Library Resources for School Readiness

Library Resources for School Readiness

school readiness resources

This is a transcript for the School Readiness Episode of the Booklovers Videocast which you can watch on YouTube.

Laura: [00:00:00] Hi, everyone. Welcome to this video edition of the Clermont County Public Library’s Booklovers Podcast. I’m joined by two librarians today, Cara from our Amelia Branch and Stacy from our Collection Development department. Today we’re going to be talking about school readiness and Cara, would you like to give us a little explanation about what that is?

School Readiness

Cara: [00:00:34] Sure. I’m going to bring up my images here so everyone can see. School readiness encompasses a lot more than people might think it does.

When we talk about school, usually we think about academics, but when you’re talking about kids that are just starting school – and we use the term “school readiness” to include preschool, kindergarten, wherever your kids starting out – that encompasses a lot more than academics because they’re just learning what school is, and they’re also just still learning how to take care of their bodies and interact with other humans. So there’s a lot more to it than just ABCs and 123s. We’ll talk a little bit at the end of my portion about what the Ohio Department of Education recommends through a kindergarten readiness checklist, but mostly what I’m going to talk about is what applies to kids in Clermont County.

Stacy: [00:01:34] Great. I feel like adults are still learning how to interact with other human beings too. So your points are probably helpful for everyone, right?

Cara: [00:01:45] Yes! We’ve got some information from teachers in Clermont County, which is what I’m going to base my suggestions off of today, so that it’s very specific to the kids in this county. We did a survey of kindergarten teachers at the end of last year, 2019, of teachers from public schools and parochial schools, throughout the county. I’m proud to say we got at least one response from each of our service areas. So it’s pretty representative and we asked them what they thought the kids that they were seeing in their classrooms were lacking coming into kindergarten, and far and away, the biggest thing they said was letter knowledge, which is an academic skill, but it’s very important. And then they talked about name recognition and writing, fine motor skills, and other basic concepts, which includes rhyming words, colors, numbers, and shapes.

Library Resources

So then, the library too can offer things that can help your kids get ready for school. We think about school when we talk about school readiness, but you should think about the library too! Of course, we don’t have in-person storytimes right now, so I’ve included a screenshot here of our home page, on, and there’s a little red box called online storytime. That’s where you can see all your favorite storytime providers doing digital storytimes.

We talk a lot about the same things that we do in-person; even though we can’t do all the same activities, we’re still sharing a lot of information that all ties right back into school readiness, the academic concepts, but also learning how to interact and get ready for school. Especially when we come back to our in-person storytimes, I would encourage everyone to bring their kids, because it’s a great informal setting to get your kids ready for school.

We don’t have a lot of expectations about sitting and being quiet all the time – just some of the time – but just learning to share, take turns, talk to other adults that aren’t grown-ups in your family. Those are all really important for getting ready for school.

When you access our online storytime page, you’ll see images of our videos, and you can pick whatever kind of videos you want. They all include tips about early literacy. We have five early literacy practices we talk about in all of our storytimes, and those tie right into school readiness in all different ways, but these are basic things you can do throughout your day.

5 Practices

The five early literacy practices are talking, singing, reading, writing, and playing. Those are the five basic things that we say that you should do throughout your day with your kids. Don’t feel like you have to sit them down and teach them school skills or library skills or whatever. You just have to, throughout your day, incorporate these things as they come naturally. Hopefully, I mean, you can sing throughout your day. Hopefully you’re taking time to read. I feel like writing is the one where people need the most suggestions, but that’s pretty easy to include as well, and I’ll talk about all of these coming up.

Stacy: [00:04:50] I have loved watching all the programmers and storytime leaders do the virtual story times. I always try to watch them. So they’re shared on our Facebook page and then YouTube channel. And they’re so neat because they’re also different. Like everybody has their own style and they’re all different themes and stuff. So they’re just, they’re so much fun to watch. I used to do storytimes as a children’s librarian and I don’t anymore. I really, really miss doing them. So that’s been really fun to watch all the programmers.

Cara: [00:05:29] Yeah, it’s nice because people are getting to see storytime programmers at other branches that they probably wouldn’t usually get to see. So it’s sort of like you said, to get a little taste of everybody.

Stacy: [00:05:42] Yes. There have been movement story times and I know Kevin did one that was kind of like a puppet show almost; just the camera there, viewing or recording him. So it was really neat.

Cara: [00:06:03] Yeah, everybody’s been doing a great job.

I have to say, from the other side of the camera, it is really different because obviously there’s no audience. So it’s very strange to record a storytime with no one else in the room, but, you know, once it gets out there, we’ve seen pictures of kids that are talking back to the presenter and interacting with them, doing the movements and the songs and stuff. So it’s cool to see that after the fact.

