• Back-to-School Anxiety

    Is your little one nervous about going back to school? It is quite common! Starting school, whether it is your first year or you’ve done it before, can be scary. There are a lot of changes and new things to learn. Here are some tips to help alleviate worry and anxiety about going back to school.

    Talk and listen

    Have an open conversation about what is worrying them about going back to school. Ask what makes this a nerve wracking time so you can help them problem solve or prepare for specific situations. If they are not able to express what is scary – that’s ok! Assure them that being nervous is a normal emotion and reaction.


    Walking through anxiety provoking situations can be extremely helpful. If they are nervous about something specific, role play what the situation might look like and how they can address it or ask for help. If you are able to, drive to the school and visit so they can become familiar with where they will be each day.

    Involve them in decisions

    Have them help pick out their going back to school supplies, backpack, lunchbox or whatever else they may need for school. Getting something in their favorite color or including their favorite superhero or TV character can help make this a fun and exciting time!

    Start the routine

    Help get them into the swing of going back to school by starting the routine early. Change is hard, so the more time kids have to adjust, the better! This could involve setting a bed time, wake up time, eating and getting dressed in the morning, or whatever your family decides to do to!


    Help connect them to their school friends! Reach out to other families who will be attending the same school or will be in the same class so they can meet. It is much easier to do something new when you have a friendly, familiar face by your side.

    Calming exercises

    Try some calming exercises to help alleviate worry and anxiety. Calming exercises are great to practice when you are feeling calm so that when you are anxious you are already an expert in a technique to help! Some calming exercises include belly breathing, 54321 grounding, or doing a little stretch!

    Read books

    Check out our Back-to-School picture book section for stories about going to school that children can relate to. Need other book recommendations? Just ask a librarian; we are happy to help! 


       Youth Services Assistant Librarian Jessica


  • Summer Mindfulness Activities

    Mindfulness is an activity you can practice year-round, but here are some summer inspired activities to encourage mindful moments for your little ones.

    1. Gardening
      Whether it is at home or participating in a gardening program at the BALibrary, gardening is a great way to connect to nature! What colors do you see? How does the dirt feel between your fingers? Notice how the flowers smell.
    2. Cloud watching
      Gaze up at the clouds and see what shapes you can see! Better yet, lay in the grass and notice how it feels beneath your body.
    3. Blowing bubbles
      Get out your bubbles and wand! Pay attention your breath as you inhale and exhale to make the bubbles.
    4. Draw with sidewalk chalk
      Get creative and draw something you love! What colors do you use? What shapes are within your drawings? What texture does the chalk have?
    5. Nature walk
      Put on those walking shoes and explore nature! What do you see? What colors do you notice? What does the ground feel like beneath your feet? Do you feel the sun on your face or the wind in your hair? What do you hear or smell? Name anything else you notice!

    Interested in programs related to mindfulness? Check out Morning Garden Story Time, Loose Parts Nature Play, Nature Art, Nature I Spy, Meditation Story Time, and Little Kids, Big Feelings.


       Youth Services Assistant Librarian Jessica 


  • Wellness Wonders: Mental Health Awareness Month

    Mental health is important all year round, but May is the month where we bring awareness to this important topic! Mental health is just like physical health – you need to do things to take care of your mind so that it works at its best. This will help you do all the things you want to do like coming to the library to play and read!

    To learn more about mental health, check out our Wellness Wonders: Mental Health Awareness Month Books mobile display. The display includes Board Books, Picture Books, Juvenile Non-Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, and Teen Fiction books. The mobile display will be up all month long located in the YS department near the beginning of the non-fiction shelves.

    Want to participate in mental health focused programming? Check out Little Kids, Big Feelings and Meditation Story Time or check out our Early Learning Mindfulness Kits.

       Youth Services Assistant Librarian Jessica


  • Expressing Gratitude - Scavenger Hunt Edition

    Gratitude can have a big impact on our lives. It has been proven to be effective in improving mood, increasing ability to cope with emotions, decreasing stress, and so many other positive benefits. Let’s practice showing our gratitude in a creative way - with a scavenger hunt! Use the list below to find what sparks your joy and makes you smile.

    1. Something you enjoy looking at
    2. Something that is useful to you
    3. Something that is your favorite color
    4. Something that makes you smile when you see it
    5. Something that smells good
    6. Something that makes you laugh
    7. Something you enjoy in the morning
    8. Something you enjoy at night
    9. Something that means a lot to you
    10. Something you love to spend time with
    11. Something that reminds you of the people you love
    12. Something you created
    13. Something you like to share with others
    14. Something that makes you feel calm
    15. Something you love


    Looking for more fun activities? 

