Babybear’s Favourite Books: ‘Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?’

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For Babybear’s recommendation today, I’ve chosen: ‘Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?’ written by Bill Martin Jr and illustrated by Eric Carle (yes, this book was the inspiration for my daughter’s moniker). This book was a gift to Babybear when she was born and, despite the small library of books she has now, it has remained a consistent favourite.

The story shows a succession of North American animals, with each animal describing the actions of the next:

‘Striped Skunk,

Striped Skunk,

What do you see?’

‘I see a mule deer

Running by me.’”

The distinctive illustrative style of Eric Carle errs on the side of realism in comparison to most cartoony and bright children’s picture books but Babybear seems to love them: perhaps the simplicity of a single animal with white backgrounds on each page or the fact that the artistic illustrations are such a contrast to her other books.  She will happily sit at peace, engrossed by the pictures, as I read the full story with her, not something that can be said for many books at the moment!

The repetitive phrasing on each page (‘Screech Owl, Screech Owl, what do you see?’; ‘Rattlesnake, Rattlesnake, what to you see?’) makes it a great book to read aloud as the rhythm of the words read in a lovely, poetic way. The repetition is also good for encouraging your wee one’s understanding of language.

-Find ‘Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What Do You See?’ by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle in your local library or independent bookshop – if you can’t find it, just ask, they may be able to order it in for you.

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Storytelling Through Songs: The Wee Kirkcudbright Centipede

Our Burns Night bedtime story, ‘The Belties of Curleywee Farm’, reminded me of another song from my childhood, which I sing with Babybear: ‘The Wee Kirkcudbright Centipede’. Kirkcudbright is a town on the Galloway coast in Scotland: the same area as where Curleywee Farm is set. It is one of many songs that were written by Glasgow born folk singer Matt McGinn, however, like ‘The Jeelie Piece Song’, which I previously blogged about, as a wee girl it was a song I originally knew  from my beloved Singing Kettle video.

It tells the story of the Wee Kirkcudbright Centipede whose dancing skills get her in a right muddle when she tries to explain her dancing moves instead of just not thinking it over and just going with her instincts.  An upbeat, traditional Scottish song for you to sing and dance around with your wee one!

There’s an excellent ‘Wee Kirkcudbright Centipede’ resource from Education Scotland where you can find the lyrics and a recording of the song so that you can hear the tune. In fact, the whole of their ‘Scotland’s Songs’ section is brilliant if you are interested in traditional Scottish songs and especially for ideas of songs to share with wee ones.

Burns Night Bedtime Story: The Belties of Curleywee Farm

In honour of Burns Night, Babybear’s bedtime story tonight was ‘The Belties of Curleywee Farm’ written by Jayne Baldwin and illustrated by Pauline James. With the story being about Belted Galloway calves Finlay and Flora on a farm in the Galloway countryside, it felt like an excellent Scottish themed choice.

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‘The Belties of Curleywee Farm’ is a very sweet tale of Finlay waking to find his sister gone from the barn and him tentatively venturing out into the noisy and unfamiliar farm to find her. There are large, clear illustrations of each scene in the story and I love that they really bring across how nervous wee Finlay is when he ventures out on his own and the joyfulness of him finding his sister again.

Babybear delighted in pointing out the ‘moo moo’ and ‘twoo twoo’; that’s the cows and owl, of course.

Robert Burns for Wee Folk!

Burns for Wee Folk!

Babybear and I love the books, written in Scots, ‘Katie’s Ferm’ and ‘Katie’s Year’ by James Robertson with the fabulous illustrations in both by Karen Anne Sutherland.

So, I was thrilled to discover ‘Rabbies Rhymes’ – a collection of the first lines of some of Robert Burns’ most well known poems, illustrated for wee ones in the same brilliantly vivid style as the ‘Katie’ books. It takes me right back to my school days of learning a Burns poem by heart for the class Burns Night poetry competition; this proves to be a real advantage when reading ‘Rabbie’s Rhymes’ with Babybear as though each page of the book only has the first line or so for each poem, I can still remember the rest for a few of them!

‘Rabbie’s Rhymes’ also has flaps for wee ones to lift, which Babybear loves as it makes the book more interactive for her; she takes great delight in peeking at the pictures below over and over again! I’m not actually sure if it’s me or Babybear that enjoys this book more, it’s a real winner for both wee ones and those not so wee!!

  • Find ‘Rabbie’s Rhymes – Burns for Wee Folk’ by Robert Burns and illustrated by Karen Anne Sutherland in your local library or independent bookshop – if you can’t find it, just ask, they may be able to order it in for you.

The Jeelie Piece Song (Skyscraper Wean)

With Burns Night coming up on the 25th of January I thought I’d give this week’s posts a Scottish theme. Today, I’d like to share with you a favourite song that I often sing with Babybear (well, I sing and she claps appreciatively!) . I find singing a wee tune to be a great activity when her dinner is just out of the oven or off the hob and I’m trying to distract a hungry BabyBear!

