Friends, colleagues, caregivers, we made it another year! Give yourselves a big high-five and self-hug. Under difficult conditions, we found ways to nurture our little ones and fill our libraries, classrooms, and homes with warmth and joy.
For me, 2021 was a year of teaching early literacy online and reading a lot — a lot! — of picture books. I am excited to share a selection of the best picture books from my class this year, arranged into my top five overall and top five in the categories of biography, humor, mindfulness, inclusion, and science. These books were not published in 2021, they were the ones that made my young learners — across time zones and hemispheres — lean in and light up. These were the books that made us all feel connected and better about the world around us.
So next year, when you’re looking for that perfect book for your storytime, circle time, or anytime together with your kids, look here!
Are you serious? The song “Five Little Monkeys“ (FLM) used to be “Five Little N-words?” I’d been hearing that casual racism was in the very fabric of modern life. I’d been trying to listen and grasp this point, though I didn’t really get it. But when my youth services colleagues started talking about not using “FLM” in their story times anymore, and I looked into the reasons why, I suddenly saw the problem in sharp detail and felt that I had to do something. Here’s how I have been dealing with latent racism in my children’s programming ever since.
It is my pleasure to announce two wonderful new websites created in 2021. These two projects emerged in my life as diamonds in the rough, that is, the rough second autumn of the COVID19 pandemic. Think of these websites as lotuses in the muck, phoenixes from the ashes, lemonade from the lemons, silver linings in the sable cloud, bright spots in the — okay, okay, you get the point. Without further ado, I present:
Singrhymeandplay.com is a hub where people enjoying my early literacy content — either from Outschool, YouTube, or library forums — can learn more about the project overall. Sing, Rhyme, and Play all started in early 2020 during quarantine. My spouse (artist and designer) and I wanted to share the original story time content I had been creating at the library before it shut down. We realized this content could support librarians, teachers, caregivers, and parents throughout the pandemic if we made it available for free on YouTube. We called the channel, “Sing, Rhyme, and Play.”
Later that year, with no end to COVID19 in sight, my daughter schooling from home, and no clear path for me to return to my library job, I created Sing, Rhyme, and Play Circle Time, an early literacy class I offered on Outschool. The online class is for ages 3-5 and uses my original content from the YouTube channel. Sing, Rhyme, and Play has grown a lot since then, and exciting new connections are being made all the time. Which brings me to …
Well, I wasn’t a guest blogger for long! I was so inspired by the work Storytime Solidarity was doing — providing resources, craft ideas, song lyrics, and book recommendations to the early literacy community — that I quickly joined their Content Team. Check these people out! The Storytime Solidarity crew is an inspiring group working from many corners of the world to make it a better, kinder, happier place for children everywhere. And their grownups too.
Friends, it’s bleak out there on the screens these days — with an ongoing pandemic, political strife, and other crises looming — but on these two websites, you will find a better world. And the tools to build your own better world too.
May these two websites, Singrhymeandplay.com and Storytime Solidarity.com, be for you the lotuses in the muck, phoenixes from the ashes, lemonade from the lemons, silver linings in the sable cloud, and bright spots in the darkscape that they have been for me this year.