Birth to Six
Baby, it's cold outside!
Cover Art Now is the perfect time to cozy up with these winter-weather books from the Snowy Day book list created by Jane B.! You can share your favorites for cuddle time, or any time, by creating your own book list.
posted Dec 31, 2013 by Amy L.

Winter is the season for young scientists
Cover Art Today in Family Storytime we read the ultimate book for young scientists as they learn how to make predictions: The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats. Preschoolers are so proud of how they know what will happen to Peter's snowball when he brings it into his warm house. For the past few years we've made the experience richer by gathering our own snowball from outside. Then we keep it in a bowl in our own warm library and watch what happens as the time progresses. Kids can predict how long it will take for their snowball to melt, and whether it will take a big snowball more or less time to melt than a little one. Try it at home, and while you're at it, check out these other great Science and Nature Books.
posted Dec 16, 2013 by Lisa S.

Read together
Cover Art Cold weather is upon us and with it, more time indoors for the foreseeable future. Sure, there are movies and video games for distraction, but why not take this time of year to establish family storytime? Reading aloud to your child improves her vocabulary, comprehension and interest in lifelong learning; it also creates a special bond between the two (or more!) of you. Check out our list of Family Read-Alouds for great titles to share and enjoy books to warm your soul during the frigid winter months.
posted Dec 9, 2013 by Anne P.

New picture books
Cover Art Don't miss our list of selected New Picture Books. Every two months we update the list with some of the most appealing, eye-catching, and charming books that we have added to our collection.
posted Dec 6, 2013 by Amy L.

Holiday time is gather in the kitchen time
Cover Art Holiday cooking and baking can be a lesson in patience for parents of young children. To make it more fun and less stressful, here are two divergent approaches:

First, bring out the distractions. When you really need to get that roast in the oven but your toddler really needs to be in the room with you: you can set up a "kitchen" for him. Put a bunch of raw kidney beans in a big pot on the floor. Give him wooden spoons and measuring cups and let him "cook" alongside you. This sensory experience is usually so tantalizing to kids that you won't have to worry about him getting too close to the open oven door.

Second, let them be your sous chef. This technique is not for the faint of heart. Everything you do will take twice as long and create a bigger mess. But it expands your child's background knowledge and vocabulary. Toddlers and preschoolers can wash vegetables, measure flour, whisk batter, and knead bread.
posted Nov 21, 2013 by Lisa S.

Thanksgiving time
Cover Art As you and your children get ready to spend special time with family and friends, it's a great opportunity to talk about what you are thankful for. In addition to all the charming holiday books the library has about Thanksgiving, you can find great books to spark conversation on the Giving Thanks book list. And of course, many of us are looking foward to the chance to enjoy some of our favorite foods this holiday season. The books on the Yum, Yum! list are all about food, glorious food (for adventurous and picky eaters!)
posted Nov 20, 2013 by Amy L.

Finding the right book
Cover Art Finding the right picture book for your toddler can seem overwhelming, whether browsing the shelves at your local library or trying to search the catalog for a story about a certain topic. When you can't make it into your library to ask for a recommendation in person, check out Star Books on the Birth to Six webpage.

With over 800 annotated reviews from Hennepin County librarians, you are sure to find picture books that stimulate your child's imagination and love for reading. But more than that, you can also search for a certain word to find related books. For example, by typing "cats" into the search box, we get 18 entries that have to do with cats and reflect librarian favorites on this popular subject.

Check out the Star Books page for yourself and enjoy the wealth of knowledge within!
posted Nov 11, 2013 by Anne P.

Celebrate the cultures of the first Americans
Cover Art National American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month takes place each November. Colorín Colorado, has a list of games, books, activities, and other resources to salute the rich history and culture of the American Indian tribes.
posted Nov 5, 2013 by Amy L.

Can you hop on one foot? Getting ready for K
Cover Art One of our goals at the Library is to help parents get their children ready for kindergarten. If you have a child who is three years old, now is the perfect time to find out how your child is doing. Here are three things you can do. First, contact your school district for a free Early Childhood Screening. Second, contact your medical clinic for a check-up. And finally, visit the “Ready…Set…Grow” learning readiness website.