    Gratitude for Kids - 9 Ways to Practice Gratitude with Kids ⋆ Journal for Kids


    Learn more about why gratitude is so important:

    Why gratitude is important for kids? | WOW Parenting

    8 Reasons Why Gratitude is Important for Kids — Peake Academy

    The Positive Impact of Gratitude on Mental Health | Psychology Today


    We’d love to hear about your experience with the scavenger hunt! Chat with us at the Youth Services Reference Desk, or email us at youthservices@balibrary.org.

       Youth Services Assistant Librarian Jessica 


  • Grow Your Mindset

    Grow Your Mindset

    Putting yourself out there or trying something new can be a scary process.  The What-If’s creep in and may even prevent you from trying something new.  However, if more focus is placed on the journey and learning rather than the outcome, it can open the door to so many possibilities. 

    Here are some wonderful books that emphasize the saying; “Progress Over Perfection.”


     Looking for more recommendations?  Fill out our form to get an individualized list of reads sent to your email! 

       Youth Services Assistant Librarian Erin 


  • 5-4-3-2-1 Mindfulness

    When you are feeling big emotions it can be hard to think straight. When this happens, take a mindful moment and practice 5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness!

    5-4-3-2-1 mindfulness can be done anywhere and at any time! By noticing what is around us, in the present moment, we can help ourselves gain control over our emotions. To use this skill follow along with the directions below.


    Name five things that you can see right now 


    Name four things that you can touch right now


    Name three things that you can hear right now


    Name two things that you can smell right now 


    Name one thing that you can taste right now


    Want to learn more about mindfulness? Check out our Early Learning Kits here:

    Feelings and Emotions


    Mindfulness 2


       Youth Services Assistant Librarian Jessica 


  • Celebrate Teachers With These Books

    It's Teacher Appreciation Week! Here are some stories that celebrate the teachers that go above and beyond for their students!

    Looking for some personalized selections? Fill out thisform and you’ll receive a customized list direct to your inbox!

        Youth Services Assistant Librarian Claire 

  • 6 "Kindie" Albums for Hipsters of All Ages

    Are you looking for some sweet tunes that'll match your little one's independent spirit? Have you memorized every Disney soundtrack? Can you recite the lyrics to every Wiggles album ever? Looking for something a little different? Join the kindie rock revolution!

    Kindie ("kid" + "indie") music is a relatively new genre of children's music in which artists approach child-friendly themes with an earnest, singer-songwriter mindset.

    Here are 6 great albums to get started.


    Former Blue's Clues host and children's media superstar Steve Burns teams up with Flaming Lips multi-instrumentalist Steven Drozd to produce a sprawling, ambitious album that's as laugh-out-loud funny as it is radically sincere. Burns accompanies the listener through a bizarre world occupied by unicorns ("The Unicorn and Princess Rainbow"), giants ("If You're Ginormous and You Know It"), clever ocean critters ("Mimic Octopus"), and more. Sometimes songs are instructional, like "A Fact Is a Gift You Give Your Brain," whereas others are dedicated to exploring feelings of joy, sadness, love, disappointment, and determination ("The Happy Then Sad Then Triumphant Spider," "The Lonely Unicorn Is Never Giving Up!"). Burns knows that kids are just as capable of genuine insight as they are total absurdity, and he manages to walk the line between these two extremes without sacrificing musical quality. The album never wears out its welcome, as Burns and Drozd make every song dynamic and unique, from the garage rock-tinged "Space Rock Rock" to the narrated soundscape of the titular closing track. Foreverywhere is a treat for adults and kids alike, and is sure to enjoy regular rotation around the house.


    Caspar Babypants
    Hot Dog!

    Erstwhile singer of the Presidents of the United States of America ("Lump," "Peaches") Chris Ballew offers up 19 cozy, kid-friendly tracks with an old school rock-and-roll sensibility. Ballew-as-Babypants is so prolific that I could have filled this post with nothing but his music and that would still be a decent introduction at best... so if he's a hit with your family, you're in luck! Hot Dog! begins with the doo-wop-influenced "Sugar Ant," then transitions into rock-and-rollers like "Crazy Blue Beetle" and "Summer Baby (Let It Ride)," as well as softer tracks like "This Old Whale" and "Eleanor the Elegant Elephant." Songs like "Bunny Brown" and "I Don't Mind" would feel perfectly at home in the repertoire of Buddy Holly and the Crickets. Babypants's world is gentle, absent of the world-shaking revelations of Foreverywhere -- but no less empowering. And for you Beatlemaniacs out there: he has released three albums of Beatles covers -- Baby Beatles!, Beatles Baby!, and Best Beatles! I'm particularly fond of his cover of "Here Comes the Sun," which enjoyed regular play in our program playlist.