Stacy: [00:06:27] Oh, so cute.

mom and child with blocks

Letter knowledge

Cara: [00:06:29] All right. So I’m going to get into some activities and books you can use at home. I talked about things you can do through the library with our online storytimes, and then when we eventually get back to our in-person storytimes, we’d love to have you and show you all the things you can do to get your kids ready for school.

But there’s lots you can do at home too, based on those five early literacy practices and, some different activities that were suggested by teachers, other librarians, and I’m sure you can think of some of some things you’ve done on your own too. So combining all those things will give your kids a great start.

I broke them down by the four categories that I mentioned earlier, and the biggest one was letter knowledge. That’s probably the easiest one to do because letters are everywhere, right? I mean, you look around and there’s so much print, maybe too much, information overload. The nice thing is you can use that wherever you are to point out letters to your kids and talk about words and text.

Stacy: [00:07:27] That’s pretty cool.


Cara: [00:07:28] The easiest thing you can do with your kids is sing the ABCs. I think everybody knows that song, and it’s something you can do throughout your day. Like I was talking about with singing. That repetition is really great for little kids.

Like we talked about, you can point out letters wherever you are, especially the ones in their name. Those are the most important ones to them. And then you can create them with fun materials. So, anything you have at home, like play dough, you can make letters out of, or pipe cleaners, utensils, whatever you have, you can use to make letters, but you can also use other substances like sand, shaving cream, anything that they can draw on. That’s something different than just writing with crayons or markers. It’ll make an impression.

Stacy: [00:08:20] That’s me. Yeah, I know we have, I can’t think of the title off the top of my head, but I know we have a book about finding letters in nature or like outdoors, just outside. So like, if you are at a playground and you’re looking at a swing set, you might see like the letter ‘A’, stuff like that. So just really neat; or you look up in the trees when the leaves are bare and the trees are bare. And like, you might be able to pick out some letters like in the tree branches and stuff. So. That’s really cool. Just find letters wherever you want.

Cara: [00:08:54] Yeah. My youngest is always bringing me tree branches and saying, “It’s a Y!”

Stacy: [00:08:58] That’s awesome.

Cara: [00:08:59] Yeah. So letters are everywhere, even if they’re not meant to be letters.

Cara: [00:09:05] The thing that’s helped my kids the most is ABC puzzles. We have a foam puzzle and a wooden puzzle. We have magnetic letters on our kitchen fridge. Anywhere that you can spell out the alphabet and organize the letters. If it’s a puzzle, it’s nice because you can dump the pieces out and they’re all out of order and then help them put them in order. And then you can sing the song too. You can also make your own puzzle out of just like a cereal box. You can cut it up and write the letters on it.

Stacy: [00:09:35] Oh, cool.

Cara: [00:09:37] And then I would suggest identifying what I call trouble letters.

So letters that don’t pop up very often, like Q or Z, or, you know, letters that your kids might not be as familiar with. If you notice when you’re singing the song or working on a puzzle, that they can’t identify them very easily, try to find some books that have those letters in them. Or you can just point them out, you know, more often as you go throughout your day, try to recognize those letters. Just so you make sure that they have a handle on all the letters.

book cover for now i eat my abcs
book cover for i stink
book cover a busy creature' day eating

Cara: [00:10:10] And then of course there are tons of books about the alphabet. You can search our catalog for those to find them, but these are some of my favorites. Now I Eat My ABCs by Pam Abrams is great for toddlers; it’s letters, all made out of different kinds of food.

The end has them all together. A lot of alphabet books will use the end papers or the last page of the book to put the entire alphabet together, and then you can sing through the song or point out your favorites or find the first letter of their name, anything to engage with the different letters.

I Stink by Kate and Jim McMullan does a similar thing with the alphabet. It’s in the middle of the book though. This one’s great for vehicle lovers. It’s about a garbage truck that’s going on its morning run, and it explains everything about how that works. But then in the middle it says that it’s eating alphabet soup, but it’s all stinky silly things that are in the garbage, like dirty diapers and things like that. It goes through the alphabet in order and has pictures of all that stuff. So that one is good, probably, especially for boys. They’ll find it funny.

And then the last one is A Busy Creature’s Day Eating by Mo Willems. If you’re familiar with the Pigeon books, everybody loves him. I like these stories that take the alphabet and make a story out of it. There’s a handful of those that I’ve used in storytime, and those are always really fun. So I’d recommend that as well.

Stacy: Mo Willems is just an awesome author and illustrator, in my opinion, just the cover looks so fun and colorful, and I just think it will really capture kids’ attention and also help them learn their letters, which is great.

