening on each page. Adults can say what they may have done in the situation even if different from what is done in the book.]

[Page 3 uses the word disgusted.]

Early Literacy Tip—Example—Vocabulary: We often use common words for feelings like happy and sad. Using some less common words to describe your children’s feelings can help them identify those feelings. It helps them not only with emotional development, but also it helps them learn new words which will later help them understand what they read.

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.

Cat on the Bus by Aram Kim

Cat on the Bus.jpg

Introduction: Our next book is Cat on the Bus by Aram Kim. This book is almost wordless, hardly any words, so you can help me tell the story from the pictures. We are going to look carefully at the faces of the characters, the cat, the man, and the girl. I would like you to tell me how you think they are feeling.
[Read the book together, talking about the feelings of the characters. Use words for feelings that may not be so familiar. In addition to happy and sad, you might add curious, confused, disappointed, overwhelmed, content, friendly, joyful, and more.]
Example Aside: Vocabulary: When we add less familiar words to ones that children already know, we are building their vocabulary which will later help them understand what they read.  OR
[Read the book together, talking about when children have felt the way the characters in the book have. You may have this discussion after the end of the book; you need not interrupt the story.]
Example Aside: Background Knowledge: When we relate something in the story to the child's own experiences, we help them make the connection between the story and themselves which helps them understand the story.

Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury

Introduction: Our next book The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson and Helen Oxenbury has some animals in it. What animals do you see on the cover? What does it look like the animals are doing? In this book, someone is saying "I'm the giant jumperee" in a very loud voice. Can you say that? Let me hear you. [Practice a couple of times.] Great! Now let's see what is happening in this story.
Read the book, having participants join in with the repeated phrase.
Go back to the pages that say the cat slunk and the bear swaggered. Talk about what does slunk mean? What does swagger mean? How would the cat slink, or the bear swagger? You may ask them to show actions for these words. How is it different from walking?
Early Literacy Aside--Example--Vocabulary: Adults, when we help children understand the meanings of words, like by having them act them out and by discussing differences between words with similar meanings, we are helping to develop their vocabulary which will help them later understand what they read.

At the end of storytime, have the children and adults slink or swagger out of storytime.


Opposite Surprise by Agnese Baruzzi


[Opposite Surprise is a fold-out board book that can be used on different levels with mixed age groups. Some of the concepts are simple, like small or big which shows a small car and a large truck. Others are more complicated like thin and wide showing a pencil and a bridge, and one rather puzzling hot and cold showing the sun and two plugs. School age children could even make their own fold-out pages of opposites.]

Introduction: Our next book is a book about opposites. Can anyone tell me something that is opposite? [See if they give examples.] Let's look at this fun book of opposites. [Choose a few pages or read the whole book, talking about the pictures and the words that are opposite, letting older children guess what might the picture might be before opening the fold-out page.]
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Background Knowledge--Conceptual Thinking: Adults, we might often use words that are opposite like big and small or up and down. However, also pointing out that these ARE opposites helps children learn the concept of opposite which builds their understanding about the world around them, and also their comprehension when they later read these words.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Vocabulary: Adults, when we use the word opposite with words that are opposites, we are helping to build children's vocabulary which will later help them understand what they read.

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults, you certainly don't need a book about opposites to talk about opposites. As you are playing with your children, even lifting them up and down, feeling tired or rested/refreshed, or in the bathtub--float and sink--there are many opportunities throughout the day to talk about opposites which helps your children understand their world.


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).]

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.

Early Literacy Aside: Adults, this book has many interesting words your children may not know yet, such as a bird's plumage, or the alligator is submerged. When we use these unfamiliar words with children and then give a brief explanation, that is how they learn new words which will later also help them understand what they read!
Read the book, offering synonyms for a couple of words.

Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Winds Blow by Marianne Berkes

Introduction: Our next book is called Over in the Arctic Where the Cold Winds Blow by Marianne Berkes. We can make the actions and sounds of the animals as we go along.


