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Meet the Parenting Collection

Parents and caregivers, let me introduce you to Youth Services’ new(ish) parenting collection!

Launched at the end of 2019, this collection contains materials for both children and adults on a range of family topics. You’ll find picture books for children about welcoming a new baby, potty training, adoption, divorce, and managing emotions. You’ll also find informational books for parents and caregivers of children ages 0-8 that focus on four main categories:

Click on the links above to see book suggestions in each of those categories.

Browse the whole parenting collection online, or visit the library in person during our appointment-free library service hours. Find our current schedule here.

Building Brains by Playing with Your Children

Parents, did you realize that children develop essential skills that help them learn how to read long before formal reading instruction begins? These are called early literacy skills, and they include vocabulary, print motivation, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills.

How do children gain these skills, exactly? The answer is simple. Through everyday nurturing interactions with you! When you talk, read, sing, and play with your children, you are helping them build these foundational skills, and you’re strengthening your bond with your child in the process. Win, win!

*This is the fourth post in a series of blogs about utilizing the early literacy practices (talk, read, sing, play) to foster your child’s development. This entry focuses on the practice of playing.

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” –Fred Rogers

Research has consistently shown the positive impacts of play on child development. Through play, children practice and develop social skills, language skills, cognitive skills, and motor skills.

Play takes many forms and evolves throughout a child’s early years. Exploring their surroundings, building with blocks, creating art or music, dancing, and pretending are just a handful of the myriad ways in which young children play.

If you’re like the average parent, time and energy are precious commodities. Rest assured that setting aside just a few minutes a day to play with your child will strengthen your relationship and yield benefits that extend far beyond the years they’re interested in pretending you’re a dinosaur.

Make the most of playtime with these tips:

  • Let your child take the lead.
  • Make observations (“You built a structure with 7 blocks.”).
  • Ask open-ended questions (“What are you making?”).
  • Pose challenges (“I wonder what would happen if…”).
  • Focus your praise on their effort, rather than the outcome. This is key to developing a growth mindset.
  • Set up invitations to play by arranging a few enticing materials in a play space for your child to discover.
  • Add variety. Take it outside, add movement, create art, make a sensory bin, read a book and pretend to be the characters afterward, etc.

Want some fresh ideas for playful activities to enjoy with your young child? Check out this list of books from our parenting collection that will inspire YOU to ask your child, “Wanna play with me?”

Building Brains by Singing with Your Children

Parents, did you realize that children develop essential skills that help them learn how to read long before formal reading instruction begins? These are called early literacy skills, and they include vocabulary, print motivation, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills.

How do children gain these skills, exactly? The answer is simple. Through everyday nurturing interactions with you! When you talk, read, sing, and play with your children, you are helping them build these foundational skills, and you’re strengthening your bond with your child in the process. Win, win!

*This is the third post in a series of blogs about utilizing the early literacy practices (talk, read, sing, play) to foster your child’s development. This entry focuses on the practice of singing.

No musical training? No worries! It is your voice that soothes and comforts your child, describes the world to your child, lets your child know they are loved. Rest assured, your singing voice can do all of that, too. The benefits of singing and engaging your child in musical experiences extend across all domains of development, including the following:

Language/Literacy

  • Singing fosters phonological awareness, the ability to hear and manipulate units of sound.
  • It reinforces and develops vocabulary, especially if unfamiliar words are explained.

Social/Emotional

  • Singing to or with your child is a positive and nurturing interaction that strengthens your bond.
  • It can ease transitions between activities and help a less desirable activity be more fun.
  • It can calm a fussy baby or toddler (and a hardworking parent).

Cognitive

  • Singing and related musical activities promote the development of crucial executive functioning skills. These skills are deemed essential for school readiness and include a child’s ability to focus attention, utilize working memory, and exercise self-control. Learn how to use music and other everyday activities to foster these skills in your child from Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child.

Physical

  • Young children strengthen muscles and develop gross motor skills as they move to music.
  • Young children develop fine motor skills when they practice fingerplays (e.g., Itsy Bitsy Spider, Where Is Thumbkin, etc.).

