Some-Body Loves Me: Storytime About Parts of the Body

Well, my Toddler Storytime this week got rained out, but we luckily the weather held for our Musical Storytime. Our libraries are participating in a program called San Mateo County Reads, sponsored by the County Office of Education, so our featured book was Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry and Vashti Harrison. We had copies of the book to give out, along with copies of Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker Rhodes for older kids.

On a side note our library system recently purchased portable PA systems for each branch, and these have made a HUGE difference for outdoor storytime. I can put the speaker on one of the picnic tables closer to the audience, and use a headset mic when I read and sing. At the first outdoor storytime, I had to use a microphone on a stand, which was really awkward for reading aloud. But now I can move around freely.

Here are the books and songs that we used:

BOOKS:

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry; illustrated by Vashti Harrison

Our featured picture book, and this year’s picture book selection for San Mateo County Reads, this is a beautiful story about an African American father and daughter, and their struggles to recreate a special hairstyle for a very special day. The book is actually based on an Oscar Award-winning short film, which was originally funded by a Kickstarter pitched by the author. (Warning: the film will make you cry!). The book was a bit longer than the ones I usually read for my musical storytime audience, but since we had given out copies to each family, they could follow along as we read, giving the kids a really clear view of the illustrations. It was sweet to see all of the caregivers and kids sitting on their blankets and looking at the book together.

Who Has Wiggle-Waggle Toes? by Vicki Shiefman and Francesca Chessa

This is a really cute book, reminiscent of Eric Carle’s From Head to Toe, but featuring children instead of animals. It begins by asking who has different body parts (wiggle-waggle toes, hokey-pokey heads, and big, bold bottoms), and then asks the kids to move each part in different ways. I’ve noticed that the kids in the outdoor storytime tend to stay seated on their blankets, and this was a great way to encourage them to move around a bit more. Since the families were spread out, my coworker, Clare, walked a second copy of the book around to help the kids see the illustrations (she says it’s fun to hear the caregivers talking to their kids about things they see in the pictures. This has turned out to be an unexpected bonus of outdoor storytime, and a new way of promoting interactions between parents and kids.

There Is a Bird on My Head? by Mo Willems

This is one of my favorite Elephant and Piggie books, where Gerald the Elephant is unhappy to discover that a couple of birds have decided to build a nest on top of his head. Clare drew a pig nose on a face mask and read the part of Piggie, and I put on a set of elephant ears to be Gerald. We had a bird puppet, and even a nest of baby bird puppets to put on our heads, which was an extra challenge, but hilarious for the kids, since they kept falling off. Lots of fun!

SONGS:

I LOVE MY HAIR

I came up with this one to go with Hair Love. It’s to the tune of Love Somebody, Yes, I Do.

I love my hair, yes I do! (nod)

Love to wash it with shampoo (Mime washing your hair)

Rinse it, dry it (shake head vigorously), style it too.

Don’t you love my new hairdo? (fluff your hair with your hands)

AIKEN DRUM

This old Scottish song is one of my favorites to sing and play. I often have the kids suggest their own foods for the different parts of Aiken Drum’s face, but this time I printed out large pictures of meatballs, cheese, pizza, and spaghetti noodles, and taped them to the back of the large notepad I use to display song lyrics. The ukulele/guitar chords are in brackets:

[C] There was a man lived [F] in the moon
[C] In the moon, [G] in the moon.
There [C] was a man lived [F] in the moon,
And his [C] name was [G] Aiken [C] Drum.

Chorus:

And he played upon a ladle, a ladle, a ladle,
He played upon a ladle, and his name was Aiken Drum.

Verse:

His eyes were made of meatballs, meatballs, meatballs,
His eyes were made of meatballs, and his name was Aiken Drum

His nose was made of cheese….

His mouth was made of pizza…

His hair was made of spaghetti…  etc.

THE HOKEY POKEY

This one worked perfectly as a follow-up to Who Has Wiggle-Waggle Toes. Here are the chords:

[C] You put your right hand in,

You put your right hand out.

You put your right hand in,

[G] And you shake it all about!

You do the Hokey Pokey

And you turn yourself around,

That’s what it’s all [C] about!

HEAD AND SHOULDERS, KNEES AND TOES

This one needs no explanation, except that I like to sing it three it times, getting faster and faster, and I always add a “beep beep” after the word nose. I also point to each body part before we sing the song the first time, and make the inevitable joke, “Did everyone bring their heads today?,” which usually gets a laugh from the grown-ups.

NO ONE LIKE YOU by Andra Willis Muhoberac:

For years, my manager Thom Ball and I used this as an opening song for Musical Storytime, and we recorded it with two storytime volunteers (Ellen Ron and Sue Beckmeyer) on a CD we created to give away to families. It’s such a sweet and beautiful song.

I like your [C] eyes.

I like your [F] nose.

I like your [G] mouth.

Your ears, your hands, your [C] toes.

I like your face.

It’s really [F] you.

I [Dm] like the things you say and [G] do.

There’s not a [F] single [G] soul

Who [C] sees the [Am] skies

The [G] way you see them.

Through your [C] eyes.

[F] And aren’t you [G] glad.

[E]You should be [Am] glad.

There’s [C] no one, [G] no one

Exactly like [C] you.

STAY AND PLAY ACTIVITY

For our stay and play activity, I printed out these adorable Nature Collage Critters from The Ultimate Guide to Backyard Camping on TommyJohn.com (the link includes a bunny, a bear, and a raccoon). I gave out glue sticks, so the kids could gather leaves and other small objects from around the park to glue onto their picture. This was a big hit!

Any other favorite books or songs about parts of the body? Please share them in the comments.

Out of the Ordinary: Storytime in the Park

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It’s been a while since I’ve posted about storytime, and that’s because it’s been a while since I’ve done one, even virtually. Our library system opted to hold in-person camps over the summer, to help offset some of the learning loss from the pandemic, so most of our other kids programs were put on hold. But now we are moving into a new phase of holding outdoor storytimes.

Unfortunately, neither of the libraries where I work have an outdoor space suitable for a large, socially-distanced storytime, but this opened up the opportunity to partner with our County and City parks. I was excited to be able to lead a series of Outdoor Musical Storytimes in a picnic area at San Pedro Valley Park, one of my favorite places. We had our first one earlier this week.

