________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 21 . . . . June 8, 2007


What’ll I Do With the Baby-O? Nursery Rhymes, Songs, and Stories for Babies.

Jane Cobb. Illustrated by Kathryn Shoemaker.
Vancouver, BC: Black Sheep Press (www.blacksheeppress.com), 2007.
255 pp., includes CD, pbk., $39.95.
ISBN 978-0-9698666-1-9.

Subject Headings:
Language acquisition.
Language acquisition-Parent participation.
Early childhood education-Activity programs.
Children’s libraries-Activity programs.


Review by Valerie Nielsen.

**** /4

The focus of this amazing compilation is on material for infants, newborn to two years of age. Jane Cobb is a children's librarian with 25 years of experience working with children and families in the public library system. She teaches in the Library Technician Program at Langara College and is currently the coordinator of Parent-Child Mother Goose Programs for Vancouver Public Library. Her first resource book for early childhood educators, titled I'm a Little Teapot! Presenting Preschool Storytime, is in use in libraries and preschool all over Canada and the U.S.

     The author hopes that What'll I Do With Baby-O? will be useful to a wide range of people working with parents and infants. As she puts it, "My goal is to help you provide programs whoever you are and wherever you work- in a library, community centre, preschool, daycare, home or school, and wherever families meet to learn and have fun with language play." To this end, she has organized her book to include not only over 350 rhymes and songs (organized by type and later indexed by type and first line) but also practical concerns of program planning, tips for presentation, plus information on baby brain development as well as a chapter on literacy and language development. Each chapter is rounded out with a bibliography for further reading.

     Cobb's chapter entitled "Babies Love Books" covers topics such as when to start reading to a child, what babies learn from books and what the characteristics of the best board books for babies and toddlers are. A particularly helpful feature is the annotated list of recommended board books in print as of July 2006 which ends the chapter.

     Because the author understands that programmers often feel more comfortable if they have sample templates from which to work, she has included samples of a one hour program for parents and babies from birth to one year (infants) as well as samples for parents of children one to two years (toddlers). Appended to these sample programs are five easy-to-tell stories, plus an excellent bibliography of folk tales and picture books.

     A short section at the end of the book, "Sprinkles: What to Say to Parents," includes a distillation of the philosophy underpinning the parent-child programs presented in the book. As might be expected from a librarian of Cobb's level of dedication and excellence, she has put together a first-rate bibliography for her readers, including books about older brothers and sisters, great read-alouds for baby programs, as well as resources on rhyme and parenting.

     There is a CD enclosed with the book which contains 36 songs recorded so that those running the programs could learn the tunes and teach them to parents. Natasha Neufield, Jane Cobb and Paul Gitlitz perform the simple melodies. The three have pleasant, soothing voices which blend well when they sing the songs in harmony or a round. 

     What'll I Do With Baby-O? Nursery Rhymes, Songs, and Stories for Babies is a sturdy, beautifully organized paperback, its text interspersed with delicate penciled drawings by Kathryn Shoemaker. It is a fantastic resource book for anyone who is a caregiver to babies and toddlers and a bargain at $40. No one involved in an educational setting with parents and children of this age should miss it.

Highly Recommended.

Valerie Nielsen, a grandmother and retired teacher-librarian, lives in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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