The Jeelie Piece Song (originally by folk performer Adam McNaughton) is a real childhood favourite of mine, which I loved to watch being performed on my ‘Singing Kettle’ (Scottish children’s performance group – www.singingkettle.com) video over and over again. It tells the tale of ‘weans from castlemilk’ who are missing out on their dinner because their ‘pieces’ are ‘skyting oot the winda’ of twenty story flats – that is, for those not versed in Scots, the children from a housing scheme in the south of Glasgow are missing out on their lunch as their sandwiches are being thrown of windows of twenty story flats, to them playing below.

Have a listen to The Singing Kettle’s performance, so you know the tune, and below are the words so you can sing along! Can you figure out what it all means?!

The Jeelie Piece Song (Skyscraper Wean)

I'm a skyscraper wean, I live on the nineteenth flair,
But I'm no gaun oot to play ony mair,
Since we moved to Castlemilk, I'm wasting away,
'Cause I'm getting one less meal every day.

O ye cannae fling pieces oot a twenty-story flat,
Seven-hundred hungry weans will testify to that,
If it's butter, cheese or jeely, if the breid is plain or pan,
The odds against it reaching earth and ninety-nine to one.

On the first day my maw flung out a piece o' Hovis brown.
It came skyting oot the winda and went up insteid o' doon,
But every twenty-seven hours it comes back into sight,
'Cause my piece went into orbit and became a satellite.

One the second day my maw flung me a piece oot once again.
It went and hit the pilot in a fast, low-flying plane.
He scraped it off his goggles, shouting through the intercom:
`The Clydeside Reds have got me wi' a breid-and-jeely bomb!'

One the third day my maw thought she would try another throw.
The Salvation Army band was staunin' doon below.
`ONWARD, CHRISTIAN SOLDIERS' was the piece they should have played,
But the oompah-man was playing a piece-on-marmalade.

We've wrote away tae Oxfam to try and get some aid,
And a' the weans in Castlemilk have formed a ``Piece'' brigade;
We're going to march to George's Square, demanding civil rights,
Like `Nae Mair Hooses Over Piece-Flinging Height!'

Why not have a think back to your childhood and share with your baby one of your favourite songs or rhymes. Babies and young toddlers love the rhyme and rhythm, it will build their vocabulary and listening skills and most of all singing with your baby is a great fun, interactive activity.

Babybear’s Favourite Books: ‘The Big Night-Night Book’ by Georgie Birkett

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For Babybear’s first recommendation in, what will be, a series of favorites, it seems only right to select the current bedtime story of choice: The Big Night-Night Book.

The ‘story’ is a lovely rhyme in which the wee boy in the book says night-night to everything (teddy, cup, toothbrush, stars…) before snuggling down to sleep. There are some touchy-feely bits on every page and I love that in this book they enhance the bright and bold illustrations instead of being the main focus.

The illustrations in the book are familiar routines for wee ones, like getting their pyjamas on and having a glass of milk before bed. Babybear likes pointing out the cat on each page with cries of, “Dat! Dat!”. Personally, I like the page of the wee boy brushing his teeth, I have this vague hope that it might encourage Babybear to love getting her teeth brushed instead of trying to hide when its teeth brushing time!

  • -Find ‘The Big Night-Night Book’ by Georgie Birkett in your local library or independent bookshop – if you can’t find it, just ask, they may be able to order it in for you.

I ‘heart’ Libraries!

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One of my favourite activities with my daughter, aka Babybear, is a trip to our local library, she gets so excited when we near the library door so I know she loves it too! Libraries have so much to offer babies and toddlers and regular trips to the library is a great habit to get into when they are young. Here are my top reasons to love your local library:

Rhyme time – Many libraries offer free sessions (like ‘bounce and rhyme’ and ‘Bookbug’) for babies, toddlers and their carers. It’s a great opportunity to learn some new songs and rhymes to sing with your little one at home but also to spend some time focused on and engaging with them. This benefits the literacy development of even the youngest tots and can be a great opportunity for you to meet other parents in your local area.

Lead by example – Toddlers love to copy, only today Babybear was busy cleaning her highchair while I got her lunch ready! So, if your little one sees you borrowing and enjoying library books they will want to do the same so they can be just like mum/dad/granny/grandpa!

A space away from home – Libraries are especially wonderful on those freezing winter days or when it’s bucketing with rain, they give you a child friendly space to get out of the house. The children’s sections in libraries will usually have little chairs and tables toddlers can sit at to look at books or draw/colour in.

Did I mention the books? Of course, the best part of the library is all the wonderful books you can borrow! Babybear loves to leaf through the baby/toddler books and pick out ones that catch her eye. Its never too early to read with babies and show them the pictures in books; it can help them understand the rhythm of language and begin to build their vocabulary. With a mass of choice of children’s books to borrow, all for free, there is nothing to stop your little one being a baby that loves books!

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