It was so great to see all of the families in person. Several of my regular parents showed up with babies or toddlers who had been born during the shutdown. We asked that everyone bring a blanket or seating for their family, and that everyone over the age of 2 wear a mask (we had extra adult and kids masks on hand just in case, but everyone seemed to already have one).

Since sound is an issue outdoors, I brought our branch karaoke machine and a mic on a stand, but sadly the karaoke machine battery died midway through. Before that though, I was having a good time playing kids songs from my phone while families settled in, and using sound effects from Spotify (like quail sounds) to go along with my books. Once it died, I had to just be loud.

I brought two copies of each book: one for me to read from at the front of the group, and one for a coworker to walk around with, so the kids had a chance to see the pictures up close. Weirdly, even though I only read three books (instead of my usual four), the storytime ran for 40 minutes, which was longer than I had intended.

Here’s what we did:

BOOKS:

Queenie Quail Can’t Keep Up by Jane Whittingham; illustrated by Emma Pedersen

One thing I’m excited to do with this storytime series is introduce kids to the wildlife they might see in the park. And San Pedro Valley Park has LOTS of quail. This is an adorable book about a young quail who always falls behind her large family, because she often stops to look at treasures along the way. The family is constantly fussing at her to keep up, until one day her curiosity saves them from a sneaky cat. The repeated “bob, bob, bobbing” and “hurry, hurry, hurrying” throughout the book were an easy way to keep the kids moving and engaged.

I Ain’t Gonna Paint No More by Karen Beaumont and David Catrow

One of my very favorite picture books to read/sing aloud, this parody of the folk song It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More tells the story of a kid who just can’t help painting different parts of his body, even after his mother tells him not to. There is always a page break before each body part, allowing the kids to guess what it is based on the rhyme (“I see some red, so I paint my…head”), and they enjoy miming painting their own bodies. (In the “before times,” I used to hand out play scarves for the kids to use as paintbrushes). Always a hit!

It’s a Tiger by David LaRochelle; illustrated by Jeremy Tankard

Another favorite read-aloud, this book takes readers on an adventure through the jungle and over the sea, where a tiger suddenly appears in the most unlikely places. The book includes lots of opportunities for kids to run in place or pretend to climb a ladder, as well as to yell out “Tiger!” on every other page.

SONGS:

Put Your Mask on Your Face (to the tune of If You’re Happy and You Know It)

My coworker Adrienne Gass came up with this song, which is an easy reminder to throw in at the beginning of storytime:

Put your mask on your face, on your face,
Put your mask on your face, on your face,
Put your mask on your face,
Not on your toes or out in space!
Put your mask on your face, on your face.

Put Your Finger In the Air by Woody Guthrie (Here’s a link to a YouTube performance by Miss Nina, which uses different lyrics than I do, but basically the same tune)

This was my traditional opening song for musical storytime, which I inherited from my former coworker Mike Eppley. It’s fun to come up with different verses each time, and also to ask participants if they know how to count to three in different languages (we usually go through five or six different suggestions, depending on the crowd).

Put your finger in the air, in the air,
Put your finger in the air, in the air,
Put your finger in the air,
And now hide it in your hair,
Put your finger in the air, in the air.

Put your finger on your nose…
And now see how long it grows!…(mime making your nose grow long, and then short again)

Put your finger on your knee…
And now can you count to three?…1,2,3 (uno, dos, tres; un, deux, trois, etc.)

Point your finger at the ground…
And now make a spooky sound!…

Put your fingers all together, all together… (clap)
We we will all be friends forever!

Little Bird

A traditional folk song. I played it on the ukulele (chords and lyrics below), and asked the kids to suggest different birds for each verse. We sang “Owl, Owl, fly through my window,” and “Chickadee, Chickadee…”

C
Little Bird, Little Bird,
C
Fly through my window.
G7
Little Bird, Little Bird,
G7
Fly through my window.
C
Little Bird, Little Bird,
C
Fly through my window.
G7                       C
Find molasses candy.

Chorus:
G7
Fly through my window, my sugar lump!
C                            G7            C
Fly through my window, my sugar lump!
G7                        C
Find molasses candy!

Jay bird, Jay bird, fly through my window…etc…

Chorus

Repeat the verse and chorus, asking kids for the names of different birds (robin, parrot, etc.) to sing in place of “Little Bird” each time.

Two Little Blackbirds

One of my favorite songs/fingerplays. I usually sing it a cappella, so I can do the hand motions.  Click on the triangle to hear how it goes:

Two little blackbirds sitting on a hill, (Hold up both thumbs)
One named Jack, and the other named Jill.
Fly away, Jack! (Put one thumb behind your back)
Fly away, Jill! (Put the other thumb behind your back)
Come back, Jack! (Bring the first thumb out in front).
Come back, Jill! (Bring the second thumb out in the front).

Two little blackbirds sitting on a cloud,
One was quiet, and the other was loud (I make my voice as loud and obnoxious as possible each time I sing the word “Loud!”)
Fly away, Quiet!
Fly away, Loud!
Come back, Quiet!
Come back, Loud!

Two little blackbirds sitting in the snow.
One flew fast!
And the other f-l-e-w s-l-o-w!…

Two little blackbirds sitting on a gate.
One was early,
And the other was…late!…  (I like to drag the pauses out as long as possible before saying “Late!” until the kids are all yelling it out.)

Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee

For this one, I asked the kids what animals they might find at the park, and we came up with our own verses. We had “I’m bringing home a baby raccoon,/ Won’t my Mommy fly off to the moon?” and “I’m bringing home a baby bunny,/Won’t my Mommy really think that’s funny?”


I’m [C] bringing home a [F] baby [C]bumblebee.
[G7] Won’t my mommy be so proud of me?
‘Cause I’m [C] bringing home a [F] baby [C] bumblebee.
[G7 ]Ouch! It stung me!

For the last two songs, I handed out shakers, and the kids played along to Going to the Zoo by Tom Paxton and Under a Shady Tree by Laurie Berkner (I’m planning to make that my ending song for the whole series, since it fits so well with our outdoor setting).

STAY AND PLAY: Scavenger Hunt

As a final activity for families to do on their own, I handed out small pencils and a scavenger hunt, featuring things that could be easily found near the picnic area. We also passed out stickers as a memento.

Have you performed or attended any outdoor storytimes? If you have any recommendations for things that worked well, please leave them in the comments.

