• Unboxing Early Learning Kits: Active Play

    We have a ton of different materials for our littlest customers, including our expanding Early Learning Backpack collection. We have several new Early Learning Backpacks. 

    Active Play  

    The active play kits feature books, balancing stones, or another interactive toy that promotes active and pretend play. Playing is an important component of early literacy development. 

    Balance Stepping Stones  

    Let your little one get active with some stepping stones. The kit features 4 stepping stones that help promote gross motor movement. They also help your little one with balancing and coordination. Get creative and allow some imaginative play with the stepping stones as well. 


    Melissa & Doug Pizza Party Play Set 

    Have your child explore imaginative play and have some fun with a pizza party. Create and design your favorite pizza creations. With 63 pieces, your little one can play pretend, which will help with developing their abstract thinking skills. 


    Learn different ways to share while playing, as you cuddle up to read some books. 

    Blocks by Irene Dickson 

    Can I Play Too? by Samantha Cotterill


    Active play will help keep your child engaged and learning. Check out all of Early Learning Kits available at the library. 


      Youth Services Assistant Librarian MaryJo 


  • Unboxing Early Learning Kits: World Traveler and Families

    We have many different types of materials for our littlest customers, including our Early Learning Backpack collection. We have several new Early Learning Backpacks available for checkout. Two of our newest Early Learning Kits, available to check out today, are the World Traveler and Families kits. 


    World Traveler 

    Start learning about cultures around the world with books, activities, and puzzles in this kit. Recommended for ages 3+. World Traveler kit will provide you with the tools to help your child begin to learn about the world around them. 


    Children of the World puzzle is a great tool to help start the discussion of children around the world. The puzzle includes 18 children from 18 different countries. Building the puzzle will also improve your child's hand-eye coordination, strengthen their fine motor skills, and allow them to practice critical thinking and problem-solving skills. 


    A Puzzle Globe

    Puzzle Globe from Learning Resources. The puzzle globe will allow your little one to build their fine motor skills and start to practice spatial awareness. The puzzle globe is an accurate globe of the world, and will allow your child to start to learn about other continents, oceans, and things that could be seen in each continent.  


    Learn how to say "hello" in other languages

    Hello From Around the World cards from Lakeshore Learning. Learn how to say "Hello" 25 different ways. Each card includes how to pronounce how to say hello in each language. These cards are a great way for children to begin to understand other languages and cultures from around the world. 


    Books and a movie 

    Cuddle up with this book and movie, and learn about how different kids from around the world live their lives. This will help expand your child's world.

    This Is How We Do It: One day in the lives of seven kids from around the world by Matt Lamothe. 

    DVD Let's Go Luna! Friendship around the world




    Families come in many different shapes and sizes. Learn about families with books and activities. Recommended ages 3+. The Families kit will help begin the conversation about many different types of families there are in the world, and what those families might be. 

    Mix and Match families 


    Mix and Match Magnetic Families from Lakeshore Learning. Through the Mix and Match Families set, a child can begin to explore unique and different types of families. The magnetic pieces will also help build stronger hand and eye coordination. 


    Books and a movie about different kinds of families 

    Cuddle up with these books and learn about all the different types of families in the world today. Learn about the importance of family, and the love of a family. These titles are a great way to begin to discuss with your child your family and other types of families they may know. 

    Families Around the World by Margriet Ruurs, illustrated by Jessica Rae Gordon 

    Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer

    Families, Families, Families! by Suzanne Lang & Max Lang. 

    DVD: Highlights: Family Fun!


    Both the World Traveler and Families kits will help keep your child engaged and learning about different cultures, places, and people from all around the world. 


    Check out all of the different Early Learning Kits available at the library. 


      Youth Services Assistant Librarian MaryJo 


  • 11 Books to Read for National Native American Heritage Month

    During Native American Heritage Month, and all year long, one of my top priorities is to ensure that the depictions of Indigenous and Native people in the books I read and promote are authentic and accurate. Many traditional Thanksgiving-themed books contain harmful portrayals and stereotypes of Indigenous and Native communities, but these contemporary #OwnVoices selections are written and/or illustrated, and celebrated by the communities they represent. 

    If you’re interested in learning more about how to interrogate children’s books that depict Indigenous and Native communities, I highly recommend American Indians in Children’s Literature, a blog run by Debbie Reese (Nambé Pueblo) and Jean Mendoza. Reese and Mendoza also adapted a book for adults by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz for a middle grade and young adult audience, called An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People, which chronicles the settlement of the “new world” from the perspective of Indigenous people, and highlights their resistance and resilience.

