The folks at the Minneapolis Public Library have a great page on their site called ELSIE , or Early Literacy Storytime Ideas Exchange. It’s a booklist of titles particularly suited to reading aloud to preschoolers, and it identifies which of the six pre-reading skills (if you’re familiar with ALA’s “Every Child Ready to Read” program, you’ll know these skills) each book helps young children gain. It also includes some fingerplays and songs.

While the list is very incomplete, it should inspire you to look at the picture books, somgs, and activities you use in your library programs and match them up with the six skills. Which books encourage vocabulary building and which build phonological awareness? For example, I often sing “Down By the Bay” with the kids, encouraging them to give me the name of an animal, which I then must rhyme. Rhyming = phonological awareness, dressed up in a song. (One of my rhymes: “Did you ever see a bear / wearing purple underwear / Down by the bay?”) If you’re presenting baby lapsit programs and toddler and preschool storytimes, are you telling parents and caregivers between stories and songs about these skills and how they work?