The Giving Tree

I’ve written a few songs inspired by children’s books, mostly because it helps me understand my feelings about them, and why certain books have stuck with me. For years I’ve wanted to write one based on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, but I never found a melody I liked until now.

As a kid, I was mildly obsessed with The Giving Tree, probably because on some level it disturbed me. On the surface, it’s a simple love story about a boy and a tree. Except, as with many of Silverstein’s poems and books, he takes the premise to a grotesque extreme, until the tree is left a limbless stump, and the boy a stooped and desolate old man.

I’ve heard the book described as a Christian parable, an allegory about parenthood, a metaphor about environmental devastation, and a commentary on society’s expectations of women. I can see arguments for all of these possibilities, but what did Silverstein intend for it to be? Is the tree supposed to be a role model? If so, she seems to get the bad end of the deal. Is it a cautionary tale about giving too much? Or taking too much? Or is it just a bittersweet story about unconditional love?

In any case, reflecting on the book as an adult, I wanted to give a voice to the tree. I ended up making her bitter but also empowered.

I am the Giving Tree,
I once loved a boy
Who said he loved me.

I gave him my leaves
To make him a crown.
I lifted him up,
But he just cut me down.

Is this really love,
And is this really living?
His constantly taking,
My constant forgiving.

He took the best of me,
For his wants and his needs,
And his restless misery.

And then he abandoned me
With nothing but dreams
Of what I used to be.

Is this really love
And is this really living?
His constantly taking,
My constant forgiving.

Waiting silent in the snow,
With a tiny seed
Of hope I can regrow.

And that new life will come again,
This time for me
Not for some old broken man.

I will be all I can.
I won’t twist my life
Into someone else’s plan.
Because this isn’t love
And this isn’t living,
And I can be loving
Without always giving,
And I can be faithful
While still being free
And I am forgiving me.
And I can be faithful
While still being free

And I am forgiving me.

What is your take on The Giving Tree? How would you give voice to those characters? And what books troubled you as a child? Please reply in the comments.

Mixed Feelings: a Virtual Storytime about Emotions

Today was my last virtual storytime, at least for a while. As our libraries have been reopening in different capacities, first just for walk-up at the door and curbside pick-up of holds, and now for in person browsing and computer use a few days a week, we’ve gradually scaled back our virtual storytimes to once a week. These were shared among different staff across our system, so I was only doing one a month, and we are taking a break for the summer.

It was a bittersweet feeling, preparing for this morning’s storytime. It’s been a long and interesting journey, moving storytimes online. At first, I absolutely hated it. Since we were still trying to work out the technical and legal details of doing interactive kids programs (which are complicated by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), for a long time we were only offering pre-recorded programs on YouTube, which made me feel completely isolated and weird.

After several months of recorded storytimes, our library system decided that what kids were really missing was the chance to see other kids, so we switched to interactive storytimes over Zoom. This was SO much better, because I could see the kids again, and they could see me. I’ve always incorporated a lot of back and forth with the audience into my storytimes, asking kids for suggestions, and I could do all of that again. Still, it’s never felt completely natural, and I’ve always worried about lots of issues that would never come up in real life: my Internet crashing, the ebook not loading, sending out the wrong Zoom link by accident, or even losing track of time and forgetting to start the program.

Still, there will be some things I will miss if we drop the virtual storytimes altogether, once we go back to in-person events again. It’s nice to see kids from all over our county, or even outside of it. Also there’s something weirdly intimate about Zoom: we can all see a little slice of each other’s homes and pets and families, which is something the kids seem to enjoy. They love it when my cat unexpectedly bites my leg mid-story, because she has dragged her toy across the room and is waiting for me to play. They love to show their favorite toys, or an ukulele of their own that they might not allowed to bring to the library. And the virtual programs do provide more flexibility for families and preschools who might not be able to come to the library in person. Plus, sharing the e-books on screen makes it much easier for the kids to see the illustrations. I can even share the link to the ebook, so they can check it out after the storytime, especially if it’s on Hoopla, which has unlimited copies.

Given all these feelings, I guess it was appropriate that I did a storytime about emotions. Here’s what I did:

OPENING SONG: Do As I’m Doing

A really easy, fun song that allows the kids to suggest different actions. Today we jumped, ran in place, made funny faces, and wiggled our fingers, and waved our arms in the air.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, follow [G7] me.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

[C] Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me.

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me,

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

SONG: The Handwashing Song

Our library has a grant to help share information about COVID-19 resources, so we have been asked to highlight our webpage for that and do a song for kids about handwashing. My favorite one is The Handwashing Song from JBrary (click on the link to hear the tune and see the motions). I usually ask the kids to pretend we’ve put our hands in something sticky, so now we need to wash them. Today they suggested applesauce and honey.

SONG: If You’re Happy And You Know It

I think most people know the tune to this already, but if you don’t, here’s a video from Barefoot Songs.

To introduce the topic of feelings, I printed out this page of faces, cut them out, and put them in a paper bag. Each time we sang the song, I pulled a face out the bag, held it up to the camera, and asked the kids to name the feeling. Then we sang about it.

Our verses were:

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…

If you’re angry and you know it, say “I’m mad”… (and stomp your feet)

If you’re scared/shy and you know it, hide your face… (I had told the kids to find a cloth or tissue at the beginning of the storytime, so they could put the cloth in front of their face and then pull it away quickly and say, “Peek-a-boo!”)

If you’re sad and you know it, cry “Boo hoo!”…

If you’re silly and you know it, make a face…

If you’re happy and you know it, shout “Hooray!”…

The chords are:

[C] If you’re happy and you know it, clap your [G7] hands.

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your [C] hands.

If you’re [F] happy and you know it, and you [C] really want to show it.

If you’re [G7] happy and you know it, clap your [C] hands.

BOOK: The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld

I love this book about a little boy named Taylor whose tower is unexpectedly destroyed by a flock of birds. While he sits in the wreckage, different animals come by with suggestions. The chicken wants to talk about it, the bear wants to shout about it, the elephant wants to remember how the tower was built, the ostrich wants to hide, and the snake wants to ruin someone else’s tower. But Taylor doesn’t want to do any of those things. He is miserable until the rabbit comes along and just sits close for a while, and then listens while Taylor talks and shouts and remembers and plots revenge, and then finally decides to build a new tower. It’s such a beautiful lesson for grown-ups, as well as kids. (I’ve been plenty guilty myself of just trying to jump to the solution to my kids’ problems, instead of just listening and supporting them). I shared this book on Overdrive, and held a rabbit puppet up the camera when the rabbit appeared.

