Tuesday, February 16, 2016

I Love My Library: Magic at Skyway Library

This week I did my first Sing With Our Kids event at the brand new Skyway Library (part of the King County Library System). With my new partnership agreement in place and a plan to hold family sing-alongs every second Friday at four o’clock for the next few months, we were off and running. My plan is to listen, and watch, and learn from this very diverse community, as I build on what I have learned during the last four years of the Mercer Island Project. Boy was I in for a surprise!

When I arrived to set up for our first sing-along (advertised for families with young children), there was a group of teens hanging out in the meeting room and on their mobile devices. We told them there would be a children’s program starting soon, expecting they would leave. But they stayed. Only a couple of families arrived for my event, so we just settled in on the opposite side of the room and began singing. I could see a couple of the teens starting to mimic me, so I invited them to join us (again, thinking they would just leave). To my surprise, most took me up on the offer!  I pulled out some all-age camp songs, and read a couple of books I had brought, Don’t Squish the Sasquatch, and Tanka, Tanka, Skunk. Both are great read-alouds that are smart and clever and amusing, and appeal to all ages.

Then I decided to really go for it. I asked the teens if they wanted to “help” with the parachute. One asked, “Do we get to sing Ring Around the Rosy?” and another asked if they could run under it. We played and sang for an hour, and the little kids watched the teens and everyone just had fun.

When everyone had left, Mary the librarian and I looked at each other and just said, “Wow!” That was not what we had expected! These teens were hungry to play, and all it took was an invitation.

I love the library because it is safe and welcoming, and anything can happen. You just never know. And now as I look forward to building a relationship with Skyway through Sing With Our Kids, I find  myself dreaming not only of nurturing early literacy and parenting, but of holding events that include all ages. After all, music is the great connector, and anything can and does happen at the public library. You just never know. 

Monday, October 5, 2015

I Love My Library! Blog Series: Sno-Isle Libraries Rock!

Every fall Sno-Isle Libraries host their "Read and Rock"concerts series for children under five and their caregivers. This is a great example of what libraries provide that you won't find anyplace else- free concerts for young children, mixed with important information delivered in a fun way, and tons of books to take home afterwards- also free! The library is such a welcoming and comfortable setting for young children, and a great place for them to practice socializing and building social skills- not to mention LIVE music perfect for dancing and wiggling! Does it get any better? But don't worry if you don't live in the area, the Sno-Isle Library website is also one of the best resources for learning how to help your children get ready to read. With beautifully produced short videos that explain all about early literacy, to short colorful book lists and ideas for activities to do with your child. Great job, Sno-Isle! And the best part is, you only need an Internet connection to use and enjoy these resources. So click on the link NOW, http://sno-isle.org/kids/ready-readers
 and go see for yourself! Then, if you live in the Seattle area, come see me at one of my concerts during the next few weeks.  

   Arlington Library: 
  10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7

   Mill Creek Library: 
   9:30 a.m. Friday, Oct. 9

   Mountlake Terrace Library: 
   10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21

   Hand-in-Hand Head Start: 
  1 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

I Love My Library! Blog Series: Books.. no really, BOOKS!


The incredible journey of the humble library book


The book pictured above is a title I checked out from my library every year, starting in 1984 or so, when I first began singing with children. It's the most amazing book, and I found myself coming back to it again and again for its practical wisdom, the science behind singing to babies, and great song collection. Remember- this was around 1984 ( I know, some of you weren't even born yet- but stay with me). The last time I checked it out I noticed it hadn't been checked out in quite a while. I knew this because it had a library pocket inside with the most recent checkout dates. I briefly thought about "losing" the book, and just paying the replacement cost. But yes, I have a conscience, so I dutifully returned it to the Kirkland Library. 


The Internet was born! And suddenly we could buy out- of-print and long-forgotten books. I wondered... I did a search and voila! My book was available for purchase! When it arrived a few days later I was stunned to see it was the very same book I had been checking out for years! It had been weeded from the stacks, and sold online by the library. Since then, most of the wonderful out of print books I've been able to locate for my Sing With Our Kids Project started out as library books. 

You may not know that the average shelf life of a book in a retail store is six months. That's brutal but necessary due to the countless new books competing for shelf space every day. But your public library has lots and lots of out of print books, and they are free to borrow! Just let that sink in... amazing

And when your favorite book disappears from even the library, here's my great tip. Go to Bookfinder.com . It is the only website you will ever need to purchase books online. It aggregates books from all over the United States and the United Kingdom, both new and used, and states the condition, let's you compare prices, and purchase. I'm telling you it's the best thing since... well, the library! And who knows, when you go there and find a favorite book from your childhood, you might also find it's the very same one you checked out for free from you local library! 

Monday, August 24, 2015

I Love my Library! Blog Series: Books to Grow On; check out these theme kits!

If you are a teacher, care provider, parent or grandparent, you have to check these out! 

Books to Grow on Kits  

What are they? Theme-based kits that include books as well as other related contents, like puppets, adult resource books, CD's and videos, puzzles, toys, patterns, finger plays, and other activities. So basically- everything you need to explore topics your children are interested in, or which you are going to use as part of your curriculum. Here are my tips for making the most of this incredible resource (which has been lovingly assembled by children's librarians who know what you need!). 

2. Select a theme from the drop-down box. When you click on it, it will show you everything that  comes in the kit. 
3. Additional menu items tell you how to check out the kits (They are kept at the service center, so you will place a hold on one and have it sent to your library).

Nifty Tip: As I already noted, when you click on a kit you will see a printable PDF file that has all of the kit contents listed, as well as finger plays and activities. So even if a kit is checked out, you can build your own from books on the library shelves. This is actually the resource I have used the most. Just print out the list and use it to find books on the shelves, and you can use the finger plays and activities on the printable sheet. All the organizational work has been done for you. It's a win win! AND- you can use the printable list with activities no matter where you live or whether or not you have a library card.