Cara: Yeah, it’s silly, like most of his books. So I think that’s a big factor. If you can make it funny, kids will stay engaged. I think the creature eats furniture. So he kind of runs out of normal food and just eats furniture, as one does. Sometimes I think we feel like it, especially when I’m trapped at home, does furniture looks good?

adult and child writing

Name recognition and writing

The next category was name recognition and writing. As I talked about with letter knowledge, if you can review the letters in your child’s name, those are the most important to them, especially the first letter. Point the letters in their name out as you can, and of course practice writing it with them, to help them learn how to write the letters and see what their name looks like.

Talk about each of the letters and their sounds. You can do a letter hunt around your house for all the letters in their name using different products and things around your house. One of the things I like is to make up a name song. Luckily with both of my kids, it was easy because they have five and six letter names. You can use the BINGO song, but plug in their letters and that works. You could come up with your own song using another classic, like The Wheels on the Bus or Itsy Bitsy Spider, whatever works with the rhythm of your child’s name, or just make up your own tune. And that will help them remember how to spell it.

And when they’re trying to write it, which can take a very long time when they’re first starting, they might lose track of where they are. So you can say, we’ll sing your song and, and they’ll pick it up.

Stacy: [00:13:38] I like that suggestion.

Cara: [00:13:39] Don’t forget just scribbling and drawing. If your kids are too young to learn how to write their name, if they’re a toddler, that’s a great way to develop those early writing skills and also teaching them their shapes. One way that they’ll learn how to differentiate the letters is knowing their shapes and that’s the same kind of skill. Starting there with toddlers is a great place.

child using scissors

Fine motor skills

Cara: [00:14:04] The next thing we heard from teachers is about fine motor skills. So that’s developing and using the small muscles in your fingers and your hands as opposed to gross motor skills, which is the big muscles you use for running and jumping and things like that. Kids are coming in to school not knowing how to cut with safety scissors, or even use a pencil, from what we heard. These are really important skills that they have to learn before they can start learning what the teacher’s trying to teach them. If they don’t have that foundation, it can be hard to get started in school.

Cutting with scissors

One of the things that the teachers suggested to us that we could do in storytimes, or parents could do at home, is to practice cutting with safety scissors. Parents can draw lines or shapes on a piece of paper, and then kids can follow those and get that practice. Any kind of writing utensils you have at home that you’re comfortable with your kids using. So even if you don’t have crayons or markers, pens, pencils, highlighters, as long as you’re okay with them using them, it’s all the same skill where they’re learning how to handle it and make marks. And then with paper, if you have scrap paper or even just junk mail, all kinds of things to get their fingers moving, like tearing, crumpling or gluing, the paper helps them get ready, with those fingers skills.

dad and child coloring

And then one of the most important ones that I think we think of as a really simple activity, but it’s actually really important, It’s coloring. So one of our kindergarten teachers talked about how, it’s your job to color in school. She said, most of our students come in and they don’t know how to hold a pencil. So she tells them just like your grown-up goes to work during the day, and you come here, they do their job, and your job is coloring, so that’s what you’re going to do. So that’s how important it is to building those foundational skills. And then the last activity I included was finger plays, which is a term that some might not be familiar with, but all of us that present storytimes are very familiar with. We use them all the time. The Itsy Bitsy Spider is one.

I think you probably know some finger plays. You just don’t think of them in that way. But that’s a way that you can get their fingers ready. Anything that has hand movements along with a song or a rhyme. You’ll learn them in our online storytimes, if you tune into some of those. You can search for finger plays online, based on any topic, themes, the teachers have put everything under the sun online.

Stacy: [00:16:28] Yeah. I think my favorite literacy tip I used to share when I did story times, it was actually during baby time. So even during baby time, you know, you’re sharing these pre-literacy tips to help your child get ready to learn how to read when they’re old enough to. We would always print out sheets of paper for the adults in the room so that they can follow along and sing the songs with us.

And then, inevitably their babies would get hold of the papers and crumple them up and like start to tear them. Then the adults would be like, “Oh, I’m so sorry!” And take it away. And I was like, “It’s okay, no, actually”, and then I would say my literacy tip. It’s great for babies, their fine motor skills and to build muscles in their fingers.

If they’re crumpling paper or ripping it they’ll, you know, be better equipped to hold a pencil or a crayon when they’re a little bit older and then that helps in the foundation of those literacy skills. Yo probably don’t want your baby to be ripping up like you’re mail or something.

Right. Like important mail. But just know that it’s okay. That they are, a little bit destructive in that way.

Cara: A little bit.