SONG: Did You Ever See a Rabbit?

To the tune of Did You Ever See a Lassie (again this is a familiar nursery song, but if you don’t know the tune, here’s a video from Rock N Learn).

I used my rabbit puppet for this, and had the kids copy the motions with the cloth or tissue they found, or with their hands. Here are the lyrics:

Did you ever see a rabbit, a rabbit, a rabbit?

Did you ever see a rabbit go this way and that?

Go this way, and that way,

Go this way, and that way,

Did you ever see a rabbit, go this way and that?

We had our cloths/rabbits move from side to side, up and down, up in the air and down, and round and round in either direction.

BOOK: Crunch the Shy Dinosaur by Cirocco Dunlap; illustrated by Greg Pizzoli

This is a fun interactive story, about a dinosaur who is frightened by the audience. The book prompts the kids to say hello in different ways, sing Happy Birthday, shout their names, and say “Good night!” Although the kids were mostly muted, a few unmuted themselves for the prompts, and it was gratifying to hear them playing along. This one was also on Overdrive.

SONG: We Are the Dinosaurs by Laurie Berkner

As usual, I ended with a playalong, asking the kids to make noise with whatever they had on hand (a paper cup, a shaker, their hands or feet, etc.). Here’s a link to the chords and lyrics (the chord charts here are for guitar, but I played it on ukulele).

ENDING SONG: You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis & Charles Mitchell (or possibly by Oliver Hood)

[C] You are my sunshine,

My only sunshine [C7]

You make me [F] happy

When skies are [C] gray.

You’ll never [F] know, dear,

How much I [C] love you [Am].

Please don’t [C] take my [G7] sunshine a- [C] way.

If you’ve been performing or attending virtual storytimes or other programs, what are your thoughts about them? Is it something that libraries should continue offering even when in-person programs resume? Please share your comments below.

A Song for Calvin and Hobbes

The Hobbes I made for one of my kids years ago. It’s based on this Instructables pattern, which is pretty easy to follow.

I’ve written other posts about how grateful I am for comic books, which motivated both of my own kids to start reading on their own. Since then, graphic novels, the extended version of comic books, have really taken off. We have whole sections of the library dedicated to them, both fiction and nonfiction, and geared for every age group. My daughter’s own bookshelf is overflowing with the rebooted Babysitter’s Club series, and books by Raina Telgemeier and Svetlana Chmakova. And lately my husband has been reading the science fiction graphic novel series Aldebaran in French, as a fun way to learn new French vocabulary. (The ESL book club I co-lead is planning to read a graphic novel soon for the same reason. It’s a great way to learn common idioms and spoken language, without a lot of overwhelming descriptive text).

But in addition to graphic novels, we have an enormous collection of comic strip books, including Garfield, Fox Trot, and Baby Blues. These are books that my kids both pored over as they learned to read, and still can’t bear to part with. My tween still happily brings them along for car rides, and laughs just as hard at them as she did when she was 8 or 9. Among them are most of the Calvin and Hobbes books, which my husband and I bought for ourselves as adults, and which we love every bit as much as our kids do.

There’s something so timeless and universal about Calvin and Hobbes. It’s humbling to read the strips as an adult (and especially as a parent), because Bill Watterson shines such a painfully bright light on how dull the world of grown-ups can be, compared to the limitless and ever-questioning world of childhood, with all of its many terrors, injustices, and adventures.

So I wrote this song in honor of Calvin and Hobbes. I hope you enjoy it.

Me and the Tiger

We pack every day,

With questions and battles,

Adventures and play.





And all of of the grown-ups

They can’t understand,

That life’s so much more

Than the routines they’ve planned.



They just see a toy

And they think it’s pretend.

They don’t know the magic

You find with a friend.





But me and the Tiger

We make our own rules,

Our world’s more than homework,

And bedtime, and schools.


And when we don’t like things,

We simply defy them,

Or build new inventions

To transmogrify them.


My Mom and Dad think

That it’s all in my head,

They can’t see the monster

That’s under my bed.


But I will sleep soundly,

My best friend beside me,

To laugh with, and argue,

And comfort, and guide me


Through all the adventures

And wonders we’ll see,

When a new day arrives

For my Tiger and me.


What books do you and your family treasure? Please let me know in the comments.

Uke Can Play (Virtually)

Musician Julie Stepanek, who offers a variety of ukulele programs online

One of the many casualties of the pandemic was my drop-in ukulele class for adults, which I held on the first Monday evening of each month at the Sanchez Library. We had a small, but dedicated group of regulars, who were always welcoming of newcomers, even though it meant going back to playing the one and two chord songs they had played so many times before. I always looked forward to seeing and playing with them, and I thought about them a lot during the early days of the shut-down. Our library system was still in the process of figuring out how to offer virtual programs, with storytimes being the first priority, but I wished there were a way to offer a virtual ukulele class.

So I was thrilled to see a Facebook post from the Jones Library in Amherst, Massachusetts (the place where I had my first library job) about a virtual ukulele play-along. I tried it out, and was immediately hooked.

The instructor, Julie Stepanek, led the play-along over Zoom, with Powerpoint slides that clearly displayed the song lyrics and chord charts for each song. Since playing or singing in sync over Zoom is difficult, all of the participants were muted. The beauty of this was that you really felt like you were playing with a group, and you were, but nobody could hear any mistakes that you or anyone else were making. You could even turn off your video. It was a wonderful way to make music with people, with absolutely no pressure, and I learned so many new songs that soon became favorites. Even now, when I hear those songs, they instantly bring me back to those eerie early days of the pandemic, and how it felt to be isolated with my family in my own house, while sharing this musical experience with people on the other side of the country.

At the time, Julie was actually offering free play-alongs every day of the week, and twice on Sundays, and I started tuning in whenever I could. I emailed all of the regulars from my own ukulele group, and soon there they were on the Zoom with me. It was funny to be connected with them online via a program from Massachusetts, when we were all just miles away from each other in our houses in Pacifica, California, but it was so great to see and play with them again. As our libraries reopened for curbside pick-up and other services, I could only attend occasionally, but whenever I did, my regulars were still there, having a great time.

