The Mother Goose on the Loose Blog

MGOL in Hospitals (a taste from the ALSC Institute in Atlanta)


While at the ASLC Institute in Atlanta, I attended a wonderful session by librarian Amanda Bressler entitled “Healthy Partnerships: Creating an Early Literacy Outreach Partnership for Hospitalized Children.” The description read:

Scrub in and pull on your rubber gloves; it’s time to operate…an early literacy partnership with your local hospital’s children’s unit! Based on an outreach partnership between the Boston Public Library and Boston Children’s Hospital since 2014, this program will provide an overview of hospital departments to partner with, special considerations for providing library services to severely ill children and their families, and other strategies to set up your early literacy partnership for success.

Amanda’s presentation was full of valuable information, and we were half way through when I realized I should be videotaping it. With her permission, I pulled out my cell phone and began filming.  To view the second half of the presentation, click below:


One of the really cool things is that Amanda used MGOL as the basis for her program, although she adapted it to fit the needs of her audience and surroundings.  She gives tips relating to book selection, products to use, how to set up such a program (who to talk with), etc.

If you are interested in presenting ANY type of early literacy program in the hospital or clinic setting, her presentation (even just the second half!) has lots of valuable information.

The Goslings are Growing


Here’s a video about the Mother Goose on the Loose Goslings program:


On October 21,  I will be presenting on “Early Literacy Programming for Families with Fragile Babies” with partners from Port Discovery, the University of Maryland Medical Center, and the University of Maryland Baltimore County at the 2015 Conference on Inclusion and Diversity in Library & Information Science (CIDLIS).

If you want to hear more about the Goslings program, feel free to join us there!

Mother Goose on the Loose Goslings


A few months ago, I posted about the idea of creating a Mother Goose on the Loose program for parents with premature babies, hospitalized in NICU units.  I am proud to announce that with the assistance of Port Discovery Children’s Museum (and a big shout-out to Summer Rosswog), of PNC bank, and of the University of Maryland Medical Center (with a shout-out to Brenda Hussey-Gardner), I have created the Mother Goose on the Loose Goslings program.

Goslings is a combination of MGOL nursery rhyme activities adapted for the medical needs and fragile conditions of premature babies, along with a large parent education component.

We have piloted four programs and have already had great feedback.  (We were getting the positive comments after just one week — a family told us that when they used to come into the NICU, they would immediately wake up their baby so they could play together, but now they knew that it was important to let him sleep.)

Each family that attends our program leaves with a kit of items that they can use to play with their baby.  One of the items in the kit is an “Indestructible Book”, since it can be easily wiped, washed, and disinfected.  This book is great for ALL young children, not just preemies!

I gave Wiggle, March, an Indestructible book, to my friend Jen, after the birth of her son. She recently sent me a video of him “using” the book. It is so wonderful, I am including the video below!

The Raising of America


During the past two weeks, I have been watching a newly released video series called “The Raising of America.”  In addition to giving updated facts and research regarding the importance of the earliest years in children’s lives, this series presents historical information regarding childcare in the US that I had not previously known. 

During World War II, a national network of child development centers throughout the US was funded by the Lanham Act. While mothers worked in factories replacing male factory workers who were at war, the government provided free childcare for 600,000 children.  However, when the war ended, the women were expected to return home and the childcare centers closed.

By 1970, about 50% of women in the US were again part of the US workforce. Senator Walter Mondale introduced a bill called the Comprehensive Child Development Act (CCDA), written with Marian Wright Edelman from the Children’s Defense Fund. Modeled after Head Start, the CCDA aimed to make the US government responsible for providing “high-quality childcare and early education, home visiting and other services to each and every family that wanted it.” The CCDA was passed in Congress with bi-partisan support from both Democrats and Republicans. It sought to promote both  social equality and national prosperity.

Richard Nixon mentioned the importance of early childhood in a speech at the White House Conference on Children in 1970. He claimed that his “absolute number one priority … was good quality, affordable child care,” and that he supported universal childcare. When the CCDA was passed, in order for it to become law it needed to be signed by President Nixon. Sounds simple, right?

Pat Buchanon had President Nixon’s ear. Backed by the Conservative Movement, he painted the bill as a “communal approach” to child-rearing, equating it with “Sovietization” of American Children. Phyllis Schlafely, founder of the Eagle Forum and staunch anti-feminist, launched a campaign equating childcare as “against family values.” According to Schlafely, a woman should be at home raising her children and not out working.CCDA opponents claimed that government programs that could help poor or working famlies would undercut “personal responsibility.” Ignoring the fact that a large number of women needed to work to support their families,  and thus need childcare in order to leave the home to work, “family values” were “invoked to undermine initiatives intended to help families.” The Conservatives put pressure on Nixon. Nixon caved in and vetoed the bill.

Since then, lower and middle class mothers who need to work struggle to find high-quality childcare that they can afford. Some families pay more monthly fees for childcare than they do for rent! If parents can’t pay for childcare, then they have to either stay at home, or leave their child is substandard care that is affordable.  The earliest years are the ones that form the social, emotional, and cognitive framework for children;  not having adequate childcare can severely limit possibilities for development of important skills and experiences. 

