Monday, March 3, 2008

Oh baby: thoughts on beginning a Mother Goose Storytime

When I was asked to start a storytime for babies at my library some months ago, all I could picture was an audience of sleeping angels swaddled in receiving blankets. *cue the crickets* Or, worse yet, a room full of wailing, nap-needing, hungry babes just waiting to nibble on my puppets. None of those scenarios seemed to fit with my paradigm of a successful story hour.

Despite my skepticism, I forged ahead with the "Baby Lapsits." I found cute stork clip art for promotional signs. I ordered a new oval-shaped rug from Demco. If I saw a mother with a stroller/car seat/sling, I'd run up to her immediately and talk about the upcoming program.

And yet, despite all this superficial planning, I had no idea how to actually conduct a storytime with those in the birth-through-18-months age range. (Toddlers are a different story; I've been working with them for years).

So, I consulted the experts: Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main. Every Monday and Wednesday, the folks at CLP host a Baby Lapsit program. I attended one such session on a cold morning in mid-January.

Whatever hesitation I had about entertaining the diapered set was put to rest thirty minutes after walking in that room. What I witnessed was pure merriment. The babies clapped and bounced! They banged on tambourines and rang jingle bells! They went gaga over a chirping bird prop and made animal noises along with an Eric Carle book!

Afterwards, the awesome staff at CLP let me in on their little secret: the Mother Goose on the Loose kit by Betsy Diamant-Cohen, the programming specialist at the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore. Diamant-Cohen is like the trailblazer of MGOL. And her kit contains everything: a handbook, CD-ROM, scripts, rhymes, songs, flannel-board patterns, and activities for promoting early childhood development. I swear I don't work for Neal-Schuman Publishers when I say that this is the motherlode of Mother Goose planning. (If you want to check it out, there's a circulating copy in the system).

I immediately purchased the kit. When it arrived on my desk a few days later, planning became a breeze. Diamant-Cohen offers ten sample programs in the binder. I modified them slightly, then set out to learn the rhymes and songs, ordered the picture books, bought peek-a-boo scarves and more.

Our library held its first Baby Lapsit program two weeks ago. The program went swimmingly. From the introduction of our "goosey" to the closing lullaby, the babies were completely engaged. Parents kept marveling at how nice it was for the library to offer a program for their little ones. As for myself, leading that first Baby Lapsit was one of my biggest professional accomplishments--even if it did involve some napping, screaming and drooling (from both me and the babies)!

Fear not, librarians, it can be done.


Kelley @ ACLA said...

And, of course, hopefully everyone knows that some Mother Goose on the Loose trainings are coming: "This spring there will be four workshops being held in the East on the Mother Goose on the Loose program by the creator of the book of the same title Betsy Diamont Cohen. The workshops will be held in libraries in York on April 28, State College on April 29, Wilkes-Barre on April 30 and Haverford on May 1. Registration forms will come out in early March. Only forty people will be able to attend each session due to limited space in the libraries. Part of the program will be Betsy doing a session of the program with a group of local preschoolers." (quote from an email sent by Susan Pannebaker)

Kelley @ ACLA said...

Also, I just saw this on the ALSC wiki:

suzi w. said...

Mother Goose is very popular here at Northland.

Suzi Wackerbarth