    For more book recommendations, check out this book list from the American Indian Library Association, and the past and current winners of the American Indian Youth Literature Award.



    We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, Frane Lessac, Hardcover |  Barnes & Noble®

    We are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac

    Learn about a year in the life of contemporary Cherokee family, and the ways in which they express gratitude throughout each season.

    We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, Michaela Goade, Hardcover |  Barnes & Noble®

    We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom, illustrated by Michaela Goade

    A powerful and poignant look at the Indigenous fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the interconnectedness of all inhabitants of Mother Earth.

    Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, Juana  Martinez-Neal, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

    Fry Breadby Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

    Fry bread might seem simple on the surface, but its history is not. Dive into this almost 150-year long tradition and its importance to Native American families of many different nations (Did you know there are about 573 federally recognized Native American tribes in the United States currently?). The author even includes his own recipe, so you can try it yourself!

    A Day With Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell, Julie Flett, Hardcover | Barnes &  Noble®

    A Day with Yayah by Nicola I. Campbell, illustrated by Julie Flett

    Set in the Nicola Valley of British Columbia, Yayah takes her grandchildren on an adventure in nature, teaching them to forage plants and mushrooms, and sharing her vast knowledge of the natural world.


    Jingle Dancerby Cynthia Leitich Smith, illustrated by Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu

    Jenna daydreams about jingle dancing, a tradition that is shared by the women in her family, and can’t wait until she can dance at the next powwow. The only problem is, Jenna doesn’t have enough jingles for her dress. Join Jenna as she collects all the jingles she needs on her journey to her first official jingle dance. A beautifully illustrated and heartwarming tale of tradition and family, with an author’s note about the origin and varying practices of jingle dancing at the end.

    Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child, Jonathan Thunder, Hardcover | Barnes &  Noble®

    Bowwow Powwow by Brenda J. Child, translate by Gordon Jourdain, illustrated by Jonathan Thunder

    Windy Girl loves to hear Uncle’s many vibrant stories while riding to the powwow with her dog Itchy Boy. One night after taking in all that the powwow has to offer, Windy falls asleep to the steady drumbeat, snuggled up with Itchy Boy, and dreams of jingle dancers, traditional dancers, a visiting drum group, and so much more--all of them with paws and tails, just like Itchy Boy! This is a joyful tale in celebration of the magic of the powwow.


    At the Mountain's Base by Traci Sorell, Weshoyot Alvitre, Hardcover | Barnes  & Noble®

    At the Mountain’s Base by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre

    At the mountain’s base, there is a Cherokee family living  in a cabin, patiently weaving, singing, cooking, worrying, and waiting for the safe return of a relative serving as a pilot in the United States Armed Forces. This book pays tribute to Native women such as Ola Mildred “Millie” Rexroat, who have served, and continue to serve their country by going to war.

     Powwow: A Celebration through Song and Dance by Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane,  Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

    Powwow: A Celebration through Song and Dance by Karen Pheasant-Neganigwane

    A comprehensive history of the Indigenous tradition of the powwow, from its origins, to a breakdown of powwow culture, to an explanation of various songs and dances, and a look at powwows as they occur in modern days throughout the United States and Canada. With the author’s family background and photos interspersed, this is a powerful and thorough tribute to the powwow.

     What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal by Eldon  Yellowhorn, Kathy Lowinger, Paperback | Barnes & Noble®

    What the Eagle Sees: Indigenous Stories of Rebellion and Renewal by Eldon Yellowhorn and Kathy Lowinger

    This is a nonfiction book that chronicles the many invasions that Indigenous people have faced throughout history, and how they defended themselves, fought back, and sustained their livelihood. From the Vikings to Christopher Columbus, just to name a few, these stories are all told from an Indigenous perspective, one that we don’t often see in many of our history books.

    I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

    I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

    For most of her life, Edie has always known that her mom was adopted, and that Edie has Native American heritage, but that is pretty much the extent of her knowledge. Join Edie as she discovers a mysterious box in her attic, which contains a photo of a woman who looks just like her, and begins a journey to uncover her family’s history, no matter how difficult it may be.

    Indian No More — Traci Sorell

    Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis with Traci Sorell

    A heartbreaking but necessary read, set in 1957, this book tells the story of Regina and her family, who are Umpqua and have always lived on the Grand Ronde reservation. Their world is turned upside down when a bill that is signed into law mandates that Regina’s tribe no longer exists, and they are displaced, having to move from Oregon to Los Angeles to find work. For the first time in her life, Regina has had to grapple with racism that is directed toward her, and the kids in her neighborhood, and must try to keep her Native identity alive in a completely unfamiliar and unwelcoming environment.



