I love books! I always have, and I love sharing them with children. When I was a nanny one of my favorite activities was a trip to the library for storytime and a bag full of books to bring home.
Because we have another baby in our home we are not able to get out and about right now. And unfortunately our library is not within walking distance, so storytime is up to me!
Repetition is the key to learning, and little ones love to hear the same stories over and over so I will usually use the same five books for a whole week. If one is a favorite I will keep it in rotation longer.
I don’t mind if the babies crawl around and play during storytime, they are still listening and they always come close for the books they love. Having said that, I do have a few tricks for holding their attention. Besides the obvious, picking age appropriate books and reading animatedly, I like to alternate stories with songs, often tied together, to keep babies engaged. I use props when I can and lots of motions! (Recently I’ve been using ASL as much as possible for my motions and have learned a lot from Tiny Signs.)
So here is a run through of our autumn-themed storytime from this week to give you an example:
- I always begin with a gathering song. “Open Shut Them” is my favorite.
- “Peek-a Who” the babies love this one and I let each of them get a good look in the mirror at the end.
- This leads nicely into “One Little Owl” I used figures from our wooden forest animal set for this as well as the ASL sign for each animal.
- Next was “Leaves” a new favorite of mine. I used dried leaves we collected during an afternoon walk and dropped them carefully into my lap behind the book because babies grab things so quickly! (I’m thinking about getting some silk leaves so I can let the babies play with them.)
- So then I had the leaves ready to go for the rhyme “Five Little Leaves” which both delights and frustrates the babies as I whisk the leaves behind my back after letting them fall one by one. Seriously, I think I need to get those silk leaves!
- Quickly into “Fall” my little one’s favorite as she loves to feel the squirrel’s fur.
- When everyone is done touching I hold it open to the pumpkin page, bring out our mini pumpkin and sing “Five Little Pumpkins.” (I don’t like witches so we sing “there’s a shiver in the air” instead.)
- Next up, “The Busy Squirrel” I do the ASL sign for each animal. At the end I fall asleep too…
- And go right into “Hop Ol’ Squirrel” using my teeny beanie baby squirrel. (I have two complete sets of these and while they didn’t make me rich, they have been great fun for my little one.) I make the squirrel do all the actions I sing about, until he’s inevitably snatched by little hands for a snuggle.
- The final story is one sure to bring everyone back to the circle, “Baby Loves Fall!” The big flaps are just the right size for little fingers to lift and if I’m feeling particularly patient I will let everyone have a turn.
- The final song is “Dingle Dangle Scarecrow” which is short and sweet. I point at the scarecrow page from “Baby Loves Fall!” as I sing and shake my hands and feet like a scarecrow.
- Another round of “Open Shut Them” and then our stories end!
So not every storytime runs smoothly. This week we had one day where everyone pretty much engaged the whole time and we made it through all the stories. We have varying levels of success. But such is life. I just keep reading as much as possible.
How about you? Do you have any favorite fall books for little ones, or tips for story time with babies and toddlers? I’d love to know.
All the best,
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