We recently booked Julie for a series of ukulele workshops for the San Mateo County Library system, and she has done a wonderful job of guiding our participants through all of the basics of playing: tuning, reading a chord chart, understanding tablature, basic chord progressions, and standard strumming patterns. Patrons can borrow ukuleles from our libraries so it was natural fit for our library system, and the response has been very enthusiastic. One participant wrote “Great opportunity to learn a musical instrument, and even better to be able to borrow one too! Fantastic.”

I don’t usually write plugs for performers, but I wanted to write a post about this program because I had never considered the benefits of teaching ukulele (or any other instrument) over Zoom. It really makes a lot of sense. One of the greatest hesitations many people have about taking music lessons (especially in a group setting), is having to perform or sing in front of others, but this format takes all of that stress away. Even a virtual play-along, like the ones that Julie still offers weekly out of libraries in Massachusetts and Connecticut, allows new players to learn at their own pace. They might start out only playing the C chords, and then add in others as they get more used to them, but they still get the thrill of playing and singing with a group, which is addictive!

If you’d like to check out one of Julie’s classes, either to learn ukulele yourself, attend a play-along, get an idea of how to lead music lessons online, or book her for a program, you can visit her web site at: https://calamine.com/ukulele She also has a YouTube video of Absolute Basics for ukulele, and some other tutorials.

Have you attended or hosted any virtual programs this past year that you thought were especially impactful? Please share them in the comments below.

Library Lessons from the Pandemic

Two staff members from the San Carlos Library demonstrating social distancing with book carts.

Yesterday, as I sat on the floor of our empty library, stuffing handfuls of pom-poms into paper bags to go out on our curbside table for Art Break Day, I found myself thinking back to the events of a year ago, when I first became aware that “the virus” was about to have a serious impact on my life, and my job.

At the time, we were just starting to cancel library programs with large audiences, like storytimes, along with visits to schools and preschools. Since those made up most of my job, that was already a shocking change, but then the whole world (or at least the whole Bay Area) shut down on March 13, and my whole profession was transformed almost overnight.

What is a Librarian Without a Library?

Although popular culture has librarians armed with angry shushing fingers, forever stationed at large wooden desks guarding giant rooms of books, for years the bulk of my job has taken place outside of the library building. Before the pandemic, I was visiting 11 to 12 preschool classes a month, to perform storytimes for kids who couldn’t ordinarily come to the ones at the branch. I also led book clubs at several different middle schools, and played and sang songs at a rehabilitation center for seniors, where one of my coworkers regularly brought books and movies for patients. My coworkers all performed similar outreach services, bringing library materials to our local Senior Center, leading science classes after school at the Boys and Girls club, and leading book clubs at the County juvenile hall. So having our library buildings closed due to the new health order was not as jarring as you might think.

What was jarring was not having books. Not physical ones anyway. While we had several wonderful e-book collections, including Overdrive, Axis 360, and Hoopla, a lot of our patrons had never used them. The library staff from all 12 of our branches were reorganized into different types of services, including live tech help (one-on-one appointments offered over Zoom), email reference, text reference, and a Customer Care line that operated like a call center, but over Zoom phone. The volume of calls, texts, and emails from all over the county was overwhelming at first, and the vast majority of questions were about how to access e-books, and e-audiobooks. This was especially challenging, given that there might be an issue with their library account (expired card, forgotten PIN), the particular e-book database (Overdrive, Hoopla, etc.), their device (smartphone, iPad, Kindle, PC), or their Internet.

For the first time, I had to learn how to use e-books for storytime, and how to read them on Zoom, which was another new challenge. But we quickly discovered that physical books did not show up as well on the camera as reading an e-book on Share Screen (one mom actually said that it was the first time her son had ever really been able to see the pictures in a book at storytime, since usually the kids sit several feet away). The problem was that searching through e-book collections for picture books is a whole lot slower than flipping through a stack of physical books. Plus, with everyone suddenly relying on our databases, it was also hard to find e-books that weren’t already checked out. I quickly came to love Hoopla, for the simple reason that everything on it is always available.

What is a Librarian Without Library Patrons?

What was even more jarring than not having books was not seeing people. Although books were what first drew me into my first library job in college, what has kept me in libraries are the human connections: talking to patrons about new books they enjoyed; helping people apply for jobs online; seeing parents who met at storytime sharing advice and tips on local preschools with other families; watching middle schoolers patiently teaching second graders how to play Super Smash Bros. at our Afterschool Hangout; singing with adults in our Ukulele Play-Alongs; hearing the kids at the preschools I visited yell “the libarium is here!” All of that was suddenly gone.

Helping with the new reference services helped some, especially talking to people on the Zoom phone, where sometimes I’d even take a call from one of our regulars. For the first time, I also got to know and (virtually) work with staff from all of the libraries in our system, which are scattered over a very large area. But pre-recording storytimes (which we relied on until we found ways to offer interactive programs for kids that didn’t violate COPPA rules) was depressing. I even started asking local families on Facebook if anyone wanted a shout-out for their kids in the video, just so I could feel like I was talking to actual kids instead of just my bedroom wall. (An unexpected plus was that over the summer my daughter started helping me with storytimes and other video programs, and we both had a wonderful time).

Once we did work out the legalities and technical challenges of offering virtual programs, they became an unexpected joy. Although I still miss my in-person storytimes and preschool visits, and can’t wait to get back to doing those, it’s been fun to have the chance to interact with kids in their own homes, where they delight in showing off their favorite toys or their pets. And I love my two virtual book clubs, which allow me to “meet” people from all over the Bay Area, and even outside of our county. Several of the adults in the ESL Book Club have said that they hope these types of programs continue, since several of them have young children or other commitments that make it hard to attend library programs in person. Many of them also regularly attend our weekly English Conversation Clubs, giving them the chance to practice their English and meet other people in a very low-pressure environment. In addition, our library system has been able to offer webinars featuring authors and illustrators we never could have afforded to bring to our libraries in person, and to open their presentations to audiences of 1,000 people (well beyond the capacity of any of our buildings).

The ability to offer interactive programs remotely also allows us to provide short, personalized experiences, like mock job interviews, personalized resume assistance, and personalized tech help, valuable experiences that people can easy fit into their schedules because they don’t have to leave home. We can also offer programs outside of our normal operating hours, like the High Low Movie Club, an 8pm program where patrons could watch either a “high brow” or “low brow” movie together online and share their thoughts. It’s been amazing to see all of the different experiences my coworkers from across our library system have used this new format to bring entertainment, interaction, and valuable life skills to our patrons.