In each of the five segments, narrators referred to research regarding the formation of the brain’s architecture in the earliest years of life. They mentioned the detrimental effect constant stress can have upon the development of children’s brains, explaining how heightened levels of cortisol can permanently change the underlying structure. The need for children to have to have more than simply “custodial care”, to have social experiences and intellectual stimulation in addition to being fed and having diapers changed, makes a huge difference in their development.

The CCDA bill was re-introduced twice in Congress following the 1971 veto. Phyllis Schlafly again went into action, writing a newspaper editorial that stated: “We are told that the Mondale-Brademas bill will strengthen the family, whereas it will actually do the opposite because it will relieve parents of their responsibility for child rearing. Anyone who wants to strengthen the family should encourage mothers to stay home and care for their own preschool children.”(Observer-Reporter, August 3, 1976, A-4). Again, the bill was not put into action

After watching all five segments of the series, I could help but imagine what our county would be like right now if the CCDA had passed. If all families had access to free high-quality childcare, children would be nurtured from the very start, mothers would be able to help support their families financially without worrying, and childcare providers would be operating within a governmental framework that would require certification but also pay a decent wage. Rates of poverty in the US would be much lower, children would start with much better advantages, and the possibilities for advancement for families from all economic and racial backgrounds would be greatly increased.

I wonder if President Nixon realized the damage his veto would cause?  

According to “The Raising of America,” the US has the least the lowest amount of childcare support than these other nations: Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  Childcare facilities are inspected less than prisons . According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, many childcare workers are paid a wage that is “lower than the poverty level income for a family of three.”

To find out more, visit The Raising of America Website; there are some incredible resources as well as transcripts and guides for leading discussion after viewing each of the segments.


What can we do to bring back the a bill to support universal childcare in the US?

Random Acts of Kindness



Last week, while all of Baltimore was battling a tremendous snow storm, I was in Florida presenting a “Transforming Preschool Storytime” workshop to an enthusiastic and receptive group of children’s librarians. I left feeling  invigorated and delighted that our children have such a skillful group of educators devoted to helping them get the best start possible . While formal education may be cutting arts education and replacing it with academic work (even for the youngest children), children’s librarians are filling in gaps by introducing books and literature with songs, games, art projects, and drama. Examples were given of the creative programming that these librarians present on a regular basis to their preschoolers and school-aged children.  Seeing the talent, the dedication and the true joy that these Florida librarians have in planning and presenting  high-quality programs to their preschoolers was exhilarating.

Due to the snow in Baltimore, my flight was rescheduled a number of times, and I ended up spending an extra three days in Florida. I did not mind at all – those days included time with friends and a day visiting Harry Potter World at Universal Studios.

I’ve been back in Baltimore for a week, and today I received an unexpected card in the mail.







What a wonderful surprise! 

During the workshops, when discussing developmental tips, I mention the story told to me by a librarian who went shopping in a supermarket in an unfamiliar town she was visiting. Behind her was a father with his daughter, estimated to be around age 3. The daughter took a kid-sized shopping cart at the supermarket entrance and went racing into the store. The father calmly stood there and called out, “And the drum says STOP” (a phrase connected to one of the Mother Goose on the Loose activities). The girl immediately froze. The father strolled to join her with his cart and the two happily continued shopping together in the store.

The phrase “the drum says STOP” is a clear give-away that they had been attending Mother Goose on the Loose programs. But the fact that the father used it to get his daughter to stop indicates that their children’s librarian probably cited one of the standard MGOL developmental tips: “All children need to learn the word STOP. If you wait until they are doing something dangerous and call out STOP in a panicked tone of voice, your child will probably giggle and continue doing whatever it was. But, if you play freeze games at home, using a pot as a drum or anything else, then your child will become accustomed to stopping automatically when you request it. So, try playing freeze games with your child at home.”

We don’t know who the librarian was in that town, but there is little doubt that a developmental tip gave this father the idea to play freeze games with his child, using the exact expression “and the drum says STOP” to let his daughter know that it is time to STOP NOW.  I suspect, however, that their librarian has no idea that this dad listened to her tip and took the suggestion to play freeze games at home.

I use this example to show the power of developmental tips. Children’s librarians can be important influences for good, not only with children but with their parents and caregivers as well. A friendly face, a welcoming voice, a font of information, and a true partner in the nurturing of children makes children’s librarians heroes is so many ways. But, they don’t often to get feedback that lets them know about the impact they’ve had on so many families. For instance, the librarian of this particular dad and daughter might never know that her tip made a difference in their lives.  But it did!

We also talk about positive feedback and how clapping for a child who pulls Humpty off his wall, or using positive words when children tap “STOP” on the drum gives them the incentive to continue paying attention, waiting for their turn, and following directions. 

It is not often that people are told they have had a positive impact on the lives of other. Children’s librarians have positive impacts every day, but rarely get the feedback enabling them to know that they have made a difference to in people’s lives.  In addition to a wonderful workshop and a fun week in Florida, I am grateful to have received this lovely piece of positive reinforcement.  Thank you, Jodi!