For Educators and Librarians

Reading Pictures: Visual Literacy and Young Children
In August 2017 we convened librarians from 50 Vermont libraries for a one-day training conference. The goal of the conference was to increase librarians’ knowledge and skills to help build children’s visual learning skills. VCB provided books and hands-on materials (including art materials) and information to librarians.

Children’s literature expert Grace Greene and art educator M.C. Baker presented visual literacy and hands-on art activities to librarians, respectively. Some of the topics discussed in the first section of the day included questions to consider when examining picture books with an eye to preschool children’s learning experiences: How does the illustrator use perspective? How would a particular book change if different colors were used? How do illustrators show movement? What techniques do illustrators use to convey a narrative in wordless picture books?

Baker led small-group art activities so that librarians could experience them first-hand. These activities included:

  • “Something Out of Nothing”: one person at the table draws a doodle and everyone takes turns adding something to the drawing until it becomes something else.
  • Transforming an ordinary ballpoint pen into a special writing and drawing instrument (using clay and other materials). This showed librarians how children can look closely at everyday objects and notice design.
  • Origami activities: using one square piece of paper and transforming it into something else.

Librarians were given a set of 11 picture books plus one professional book (Reading Picture Books With Children: How to Shake Up Storytime and Get Kids Talking About What They See by Megan Dowd Lambert and Laura Vaccaro Seeger; Penguin, 2015). The rest of the titles were published in 2016-17 and were selected for diversity in characters, genre, illustration, story and design. Librarians were each given an “art kit” so that they could replicate with children and families the activities they had experienced at the training conference.

Librarians received additional picture books in summer 2018, plus additional resources about wordless picture books and a wordless picture books bibliography.

The program was funded by the A.D. Henderson Foundation and the Vermont Department of Libraries.

What’s the BIG Idea? Math and Science in the Library

What’s the BIG Idea was developed with funding provided by the National Science Foundation. All of the content (activities, family programs, Discovery Centers) was first tested by 57 librarians from Houston Public Library, the state of Delaware, and the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System in upstate New York and new Vermont locations (Springfield and Bennington). These four systems provided a mix of libraries from large, small, urban and rural areas.

During the pilot phase these librarians engaged in four conferences focusing on ideas critical to children’s acquisition of basic math and science skills and concepts: Patterns and Relationships, Numbers and Operations, Change Over Time and Geometry and Spatial Sense. A National Advisory Panel informed the development of the program.

The participating librarians converted what they learned into hundreds of programs in local libraries using project-created informational resources, books, and hands-on materials. In addition, they enriched their circulating collections and outreach with kits for families.

 Available for purchase: What’s the BIG Idea? Librarian Starter Kit, Librarian Manual and family circulating kits.

Red Clover Award: Vermont’s Children’s Choice Picture Book Award

For Educators

We will offer STEM in the Early Years at the Early Childhood Institute at Castleton University, July 23-26. Register today for this three-credit (undergrad or graduate) course! In addition to three credits, students will receive training, picture books and hands-on materials to use with children in their care. This is an interactive, hands-on course.

We’re also conducting four two-day STEM in the Early Years trainings in the Middlebury, Bradford, Manchester/Arlington and Milton areas in the Summer/Fall of 2018.

If you have questions about any of these trainings, please email Wendy or call 802-875-2751 ext. 107.

Mother Goose Cares About Math and Science

Do you work as an educator with groups of young children? Are you a child-care provider, homeschooler, librarian or science museum educator? If so, Mother Goose Cares About Math and Science will help you to:

  • Use math, science and literacy in your interactions with children.
  • Use picture books and investigations to promote conversations, language skills and higher order thinking.
  • Engage children in hands-on investigations that help them explore math, science and literacy skills and concepts.
  • Find diverse ways to use picture books for all kinds of learning.
  • Learn how to use math, science and language and literacy standards.

Course participants receive a full set of picture books, curriculum manual and hands-on learning materials for use with children ages 3-7.

More Than Feelings: Social-Emotional Development in Young Children

Everyone knows how important reading and talking to infants and toddlers is. It not only helps develop early language and literacy skills, but it can also be a powerful way to support the early development of the social-emotional skills all children need to be successful.

In this training educators practice hands-on activities and strategies for using books not only to build language and literacy skills, but to directly support relationships, emotional vocabulary, belonging and self-regulation in infants and toddlers. They will also learn to make explicit connections to help families support children’s development. In addition to receiving sets of books and hands-on materials to use in their practice, providers will also receive sets of books and informational materials for parents so that the learning may continue at home.

1-2-3 Read to Me: Math and Literacy in the Early Years

The goal of this program is to bring early mathematics and literacy learning experiences, knowledge and concepts to children ages 0-3 through the use of picture books, conversations and age-appropriate hands-on learning materials.

Educators will:

  • use picture books and hands-on learning materials with children from ages 0-3.
  • to interact with children—read, have conversations during daily routines—using the books and materials.
  •  transfer information, books and a hands-on learning materials to the parents of the children in their care.

MothMother Goose Cares About the Early Years

Mother Goose Cares About the Early Years uses books and early learning materials to provide a framework to better understand all the developmental areas of children from birth to 36 months. The program provides early childhood educators, and other adults who work with infants and toddlers, with the concepts and skills needed to introduce language and literacy to infants and toddlers.

