Happy Baby = Happy Mama

At last I am a parent! For the first time on this blog, I’ll write about a parenting book. As a parent, I’m now turning to books, family and friends for advice on raising my kiddo. As a children’s librarian, it’s always important to be able to help parents find resources that will help them be successful as caregivers. Now that I’m a librarian and a mom, I have an even bigger interest in these resources and plan to keep blogging about the parenting books that have made a difference to me (so hopefully they’ll make a difference to you or a parent in your life).

Just before I had my son, a co-worker gave me a copy of The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. I had heard her rave about this book and was eager to read it. As I began reading, I was quickly sold on Karp’s “5 S” method of calming a cranky or colicky infant and his theory that infants need a “fourth trimester” outside of the womb. I won’t give too much away (because the book is worth the full read and because he teaches parents how to use his method safely and effectively) but Karp encourages things like swaddling and shushing to simulate the womb and calm a baby.

For the past three and a half weeks my son has been a fairly easy baby to care for. Hold him, feed him and let him sleep. No big deal. I thought to myself at one point, “I’m glad I read The Happiest Baby on the Block, but I guess I won’t be needing it.”  However, over the past couple days I noticed some crankiness I couldn’t fully solve. Last night it hit me. My son was dry, fed, warm and attended to by several people who wanted to keep him happy. No luck. He needed the 5 S’s. I followed the method I learned in Karp’s book and like magic he was perfectly content.

My baby was happy and I was happy. I had the information I needed to solve a problem that my child had. He was uncomfortable and I was able to bring him comfort. As a librarian I saw this every day. “My son is biting other kids, do you have a book that will help me teach him to stop?” “My daughter is a reluctant reader, will you help me find something to read that she can get excited about?” Librarians give kids, parents and teachers the information and resources they need to attain their own success. I’m excited to continue reading more parenting books so that I can pass on great information to caregivers, just as my co-worker did for me.

Find The Happiest Baby on the Block at a library near you.

Buy The Happiest Baby on The Block.


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There’s a Book in My Happy Meal!

Photo on 2013-11-18 at 21.29You caught me. I eat a McDonald’s. Not everyday, but I eat there. The deal I make with myself is that I can eat McDonald’s if I choose from the kid’s menu. This has recently left me with a bucket for trick-or-treating, a Tin Man figurine and books. That’s right, books. This month McDonald’s teamed up with Reading is Fundamental to offer books in Happy Meals.

The Dilemma

I think we can all agree that giving kids and families access to books is a good thing. But via Happy Meal? Less of us can agree on that. Let’s consider this, having books in the home can affect children’s future success in reading and other learning objectives. This partnership put books in homes, perhaps homes where there were no books before. Is it a perfect solution to closing the gap between families who have books in the home and those who don’t? Probably not. But if folks are going to buy the Happy Meals anyway, why not send them away with something that will contribute to their child’s literacy?

The Books

I read two of the books: The Goat Who Ate Everything and Deana’s Big Dreams. Each book has a nice balance of text on each page–making them great reads for a wide age range. The illustrations compliment the stories well and are appealing.  Both books include messages about healthy eating. While this gives the books a bit of a didactic feel, it doesn’t completely overwhelm the story. These books are not the best of children’s literature…but they’re not the worst. I found them enjoyable to read and I plan on keeping them around. They’ll be great books to pack for car trips and airplane rides with my little one.

The Sequel

In future iterations of this program (which are in the works), I’d love to see McDonald’s and Reading is Fundamental get some well-known children’s authors on board. Wouldn’t it be great to see Eric Carle or Mo Willems books sent to homes in this volume? Also, it would be great to see library partnership come into play. Whether on a national scale with ALA or a small-scale with franchises and local libraries, this program could be a huge opportunity to invite new families and non-users to check out their local library where they can access even more great books–for free! 

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Check out the Hack Library School eBook!

Hi Friends. During my time in library school, I blogged for Hack Library School. A blog about library school (and related topics) by library school students. There is now a Hack Library School eBook, HLS Guide to Library School, that compiles old and new posts for library school students (and others who are interested). Two of my posts from the blog are included in the book. Check it out!


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20 Minutes a Day

Clocks by Leo Reynolds via Flickr

In the town that I work in, many school children must read 20 minutes a day. For some kids I’m sure this is no big deal–perhaps they read an hour plus each day. For other kids, 20 minutes of reading is surely a challenge. Perhaps they don’t like reading, maybe they have lots of homework, maybe reading is extremely difficult. Still their teachers expect to see a reading log filled with daily 20 minute entries.

I am a creature of empathy. I got to thinking, “Do I read 20 minutes each day?” You may be surprised to know the answer is no. Some days I read much more than that, but some days I don’t read books at all. I like books, and reading–but I don’t always read a ton (yet I always have enough time for social media…). Knowing what the kids in my community are tasked with–I’m inspired to do more. 20 minutes of reading a day is nothing for a literate grown up who likes books (and has access to lots of them) . So I’m challenging myself to read at least 20 minutes a day.