        Youth Services Assistant Librarian Stefanie 

  • Daniel Tiger on Kanopy Kids: When Something Seems Bad, Turn It Around, and Find Something Good

    Watch “Daniel’s Birthday/Daniel’s Picnic” on Kanopy Kids using your Barrington Area Library card number to log in, and come back to this blog post to enjoy some family activities that will enhance your child’s learning around the episode.

    Here are some questions that will help you unpack some of the topics in the episode with your child.

    Daniel's Birthday

    • Can you think of your perfect cake or birthday treat? Draw a picture with your grownup and/or describe what your perfect cake or treat would look, feel, and taste like. 
    • When Daniel’s cake gets smushed, he is disappointed, but his dad helps him to realize that it probably still tastes pretty yummy! Can you think of a time when something like that happened to you? How did you feel? Even though you were disappointed, can you think of something good about the situation?

    Daniel's Picnic

    • Daniel, Miss Elaina, and Prince Wednesday are pretty disappointed when it starts to rain on their picnic. I know that I am feeling a little disappointed that it’s getting colder outside, and I won’t be able to hang out with my family and friends outside as much. Can you brainstorm ways that you can hang out with your family and friends in the fall and winter virtually, such as a virtual picnic or a fort-building night?

    Below are some other activities to try as a family.


    Here is some further reading on the topics discussed in the episode.

    A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble® A Big Mooncake for Little Star by Grace Lin
    Baby Cakes by Theo Heras, Renne Benoit, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble® Baby Cakes by Theo Heras, illustrated by Renne Benoit
      The Perfect Birthday Recipe by Katy Hudson
     Saturday by Oge Mora, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble® Saturday by Oge Mora
     Apple Cake: A Gratitude by Dawn Casey, Genevieve Godbout, Hardcover | Barnes  & Noble® Apple Cake: A Gratitude by Dawn Casey, illustrated by Genevieve Godbout
    When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox by Jamie L.B. Deenihan, Lorraine Rocha,  Hardcover | Barnes & Noble® When Grandpa Gives You a Toolbox by Jamie L. B. Deenihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
     Mommy and Me Bake by DK, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®  Mommy and Me Bake by DK
    Good Morning, Neighbor by Davide Cali, Maria Dek, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble ® Good Morning, Neighbor by Davide Cali, illustrated by Maria Dek
    When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L.B. Deenihan, Lorraine Rocha,  Hardcover | Barnes & Noble® When Grandma Gives You a Lemon Tree by Jamie L. B. Deenihan, illustrated by Lorraine Rocha
    The Rough Patch by Brian Lies, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble® The Rough Patch by Brian Lies
    9781609922795: Cakes (My Cookbook) - AbeBooks - Tilli, Laura; Tilli, Jess:  1609922794 My Cookbook of Cakesby Laura Tilli
    I Got a Chicken for My Birthday by Laura Gehl, Sarah Horne, Hardcover |  Barnes & Noble® I Got a Chicken For My Birthdayby Laura Gehl, illustrated by Sarah Horne



        Youth Services Assistant Librarian Stefanie 

  • 5 Creepy-Crawly, Family-Friendly Books for Young Readers

    Are you and your little ones looking to get into the Halloween spirit? Here are some kid-friendly tales that won’t leave your child hiding under the covers.


    Creepy Pair of Underwear!
    by Aaron Reynolds

    Jasper Rabbit may think he’s big and brave, but when he discovers that his new pair of underwear glows in the dark, he realizes he may not be as brave as he thought! And no matter how many times Jasper throws the creepy underwear away, they just keep… coming… back!


    Goodnight Goon: A Petrifying Parody
    by Michael Rex

    “Goodnight tomb. Goodnight goon. Goodnight Martians taking over the moon.”

    This hilarious parody of Goodnight Moon follows a little werewolf as he gets ready for bed, only for a naughty Goon to show up and keep him awake. Readers will laugh aloud at the Goon’s antics and the frustrated werewolf’s attempts to get some shut-eye.


    The Halloween Tree
    by Susan McElroy Montanari and Teresa Martinez

    The saplings on the tree farm are excited to grow up and become Christmas Trees… except for one grumpy tree. He doesn’t like lights, garlands, and he really doesn’t like people. He wants to stay right where he is… and he does just that, as time passes and a new neighborhood is built around the old tree. The grumpy tree may not be a fan of people, but he soon finds himself at the center of a new holiday tradition: the Halloween Tree!


    The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything
    by Linda Williams and Megan Lloyd

    Clomp, clomp… shake, shake… clap, clap…

    The little old lady hears a lot of scary noises as she walks through the woods at night, but that’s okay -- she’s not afraid of anything…right?