Do you work as an educator with groups of infants and toddlers? Are you a child-care provider, homeschooler or librarian? If so, Mother Goose Cares About the Early Years will help you to:

  •  Use picture books in all areas of your work with infants and toddlers.
  • Use many developmentally appropriate and stimulating activities for infants and toddlers
  • Review, refresh or discover basic concepts of infant and toddler development
  • Engage children in complex conversations.

Course participants receive a full set of picture books, curriculum manual and hands-on learning materials for use with children ages 3-7.

Mother Goose Cares About Social Studies

Do you work as an educator with groups of young children? Are you a child-care provider, homeschooler, librarian or science museum educator? If so, Mother Goose Cares About Math and Science will help you to:

  •  Identify and expand social studies themes and concepts in your interactions with children.
  • Use picture books and related explorations to promote conversations, language skills and vocabulary development.
  • Engage children in hands-on activities that help them understand social studies and literacy skills
  • Learn ways to communicate with families.
    Course participants receive a full set of picture books, curriculum manual and hands-on learning materials for use with children ages 3-7.

Vermont Early Literacy Initiative

The Vermont Early Literacy Initiative was developed in 2010 by the Vermont Center for the Book and the Vermont Department of Libraries (VTLIB). This statewide early literacy initiative has allowed close to 100 Vermont public libraries to bring early literacy experiences to babies and toddlers, parents and child-care providers.

In January 2020, public and school librarians from 20 Vermont towns will be introduced to Social Studies and Me!, a Social Studies/Civics program for preschoolers. Librarians will receive picture books and materials (thanks to the Vermont Department of Libraries) and training with Meredith Wade and Wendy Martin. The project was made possible by a grant from the A.D. Henderson Foundation.

In 2015 the Vermont Department of Libraries received a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to inaugurate the VELI-STEM project in partnership with VCB and the Montshire Museum of Science. Over the past three years we worked with 25 Vermont public libraries to provide STEM programming and resources to children ages 3-7, their parents, child-care providers and key community stakeholders.

Here is the final VELI-STEM evaluation report of the project, compiled by Dr. Kelly Myles.

The VELI-STEM grant provided in-depth professional development for three years. Results of the training were used to create a replicable model for libraries across the country, allowing them to deliver effective and sustainable STEM programming and resources through a STEM Clearinghouse of Resources developed throughout the project.

In the Beginning
In the first year, 2010-2011, thirty Vermont public libraries participated, and in the second year we added twenty-three more.  The training, based on research on how babies and toddlers learn, improves story times and helps the librarians introduce concepts of early literacy to parents and caregivers.

In the second phase of programming librarians received training, books and hands-on materials through Ready for School, VELI’s preschool math and literacy program.

In addition to information about how preschoolers learn about literacy and math, the librarians learned the basics of the Common Core State Standards so that they could focus on the skills that preschoolers will need once they get to kindergarten. Pat Fitzsimmons, the Common Core Coordinator for the Vermont Department of Education, delivered the keynote speech. She has taught at the preschool and kindergarten levels as well as working for the VT Agency of Education, so she was the perfect person to pull it all together.

Vermont Early Learning Initiative
Librarians at the Ready for School training learned about sorting using attributes

Armed with this new knowledge and training, these librarians conducted story hours, parent programs and training for child-care providers on early language and math literacy for preschoolers. To facilitate the programming, they received sets of books, hands-on math materials (such as linking cubes and magnetic numbers); sets of books and materials for parents for each of three programs, and sets of books and materials for child-care providers for their training.

VELI librarians have also been trained in the importance of healthy social-emotional development in young children (we call it the More Than Feelings program). Librarians received training resources, books and hands-on learning materials for in-library programming (story hours, family programs, trainings for child-care providers). Funding for the training, books and materials were provided in part by the A.D. Henderson Foundation and the VTLIB.

In 2015-2017, all VELI libraries were invited to participate in FFN programming, targeting Family, Friends and Neighbors who care for children ages 0-7. Funding for books, hands-on materials and other resources was provided in part by the Vermont Birth to Five Project.

In 2017, thanks to funding provided by VTLIB and the A.D. Henderson Foundation, 50 libraries learned about visual literacy and received a set of picture books and an art kit at a training.

Funding for VELI has been provided by the Winnie Belle Learned Fund of the Vermont Public Library Foundation through the generosity of Dr. Burnett Rawson, the Henderson Foundation, the Turrell Fund, Vermont Center for the Book and the State of Vermont.

Red Clover Award


The Vermont Department of Libraries administrates this children’s choice picture book award, so if you are a library, school, homeschooler or publisher, please contact VTLIB for educational resources and voting information.

What’s the Red Clover Award? Here’s a brief history of the award.

The Red Clover Award promotes the reading and discussion of the best of contemporary picture books in nearly all of Vermont’s elementary schools. Each year over 20,000 K-4 students read, or have read to them, the ten nominated books.


Mother Goose - Family KitAll Mother Goose Programs include picture books, training, activity guides and educator resource manuals that transform the act of reading to children into multidimensional and powerful learning experiences. These include learning in math, science, social studies, environmental awareness and language and reading skills. All programs and products are standards-based and have been rigorously evaluated.

For more information, contact us by email or call 802-875-2751, ext. 107.

Mother Goose Programs kits and products (download list)