I remember being a bit nervous when it was our turn, but in the end it was really fun. When my daughter had her screening, she found out she couldn’t hop on one foot five times. She practiced and practiced, and I am proud to say (and so is she) that she can hop and hop until the sun goes down.
posted Oct 28, 2013 by Larry Longard

Fall: when children turn into storytellers
Cover Art Fall is the perfect time to listen to your child weave stories about the world around them. Reading success begins with narrative skills—the ability to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. Today at storytime the children were telling me all about what happens to leaves in the fall. They get so excited to tell the whole story! And after the fall leaves story, you can ask them about pumpkins. How does a pumpkin become a jack-o-lantern? Whether your family celebrates Halloween or not, kids will be noticing jack-o-lanterns on porches soon. What's the beginning-middle-and-end to their story? Check out these Falling for Fall books to get your storyteller started!
posted Oct 21, 2013 by Lisa S.

Nothing more than feelings
Cover Art Feelings can be hard for young children to understand, but the charming books on our Feelings list can help! Use these book to help children talk about their feelings and to develop empathy with others.
posted Oct 18, 2013 by Amy L.

Play together: The Five B’s
Many toy manufacturers advertise the developmental benefits of their products. While there are many fine educational toys out there, our ECFE teacher has broken it down to The Five B’s. These are the best toys around. Ready for it? Balls, Books, Babies (ie. dolls), Blocks, and Big Movement (running and jumping, etc.). She is considering adding a sixth B: The Big Outdoors. An added bonus for the DIY crowd is that each of these things can be made at home from various materials.
posted Oct 1, 2013 by Larry L.

Talk together, and take a breath
Cover Art Today in Storytime I shared one of my favorite tips for talking with young children. It's one I wish I had known when my own kids were young. When you ask a kid a question, it often will take him or her a full five seconds to take in the question, formulate a response, and say it. So often us adults ask question after question, thinking that we're just not asking the one that will inspire a reply. When really what we should be doing is being quiet already. So next time, take a breath and wait five seconds.
You might be amazed by what you hear.
posted Sep 23, 2013 by Lisa S.

New picture books
Cover Art Don't miss our list of selected New Picture Books. Every two months we update the list with some of the most appealing, eye-catching, and charming books that we have added to our collection.
posted Sep 10, 2013 by Amy L.

Comics-style picture books: Starting them young
Cover Art Each year I take my daughters to Free Comic Book Day, but it's often difficult to find something in the free stacks that is age-appropriate. Luckily for me, and for you if you want to pass on your love of Zap...Kaplowie...Zoom, there are picture book artists who share our desire.

Check out Toon Books, written by new and established comics artists such as Art Spiegelman. Other great picture books with word bubbles include the Pigeon or Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems, the 2011 Caldecott Honor Book Interrupting Chicken, and the Balloon Toons books.
posted Aug 26, 2013 by Larry Longard

Graduating from storytime
Cover Art Our last Family Storytime of the summer became an impromptu graduation party for our regulars who won't be with us in the Fall. These proud kids will be heading off to Kindergarten and so won't be able to attend Friday morning storytimes any longer. But if they started looking sad about that, we reminded them-- we'll see them when they have the day off school. And, even better, in Kindergarten it's storytime every single day! We also read a few books to get in the Back to School spirit. You can too. Find them on our School book list. And go buy that backpack.
posted Aug 21, 2013 by Lisa S.

Getting ready for school
Cover Art The first day of school is mere weeks away and the library is here with quality book recommendations to get a head start. For the preschool set, librarians have put together lists to help your child build skills she will use in school, such as identifying colors, numbers, and letters. Check out our Birth to Six page for other lists that enhance literacy and a encourage a lifelong love of reading.
posted Aug 12, 2013 by Anne P.

Community Helpers and Classroom Readalouds
Cover Art Do you know about Hennepin County Library's Book Lists page for young children and their caregivers? Youth Services Librarians gather titles we feel are the best for various circumstances.

We have a few new lists, including Classroom Read-Alouds, for parents called upon to read a winning book to your child's preschool to grade 1 classroom.

There is also a list that has been remamed and revamped called Community Helpers, which is useful for the preschool classroom that is preparing for a visit to the fire station, police station, etc.

Check out these and all of our book lists on the Birth to Six web page.
posted Jul 29, 2013 by Larry Longard

What are the best apps?
If you choose to use apps with your children, deciding which ones to use can be overwhelming. Common Sense Media is a trusted source that reviews many apps for children of different ages. They even have a free app that you can download to get ratings and reviews of apps, movies, TV shows and more.
posted Jul 25, 2013 by Amy L.

How do I find Dora?
Cover Art Is your child a Dora the Explorer fanatic? If so, you've probably noticed that the Dora books are not in one place and, as a result, they're pretty hard to track down! How can you search the catalog to find Dora?