Stacy: That’s great.

podcast itsy bitsy spider
book cover for five little ducks
book cover for farm

Cara: [00:17:46] so there’s some books you can use for fine motor skills as well. The Sing Along with Me series is the first one that I’ve included, they have The Itsy Bitsy Spider. I think there’s quite a few books out there for that song. But anything that is, like I said, there’s a song that includes movements where they’re using their fingers is great to get them ready for school.

And then there’s another series I really like, it only has three titles, but the illustrations are so cute. It’s called the Fingers and Toes Nursery Rhyme Book series. The one I’ve included here is the Five Little Ducks. So you’re counting the ducks and it shows the image of the hand on the book. And then it also shows what movement you’re supposed to do. So of course with the duck, you can do this [duck beak movement with hand].

Cara: [00:18:29] So, it’s great that it has instructions built into the book without being preachy. It’s just an image that’s there to help the parents with it. I really like that series.

The Follow the Trail series is great as well. They have these sparkly glitter trails throughout the entire book. And it’s got photographs that go along with them. So they’re really engaging. This one’s about farms, so it has different farm animals.

And then you can follow the trail to wherever it’s telling you to go, like the chicken coop or go feed the cows. And, so that helps with the finger dexterity. It’s just right in the book there. They also include a lot of shapes, so that helps them identify the shapes and kind of do the muscle memory to remember how to make the shape.

child with shapes

Additional basic concepts

Shapes are part of our basic concepts, which is our last slide. So shapes is one of those basic concepts that teachers talked about that kids are missing out on when they get to school.

Rhyming words

The ones that they mentioned the most are rhyming words and knowing rhymes, colors, numbers, and shapes. So there’s a lot of activities you can do at home for all these. Of course, we have books galore on these topics, so you can search our catalog for the different topics.

“stories in rhyme”, I think is one that you might not know the exact term to search for, but that’s how to find rhyming books or nursery rhymes. I was surprised that teachers said kids don’t really know those coming into school.

Stacy: [00:20:05] I guess it’s not something that’s same. I wonder if, you know, compared to 15, 20, 30, or more years ago. That’s so interesting. Possibly.

Cara: [00:20:19] Yeah. They said that that was, I think it, you know, it falls more under like a cultural knowledge. You would think that people would know, you know, things like Baa Baa Black Sheep.

Rhyming words are really important. I would just suggest books for those. And then talk about the sounds that you hear, say one word and see if your child can say a rhyming word.

Colors and shapes

For colors and shapes, one fun game you can do is the classic I Spy game. So looking for things around your house and just talking about the different things and as you go throughout your day, when you see different colors, talk about them when you’re playing with your kids. Saying the colors of the blocks or their toys is an easy way to incorporate that with something they’re already doing

With numbers, I would just say repetition, counting throughout your entire day. Count how many pieces of fruit they have on their plate. Use your fingers too, and show them visually how to count, and just keep counting and they’ll eventually get it.

book cover for my bus
book cover for bear sees colors
book cover for twinkle twinkle little star

These are some of my favorite books for these concepts. My Bus by Byron Barton is counting book, and of course it also has vehicles for those vehicle lovers. The bus driver picks up all the different animals in different combinations. It’s two cats and one dog or three cats. And so it’s a good way of combining learning how numbers combine to make other numbers.

And then the end pages count up to 10 and show all the different animals. It’s another way you can use the end pages to practice things.

Bear Sees Colors is by Karma Wilson. She’s one of my favorite authors. This one’s really cool because it’s a rhyming, guessing game book. She talks about what the animals are doing and doesn’t show the color on the previous page. It’s just a rhyme that would end in the color. So if you can guess what the rhyming word is, you might be able to guess the color. And then on the next page, when you turn the pages says what the color is and the, the illustrations are just saturated with the color. So it’s really cool visually too. And it’s all like nature scenes. So it’s very organic.

Stacy: I love that book.

Cara: [00:22:36] She’s awesome. We had her at the library quite a few years back now, but she’s just a really cool person.

Stacy: [00:22:38] All of Karma Wilson’s books are awesome and Bear has his own series. So there’s so many bear books about basic concepts and seasons and holidays and stuff.

So they’re just, they’re awesome. Yeah.

Cara: [00:22:53] And I think they’re all rhyming; they have a really good rhythm.

Stacy: [00:22:57] Yes.

Cara: [00:22:59] What I would suggest for nursery rhymes is Jane Cabrera’s books. I don’t think it has a title necessarily as a series, but if you just look her up as an author, she has tons of nursery rhyme books, with the classics like Baa Baa Black Sheep, and then songs that you’re familiar with, like The Wheels on the Bus and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.