    This holiday classic offers up plenty of opportunities for readers to act out the scary noises and silly scenes.


    Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale 
    by Lynn Marie and David Rodriguez Lorenzo

    Moldilocks is a little zombie with a big appetite. One day, while Mama, Papa, and Baby Scare away, Moldilocks sneaks into the house for a snack, a comfortable seat, and a good place to sleep. Too bad the Scares are about to come back! This heartwarming twist on a story time classic is just right for getting readers into the holiday spirit.


    Tip: Want personalized reading suggestions? Fill outthis form and you’ll receive a customized list direct to your inbox!

       Youth Services Librarian Chris 

  • Daniel Tiger on Kanopy Kids: In Some Ways We Are Different, But In So Many Ways, We Are The Same!

    Watch “Daniel’s New Friend” on PBS Kids, and come back to this blog post to enjoy some family activities that will enhance your child’s learning around the episode.

    A New Friend Visits Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Chrissie


    Here are some questions that will help you unpack some of the topics in the episode with your child.

    • What does it mean to be alike and different? Ask your child(ren) how the characters in the show are alike? How are they different?
    • Talk to your child(ren) about things that they have in common with their family or friends. What do you all like or do that is the same? Then ask them about the ways in which you all are different. Do you have different hair colors, have a different favorite food, or are you different heights? 

    Below are some other activities to try as a family.


    Here is some further reading on the topics discussed in the episode.

    Daniel's New Friend by Becky Friedman and Jason Fruchter

    Neither by Airlie Anderson

    Your Name is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe
      What's the Difference? Being Different is Amazing by Doyin Richards
      Be You! by Peter H. Reynolds
      It's Okay to Be Different by Todd Parr
    I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O'Brien
    Gaston by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Christian Robinson
    All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold, illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
       I am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown, illustrated by Anoosha Syed
    The Same But Different Too by Karl Newsom, illustrated by Kate Hindley
       You Matter by Christian Robinson



        Youth Services Assistant Librarian Stefanie 

  • Daniel Tiger on Kanopy Kids: Friends Help Each Other, Yes They Do

    Watch "Friends Help Each Other/Daniel Helps O Tell a Story"on Kanopy Kidsusing your Barrington Area Library card number to log in, and come back to this blog post to enjoy some family activities that will enhance your child’s learning around the episode. 



    Here are some questions that will help you unpack some of the topics in the episode with your child.

    “Friends Help Each Other”

    • In this episode, Katerina accidentally knocks the tea set on the floor, and she is so sad that she thinks she ruined the party! Sometimes, things don’t always go as planned, but our friends and family can help us when we need it. Can you think of a time when something unexpected happened? How did that make you feel? 
    • When Daniel and Katerina are cleaning up, they turn it into a game. Can you think of a time where you turned a not-so-fun situation into a better one? What happened?


    “Daniel Helps O Tell a Story”

    • Daniel is so excited that O will read to him since Daniel doesn’t quite know how to read yet. Has anyone ever done this for you? Talk about one of your favorite read-aloud memories with your loved ones. Ask them what their favorite read-aloud memory is too!


    Below are some other activities to try as a family.


        Youth Services Assistant Librarian Stefanie 

  • 5 Ways Your Child Can Fight Anxiety -- and Have Fun, Too

    We live in an unusual, sometimes frightening time, and it’s only natural that your little one may be a little stressed out. Now that school is back in session, that stress may have doubled -- but don’t worry! Here are 5 fun, anxiety-busting activities the whole family will enjoy.



    1. Calm Down Jars
    Using warm water, glitter, glue, and a jar, kids can create a simple sensory object that can aid in stress reduction. Children can focus on the dancing glitter, practice deep breathing, or simply distract themselves by shaking the jar. Calm down jars offer a simple introduction to mindful practice -- consciously focusing on a present moment or object without worrying about the looming, larger concerns in your life.


    2. Worry boxes

    Worry boxes are exactly what they sound like -- kids can make little boxes, write down their worries, and put those worries away in the box. This symbolic exercise affords children a sense of control over their anxieties, allowing them to create boundaries for intrusive thoughts and stressors and putting them out of sight for a while… and maybe out of mind, too.


    3. Slime therapy

    Slime isn’t just fun to play with -- it can be therapeutic, too. Manipulating slime can be an enjoyable source of sensory stimulation for little ones.

    Playing with slime can also give children a sense of control over their environment. COVID totally transformed the way children interact with their peers and environment -- it changed what behaviors are acceptable or unacceptable, where they can go, who they can be around, etc. -- and retaining a semblance of control can help ease a troubled mind.