Tips

Add more music to your family’s routine by trying one or more of the following activities:

  • Make up a lullaby for your child. Find inspiration with the endearing Carnegie Hall Lullaby Project.
  • Insert your child’s name into familiar tunes, like “Old [Mateo] Had a Farm.”
  • Share fingerplays and action rhymes with your child. Check out the library’s Fingerplay Fun videos to expand your repertoire.
  • Make a shaker, like these. Or these!
  • Make a drum set with pots, pans, food storage containers, and wooden spoons for mallets.
  • Make a playful craft microphone for you and your child, and put on a show.
  • Plan a family dance party or a family lip syncing contest.
  • Read musical books! View a handy dandy musical book list here.
  • Read nursery rhymes! View a handy dandy nursery rhyme book list here.

Enjoy singing and engaging in other musical experiences with your child! Find information and tips about the other early literacy practices here: talking, reading, and playing.

Additional Resources 

Baby Music: The Soundtrack to Your Child’s Development

A resource from UNICEF on how making music, not just listening to it, impacts child development. Includes a link to a related Mini Parenting Masterclass (5 minutes).

Beyond Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star

An article from NAEYC and Zero to Three on how music supports each domain of development and what early childhood professionals can do to enhance early learning experiences with music.

Building Brains by Reading with Your Children

Parents, did you realize that children develop essential skills that help them learn how to read long before formal reading instruction begins? These are called early literacy skills, and they include vocabulary, print motivation, phonological awareness, print awareness, letter knowledge, and narrative skills.

How do children gain these skills, exactly? The answer is simple. Through everyday nurturing interactions with you! When you talk, read, sing, and play with your children, you are helping them build these foundational skills, and you’re strengthening your bond with your child in the process. Win, win!

*This is the second post in a series of blogs about utilizing the early literacy practices (talk, read, sing, play) to foster your child’s development. This entry focuses on the practice of reading.

In “Becoming a Nation of Readers,” a landmark 1985 report, experts declared that “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.” The positive effects of regularly reading aloud to your children are numerous and include the following:

  • builds connections in their brain
  • develops their language and vocabulary skills
  • supports their social/emotional development
  • strengthens their relationship with you
  • teaches them about themselves and the world in which they live

There is simply no denying the incredible and dynamic power of reading aloud to your children.

But with so many books and so little time, where does a parent begin? A great answer to this question is only three words long: your public library. Library staff is knowledgeable about the collections and eager to help your kiddos find books that match their interests and abilities. Reach out to us by phone (715-839-5007) or email (ysstaff@eauclaire.lib.wi.us) to start a conversation.

In the meantime, check out our staff curated book lists on a variety of topics for a variety of readers on our website and on our Bibliocommons profile. You’ll find great books to share with babies, toddler-tough picture books, funny stories, books for dinosaur fans, not your average lift-the-flap interactive stories, and so much more.

Okay, I’ve got some great books. Now what?

The greatest benefits from reading aloud can be achieved when you and your child are engaged in the reading experience. Enhance your child’s engagement and your own enjoyment by utilizing these tips:

  1. Read with expression! This may take some practice, but your kids will love it! 100% money back guarantee! Here are some vocal contrasts to add expressive flair:
    • Play with your pitch. Experiment with using a high voice and low voice to add depth to a character.
    • Adjust your volume. Perhaps you’ve reached a suspenseful part of the story and want to speak quietly for dramatic effect. Perhaps a character is surprised and speaks at an elevated volume.
    • Consider your speed. Avoid rushing. Relish each word. Make use of pauses and silence. Read quickly only when the action of the story calls for it. In general, a slower rate of speed gives your child more time to process what they are hearing and seeing on the page.
    • Experiment with your tone. Play around with the quality of sounds your voice can make. Gravelly, airy, nasal, etc.
  2. Be interactive! Invite your child to actively participate in the read aloud experience by doing the following:
    • Discuss the cover art and illustrations. Remember, while you focus on the text, your child is “reading” and deriving meaning from the illustrations. Talk with your child about the art and how it relates to the story.
    • Ask open ended questions. These enable a child to demonstrate their understanding and practice their narrative skills. Here are some examples:
      • What do you notice? They may observe something you haven’t yet noticed.
      • Why do you think he feels sad? This can help build emotional intelligence.
      • What do you think is going to happen? This is an opportunity to use critical thinking skills.
    • Include your children by inviting them to:
      • Do the actions. Many picture books include bold actions. Don’t just read it, do it!
      • “Read” the repeated phrases. Your child will quickly learn any repeated refrains in a story. After two or three times, start the phrase and let your child finish it.
      • Finish the sentence in a familiar text. Likewise, your child’s favorite books will soon be memorized. Invite them to finish the sentence or even “read” the book to you.
      • Complete the rhyme. Rhyming books are great for developing phonological awareness—an early literacy skill. Start the rhyme, but pause at the end to see if your child can finish it.
    • Discuss the book afterward. What did your child like? Dislike? What was their favorite part? What do they think the characters will do next?