On the catalog homepage, you will type in the keyword search box (second box down) instead of the "starts with" box. Type in Dora the Explorer. When you get to the results page, you will see all kinds of materials related to Dora. Items with the dark blue dot are checked in at your home library. You can learn more about each item by clicking on the title.

Still confused? Ask your local librarian! He or she can show you step by step how to search the catalog for Dora, Thomas the Tank Engine and other popular characters.
posted Jul 15, 2013 by Anne P.

A field trip through books
Cover Art Everyone likes to make summer reading lists, including National Public Radio. Recently, NPR contributor Mara Alpert shared a list of books that will send kids exploring. These engaging picture books will inspire young children's imagination and encourage them to be curious about the world around them. Make sure to ask children lots of questions as you share these books together. Visit NPR's website to see the complete list.
posted Jul 9, 2013 by Amy L.

Shake, rattle, and roll
Cover Art All the rain this spring has made it difficult to get out and get some exercise, and it's not doing our waistlines or energy levels any good. So we've decided to incorporate a little more exercise into our daily routine. To keep our little jazzercisers interested, we've been looking at the library for some good get-up-and-move music.
Most recently we've checked out Lisa Loeb's Songs for Movin' and Shakin'. Other great action songs for kids can be found on library CD's from Laurie Berkner, MacPhail Center for Music, and the Teddy Bear Band, and so many others. And our all-time favorite dance number is Cake's version of the Mahna Mahna song (yes from the Muppets) on For the Kids.
Got your music? Okay, now let's work it. One and two and three and four; one and two and...
posted Jul 1, 2013 by Larry Longard

Award-winning read aloud book
Cover Art The Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award was recently awarded to Silly Doggy! by Adam Stower. What makes a good picture book for reading aloud? Here are a few of the tips offered by the award committee. The book should be:
*include rhythm, rhyme, and repeated phrases
*include engaging characters
*tell a good story!
Find out more about the Read Aloud award and discover past winners.
posted Jun 25, 2013 by Amy L.

Cure for the summertime blues
Looking for fun activities in your community this summer? Libraries across Hennepin County are offering storytimes for babies, toddlers and families, as well as a host of other interactive and engaging programs for the whole family. Check out events online or pick up a programming guide at your local library.
posted Jun 17, 2013 by Anne P.

Trailers for Minnesota picture books
Cover Art Planning a summer trip to the zoo? Why not enjoy the short and charming video for My Heart Is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall? You can find book trailers for more favorites by Minnesota authors at the Children's Literature Network. Other titles include Can't Sleep Without Sheep and Swirl by Swirl.
posted Jun 13, 2013 by Amy L.

Parents as digital "media mentors"
Many experts agree that the best technology experiences for children include active participation with adults. Reading Rockets provides great tips on how you can connect with your children while they use technology. Apps and websites can provide a good early literacy boost by exposing children to new words and helping them learn about topics they are interested in. Check out Reading Rockets' guide to Educational Literacy Apps for specific recommendations for the top apps that promote early literacy skills including phonics and print awareness. For more information on how to enjoy technology with young children in ways that promote early literacy, visit our Tech Together page on Birth to Six.
posted Jun 4, 2013 by Amy L.

How do you talk about that?
Cover Art This last week we had a tragedy in our neighborhood in which two school children lost their lives. At home we had some talks about it, and as usual I found myself wondering how much information is too much, and how much is just right. Some advice I've received and take to heart is that if you spend time talking about difficult things before they happen, your child will likely be better able to cope when they need it.

Often the first opportunity to talk about losing someone you love is the loss of a pet, as was the case in our house. Look for our book lists on the Birth to Six website for Helping Kids Cope, including one for coping with dying.
posted May 28, 2013 by Larry Longard

Princess boys and dinosaur girls
Cover Art A girl walked into the library the other day and exclaimed, "They put out the dinosaurs! Just for me!" A boy walked into the library a few weeks ago, made a bee-line for the dress-up clothes, and decked himself out in full gown and crown. Absolutely fabulous! At the library we love to help kids explore every dimension of their personality, and we especially love it when the library feels like it's just for them. Because, they're right! We hope you'll check out the play spaces at many of our libraries, and let your children fit right in. And of course, we have lots of delightful picture books about princesses and dinosaurs for all!
posted May 20, 2013 by Lisa S.

ELSIE gets a makeover!
Cover Art Over 10 years and 800 books strong, the very popular ELSIE page has gotten a makeover along with a new name: Star Books. If this is the first you're hearing of ELSIE, it is a collection of picture book reviews by Youth Services librarians. We've selected books that have something special to offer young readers, whether for their renowned writer, delightful rhyming text, or bright, colorful pictures. These are books that will get your child excited about reading and build early literacy skills to make reading a lifelong joy. Find your child's new favorite books at Star Books!
posted May 13, 2013 by Anne P.