Bridging the Digital Divide

Among the many disparities brought to light by the pandemic, the one that I felt most acutely in terms of my job was the tremendous gap in what services were available to people with high-speed Internet and computer access versus those without. For years, our libraries had been circulating laptop combos and Internet hotspots, which people could check out for a week at a time on a first-come, first-serve basis. But the public computers and laptops in our libraries buildings were still in constant demand, and many of our patrons relied on them for all of the services the world now expects you to access via the Internet. That includes job applications, forms to apply for government benefits, and even applications for low-income housing! Knowing we had only a limited supply of laptop combos and hotspots, our library administration decided to give the ones we had to local agencies who could hopefully get them into the hands of the families who needed them most, especially students.

But I still worried about our regular Internet patrons, who were now completely cut off. We tried to direct them to services offering Internet access at a reduced cost, but most of them had strict guidelines about who was eligible. In the meantime, with our buildings closed, and all of our services being announced online, we had no way of even communicating with many of our patrons to let them know when we started offering walk-up service, where they could ask for books and DVDs at the library door, or about the free lunches and snacks provided for low-income families at one of our libraries. Now, with most people relying on the Internet to find and schedule appointments to get the vaccine, it’s even clearer how much of an impact the digital divide can have on a person’s health.

The Future of Libraries

As our libraries prepare to reopen in person (possibly sometime in April), I can’t help but wonder what impact the past year will have on our services going forward. I hope that we can continue offering virtual programs, for people who aren’t able to come to the library in person, and to provide opportunities to “meet” authors and other presenters from around the world. But I also hope that eventually people who can visit our buildings will come back to rediscover the human connections and sense of community that I still miss from before the pandemic. And I hope our libraries can find new ways to help bridge the digital divide, both by offering more opportunities to borrow computers and hotspots, along with services to help them learn how to use them, but also by finding new and creative ways to reach people who may not know about our services, and bringing the library to them.

What have you learned from the past year, and what changes, if any, do you hope will continue? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Virtual Book Clubs (For Kids, and Adult ESL Learners)

This past year has brought unimaginable changes to almost every aspect of my job, especially library programs. Although the interactive virtual storytimes over Zoom at least allow me to see and hear the kids I’m reading to, it’s definitely not the same as being in the same room with them. I also miss my Family Book Club, comprised of a small group of kids in grades 3-5, along with their parents. We would meet once a month to discuss a book, while eating a snack related whatever we were reading (carrots for Anne of Green Gables, Lemon Jello for Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, etc).

But the switch to virtual programming has had a few bright spots. Lately, I’ve been working with another librarian on a virtual book club for kids in grades 3-5, and one wonderful feature of that is that I get to discuss books with kids from all over the county. I also was asked to help lead an ESL (English as a Second Language) book club for adults, and that has been an entirely new, but extremely rewarding adventure. Here’s a brief overview of both of those programs.

VIRTUAL BOOK CLUB FOR KIDS

As I mentioned above, the book club I’m involved in is for kids in grades 3-5. We meet once a month over Zoom to discuss a particular book.

Most of the books we are using are available on Hoopla (https://www.hoopladigital.com). I’m embarrassed to admit that I had never actually used Hoopla before the pandemic, and now it is my favorite library e-resource. The beauty of it is that, unlike our other e-book collections, everything is always available for checkout, so you don’t have to worry about not having enough copies. It’s also wonderfully easy to use, and offers a broad range of titles, including a large selection of graphic novels.

For our first book club meeting, we discussed From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks, a novel about a 12 year-old girl who receives a letter from her father in prison, and learns that he might be innocent. It’s a remarkable book that deftly touches on racial bias in the criminal justice system, but also highlights the efforts of the Innocence Project, offering hope for positive change. Although Zoe’s quest to discover the truth about her father’s conviction is the main focus of the book, Zoe herself is a relatable, multi-faceted character, who is trying to invent a recipe to audition for a kids’ baking show, navigate changing middle school friendships, and develop a relationship with the father she never knew. Our book discussion touched on all of these topics, although the kids’ favorite question was coming up with their own original cupcake recipe (one mom emailed me to say that her son had been reluctant to participate in the first meeting, but not only did he love the book, he was also inspired to bake his own cupcakes).

One beauty of meeting online is that it’s so easy to share other types of media, including an interview with the author, the Innocence Project web site, videos of the many songs referenced in the story, and a recipe for Froot Loop cupcakes. There are a lot of great resources on the author’s web site: http://www.janaemarks.com/, including discussion questions. And meeting over Zoom also gives shyer kids a chance to share their thoughts in the chat (although we ended up changing the chat settings so that all of their comments go only to me, which cut down on some of the chat hijinks).

Other books we are reading are The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger, Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, and Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan.

It’s been exciting to discuss books with a whole new group of kids, and to hear about the books they are currently enjoying. If you have any questions about running a virtual book club, or any book recommendations, please let me know in the comments.

ESL BOOK CLUB FOR ADULTS

I have to admit, when I was asked to help with this program, I was a little intimidated, having no idea what to expect. The program had sprung out of an English Conversation Club that our library system had been offering for several months, and a lot of the initial planning was done by library staff who had been reassigned to other projects (part of the ever-changing landscape of this past year).

Unlike a regular book club, where you lead a discussion of a book everyone has read in advance, ESL Book Clubs usually involve reading the book aloud together. Choosing a book for this type of group is especially challenging. Luckily, one of my coworkers had come up with three “Rapid Reads” titles on Hoopla for our participants to vote on at our first meeting. They ended up choosing the book Tiny House, Big Fix by Gail Anderson-Dargatz, a short novel about a single mother facing eviction from her rental house, who decides to build a tiny house of her own.

We originally intended to meet every other week to see how things went, but have since moved to weekly meetings. So far, we usually have a small group (around 6 participants), which we divide into breakout rooms so everyone has more chances to read aloud. Our participants are all fairly fluent English speakers, who can follow the basic plot of the book without difficulty, but we stop after each page to discuss any questions about vocabulary or idioms. It’s often challenging to explain words and phrases on the spot, but I love these discussions, because they really bring home the craziness of the English language. In our first meeting, there were a number of questions about contractions, like I’d and we’d, and I ended up explaining that the words I’ll, isle, and aisle all mean completely different things, even though they sound exactly the same.