She kind of expands on the original rhymes. One of my favorites to use in storytime is Row, Row, Row Your Boat. It goes into all these different animals that you wouldn’t expect it to. Like there’s an alligator. “If you see an alligator, make sure you scream,” so it adds more verses, and Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star does too, in really cool way. And her illustrations are just really cute.

Finally, this is the checklist I mentioned earlier. So if you’re looking for a broader view of school readiness, rather than just what we’ve focused on here in Clermont County, this has I think the most information for the state of Ohio. It’s longer than what you can see here, but this is just some examples of what they talk about. We’ve mentioned some of these things too, like cooperating with other adults, and sharing and taking turns.

Stacy: [00:24:09] So all those skills that you have to think about all the important skills that are just not inherent. Like you have to learn that you have to practice.

Cara: [00:24:23] Yeah. And like you said, some adults are still learning.

adult reading to a child

Nonfiction school readiness books

Laura: Cara, that was some absolutely fantastic information. Thank you so much for sharing that. I’m sure that’s going to be helpful for a lot of people. Stacy. I hear that you have some nonfiction titles to share with us.

Stacy: [00:24:41] So I am one of the collection development librarians here in the system, and, I primarily focus on selecting books for babies, kids and teens. And previously I was a children’s librarian. I worked with Cara, at the Amelia branch. And then I also worked at the Union Township branch. So I got to do baby times and storytimes so I’m all about the children’s books. So we’re going to dive right into talking about nonfiction books. And then after that, we’re going to talk about how to access ebooks and other formats through our downloadable options, which is really exciting.

Why nonfiction

Okay. So why nonfiction? I feel like a lot of the times parents kind of forget that we have nonfiction books for little kids. So a lot of the times that we see a lot of like, second graders and up coming in to, you know, get nonfiction books for school, or they’re just really interested in something like dinosaurs or something like that, animals.

And, then we show them the nonfiction section. We actually have a ton of really great, nonfiction books for school, age kids, like younger school, age kids. So these, all these choices I’m going to share are great for like five year-olds; four or five, six year-olds are getting ready to go into kindergarten.

Probably all of our branches shelves nonfiction separately from the children’s area. If you visit a branch and you only go into the children’s area, you’re likely missing all of these really great nonfiction books. The nonfiction books, the kids’ books are interfiled with the adult nonfiction books so they’re all together. All books on like the same subject are next to each other on the shelves. So that last point I have on the slide, “When in doubt, ask a librarian”, right, please. Please do. If you are interested in any of these nonfiction titles and other ones, and you’re just not sure where to find them, please ask.

Because it can be kind of daunting looking through all of those stacks for good books for the specific age of your child. So a couple of other points that I think are important with nonfiction books for children is they should have really exciting, dynamic high-quality illustrations or photographs.

I love nonfiction books that have photographs in them because, they really connect the child to the real world, which is really great. Facts should be easy to digest and accessible for five or six year olds. So that doesn’t mean that those books can’t have a lot of words in them, but the material should be appropriate for the five- and six-year-old age.

Follow your child’s interests

And then, probably the most important is to just follow your child’s interests, whatever it is. So a child might find something interesting in one book that just sparks something else. And then you kind of go on like this little treasure hunt for different subjects and different types of books and whatever keeps them interested and engaged and excited about reading is what we want.

So, definitely just follow whatever they’re interested in.

Cara: [00:28:31] Now, one thing we tell parents in storytimes, usually when we’re reading nonfiction, which we do sometimes just to remind them that it is there, that you don’t have to read all the words, which is true with fiction too, it’s a little bit harder since you might lose the thread of the story, but especially with nonfiction, it’s really easy to jump around.

In a lot of nonfiction for this age group, they’ll have one big sentence in big type that’s simple. And then they’ll include more information in a separate text box. So you don’t necessarily have to read all the words, or you can just talk about the pictures.

Stacy: [00:29:05] Yes. But that is such a good point.

And I, I definitely have, at least one book I’m going to share with you that. That is exactly, fits that criteria because it’s quite wordy, but it has, like, you know, text on the top part of the page and on the bottom part of the page and then on the opposite page. So like Cara was saying, you don’t have to read it all.

book cover for all kinds of friends

You could read the first sentence and then just talk about what you see in the illustrations or in the picture. So that’s really great advice. Yes. Okay, we’re going to dive into some titles now. I’m so excited when we talk about books, I’m so excited. So just some really, great school readiness picks, All Kinds of Friends by Shelly Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly.

So this one you can see has photographs of children and such a lovely, just heartwarming little book. There are kids of all different races and ethnicities, they have all different types of interests. So it’s great. Kind of like an introduction to different people and, you know, not necessarily like a primer on how to make a friend, but just showing that there are all these different types of people in the world and you might get to meet them in your class. And then you can talk about the pictures, like what each child is doing.