    Plus, slime is justfun.


    4. Blowing bubbles

    Blowing bubbles can help children practice deep breathing, which regulates anxiety. Bubbles can’t be formed by sharp, violent exhalations; they can only form when the blower is gentle and deliberate. This simple deep breathing exercise can help children regain a sense of control over their own physiological response to anxiety or stress.

    Kids -- and adults -- can also visualize their anxieties flowing into the bubble. When the bubble pops and disappears, so does the image of whatever’s bothering the blower.


    5. Coloring

    Children can use coloring as a gateway to mindful practice: when you color, you give in to “the moment” and shut out big, intrusive thoughts as you devote yourself to this simple activity. Extraneous thoughts are pushed to the side, allowing children to “meditate” while coloring.


    Looking for more fun activities? We’ve got you covered:


    Why these activities can help:


       Youth Services Librarian Chris 


  • Five Things You're Already Doing to Raise a Reader

    There are lots of articles about all the many things yououghtto be doing to raise a smart, successful, independent, empathetic, basically perfect human being. This is not one of those articles! I’m happy to tell you that raising a reader is not an intimidating challenge, and you are already doing it better than you think. In fact, I bet you’re crushing it! Here are the five activities that prepare a child to learn to read in the first five years of their life.


    1. Read

    Research shows that reading even to babies isbeneficial for their brain development. But reading to babies, and especially to walking toddlers, can be very difficult. Some children take to books like cats to cream; while others… not so much! It doesn’t mean you should be worried, or that you should force a child to read when they would rather toddle around or play with a ball. Here are some other ways to share “reading”:

    • Keep board books available along with toys as a part of play time. 
    • Let your child flip through the pages, even if it’s too fast for you to read the words. They are learning how a book “works,” which is important, too! 
    • Point and identify ANY words or images, even outside of books. You are teaching your child that pictures mean something, which is the basic building block of reading.
    • Pick up a book - one from your shelf, or even one of your child’s - and quietly read in front of your young child, even for a few minutes. Demonstrate that it’s a valuable part of your life. 
    • Come to one of our story times! We will share fun and new-to-you books, as well as songs and rhymes that you can do at home.
    Photo by Picsea on Unsplash


    2. Talk

    The more sounds and words your child hears, the better equipped she is to start pulling from that bank of phonemes when she starts learning how reading works. You’re also giving your little one the chance to practice the oh-so-important back-and-forth rhythms of conversation, even if they are just babbling with you, like in the video below. Sometimes it can be exhausting to think of things to talk about with your baby or toddler - try narrating whatever you’re doing. For instance, driving, cooking, cleaning, playing.


    3. Play

    Play is physical, mental, emotional, and social. It’s practice for all of life, including reading. Playing with small objects develops fine motor skills needed for holding books, turning pages, and writing letters. Playing with anything enhances critical thinking - think about cause & effect (block towers knocked down!), object permanence (peek-a-boo!), and problem solving (puzzles!) - all of which will become more abstract as reading comprehension and narrative skills develop. Playing in an imaginative way increases a child’s understanding of emotions (playing “bad guy” and seeing the consequences on someone else) and narrative structures (First, this happens, then….). There’s SO MUCH benefit to play, and thankfully kids need no encouragement from us to do it. But adult facilitation can add much to play, even just the bonding that naturally happens through enjoyable shared experiences.

    Photo by Leo Rivas on Unsplash


    4. Sing

    Any kind of music can be beneficial to ababy’s development, but singing is in particular a valuable pre-literacy activity because it slows down our speech. Pairing a note with a sound and a beat gives little brains more time to process phonemes. (Sing “Mary Had a Little Lamb” in your head, and you’ll notice how each syllable gets its own separate note.) Babies don’t care if you’re tone-deaf, so sing with abandon. (Though if you just can’t stand the sound of your voice, trysayingthe lyrics on beat.) Songs often have the added benefit of rhyming, which gives little brains more opportunities to hear and connect similar sounds.


    5. Write

    Don’t panic: your 2-year-old should not be writing their name yet! Writing as a pre-literacy activity just means preparing your child for the eventual fine-motor skills that will be required to grasp a pencil and create recognizable letters on a page. It really means strengthening little finger muscles! Here’s what “writing” might look like:

    • Grasping or sorting small objects
    • Fingerplay rhymes & games 
    • Baby sign language
    • Playing with or using crayons, markers, glue sticks, chalk, etc.
    • Tracing lines or letters

    Photo by Tina Floersch on Unsplash


    In all likelihood, you recognize at least a few of these activities in your daily life with a very young child. Pat yourself on the back - you are doing it! You are raising a reader!