As with the kids’ book club, we have been using books available on Hoopla, which are easy to share on the screen during the meetings. Hoopla also allows you to adjust the size and style of the font, which makes it great for older readers, and also to click on individual words to see the definition.

After we finished the first book (Tiny House, Big Fix), I was hard-pressed to find something that would work as well for our group. I looked through lots of collections of short stories and essays, but the writing was usually too challenging. I did suggest the book War Dances by Sherman Alexie, a collection of short stories and poems, along with the children’s novel in verse, Inside Out and Back Again by Thannha Lai, and a Rapid Reads mystery called The Spider Bites by Medora Style. In the end though, the group voted to read another book by Gail Anderson-Dargatz called No Return Address, which one of the members raved about. We also had a member request that we read news articles, so I’m hoping to figure out a way to incorporate those into our meetings as well.

I actually wrote to Gail Dargatz-Anderson to let her know how much my group is enjoying her books. I told her that her novels were the perfect blend of a relatable story with a clear, readable text, and just enough common colloquialisms and modern lingo to challenge our participants and help them pick up new conversational phrases. She was grateful for the feedback, especially because books like Tiny House, Big Fix are part of a recent initiative in Canada to provide books for adult literacy learners that look and read like commercial bestsellers. She said they are a challenge to write, and I can see why!

Anyway, although I was nervous about taking on the responsibility of running the ESL Book Club, it’s one of my new favorite parts of my job. I am so impressed by the participants, who are already so much more fluent in English than I will ever be in another language, and who are brave enough to jump in and read aloud with strangers once a week, asking questions about the words they don’t know. It’s been humbling and inspiring, and I’ve learned a lot.

If you have any questions about running an ESL Book Club, or any tips or experiences you would like to share, I would love to read about them in the comments.

Virtual Thanksgiving Storytime

My coworker Angela and I had a fun Thanksgiving-themed Interactive storytime this morning, with families and two preschools logging in via Zoom. Here’s what we did:

Introduction:

We opened by talking about Thanksgiving, and sharing this funny list of things that kids are thankful for from the Huffington Post, which includes gas, ceiling fans, and “Mommy wiping my poop”: 21 Things Kids Are Thankful For That Will Make You Laugh by Hollis Miller.

OPENING SONG: Do As I’m Doing

As usual, we asked the kids to find a cloth of some kind to wave the first time we sang this song. Then we asked for suggestions to do for the next few times we sang it. We ended up jumping (always a favorite), twirling, saying “I Love You” in sign language, and smiling.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, follow [G7] me.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

[C] Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me.

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me,

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

SONG: The Turkey Jerky

So many Thanksgiving books are about unfortunate turkeys trying to escape ending up on the dinner table. I do enjoy some of them, especially Sometimes It’s Turkey, Sometimes It’s Feathers by Lorna and Lecia Balian, but they are sometimes a bit depressing. This time, we mostly avoided the turkey theme, but I couldn’t resist including this song, because it’s so much fun.

(To the tune of The Hokey Pokey)

You put your right wing in,

You put your right wing out,

You put your right wing in,

And you shake it all about.

You do the turkey jerky and you turn yourself around.

That’s what it’s all about!

Repeat with your left wing, your right drumstick (right foot), left drumstick, waddle (your chin, or a cloth hanging from your chin), and tail feathers!

BOOK: Benjamin Bear Says Thank you by Claire Freedman, illustrated by Steve Smallman

Angela read this cute story about a bear who always forgets to say “thank you.” We showed the kids how to say “Thank you” in American Sign Language. This book is available through both Hoopla and Overdrive.

SONG: If You’re Happy and You Know It

We taught the kids the sign for Happy in American Sign Language. Then we sang the song, but added in different emotions. Angela had several paper plates with faces depicting different emotions on them, so she up a different one for each verse. We sang:

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands…

If you’re sad and you know it, cry “Boo hoo!”…

If you’re sleepy and you know it, yawn and stretch…

If you’re surprised and you know it, give a big gasp!…

If you’re angry and you know it, say “I’m mad!”…

If you’re happy and you know it, shout, “Hooray!”

BOOK: You Are My Happy by Hoda Kotb; illustrated by Suzie Mason

Short, sweet story with adorable illustrations, about a baby bear and his mother, sharing the things that make them happy. It made for a great read-aloud for toddlers and preschoolers because there were lots of opportunities for them to make the sign for Happy, as well as blowing kisses, giving themselves a hug, and other simple motions.

SONG: I Am Thankful

I couldn’t think of a good song for the theme, so I wrote this one. Feel free to use it however you like, or add in your own verses. We did it as a play-along, encouraging the kids to play whatever instruments or noisemakers they had on hand, or just clap or dance along.

[C] I am thankful for

The [F] colors that I see,

For [C] friends who play with me,

And for my [G7] loving family.


[C] I am thankful for [F] rainbows in the sky,

For the [C] taste of pumpkin pie,

And for a [G7] warm hug when I cry.


I’m thankful [F] for the sky above

I’m thankful [C] for the ones I love,

[D] My cozy bed at night,

And for [G] the summer sun so bright.

[C] I am thankful for the [F] monkeys at the zoo

But [C] most of all I’m [G7] thankful for [C] YOU!


[C] I am thankful for [F] bubbles in the air,

For a [C] cool breeze in my hair,

And for my [G7] snuggly teddy bear.

[C] I am thankful for [F] yummy things to eat,

For [C] ice cream cones so sweet,

And for a [G7] special birthday treat.


I’m thankful [F] for the sky above

I’m thankful [C] for the ones I love,

[D] My cozy bed at night,

And for [G] the summer sun so bright.

[C] I am thankful for the [F] monkeys at the zoo

But [C] most of all I’m [G7] thankful,

[C] I am so very [F] thankful!

[C] Most of all I’m [G7] thankful for [C] YOU!

CLOSING SONG: You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis & Charles Mitchell (or possibly by Oliver Hood)

All in all it was a fun program! Some of kids held up favorite toys or books, and we talked about them here and there. One challenge with Zoom is that, while we muted the kids while we were reading or singing (because unfortunately music doesn’t sync well over Zoom), the kids can unmute themselves by hitting the space bar, which of course is the biggest button on the keyboard, so we did have to occasionally mute certain kids (even though they were adorable!). Luckily, we had another coworker, Kelly, managing the tech side of the program. Highly recommended if you have enough staff!