Oh, I like to do that, or, Oh, I don’t like to do that. So just, all of these books and books in general, but especially nonfiction books. It’s really great to have a dialogue with your child while you’re reading to them. So you can ask them questions about what they see in the pictures, or, even just the cover.

You can say, “What are these children doing while playing on the playground? You like to do that. What’s your favorite thing on the playground?” Things like that.

book cocer for an edible alphabet

So An Edible Alphabet is my second choice. It’s 26 reasons to love the farm by, and McKayla Sorrentino. And this is the one that I just talked about a moment ago that is very wordy. So, it’s great letter knowledge because it goes through the entire alphabet and then it connects each letter with different things on the farm and things that you wouldn’t expect, like A on the farm is actually for ants climbing on asparagus. You would think like, Oh, A’s for Apple, right?

No, not in this book, so, but it’s  very wordy. So what you can do is just read a couple of sentences, and then talk about the pictures and then maybe when your child is a little bit older, I would say first or second grade, the entirety of the book would be appropriate for them, for you to read to them and as they’re learning to read on their own.

book cover for full of fall

And then my next pick on this slide is called Full of Fall by April Pulley Sayre. And, she’s a very prolific children’s author. She has a lot of picture books and then a lot of nonfiction books and she is the photographer for her nonfiction books as well. So she took all the photos in this book and it’s beautiful. Fall is always a big theme for back to school. Of course, I remember doing teacher collections and almost every teacher wanted just fall themed. So this is really great for kids when they’re learning about seasons, when they’re learning about what happens to the trees during fall and animals during the fall.

So they’re just beautiful photographs. And I liked that it relates to something going on in the real world. So you can read this book and then walk outside and look at your trees during the fall and see what’s happening to them.

book cover for edible colors

Next I have some picks for learning basic concepts of colors, counting, and shapes. So, one of my favorite, favorite, favorite Storytime books is Edible Colors by Jennifer Vogel Bass. She also has a book called Edible Numbers, which is all about counting. But this is kind of like a guessing book. And I know it’s backwards, sorry, but I’m going to show it. If you’re reading aloud to your child at home or in your classroom, this would be such a wonderful book to read aloud because it’s a guessing game and kids get like inordinately excited, to guess the answers it’s so cute. So I’m going to play with you guys just for one page.

So you have to guess the colors; carrots are normally what color? Yes, they are! Good job, but carrots can also be what other color?

Yeah. Well, Laura, do you have another guess? They can also be purple. Kids’ minds are blown and then the next spread shows you look, what else can be purple? So there’s purple corn. There’s purple asparagus, all sorts of other colors. So this book is really, really fun and really neat. So they can learn about colors, they can learn about different foods. And I have a really fun time playing the guessing game.

book cover for i spy with my little eye

So the next book I Spy With my Little Eye by Edward Gibbs is also a guessing game. So it’s really neat; they eye of the frog is a cutout and then on every page is another cutout and it gives you kind of like a little hint of the next animal that’s coming.

So I think the first spread is, I spy with my little eye, something that is blue. And then there’s a little animal fact to help you guess. And the animal fact is I’m the biggest animal in the world.

Do you know what that could be?

Cara: [00:35:16] Is it the blue whale?

Stacy: [00:35:18] Yes! So it was a really fun guessing game. You gets to learn about colors. Even before you read the page, you can ask the children or ask your child what color is on this page so that they can learn their colors. So you’re not just telling them.

book cover for ocean counting

And then the last pick on this page is Ocean Counting 1 2 3 by Janet Lawler and Brian Skerry.

It is an actual a National Geographic kids’ book and there are lots of National Geographic kids’ books in our collection. And they have amazing photography and, really good, neat facts. This one is all about counting. I love the two little seals, the mom and the baby seal pup kissing on the cover there, it’s adorable. So they can learn about counting and then also learn about animal facts as well.

book cover for what do they do

So next slide is just some really good high interest picks that I think are wonderful for this age group. And they’re packed with fun and funny facts. So the first one is What Do They Do With All That Poo? by Jane Kurtz and Allison Black. So this I think will satisfy those children who love to talk about poo, yeah. You know, it’s a fascinating topic. It really is. And honestly, this book is absolutely fascinating. So it goes through a bunch of different animals that you would find in the zoo. And it talks about their poo.

So, for example, elephants obviously are very large animals and they eat a huge amount of food every single day. And, and one day their poo can weigh about 165 pounds.

Laura: [00:37:16] That’s a lot.