Grandparents: This is a great resource for you if you have visiting grandchildren. Find out what they are interested in, and order the kit ahead of time. 

Many library systems have their own version of these kits, so be sure to ask your children's librarian if yours does! 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

I Love My Library! Blog Series: Easy Way to Find Picture Books to Read and Sing!

I confess, I'm so excited about this new feature at my library that it was the original reason I wanted to start this series. I have always loved using "books that sing," (picture books based on songs), and I've always been frustrated that there wasn't any easy way to locate them in either libraries or book stores. You either had to know about them or stumble across them at the library. But now I can swoop into our children's section and snatch up a dozen books in seconds! My library, and soon all of our King County Libraries, will have books with simple colored labels on the spine indicating general topics kids like. My favorite category is, of course, "Songs and Rhymes." But there are so many others, like "bedtime," "things that go," and "our world." You can just pick up a bookmark to see the categories and you too can snatch up a bunch of books! And because the stickers are different colors, kids who can't read can also locate books on their favorite topics all by themselves!

Is your library doing something like this? I would love to hear! When I started Sing With Our Kids our local book store began shelving all the "read and sing books" together and that's been fantastic (and expensive!). For more information on using and locating books that sing, go to my website and you'll find lots of titles and great information! http://singwithourkids.com/bookshelf.htm 

Happy finding, reading, and singing!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

I Love My Library! Blog Serices: KCLS Tell Me a Story; Fantastic Free Resource (and best kept secret on how to use it!)

Tell Me a Story is an ENORMOUS collection of finger plays and songs our librarians use in their story times (King County Library System). They began in 2008 and are adding new ones all the time.There are hundreds of great songs and finger plays, even in different languages. Many, but not all have videos you can watch to learn hand motions and movement. I don't know about you, but I ALWAYS want to see a video when I'm looking for a new finger play or song. Unfortunately, there is no way to tell by looking at the master list which have videos and which don't. So how do you find only the finger plays and songs that have videos?  

Read below for the best kept secret- how to find ALL the videos in one place!

Go to the Tell Me a Story Page ( here is the link http://tmas.kcls.org/  )
Don't forget to bookmark it! 

  • In the categories list on the right, select "videos." This will now bring up a list of categories that are ALL videos!
  • If you look at a video and want to go back to the list of videos only, be sure to hit your back button or you'll be taken back to the main categories page, not the videos. 
  • If you want to find some of the archived videos, click on a year (archived years are at the bottom of the list). 
  • Now, once again, select "videos" from the categories list. 
This may sound a bit complicated, but once you've done it it will make sense and you'll be on your way!

I was so excited when I discovered how to find only the videos, because for these songs you really want to see the movement and hand motions, or how a librarian used puppets and props. Of course if you're just looking for words, you can work from the general list. Some will have videos, and some won't. Our librarians keep working to add videos to all of the songs and finger plays. But until they are done, you now have a way to locate those wonderful how-to videos!

So try this out and let me know how you like it. Remember, it's FREE and anyone with an Internet connection can use it. 


Finger Plays are great for fine motor skills and vocabulary! 

Does your library offer something you want people to know about? Let me know and I'll help spread the word!



Sunday, August 9, 2015

I Love My Library Blog Series: KCLS provides Lynda.com for free!

Welcome to my first post of  "I Love My Library!"

I am in libraries all the time, either doing shows, or checking out books for myself, or my five grandchildren. I am constantly amazed by two things. One: the new services both on and offline libraries are adding every day, and two: number of people I talk to who are totally unaware of the these incredible resources. So I am starting this series to share those resources with you because when you're really excited about something, you want everyone to know about it! And in this day and age when everyone is trying to juggle every minute and stretch every dollar, the library has endless ways to accomplish both. Most of these posts will be related to using the library with children, but I couldn't resist sharing this first one.

Lynda.com for free!

Lynda.com, if you don't know about it, is an amazing online video training service. So let's say you want to know how to use Word, or Windows 8, or Garageband. Or you want information on... how to find information! The scope of topics is relevant and extensive. You go to Lynda.com. and put in your search request. You will be presented with list of short video tutorials. And that's what makes this service so great. Pick a short tutorial you can easily digest (well-done and easy to follow), and what seemed like a monumental task (learning a new program) is broken into digestible bites that you can actually fit into your already-full day. You can view them on any device, so if you're stuck in a line somewhere, pull out your smartphone and learn something! It's brilliant, and effective. 

Lynda.com is a subscription service costing between $20-$35 a month- and well worth every penny if you use it.  At my library, KCLS, it's free as part of my library account!  Okay, so that's the catch. You have to be a King County Library cardholder. But there are many of you reading this, and you should know about it. Like many library resources, it can be hard to find. So here's how to access it:

Either click on the link or follow direction below (you'll have to enter your library card and  pin numbers) and don't forget to bookmark it!

or follow these directions to get there: 

KCLS library card holders-
1. Go to KCLS.org
2 From homepage, click on "Learning and Research" page (gray box below homepage heading)
3. From drop-down menu, click on "premium data bases." 
4. Select "browse an alphabetical list", and select "L"
5. scroll down blue headings to "Lynda.com" and click on it. 
6. Now you'll have to put in your library cadrd number and pin
7. Ta-da! You now have free access to an amazing library of short professional video tutorials. 
8. Share with other KCLS library users you know!

Note: The library pays A LOT to provide this service for us, and if we don't use it, they will likley drop it. So DO share it with your friends!

Now I have to go. I'm going to finally learn how to use Photoshop Elements to create photos for my Sing With Our Kids Facebook page!