    Frances England
    Blue Skies and Sunny Days

    This gentle, 8-song adventure from kindie veteran Frances England is the perfect soundtrack to a lazy day filled with play, a road trip, or much-needed downtime after a long, stressful day. England immediately sets the tone with the aptly-titled "Carefree," capturing the feeling with verses about school's end, going to the movies, and most importantly, spending time with the ones you love. Despite its title "Into the Wild" maintains a cozy, laid-back approach as England explores the difficult position of being bored and having too much energy. "Not Just My Sister" celebrates the titular sibling ("she's not just my sister, she's my best friend"). "Good Day" is a slice-of-life anthem punctuated with finger snaps and self-backing vocals. "If You Want to Sing Out" encourages little ones to forge their own paths, to express themselves however they're comfortable ("if you want to be me, be me/if you want to be you, be you"). "Mama Said" has the narrator find strength in their mother's advice. "Perfect Tuesday Afternoon" feels like a sonic sibling to "Carefree." Album closer "Watching You Grow" flips the perspective to the caretaker, as England celebrates the joy of watching her little one grow up ("I feel so proud it's hard to measure/A love so big, so deep forever/Watching you grow, watching you grow").


    The Okee Dokee Brothers

    Time for some seasonal fun! Bluegrass musicians the Okee Dokee Brothers celebrate winter, from the first snowfall to the first signs of spring. The Brothers open the album with "Blankets of Snow," a joyous Appalachian-style number complete with hollers and shouts. "Ice Fishin' Shack" portrays the simple joy of spending time with a buddy. Silly banjo-driven tune "The Abominable Yeti" warns listeners about the mythical beast. "You You You," a potential bedtime favorite, thanks the listener for being themselves. The mostly-a cappella interlude "Slumberjack" gives the listener tips on how to fall asleep. The Brothers incorporate ukulele in the self-explanatory "Ukulele in a Snowstorm." "Howl" celebrates being "the wild ones," complete with wolfish howling -- a great song for getting out some excess energy! The appropriately-sleepy "Lazy Day" is accented by muffled brass and yawns. The energy picks up afterward with "North Country Dance Band," followed by the ode to nature "Great Grandmother Tree." Penultimate track "New Year" explores the gentle transition between the old and the new. The album closes with the upbeat "Signs of Spring," pointing out the little moments that make the incoming season so lovely, while acknowledging that, like the cycling seasons, "death is part of life." For fans of Mumford & Sons, the Lumineers, Fleet Foxes, or anyone looking for the perfect album to accompany a cold night in.


    Lisa Loeb
    Feel What U Feel

    Lisa Loeb kicks off this sunny slab of pop rock with the infectious "Moon Star Pie (It's Gonna Be Alright)," assuaging childhood anxieties with reassurances and advice ("twist yourself up like a cinnamon pretzel, connect the dots with the spots of your freckles"). "Say Hello," which encourages listeners to overcome that-all-too-awkward feeling when one meets someone new, is bolstered by bombastic orchestral flourishes. Craig Robinson (The Office, Brooklyn Nine-Nine) hops onto the title track, which finds him trading off kid-friendly raps about feelings and why it's okay to experience them:

    "Feeling weird-o
    Itchy beard-o
    Something’s just not right
    Rat race
    Need space
    Skin’s on too tight
    Guess what? It’s okay!
    Go on and feel what u feel today..."

    The gentle chords of heartstring-tugger "I Was Here" are perfect accompaniment to the track's self-affirming lyrics. "You Can Count on Me" and "The Sky Is Always Blue" assure the listener that they are not alone and that things will work out in the end. "Wiggle" is an instructional dance number. Craig Robinson rejoins Loeb for "It's All Right to Cry," telling kids that, even if they're strange, feelings are real, and they change, and that's okay. Loeb rounds out the album with a lullaby version of "You Can Count on Me" -- another potential bedtime favorite.


    Jack Forman
    Hold the Phone

    Recess Monkey alum Jack Forman opens this indie pop-influenced opus with "The Sun Comes Up Again," an ode to our favorite star and the things it does for us. Ska number "I Had to Pee (On a Ferris Wheel)" describes this exact nightmare scenario with side-splitting detail. Harry Potter fans will enjoy "Little Dobby Does It," a sonic biography of the hapless house elf. "The Cat Walk" paints a portrait of a particularly arrogant furry family friend, complete with meowed vocals. "Surprise Party" invites the listener to join a birthday party. "I Can't Believe I Ate the Whole Thing" finds the narrator lamenting his decision to eat an entire birthday cake, a sleeve of Girl Scout cookies, and other treats. Forman utilizes his upper register in "Tooth Fairy Works Nights," paying tribute to that unsung provider of small bills. The chaotic "Assembly Line" describes all the little things that have to happen just to get a little one to school. If you're looking for something on the silly side, be sure to check out Hold the Phone.


    Looking for some personalized selections? Fill out this form and you’ll receive a customized list direct to your inbox!

      Youth Services Librarian Chris 


  • 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