Stacy: [00:37:16] And sloths, because they don’t expel a lot of energy, they are very slow moving and they stay in their trees most of the time. They climb down from their trees once a week to go and that’s it.

book cover for sloth went

Cara: [00:37:37] There’s a new picture book out called Sloth Went. It tells about the journey down the tree and talks about the science behind it, but yeah, my preschooler was trying to figure out what’s happening because the book doesn’t really lay it out in so many terms, like he’s going down and he does a dance. So we had to read it a couple of times to understand what was going on.

Great. Fascinating.

Stacy: [00:38:07] That’s awesome. And it would be great for, you know, toddlers who are going through the potty-training stage, because it’s kind of like a potty-training book. But I did, I ordered that one and I thought this one’s going to be a big hit because it’s adorably illustrated and it’s about poo. But then also in this book, so it goes through all these different animals and talks about their poo, but then it talks about what do zoos do with all their poo because if they didn’t do anything with it, I mean, like in a week’s time they would just be over-run with poo. So, so it’s actually kind of like an early STEM book, because it talks about, you know, veterinarians studying the animal’s poop; it talks about, you know, farmers coming in for compost. It even talks about scientists, looking into animal poo as like a way to use renewable energy and bio-gas. So it’s really actually very fascinating and it’s, really, really cutely illustrated.

bookcover for octopuses 1 to 10

And then, My next pick is also— actually all of these are animal books. I would say the majority of books published for kids are about animals. But that’s definitely not all that we have in our nonfiction collection, but these were just my main favorite ones. So our second choice. Is Octopuses 1 to 10 by Ellen Jackson and Robin Page. And this one is fascinating. It’s all about octopuses. it’s beautifully illustrated, so you could talk about the different colors that you see, on the pages you could talk about counting because octopuses have eight arms, not legs, arms.

That is something I learned; you can learn a lot from children’s nonfiction books. Actually I think one of the more recent Jeopardy winners said that he gathered most of his information from the public library from children’s books. So there you go. And you could win jeopardy by reading all these books. Don’t hold me to that.

book cover for prickly hedgehogs

So that’s another basic concept about counting and, our last pick here is Prickly Hedgehogs by Jane McGuinness. It’s just the cutest book. If you are an animal lover and you want to learn more about hedgehogs, it talks about their habitat, what they eat, what they look like.

I learned that baby hedgehogs are called hoglets. And I think that’s the cutest thing I’ve ever heard.  So if that piques your child’s interest, you can, search for more books, which is great. And you can put, if any of these titles piqued your interest, you can place them on hold either by calling your local library branch and our librarians would be more than happy to place items on hold for you.

So those are all of my nonfiction book picks. And it was really hard to narrow them down, but it was really fun. So thank you guys for including me on that.

Cara: [00:41:44] if you haven’t told us, I wouldn’t have known about what do they do with all that

Stacy: [00:41:49] I know. I’ll send you this book if you want.

Cara: [00:41:52] I probably need to look at it.

Stacy: [00:41:54] Okay. I will! Laura and I work in the same building. And so I’ll run it down to

overdrive logo
hoopla logo
freading logo

Digital resources

Stacy: Okay, we’re going to quickly go through and talk about accessing downloadable materials. When I say downloadable materials, I mean, eBooks, audio books that you listen to you, videos, music, magazines, comics, we have it all, and it’s downloadable. So you can access it from home using your devices, which is really neat.

You can go about it a couple of different ways. We have a couple of different resources that houses all of our downloadable materials. So if you are on our website, if you’re on a computer or a laptop, what you want to do is first of all, go to our website: There’s a tab at the top called digital library.

You’ll hover over that and you’ll click on downloads. Then you’ll be able to see the different resources that we have, which is listed at the bottom of the screen here. So we have, the resource for Freading, which is for eBooks. We have Hoopla, which is my personal favorite. They have eBooks, audiobooks, videos, comics, and music.

There’s also Overdrive, which is probably the most popular in terms of like, most people use it and most people have probably heard of that one. And it’s a big consortium where we share materials with other libraries in Ohio. So there’s a lot of content on there, which is really nice. And they have eBooks the audio books, magazines, and videos.

So, I think the easiest way to use all of these, and access all of these downloadable materials is on a smart phone or a tablet like, An iPad or Kindle or something like that.

If you’re on a device, go into your app store and search for the resource name. So you can search for Freading or hoopla and you’ll download it.

But if you want to find out more about each resource, go to our website first and go to our downloads page. And you can read a little bit more about each resource and what they have to offer. All of these books are available to download and, right now they are immediately accessible for everyone. There’s no wait list. So if you find something on here, you can check it out and download it right away, which is why it’s my favorite downloadable resource that we have.

Libby app logo

Laura: it’s probably worth pointing out that if people are familiar with Libby, that’s the same collection of items as Overdrive. Libby only has eBooks and audiobooks. It doesn’t have the videos.

