Singing is fun but research has found that it is more than just that; it is also good for your health, lowering stress and releasing endorphins that create a feeling of pleasure. Singing with your children will make you happy regardless of your musical abilities. And there is even more reason to sing with them, it puts them on the road to reading success. How? Singing helps children, even ones who are very young, hear the sounds that make up words. Researchers call this phonological awareness. Being able to hear distinct sounds helps children recognize those sounds and syllables when they are learning how to read.
Oakland Public Library can help you find songs and make singing fun in several ways:
We have a collection of songbooks, many of which include the tune and lyrics in the back. You can find them in our nonfiction collections under the 782 call number. One of my favorites is The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort.
We also have collections of music CDs that you can borrow. They range from lullabies for babies to the Frozen soundtrack. Come and check them out!
Finally, we have a new music service, Freegal that lets you download and stream music from popular artists. For music especially created for kids, click on “genres” on the bar at the top of the page, and then select “Children’s Music.”
As always, all of these materials and services are free, so check them out and let your voices soar!
I recently returned from sweltering Las Vegas where the American Library Association Annual Convention was taking place. One of the programs I attended looked at whether or not the five activities developed by Every Child Ready to Read 2 - reading, singing, talking, writing and playing with children aged 0-5 had a statistical impact on that child's literacy levels. A research grant in Washington State looked at the literacy levels of kids who attended storytimes where those practices were modeled.
The results? Yes they do! Children who attended library storytimes that incorporated those activities did have higher literacy rates. Just another reason to come to the storytimes offered here at the library and practice these activities at home.
For more information about the study, check out: digitalyouth.ischool.uw.edu and click on the "Project Views" link.
To find our storytime schedule, check the OPL calendar: http://oaklandlibrary.org/events
Is your baby having trouble sleeping through the night? Is breastfeeding not going well? How and when do you introduce food to babies? What are the appropriate developmental stages babies go through and when should babies go through them? Can babies learn sign language? And, of course, a topic close to my heart, how do you read to a baby?
Raising a baby is hard work and we are here to help. Last month I highlighted some of the programs we offer babies and their families. This month, we look at some of the materials we offer. All of Oakland's libraries have parenting books, magazines and DVDs that can help you figure out how to best care for a baby and answer any questions you might have. In fact, we have parenting materials for all ages of children and all kinds of families. Just go to our home page at www.oaklandlibrary.org and key in your search topic or ask a librararian for help.
Here are some of our favorite parenting books about babies. What are some of yours?
The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep /Harvey Karp
Feeding the Whole Family/Cynthia Lair
The Nursing Mother's Companion/Kathleen Huggins
The Read Aloud Handbook/Jim Trelease
What to Expect the First Year/ Heidi Murkoff et al.
My First Signs/Annie Kubler
Being a brand new parent is a joyous but sometimes scary event. After all, you have to pass a test to drive a car but no test is required to become a parent. You want to do your best for your baby and that best is probably pretty sleep deprived right now. But do not fear - the library is here to help you.
We offer baby storytimes every week. These lapsit storytimes, called "Baby Bounces" are 15- minutes long and filled with gentle rhymes, songs and movement that will start your baby on the path to reading. After each Baby Bounce, there is a play time with age-appropriate toys. This is a great chance to get out of the house, stimulate your baby's brain, meet other babies and their caregivers, share information, and make new friends. Check out our Baby Bounces at the following times and places:
- Dimond Library. 3565 Fruitvale Ave. Wed. @ 10:15 am
- Golden Gate Library. 5606 San Pablo Ave. Tues. @ 11:15 am
- Lakeview Library. 550 El Embarcadero Wed. @ 11:30 am
- Main Library Children's Room. 125 14th St. Tues. @ 10:15 am
- Montclair Library. 1687 Mountain Blvd. Thurs. @ 11:30 am
The skills needed to learn how to read and write are connected in children's brains. In order to ready your child for reading, try some of these easy and fun writing activities:
FOR BABIES: Of course your baby is not ready to read or write just yet, but learning to recognize shapes is the first step towards acquiring those skills. So point out different shapes you see and describe them to your child. Find things that are round, such as balls, and let your child explore them. Boxes are all around you; let your child play with a cardboard box and talk about squares and rectangles. Playing with simple shape and color puzzles will also help develop these skills.
FOR TODDLERS: Keep playing with shapes but also have fun introducing alphabet letters. Toddlers love hearing their names, Expand the sound of your toddler's name by writing it on all sorts of surfaces, on paper, with blocks or magnetic letters, on chalkboards or even with water. Identify each of the letters in their name.
Print is everywhere. Help your child notice alphabet letters by pointing out the names on food containers, words on road signs and names of stores. Point out letters to your toddler as you go through your day.
Let your toddler try writing! Scribbles are a great way of strengthening their fine motor skills. Fat crayons are great at helping them grip crayons without their breaking.
FOR PRESCHOOLERS: Play "I Spy" to find letters in the room. Silently choose something that your child can see. Say, "I spy with my little eye something that starts with the letter (name a letter) What is it?"
Play games like "We are going to a place to eat whose name begins with the letter "B." Where do you think we are going?"
Sing the alphabet song while pointing to the letters of the alphabet.
Writing can be done anywhere: in the sand or dirt, on a chalkboard, in a pan filled with rice or flour, with a piece of yarn, with blocks, and even in the tub. Make writing letters a game you play every day.
Babies LOVE gazing at faces. Parents and caregivers have always known this; brain research now backs it up as fact. Even the youngest of kiddos are hardwired to recognize faces, and will tend to look at pictures of faces longer than images of other objects.
Want to stimulate your baby's brains? Head on over to the library and find these board books featuring photographs of baby faces:
Baby Faces by Margaret Miller
Baby Food by Margaret Miller
Global Babies by The Global Fund for Children
I Love Colors by Margaret Miller
Shades of black: A celebration of our children / by Sandra L. Pinkney; photographs by Myles C. Pinkney
Smile! by Roberta Intrater
You are your child's first and best teacher. Sharing five ativities regularly - talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing - with him will prepare him for reading.
We now know that from the moment they are born, they are learning about the world around them, processing input, making hypotheses, and coming to conclusions. A baby's brain already weighs 25% of its adult weight; it has a lot of work to do!
It is never too soon to start talking with your child. As children hear spoken language, they learn new words and what they mean. They learn about the world around them and important general knowledge. Fifteen minute snippets of talking and listening while you are cooking, putting on makeup, driving, or gardening are as much as your child needs to start developing her vocabulary and understanding how language works, thereby getting her ready to read.