Just add water
Cover Art My daughter recently received her first Lego set as a gift, complete with directions that were a little advanced for her. However, she was so excited, we worked our way through them, and by the end she was understanding how things worked. Imagine my surprise when I found that IKEA directions and Lego directions are very similar. So she's now built her first bed frame (with a little help). While there aren't any words, there are sequential and spatial skills that may be developed.

Carry that into the kitchen where we enjoy cooking together. Recipes (another form of directions) are also great for building reading and logic skills. And what about those directions I printed offline to find my way to a play date? All around me I'm finding opportunities to learn and explore together.
posted Apr 29, 2013 by Larry Longard

What's new in children's picture books?
Cover Art Don't miss our list of selected New Picture Books. Every two months we update the list with some of the most appealing, eye-catching, and charming books that we have added to our collection.
posted Apr 22, 2013 by Amy L.

How to Choose
Cover Art Whether you're a brand new parent or a seasoned picture-book reader, the rows and rows of easy fiction at your local library can seem overwhelming. How do you know if a book will be beneficial as well as fun for your little one? What features make a picture book stand out?

We've put together a list of types of books we think are especially valuable for young readers, from textures to concepts. Use these recommendations as an easy guideline for finding enjoyable and educational picks. And check out our outside link for other great information on choosing picture books for your child.
posted Apr 15, 2013 by Anne P.

Welcome to the new Birth to Six!
Notice anything new? We've updated Birth to Six to make it easier to discover how to Talk, Sing, Read, Write and Play Together with children to help them get ready to read. We've also added a new Tech Together page that offers resources for adults about technology and digital media for young children, and redesigned our Stories and Games page. Of course you will still find all our great book lists and information on Storytimes. Please explore our new site and let us know if you have any comments and feedback.
posted Apr 9, 2013 by Amy L.

Happy Birthday, Pigeon!
Cover Art The pigeon in the beloved books by Mo Willems has been asking to drive the bus for ten years! Celebrate the pigeon's antics with the Actvity Kit that includes coloring sheets and instructions for drawing pigeon.
posted Apr 4, 2013 by Amy L.

Help your child learn how to learn
Cover Art Learning about the world helps children get ready to read. Children are naturally curious, so encourage your child to ask questions. Talk about possible answers and look for answers together. Our libraries are full of engaging and richly illustrated nonfiction books, such as the ones featured on the Science and Nature book list, for young learners. Ask Us to help you find books on whatever subjects your child is curious about.
posted Mar 19, 2013 by Amy L.

Process not Product
Some time ago, an art instructor visited the ECFE class my daughter and I attend. One of the things she said that struck me is to focus on what your child is experiencing, not what they come up with. Instead of saying, "What did you draw? Is it a tree?" we might say, "How did you make such thick lines there? How do you make thin lines?"

The same goes for reading. Don't worry about getting to the end of the story without interuption. Instead follow your child's lead. Perhaps you will skip portions of the book or even turn back a few pages. Maybe you will stop halfway through and go do something else. Maybe you will even spend the entire time looking at a single page.

The main point is to make the reading experience a positive one. Someday, when your child is struggling with learning to read, it is the positive memories that will help her to work hard to overcome the obstacles to reading.
posted Mar 18, 2013 by Larry Longard

Sing a song!
Cover Art Literacy begins earlier than you might think. From the time they're born, children watch, listen and learn based on the myriad stimuli around them. Books are a great literacy tool, of course, but another means of learning is through songs and fingerplays. As children hear the rhyming words and follow the vocal patterns, language becomes more accessible, not to mention fun!

Don't know where to find these tools? Check out our page of fingerplays and songs and watch librarians demonstrate the motions. You can try these out in a waiting room, in line at the grocery store, during car trips or during your own storytimes at home. You'll be amazed how quickly your child learns, remembers and loves these little treasures.
posted Mar 11, 2013 by Anne Pederson

Sharing eBooks with children
Cover Art Did you know that many picture books, including new and classic titles, are available as eBooks from the library? Just like with traditional print books, the best thing about eBooks is sharing them with children and reading them together as an interactive experience. Reading Rockets offers more tips on making the most of eBooks for children.
posted Mar 8, 2013 by Amy L.