Downloadable support

Stacy: That is a really good point because I think that it can be a little bit confusing. It’s like, why are there two different apps for the same resource? And if you get stuck on any of this, call your branch, we can talk you through it. And we might be able to sit down with you, and go through the steps for downloading onto your own device, but we can definitely do it over the phone.

Cara: [00:46:11] Sometimes it’s hard when you can’t see the device. So sometimes it’s hard to communicate what’s going on. So sometimes it is easier if we can see it, but yeah, with everything going on right now, we have done some tablet help, but usually you’re sitting kind of far away and we just peek at what you’re doing. Everything’s a little bit different now, but we can still help for sure.

Laura: Absolutely. And there’s a help form. If they go to the downloads page that you mentioned, there’s a great big blue button and there’s, an email form that they can always fill out too. So if it’s a time when we’re not going to be in the branches, you can always email us.

Stacy: Yes. That’s when in doubt, ask a librarian and that’s my other mantra. So, just really quickly, what do you need to check out downloadable materials? You must have a library card first and foremost. You need your pin number and you need something in which you read or watch or listen on. So a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Library card

If you don’t have a library card, you are welcome to come and to any of our branches and apply for one in person; that will give you access to all of our materials. So I like to call it the full-access card. I don’t know that it actually has a name, but, that lets you check out all of our downloadable materials, but then also all, all of our physical materials.

In order to get a full-access card, you need a state government issued state issued, photo ID. Your license would work and then something with your current address on it. If your license has that, you’re good to go. Or you can use your license and then a postmarked piece of mail or a bill or something that has your name and current address on it.

library card


If you’re just interested in and downloading materials, not borrowing anything from our physical collection, we do have an eCard option and you can apply for any card option online. So if you go to our website, again, hover over the digital library tab and then click on eCard application.

You just fill out all the boxes and you will be emailed a library card number and instructions on how to set up a pin number. So it’s very, very simple. It’s very easy. You don’t need any other verification to get an e-card. It can happen all within like about 24 or 48 hours when staff are able to process your application and then email you your library card number. So it’s super easy and super quick.

dad and child using a tablet


And this is just a screenshot of, The Ohio Digital Library. So that is the consortium that is powered by Overdrive. So if you have the Overdrive or the Libby app, this is kind of what you’ll be seeing. I did the screenshot on my computer. So it looks maybe a little bit different than how it would look on a smartphone or a tablet.


But you can search by title, author, subject. I did an advanced search for, juvenile nonfiction picture books, for grades kindergarten through third. So there’s 69 that are currently available. So all of those great nonfiction books that we talked about. If any of those, you know, piqued your interest, you could see if they’re on Overdrive or you can find one of these other great nonfiction books for the same age range.

I love Kate Messner’s books, the Over and Under the Snow. The bottom right one. They’re awesome for opposites. And then they’re just so beautifully illustrated and it talks about, this one, Over and Under the Snow, like what is happening above ground during the winter time in the woods and then what’s happening underground as well. It’s just, it’s so neat. I love it.

Benefits of downloadables

Okay. So why downloadable, why even bother with them? They’re great. I would say probably should have been my first bullet point: no late fees or fines, and they’re accessible 24/7. So you can download them at three in the morning if you want to, if you’re awake.

You can search, check out, download and read either in your browser, if you’re on a computer or a laptop or inside the app, if you’re on a phone or a tablet, and there’s thousands of titles to choose from. So it’s awesome.

I love physical books. I love, you know, holding, a physical copy of a book, but like, if you’re going on a trip for if you’re going on vacation or something, it’s so nice to just bring your phone or a tablet and have, you know, dozens or more titles available to choose from.

And then these are just, the little icons each of our downloadable resources.

Freading, Hoopla, the Overdrive and the Libby app are right next to each other. So those both are used with the Ohio digital library.


So if you are interested in any of these books, you can come in and visit your branch and your librarians. They have missed you so much. So our normal hours are posted here. And again, when in doubt, ask a librarian. That’s what we’re here for. We’re here to help. The reference librarians and especially the children’s librarians are experts at finding just the right book for you and your child. So definitely ask for help or for suggestions. That’s it.

Laura: [00:52:16] That was some fantastic information, Stacy. Thank you, actually, thanks to both of you. I appreciate all of that. That is just an absolute wealth of information. And just to let our viewers know, we’ll have show notes that have links to all of the things that you’ve talked about and that’ll be on the website, which as you both said is So thank you to both of you. Thank you to all of our watchers and remember, read on readers.

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Digital Specialist, social media enthusiast, content strategist, marketing aficionado, voracious reader.

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