Reading aloud with your children every day is beneficial for their development and can be both joyful and rewarding for you and your child. For more information and ideas on this topic, check out these great additional resources:

Enjoy reading with your child! Find information and tips about the other early literacy practices here: talking, singing, and playing.

Parent Play & Learn: Make a Wish

May there always be…wishes!

For the month of May, Jim Gill—an award-winning children’s musician—is collecting wishes from children around the country which he will share while performing his song “May There Always Be Sunshine” on his YouTube channel.

To participate in this special opportunity, start by talking with your child about their favorite things. What people, places, activities, and objects do they love? What makes those things special? Then, invite them to select their favorite thing to complete the sentence “May there always be….” Have your child write (or help them write) their sentence on a piece of paper, and encourage them to draw a picture about it.

View the explanation of the activity on Jim Gill’s YouTube channel.

Find the complete instructions under the News section of Jim Gill’s website.

Early Literacy Connection

Serve-and-return or back-and-forth conversations with children are brain-building activities. While you talk to them, they are exercising their listening and comprehension skills, and when they talk to you, they are building their capacity for expressive vocabulary. Early writing strengthens fine-motor skills, letter knowledge, and helps children understand that print on a page is associated with spoken language.

We’d love to see your wishes! Email your photos to Youth Services and we may feature them on our Community Photo gallery.

Parent Play & Learn: Art & Play

There’s been a lot of talk about masks lately. While these masks won’t help you at the grocery store, they will certainly elicit smiles and giggles from you and your kiddos.

Making masks is a creative, process-based art activity that is joyful for adults and children of all ages. As you talk with your child about the process (make observations and ask open-ended questions) and play with them using your completed masks, you are strengthening your relationship and helping them develop creative thinking and language skills that will serve them well into their future.

Simply pull together any supplies you might have to spare around the house, like cardboard, junk mail, glue or tape, coloring or drawing utensils, etc. to make your masks.

For inspiration, check out these simple, yet incredible masks from:

We’d love to see your masks! Email your photos to ysstaff@eauclaire.lib.wi.us and we may feature them on our Community Photo gallery.

Parent Play & Learn: Play

Parents, do the words, “Do you want to play with me?” secretly make you want to take a nap? Parent Play & Learn is back with a project that is sure to spark playtime joy for you and your children.

Tip 1: Delight in sending and receiving letters to and from your kiddos. Visit the link below for ideas on setting up this space in your home.

Tip 2: This activity is an opportunity to develop essential early literacy skills like print awareness, letter knowledge, vocabulary, and more.

Send us your pics of what pretend play looks like at your house!

-Jerissa, Youth Services

Parent Play & Learn: Art

Art is a creative and engaging process that helps develop important skills. Bring more art into your home by exploring COLLAGE with your family. Be sure to talk about the process, play with the materials, and share your collage-making pics with us by email.

Tip 1: Build your child’s vocabulary and narrative skills by making observations and asking open-ended questions about their work.

Tip 2: Help your child develop a growth mindset and understand that success comes from practice by celebrating their effort.

Need inspiration? You can find 50+ collage art ideas from the Artful Parent here: https://artfulparent.com/collage-art-ideas-kids/

-Jerissa, Youth Services