Reading is a habit, a muscle. We can exercise reading or we can exercise other things (TV, Pinterest, Facebook). If you can find the time, I invite you set a reasonable daily goal for reading. Maybe that’s 5 minutes for you…maybe it’s an hour. Regardless, it will exercise your reading muscle AND  it will set a great example for the kids in your life. Teachers assigning 20 minutes of reading will only go so far in growing readers. Seeing a grown up they respect read can make a huge difference in a child’s desire to pick up a book.


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A New Go-To…Dirty Bertie: Germs!

Dirty Bertie is a series imported from the UK. Bertie is kind of a stinker. He’s just the right amount of creative and mischievous so as to keep readers (even reluctant ones) reading and parents ok with it. In Germs! Bertie has three main problems: figuring out how to catch his sister’s chicken pox, how to help his Gran win a ballroom dancing competition (with no prior dance experience), how to deal with his new babysitter (who happens to look like Frakenstein’s monster). Bertie’s resourcefulness shines through as he solves these problems (each covered in a chapter of this three chapter book).

Readers will enjoy this book’s pace (especially the three chapter format), illustrations and Bertie’s rough and tumble charm. The book is a read alike for the Wimpy Kid series and Roald Dahl titles like Matilda.

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Confessions of an Absent Blogger

My last post took place during the Super Bowl. Yes–yes I know. A new football season is upon us and it’s been that long since I blogged–but a lot has happened. After the big game, there was a perfect storm of activity. I was promoted to Manager of Children’s services at my job. This was a very exciting and big step. Still responsible for PR activities at my library, I needed to produce our spring/summer newsletter. Now manager of Children’s Services, I needed to plan and prep for summer reading. I was also taking a grant writing class at the time–and I moved apartments.

When work gets going, I hunker down and focus. I was able to manage all of the things I mentioned above, but blogging would have been stressful. So I left it behind for a few months. For some people, blogging is their job. For other’s it’s a more leisurely outlet (even if it’s related to their work). I write this blog to document my journey through the library. While I could have come home every night for the past several months and blogged about my work and my day–it wouldn’t have been productive for me. I love looking back now, after summer reading, after producing another newsletter–and saying “Hey, I made it…and I love my job…and I like blogging too.”

Since I went to work with my Aunt Julie one day when I was 10, I’ve wanted to manage people one day. It wasn’t all glamour, we ran out of gas on the freeway–but I could see that she was respected, fair and good at what she did/does. Everyday I try to learn something new about being a manager–and I draw on the example of great managers that I’ve had. My biggest lesson so far is that managing is an outward, positive focus toward the team.

One last confession, my husband and I are expecting our first baby in December! I’m excited to see how my library journey evolves in this next chapter.

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Book Bowl

imageLeading up to Sunday’s “big game” I knew there was no way I would be able to sit through such a long contest without a horse in the race. I like football, but two teams I don’t care about can’t hold my attention for long. Still, I look forward to the commercials every year and my hubby and I had a nice assortment of Trader Joe’s snacks.

I decided to spend time between commercials reading a stack of picture books I’ve been neglecting. To make things even more exciting, I chose to live Tweet a short review for each title.

Check out my Tweet reviews: 

  • Reading picture books while I watch the game. #bookbowl
  • Book 1 of #bookbowl | My Heart is Like a Zoo by Michael Hall. 4 stars. Using it for storytime this week.
  • Book 2 of #bookbowl | Fire Engine Man by Andrea Zimmerman. 3 stars.
  • Book 3 of #bookbowl | Red Sled by Lita Judge. 5 stars. Almost wordless, but I’d love to work it into storytime this week.
  • Book 4 of #bookbowl | Byron Barton’s telling of The Little Red Hen. 4 stars. This has been a fave since I was a kid. Using for storytime.
  • My #bookbowl selections for the second half are about bears. I feel like there’s a Rex Grossman joke in there somewhere.
  • Book 5 of #bookbowl | About a Bear by Holly Surplice. 4 stars.
  • Book 6 of #bookbowl | No Bears by Meg McKinlay. 4 stars. Can’t wait for a good opportunity to use it in a storytime.
  • Book 7 of #bookbowl | Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead. 4 stars. Will be great for a late fall or early winter storytime.
  • Book 8 of #bookbowl | The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks. 2 stars. Well done but not my thing.
  • Book 9 of #bookbowl | Otto the Book Bear by Katie Cleminson. 5 stars. Super cute w/cool pics. Great for class & camp visits to the library.

My favorite book of the night was Red Sled by Lita Judge. It’s almost wordless but tells a really fun story with great illustrations. It’s a new winter favorite for me.

I’m planning to resurrect Book Bowl next year. It was a really cool way to pass time during the longest of football games–and cross some items off of my “to read” list!


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