"I used the potty!"
Cover Art I was at a restaurant recently and heard a child loudly exclaim, "I peed in the potty!" While his mom shushed him, a few of us strangers congratulated him. Because, it takes a village to raise a toilet-trained child, right? It brought me right back to the time my two year old son carried his potty chair into the living room while we were having a party. He apparently wanted an audience for his latest accomplishment. Books can often make a big difference as kids make this important transition to independence. But they can be hard to find in the library. Some are shelved with the picture books, while others are in the easy non-fiction area. That's why I love to show parents our potty-training booklist. These are all of our favorites, from our village to yours.
posted Feb 25, 2013 by Lisa S.

Literacy-building in the produce aisle
Cover Art If your house is like mine, trips to the grocery store with small children can be an adventure, sometimes in good ways, sometimes not. Here are some activities that can take some of the stress out of this task and build early-literacy skills at the same time.

Cut out pictures of some of the things you will be buying, and have your toddlers make a colorful grocery list. You can write the names of the items next to the grocery list.

If your preschoolers or kindergartners are learning to write letters, help them to write out the list for the day.

As you put the items into the shopping cart, allow your children to be the keepers of the list. Let them check off the items and add new items that are not on the list.

And as always have a couple of books handy to read together while waiting in the checkout line.
posted Feb 19, 2013 by Larry Longard

The slow march to Spring
Cover Art Today our library's storytime was all about water in its various forms: how ice and snow melt when it's warm and how water freezes when it's cold. Young children have a lot to say about these processes. They love to become young scientists by predicting and experimenting. What will the duck do when she arrives before Spring? What will happen to Peter's snowball when he brings it into his warm house? We set out a bowl of snow and some ice cubes in a separate dish and watched what happened to them in the course of the storytime. Parents left inspired to try it at home. A bowl of snow on a table can be a great avenue for conversation. And research shows that just such experiences build background knowledge-- a key skill used when children are learning to read.
posted Feb 15, 2013 by Lisa S.

February newsletter
Cover Art Have you read our latest issue of the Birth to Six newsletter yet? Our bi-monthly newsletter is full of fun ideas for picture books and fingerplays to share with your children.
posted Feb 11, 2013 by Amy L.

Shake your sillies out!
Cover Art In the midst of sub-zero temperatures, it's cabin fever time in Minnesota and we have the just the books to ease the pain! Our collection of Silly Stories are filled with engaging wordplay, fun movement and wacky characters to brighten even the grayest day.
posted Feb 4, 2013 by Anne P.

Onomatopoeia aka BLIRRRRRK
Cover Art The other day I tried to explain to my daughter what onomatopoeia is. You know, it's when a word is created to imitate a sound. (Remember the old expert, Batman? BAM, KAPOW, ZOWIE). Here are three ways you can use onomatopoeia to build literacy:
1. Ham it up! Like rhyming words and animal noises, words like 'PLOP' and 'SNAP' may be exaggerated to highlight the smaller sounds within them.
2. Try to think of examples of onomatopoeia together.
3. Make up your own words together (ie. I was jumping on the bed and PLOOFED onto the pillow).
The book that caused us to begin talking about onomatopoeia is Listen to My Trumpet by Mo Willems. Just see how many ways the author can mimic the sound of a trumpet.
posted Jan 28, 2013 by Larry Longard

Help for your new reader
Cover Art If you have a new reader at home you know how difficult it can be to find books for her. Finding a level that is challenging but not overwhelming can be a daunting task. Add to this the fact that a Level One in one publisher's series can vary wildly than a Level One in a different series. School systems use different systems for defining a reading level as well-- the Fountas & Pinnell or the Lexile level are examples. Luckily, help is here! We have booklists for children who are learning to read that will take your reader step by step. The booklists include Starting to Read, First Easy Reader, and Advanced Easy Reader. And your local youth services librarian will love the challenge of helping your child find the best next book for him-- at the right level and on the topic or storyline that will inspire him to take the plunge. Believe me, this is the kind of challenge we librarians live for!
posted Jan 22, 2013 by Lisa S.

Guide to apps for children
Feeling confused about choosing apps for your children? Common Sense Media's Essential Apps for Kids and Teens can help! This comprehensive guide allows you to search by device and age-group, including preschool children.
posted Jan 14, 2013 by Amy L.

Librarian favorites of 2012
Cover Art At the start of this new year, it's fun to take a moment to appreciate our Favorite Picture Books of 2012. These books were chosen by librarians who create our Birth to Six book lists. How many of these delightful books have you enjoyed with a child?
posted Jan 7, 2013 by Amy L.

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