Baby Talk

Talk about jaw-dropping (and maybe a bit obvious from the above image):
I was asked to be a part of the Babies Need Words Every Day blog tour! Not only that, but I think that I may be first up in an amazing lineup of marvelous librarian bloggers. No pressure. Heh.

Ahem.

And I get to talk about (wait for it…wait for iiiiiiit…) talking!

And ever since I knew I’d be writing about talking, well, I’ve been thinking.
A lot. About talking.

And the realization that surprised me most is that everyone on our staff speaks to children with respect. Not that baby talk is disrespectful (I mean, it can be very helpful for babies in figuring out speech), but all of us use varying vocabulary levels when dealing with infants on up. Is this normal for an entire staff?

Especially at our Children’s Library we all try and make children feel acknowledged and welcomed. If the family attends storytimes, then Jennifer, our Children’s Librarian, will greet the children by name (which is awesome). I’m horrible with names, but I’ve learned the trick (thanks, Iron Fist class) of greeting them as friends. There’s one little toddler girl whose behavior I had to correct, and because I said “Hi, friend!” at the beginning, she was fine with the correction – and even greets me on almost every visit with “hi, fwend!”

Along with my whole what good will it do question, I’ve also added what would Fred Rogers say to my thought process.

A big thank you to both Erin from erinisinire and Cate from Storytiming for bringing Fred Rogers back into my adult life. I think he epitomizes how an adult speaking with (or to) a child can encourage a child in so many ways (not just with early literacy skills). Also, I think one year the ALSC conference should be held in the same city as the Fred Rogers Center – doncha think? Or has it been there already? If it has, then we should do that again so that I can go.

Now, onto showing our display for Babies Need Words Every Day! Many times I like to approach displays by wanting to try different things (whether it be techniques or mediums), and this display ended up being all sorts of challenging and fun.

Looking at the duck family poster, I was struck with how cute the ducklings were (and I mean, cute baby animals? Everyone loves cute baby animals). What if the ducklings had popped out of the poster and were showing off how vocabularies can grow? Usually language is shown as word balloons, but what if we take a single word and show its synonyms as the duckling’s language becomes more complex?

I gave our awesome team member Shelby the task of finding lots of synonyms for each focus word in early literacy: talk, sing, play, read, and write. After she typed out these words (using the same font as part of the poster), she then took the shortest word and made the font the reasonably smallest font size. As the words’ lengths grew, the font size would also grow bigger. Hopefully the pictures below will help clarify what she did.

And with the Early Childhood Programs and Services committee‘s suggestion to hang the posters by changing tables, I realized that we’d never before used our bathroom spaces for displays. And so this display would basically take over the back of our Children’s Library.

Okay – I’ll be quiet for a bit and show you what we ended up doing:

And closer:

I’d like to point out that I tried a new technique on the whiteboard: I pasted the posterized pages of the poster (in four pieces) using diluted white glue. I did a trial run a few weeks prior, and it was somewhat of a fail: the pages curled up due to too much water. But it was crazy-easy to remove once I wet the pages with warm water. I don’t want to turn this post into a how-to on this technique, but if you have questions, then don’t hesitate to ask in the comments or via email. I’ll likely write a post in the near future on this technique after I play with it more.

Oh, and the little pamphlet holder? It’s just a folded/taped piece of construction paper taped onto the whiteboard. And a HUGE thank you to Jennifer for going through the pamphlet and ordering books to round out our collection so that patrons could find the books listed.

AND CLOOOOSER:

Looking to the right into the women’s room:

Cute duckling closeup!

And looking to the left into the men’s room:

One final cute duckling closeup:

I made sure that curious parents or kids would feel fine going and looking closer at the ducklings/posters without actually going into either bathroom. We’ll see how that works.

I ended up trying out watercoloring for the ducklings, and I’m now a huge fan of the medium and look forward to learning/practicing more. But, it was a fine balance between making these ducklings look a part of the poster without infringing upon Il Sung Na’s beautiful illustrations. And lemme tell you: sticky tacking watercolor paper onto walls? You need a lot more sticky tack than you’d imagine.

I’ve included my ducklings here in case you’d like to print them out for your own use – so click on the image below to get a pdf you can download and use. Please ignore some of their freaky feet.

Funny enough – I’ve been gone from work for most of the past week due to a sinus infection that robbed me of my voice. Well, I could talk by projecting my voice, but it sounded like a donkey wearing Darth Vader’s helmet. But, I had hoped to look into making the other posters you see in the bathrooms into canvas prints. I think they look great with our color scheme, and would be a nice addition to our bathrooms. That may still happen. But for now, the ledger paper printouts look fine.

Also, when I went to see a doctor to make sure that I didn’t have anything beyond a general cold (since it’s kinda hard to tell where fibromyalgia ends and the illness begins – I thought it safest to check). I couldn’t see my regular doctor for a few days, so I made an appointment with a newer doctor in town (but part of the same network). Turns out I had met this doctor before at a health fair where we enjoyed each other’s company (I set up our library display next to her table). And because of that, I knew that she’s a pediatrician.

After she ruled out flu and strep throat, we chatted (well, she talked and I whisper/croaked), and I mentioned that I really needed to stop by work over the weekend to get the photos for this post. She was like “what are you talking about – this sounds intriguing to me – a pediatrician – who sees babies every day – and cares about their development.” And I was like “ZOMG! YOU’D LOVE THIS!” So I shared the basics of Babies Need Words Everyday (she loves it), and asked if our Children’s Librarian had dropped off any children’s books for their waiting room. She was like “nope – but we’d love that!”

Back at home I also realized that the waiting room walls at their new medical center are bare. So, I wrote an email to the pediatrician and asked her if she’d like to partner with us on Babies Need Words Everyday. Like we could supply some of the books featured in the brochure, and maybe they could decorate the kids’ section of their waiting room with these posters, etc. I have yet to receive a response, but I’ll be sure to update this post if/when I do! This could be the beginning of something amazing.

I think that about covers it. Hopefully I’ve made you think a bit more about talking in terms of early literacy. Feel free to share thoughts or questions in the comments or on social media. After all, having a conversation about talking is fun!

4 thoughts on “Baby Talk

  1. Great post! You are a boss at coming up with community partnerships.

    I would feel remiss not to note here in the comments that the inclusion of addressing kids/adults/animals/inanimate objects as “friend” in the Iron Fist class is a direct result of my working with Brooke Newberry and her involvement in Iron Fist Part 3: Parent Management.”: http://brycedontplay.blogspot.com/2013/05/show-me-awesome-iron-fist-part-3.html Brooke is basically the sole reason I no longer run in the opposite direction in the presence of children under 5. Still not holding babies, though :)

    • OMG I WROTE A WHOLE PARAGRAPH AND THEN DELETED IT ABOUT HOW I STRUGGLE WITH BABIES (like they are totally alien to me – I’ve only held 2 of my 7 nieces/nephews when they were babies). I’m like “I’ll chat with you when you get older/more interesting.”

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