What are your favorite Thanksgiving books or songs? Please share them in the comments.

Storytime for National Native American Heritage Month

Last week, my coworker Angela and I did an Interactive Musical Storytime featuring books by and about Native Americans in honor of National Native American Heritage Month. While we were planning it, I checked with a friend of mine, Laverne Pilcher-Villalobos, who is a member of the Omaha tribe. As a school librarian, she is also a passionate advocate for accurate representation of Native Americans in children’s books. She has recently compiled this wonderful virtual library of books, curriculum, and web sites for students and teachers: November American Indian Heritage Month Virtual Library

As with all of our programs right now, the storytime was held over Zoom, with families registering in advance. Here is what we did:

OPENING SONG: Do As I’m Doing

This has been our regular opening song for our Interactive Storytimes. It’s great because it allows the kids to suggest actions they would like to do. As usual, we had asked them to find a cloth or blanket to wave around, so for one verse, we waved the cloths. We also did a couple of verses when we jumped up and down (always a favorite!), and one where we danced. Here are the lyrics and chords, and a link to video if you would like the tune:

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, follow [G7] me.

[C] Do as I’m doing, follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

[C] Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me.

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

Follow, [G7] follow, [F] follow [C] me,

[F] Follow, [C] follow, [G7] follow [C] me.

After our opening song, we talked briefly about Native American Heritage Month. I had originally asked Laverne if she had any songs she would recommend, but she was concerned that sharing a song from any one tribe might give the audience the impression that it was representative of all tribes and tribal languages. She emphasized that there are 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States, each with their own distinct language and culture. Instead, she shared this video of representatives from different tribes saying “I Love You” in their language, so I played a short clip for the kids:

I also shared the map of historic tribal lands from Native-Land.ca, which is an excellent visual of the sheer number of different tribes who have lived, and are currently living, in the United States: https://native-land.ca/

SONG: If All the Raindrops Were Lemon drops and Gumdrops

Since our first book was about food, we set the tone with one of my favorite food songs. We had the kids throw their cloths in the air and let them fall like raindrops, and suggest different foods to sing about. We had pizza, and strawberries, and strawberries with ketchup (!). As I mention in this video, it’s one of the easiest songs to play on the ukulele, because you only use two chords (C and G7):

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a rain it would [G7] be.

[C] I’d stand out- [G7] side with my [C] mouth open [G7] wide,

[C] “Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah, Ah, Ah, [C] Ah, Ah, Ah, [G7] Ah!”

[C] If all the raindrops were [G7] lemon drops and [C] gum drops,

Oh, what a [G7] rain it would [C] be!

BOOK: Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Maillard; illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal

We shared this ebook from Overdrive. Luckily, there were two copies available in library system, allowing both Angela and I to borrow one in case one of us lost our Internet connection (which happened before).

The book is a series of short sensory descriptions of a simple, but delicious food made and enjoyed by a number of different tribes, which also serves as a symbol of their adaptability and resilience. The author, Kevin Maillard, is a registered member of the Seminole Nation. This book was the perfect length for our audience (mostly toddlers and preschoolers), especially because it gives the kids the opportunity to mime the mixing, rolling, and flattening of the dough.

SONG: Five Days Old by Laurie Berkner

This is such a fun and lively song, and was a perfect segway for our next book:

[C] I’m sitting here, I’m [F] one day old, and [C] I’m sitting here I’m [F] two [G7] days [C] old.

[C] I’m sitting here, I’m [F] three days old, and [C] I’m sitting here I’m [F] four [G7] days [C] old.

[F] One [C] day, I’ll [F] be a [C] year, then [F] I’ll be [C] two, then [G7] three, then four.

[C] As for now I’m [F] sitting here, I’m [C] five days old and [F] no [G7] days [C] more!

I’m jumping up, I’m one day old…

I’m clapping my hands, I’m one day old…

I’m kicking my legs, I’m one day old…

Getting really tired, I’m one day old…

I’m jumping up, I’m one day old..

Book: First Laugh, Welcome Baby! By Rose Tahe and Nancy Bo Flood; illustrated by Jonathan Nelson

Angela read this sweet book (also available on Overdrive) honoring the First Laugh Celebration practiced by the Navajo (Diné) tribe. The story follows a family and all of their attempts to make their new baby laugh, so that he may be welcomed into the tribe. This is a wonderful book that portrays experiences all kids and families can relate to, while also demonstrating language and cultural elements unique to the Navajo.

SONG: Circle of the Sun by Sally Rogers

This was one of our two “play-along” songs, so we asked the kids to play something from around their house (pot lid and spoon, cereal box, etc.) or simply clap along. We also asked them for suggestions of things that children or babies might do for the first time. We had “Babies laugh their first laugh,” “Children all go dancing” and “Children all go jumping.” Here’s a recording of the original song:

[C] Babies are born in a circle of the sun,

Circle of the sun on their [G7] birthing [C] day.

[C] Babies are born in a circle of the sun,

Circle of the sun on their [G7] birthing [C] day.

CHORUS

[C] Clouds to the North, Clouds to the South,

[F] Wind and [C] rain to the [F] East and the [G7] West,

[C] Babies are born in a circle of the sun,

Circle of the sun on their [G7] birthing [C] day.

ENDING SONG: You Are My Sunshine by Jimmie Davis & Charles Mitchell (or possibly by Oliver Hood)

Incidentally, I noticed that Laverne Pilcher-Villalobos uses the term “American Indian” instead of “Native American,” and I asked her which term was preferred. Here’s what she said:

First, not all American Indians think alike and some don’t care how they are addressed or about stereotypes. However, those of us in the education or libraries do care and a lot. If someone mentions their native background to you, the best way to address them is by asking “what tribe or what nation are you from?” There are approximately 600 federally recognized tribes and each one has its own language and culture… To clump everyone together would be equivalent to saying “European” instead of Italian, Irish, Spanish, French, Swedish or what have you. Using Native American or American Indian is appropriate but the better way to use generic terms is using “Indigenous” to America.

Laverne Pilcher-Villalobos

Do you have favorite books by Native American authors? Please share them in the comments.