    Youth Services Librarian Allison 


  • Daniel Tiger on Kanopy Kids: What Happens When We Do Something New?

    Watch“Daniel Visits School/Daniel Visits the Doctor” on Kanopy Kidsusing your Barrington Area Library card number to log in, and come back to this blog post to enjoy some family activities that will enhance your child’s learning around the episode. 


    Now that you’ve watched the episode, here is a companion video that will demonstrate some ways to practice mindfulness when your child is feeling nervous or worried.




    Here are some questions that will help you unpack some of the topics in the episode with your child.

    • Is there something new in your life that you are nervous or worried about? What is it? What questions do you have about the new thing? Talk through some of your concerns with a trusted adult.  Sometimes just talking about it helps you feel better, and they can help you answer some of the questions that you have!
    • When you feel nervous or worried about something, how does it make you feel? Can you think of something to do that might make you feel a little better? What are some things that make you smile?


    Below are some other activities to try as a family.


    Here are the books I mentioned in the companion video.

    Here and Now by Julia Denos, E. B. Goodale |, Hardcover | Barnes... Here and Nowby Julia Denos, illustrated by E.B. Goodale
    Quiet by Tomie dePaola, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble®

    Quiet by Tomie dePaola

    Listen by Holly M. McGhee, Pascal Lemaitre |, Hardcover | Barnes...

    Listen by Holly M. McGhee, illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre

     Tiny, Perfect Things by M.H. Clark, Madeline Kloepper |, Hardcover... Tiny, Perfect Thingsby M.H. Clark, illustrated by Madeline Kloepper
     Big Breath: A Guided Meditation for Kids by William Meyer... Big Breath: A Guided Meditation for Kids by William Meyer, illustrated by Brittany R. Jacobs
     Your Mind is Like the Sky: A First Book of Mindfullness by Bronwen... Your Mind is Like the Sky: A First Book of Mindfulness by Bronwen Ballard, illustrated by Laura Carlin



        Youth Services Assistant Librarian Stefanie 

  • Let's Play Pretend

    Anyone who knows about the Barrington Area Library Youth Services Department knows that we love play of all kinds! One type of play that we just love is pretend play - from putting on some dress-up clothes to transform into a puppy dinosaur, to using play kitchen supplies to play house, to building a ship with blocks to sail the wide open seas. Sometimes children may not even need any toys or manipulatives to come up with fantastical scenarios.

    Even when the pretend play seems so outlandish that it no longer has any connection to reality, children are engaging in a process that will greatly benefit them later in life.


    Most obviously, pretend play is a great way for children to flex their creative skills but it also allows them to work on critical thinking and problem solving skills. By working through the scenarios they create they are building cognitive abilities that will translate to real world skills. 

    Pretend play also allows children to develop social and emotional health. Engaging in cooperative pretend play means that children are learning how to navigate social situations and learning how to interact with others, such as taking turns, making compromises, and understanding others. It also helps regulate emotional responses. Becoming too aggressive or throwing a tantrum if things don’t go the child’s way will inevitably stop the play, and no one wants that! Pretend play is also a great place for children to work through real life emotions, such as being scared or upset. They can work through these big feelings in a safe space and learn how to handle their emotions once they leave their imaginary world behind.

    If that wasn’t enough, pretend play also helps develop language and communication skills. It takes a lot of non-verbal cues, talking it out, and clearly communicating the scenario for a pretend play session to be successful and fun for all involved - who wants to play if you can’t figure out what’s happening? Children will quickly learn how to use language and communicate with one another to provide themselves with the best play experience possible. It also gives them a chance to test out new vocabulary they may have learned at a visit to the doctor, zoo, or even the grocery store.


    We all know how great pretend play is, but what can you do as a parent to make sure they are getting enough of the good stuff to make it happen? 

    Talk to them. As you go through your day explain what you are doing and point things out to them - this increases vocabulary and gives them the building blocks to create their pretend worlds. 

    Provide some simple props. While there are some really great high tech toys out there, sometimes simple is best. A few dress up items, a couple dolls, and even some (child safe) kitchen items you no longer need are all fair game.

    Encourage them. As children are building up an imaginary world, they may want to tell you all about it. Ask some questions and let them work through the answers all on their own. Sometimes they may not make much sense to us, but they are working on it!


    Further Reading

    The Benefits of Pretend Play

    The Need for Pretend Play in Child Development

    Why Pretend Play Is Important to Child Development

    8 Ways to Encourage Pretend Play in Kids


      Youth Services Librarian Demitra 

  • Sesame Street on Kanopy Kids: Elmo Finds a Baby Bird

    Watch “Elmo Finds a Baby Bird” on Kanopy Kids using your Barrington Area Library card number to log in, and come back to this blog post to enjoy some family activities that will enhance your child’s learning around the episode.