Read or Sing the book. After completing the book, come back to the page with the owls.
There are some interesting words on this page. There is a mother snowy owl. What color is the owl? And her little owlets seven. A baby owl is called an owlet. Let's say that together. It says here that the owls glide. Let me see how the mother owl glides (Let them show you wide wings with their arms). And how does a baby owlet glide? (wings/arms not so wide). What does flying look like? What does gliding look like? (more smooth, soar) and what does swooping look like? (from high to low--plunging, lunging, diving).

Early Literacy Aside--Example: Songs can give us words we might not hear in regular conversation. In this book, having fun with the action words can help children distinguish between words of similar meanings. This helps children learn small differences in the meanings of words which builds their vocabulary and helps them later understand what they read.

Big Box for Ben by Deborah Bruss

Introduction: I have a big empty box here. What do you think we can do with this box? What could you do with it? [You may want to have more than one box if you want to give them time to explore and play with the boxes, or you may choose to do this after reading the book.]
Today we have a book called Big Box for Ben by Deborah Bruss. Let's see what this boy Ben likes to do with his box. [As you read the book, add interesting words describing the box, the position of the box and the flaps, what Ben is imagining--using the word imagination]

Early Literacy Aside: Playing is a great way to build children's language. By following your child's lead, giving them time to express their ideas and think imaginatively, asking open-ended questions, adding new words and description, you give them opportunities to build their vocabulary, to think of stories, and to understand the world around them. All these skills contribute to later helping them understand what they read.


Don't Spill the Beans by Ian Schoenherr

Early Literacy Aside--Example: Adults, in our next book, notice the many ways to say the same thing, so many different expressions. Talking about the different meanings of words helps to build your children's vocabulary which will later help them understand what they read.
To the children: Our next book is called Don't Spill the Beans by Ian Schoenherr. What do you think "don't spill the beans" means? What is one thing it might mean? . . . discuss
In this book it is meaning--don't tell a secret. Bear has a fun secret. Let's see what it is. [Read the book.]
Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults, this week you may like to think about some of the expressions you use, and talk about words with different meanings. I have a handout with some more idioms.
Idioms Can Be Funny


Look at You! by Star Bright Books (book with a mirror)

Early Literacy Aside--Explain: Today I'll be pointing out we can share feelings while using books and songs. It is important to use many different words for feelings. This not only helps your child learn new words and builds their vocabulary, but it also helps them manage their feelings. The first step to managing feelings is to able to identify feelings.


Book: Read Look at You!  Talk about the expressions on the faces of the children in the photos. For some, you may ask them to make the faces of those feelings. Older children will be able to remember a time they felt that way.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: As we shared this book, some of the children shared when they have felt upset or surprised, which helps them understand these feeling words and their own feelings more deeply. Using specific words for feelings helps develop your children's vocabulary.

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: There are many books that lend themselves to talking about feelings. Sometimes you may talk about feelings from the expression on a character's face in a picture, even if the feeling word is not mentioned in the text. When you read with your child, your child can share more than in a storytime group. I hope this week you will enjoy sharing feelings as you read together. I have a list of some feeling words to give you, to help bring them to mind. Sometimes it is hard to think of words for our feelings, other than the obvious ones like happy, sad, angry, surprised.
Words for Feelings handout

Food/Los alementos A Say & Play Bilingual book by Sterling Children's Books

Introduction: Our next book is a board book called Food or Los alimentos. Each page is a different photo to talk about with your child. [Read the book, talking about the pictures on each page. As you talk, be sure to demonstrate richness of language.] Here is a peach. Look there is a green leaf growing from the stem. Peaches are very delicious and quite juicy. They grow on trees in orchards. There are many different kinds of peaches. Some are whitish inside, some are yellow. I like the yellow ones better.
Early Literacy Aside: Example--For simple books with just a word or two on a page, we can point to the picture and say what it is, and then expand on the picture, give some more information, or even tell a little story about it. This allows your baby or toddler to hear many new words. YOU are the one giving your child that rich language which will help him/her understand more easily when learning to read. It seems hard to believe, but it starts when they are so young because their brains are programmed to pick up language.