    Here are some questions that will help you unpack some of the topics in the episode with your child.

    • When Elmo and Rosita find the baby bird, they can’t figure out what the baby bird is trying to tell them. Have you ever tried to communicate something to someone, but they couldn’t understand you? How did that feel?
    • “Chasing the cheese” was a silly and fun way for the inhabitants of Sesame Street to get some exercise. How have you been moving your body and exercising lately? Can you think of a fun and silly way to get some exercise with your family this summer?
    • During Elmo’s World, Elmo asked children how they play with their pets. Do you have a pet? If so, how do you play with your pet? If you don’t have a pet, have you ever played with a friend or relative’s pet? What did you do?


    Below are some other activities to try as a family.


        Youth Services Assistant Librarian Stefanie 

  • Daniel Tiger on Kanopy Kids: What Do You Do with the Mad That You Feel?

    Watch“Daniel Gets Mad/Katerina Gets Mad” on Kanopy Kidsusing your Barrington Area Library card number to log in, and come back to this blog post to enjoy some family activities that will enhance your child’s learning around the episode. 


    Now that you’ve watched the episode, here is a companion video that will demonstrate some breathing exercises for when you’re feeling so mad that you want to roar!




    Here are some questions that will help you unpack some of the topics in the episode with your child.


    “Daniel Gets Mad”

    • When Daniel Tiger was playing make-believe, he imagined he was swimming in the deep blue sea. Have you pretended you’ve gone on an adventure while staying at home? Where would you most like to go? Take a pretend trip with your family! What did you do?
    • How did Daniel and Wednesday feel when they saw that it was raining outside? Can you remember a time when you felt like that? What happened?
    • What are some ways that you and your family have had to change plans since we’ve been staying at home?


    “Katerina Gets Mad”

    • Daniel and his friends visit the local music shop together. Do you have any musical instruments at home? If not, have you ever tried to make a musical instrument with supplies you have at home?
    • When Katerina gets upset about not being first in line, she counts and then dances her mad out. Have you ever tried to dance your mad out? Pick out some of your favorite tunes and plan a dance party with your family! You can alsosign up for our Family Concert with Ralph Covert on Saturday, June 27 at 10:30am to dance some of your feelings out!


    Below are some other activities to try as a family.



        Youth Services Assistant Librarian Stefanie 

  • 5 Tips on Facetiming a Toddler

    It’s so wonderful to be able to connect through technology with friends and families we can’t visit during the Shelter-In-Place mandate. Hopeful to see my 2-year-old nephew, I tried video chatting with him (with the help of Mom, of course.) It didn’t go well. I saw one teeny glimpse of his grumpy face, and then just heard: 

    “I don’t WANT to talk to Aunt Alli.”


    “I WON’T!” 

    And then my sister apologetically suggested we try another time.

    I can’t really blame the kid. This is weird! This is different! And any kind of chatting is something that kids don’t really do anyway - ask a 2-year-old “How are you?” and they typically respond with a blank stare.

    So, with some trial and error, and the help of my sister and nephew, I’ve figured out some strategies to make the Facetime (or Zoom or Duo) experience more enjoyable for all!

    Bear puppet takes a call.
    Bear puppet takes a call.


    1. Use a puppet. On a whim I tried talking to my nephew as a bear puppet, and he was completely enthralled. If you don’t have a puppet, try making one - glue or sew a couple of button eyes on a sock. It doesn’t have to look pretty; just give it a name and maybe a silly voice and your toddler will fall in love. My mother delights her grandchild with “Little Man,” which is just her two fingers walking and dancing around. 


    2. Sing a song. When a toddler isn’t particularly focused, the sound of a song may stop and quiet her. Music is magic that way! Try a well known favorite, like “The Wheels on the Bus,” “If You’re Happy and You Know It,” or “This Little Light of Mine.” 


    3. Tell a familiar story. If you have a simple picture book (see our list of great toddler books), you could share that (though make sure your audience can see the pictures!). But you can also tell a story you know by heart. Try “The Three Little Pigs,” and see if your toddler joins in with “Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!” Any story with repeating phrases will work well. 