Solomon Crocodile by Catherine Rayner

Introduction: Our next book is about a crocodile who is trying to have some fun and in the process is stirring up a big ruckus!Early Literacy Aside--Example: Adults, listen to the many interesting words that children may not hear in everyday conversation. You'll see that I will actually talk about a couple of the words. This is a good way to build your children's vocabulary in a gentle way.

Read the book. [You can see there are many synonyms such as a pest, a nuisance, a pain and several interesting verbs such as stalk, splat, croak, squawk, spies, charges. Choose one or two to talk about.]

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Children learn through repetition. So, reading a story such as Solomon Crocodile over several days or weeks will help them understand the story better. They may become so familiar with it that they join in with the words in the book. And you may find that they use some of those interesting words in other situations. You can too. The best way to learn new words is not from lists of words with definitions, but from using the words in different situations when appropriate.

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.

17 Kings and 42 Elephants by Margaret Mahy

Introduction: Our next book is 17 Kings and 42 Elephants written by Margaret Mahy and illustrated by Patricia MacCarthy. Now we will take a journey into the jungle without even leaving the story room.  In this story there are some nonsense words—that means they are not real words, but are made-up words.  Listen carefully to try to figure out which are the nonsense words, but don’t tell.
Read the book. Go through the book and tell which are the nonsense words.  Ask the children what they think a couple of the nonsense words might mean. Talk about one of the real words and its meaning.
Early Literacy Aside--Example: Talking about specific meanings of words strengthens your children's vocabulary which will help them understand what they later will read. Often times children have a general idea of what words mean but that benefit from an actual explanation. No need to do that with every unfamiliar word! Just pick out one or two or ask your child to pick out a word that sounds interesting and talk about its meaning. For a sound clip 17 Kings & 42 Elephants of an excerpt from the book said in a mesmerizing chant by Amy Alapati Submitted by Amy Alapati, Montgomery County (MD) Public Libraries engaging rhythm

Elmer by David McKee Craft

Extension Activity: Elmer PuppetHand out elephant cut outs on white card stock and colorful construction paper squares to glue to the elephant or crayons to color the elephant. They then glue a popsicle stick to the back. Encourage children to describe what they made and to retell the story using their puppet. Adults with babies can make a colorful elephant to move in front of their babies’ eyes and talk about the shapes and colors.

Early Literacy Aside--Empower: Adults as you play with your children or make crafts with them, try to use a word they are less familiar with. Children learn words best through their experiences, not by memorizing words. You might use less familiar words for colors, like fuschia or magenta, or perhaps the way the elephant is walking, lumbering slowly along. You have many opportunities throughout the day to build your children’s vocabulary. It is these little things you do over and over again that make a difference.

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

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.

Five Scrumptious Cookies

We sing this song after reading Wolf's Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza. The first time you come to the word scrumptious, add the words delicious or yummy. [If you prefer you can tlak about the word scrumptious before starting the book.]Early Literacy Aside--Example: When a book has a word that is unfamiliar to your child, this is a great opportunity to build vocabulary. Don't replace the word with a simpler one, just explain it briefly. Books have rich language, more unusual words than we use in daily conversation. Five Scrumptious Cookies Five scrumptious cookies in the baker’s shop Big and round with some sugar on top Along came a boy with a penny to pay Who bought a scrumptious cookie and took it away.

Four scrumptious cookies . . . Three scrumptious cookies . . . Two scrumptious cookies . . . One scrumptious cookie . . . No scrumptious cookies . . . Big and round with some sugar on top No one came with a penny to pay. So close the baker’s shop and have a baking day.