    Toddler with crayons4. Request a show-and-tell. Young children aren’t yet skilled at abstract conversation. Asking “what did you do today?” might be frustrating if a child doesn’t remember, or isn’t sure what you mean. But asking, “Can you show me one of your toys/books/something you made?” will be much more rewarding. Once you have something to talk about that’s literally in the child’s hands, your conversation becomes much more concrete. “Does it have wheels?” “What’s its name?” “What colors do you see?” etc. And if the toddler doesn’t have access to stuff, there is always something to show - “Where are your ears?” “Show me your socks!” “Show me thumbs up!"

    5. Make it a date - a recurring date, if possible. Ask the parent if you can schedule the call in advance, and then the parent can prime the child ahead of time - “It’s almost time for our call with Grammy! What should we tell her today?” The parent will also likely look forward to a new thing to do! And if this can happen frequently, and consistently (e.g., every Monday at 10 AM), it will become more and more comfortable for both of you. 

    Above all, be your lovely self. If it doesn’t feel natural to use a puppet, don’t fake it! If you hate the sound of your singing voice, then speak the words of a rhyme instead. Your attention, your love, your familiar face and voice are the things giving the experience so much value in a time that may feel confusing and even scary. Even if your toddler gets impatient and suddenly disappears from the screen, he knows that you are still there. And that’s the most important thing to share.


    Take a mindful moment: Try to look at the world from the point of view of a child. Let go of your own worldview for at least a few minutes.

      Youth Services Librarian Allison 


  • 3 Rhymes for a Rainy Day





    It’s raining! It’s pouring! The old man (might) be snoring! Brighten up a dreary day with 3 of our favorite Story Time rhymes about rain!






    Rain on the Grass  
    Rain on the grass. (Move fingers back and forth on the floor)
    Rain on the tree. (Lift arms into the air like a tree)
    Rain on the rooftops. (Make a triangle roof over your head)
    But not on me! (Wiggle finger no and shake head, then point to self)


    Pitter Patter Rain Drops (Tune: I’m a Little Teapot)  
    Pitter patter rain drops  (Wiggle fingers to imitate rain)
    Falling from the sky (Wiggle fingers downward)
    Here's my umbrella  (Pretend to open umbrella)
    Hold it High! (Hands over head)
    When the rain is over and the sun begins to glow  (Make sun with arms)
    Little flowers start to bud   (Kneel down)
    Then grow, grow, grow (Slowly stand up) 











    Spring Song (Tune: Farmer in the Dell)  
    The sun is shining bright (Make sun over head with arms)
    The sun is shining bright (Make sun over head with arms)
    Oh how I love the warmth (Hug self)
    The sun is shining bright. (Make sun over head with arms)
    The rain is falling down, (Wiggle fingers downward)
    The rain is falling down, (Wiggle fingers downward)
    Oh how I love the sound (Cup hand around ear)
    The rain is falling down. (Wiggle fingers downward)
    The flowers start to bloom, (Make fists then spread fingers up and out)
    The flowers start to bloom, (Make fists then spread fingers up and out)
    Oh how I love the sight, (Shade eyes with hand and look around)
    The flowers start to bloom. (Make fists then spread fingers up and out) 

    Bonus Rhyme!
    It is always a good time for the classic The Itsy Bitsy Spider but it is even better on a rainy day!

    The Itsy Bitsy Spider  
    The itsy bitsy spider climbed up the water spout. (Touch each index finger to each thumb and “climb” upward)
    Down came the rain and washed the spider out. (Wiggle fingers downward, then sweeping motion with arms)

    Out came the sun and dried up all the rain

    (Make sun over head with arms)
    And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again. (Repeat climbing motion)


    Looking for more Story Time rhyme fun? Check out the events calendar to find a Story Time to Watch Now or Watch Live!

      Youth Services Librarian Demitra 

  • Let them play! By themselves?

    What is solitary play?

    Solitary play or independent play is play that allows a child to entertain themselves and learn independence without interaction from adults or other children.


    But doesn’t that mean I’m just ignoring my child while I engage in other tasks?

    No! Solitary play is an important part of childhood development and allows children to develop independence, imagination, creativity, concentration, and problem solving skills. 


    Okay, solitary play is good, but now what?

    Create a child safe zone for the play to happen. If you can designate a space that is free of hazards but within eyesight that would be best. Provide one or two open ended options for your child - too many options may actually overwhelm a child and lead to a less meaningful play experience. This can be a set of age appropriate blocks or even some kitchen items like Tupperware that can be stacked or sorted. Consider combining a few items to encourage imaginative scenarios for slightly older toddlers or preschoolers.


    Can I get more information about solitary play?


    Mindful Moment

    Take a moment to close your eyes and breathe slowly. Acknowledge your feelings both positive and negative. Breathe deeply as you accept that these are valid. Be patient with yourself. 

      Youth Services Librarian Demitra