Disney Learning “Explore Music” Series

As librarians and early childhood educators who do storytimes and music programs on a regular basis, we are often on the lookout for new, interesting, interactive ways to do our programs. But they can’t be just any old activities. They have to be activities that fit into the goals of early childhood literacy as well as child development. This can be a time consuming pursuit. Time that we don’t always have. And that is what makes this new series so great.

Launched in 2017, this three book Disney Learning “Explore Music” series from Disney and Hal Leonard is aimed at children ages 4-8. Based on an early childhood music curriculum and featuring well known Disney characters, all of the hard work and research is already done for educators by a team of experts and presented in a program ready package.


Mickey’s Found Sounds – A Musical Exploration Storybook

This book begins with a brief story. When the Main Street Parade is rained out, Mickey and all of his friends return home where Mickey proposes they put on a parade of their own by creating their own marching band. Following the story, easy-to-follow instructions show how to make a bucket drum, oatmeal conga drum, plastic bottle shaker, tube kazoo and glass jar xylophone using common household items. Clear photos accompany the instructions.




Moana: The Beat of Your Heart – A Musical Exploration Storybook

This entry into the series introduces readers to Moana and her family and friends. The concept of rhythm is woven throughout the book as children are encouraged to find the beat within themselves, learn pati and po clapping and are instructed in making and playing a lali, a fala and a pahu.





Tangled: It’s Better When You Sing It – A Musical Exploration Storybook

Tangled-inspired story is used to show all of the ways that sounds and music surround Rapunzel wherever she goes. Woven into the story are “It’s Better When You Sing It!” tips and suggestions for trying out new ways to express yourself with your voice.




Each book comes with an online component that includes a video read-along, an audio sing-along and additional activities and music to go along with those introduced in the book. There is enough activity and story in a single book to build an entire program around, or you can pick and choose activities to incorporate into your already existing programs. This well thought out, sleekly produced series is a must have for anyone who shares the love of music with the children in their lives.

Welcome 2018 with Dolly Parton’s I Believe in You

Hello 2018! I have to say, after the hustle, bustle and general stressfulness that comes with the holidays or as the song says, “the most wonderful time of the year,” I was really looking forward to the calm and quiet of January. I don’t generally do new year’s resolutions, but I did make a promise to myself that I would be kinder in thought and reaction toward those around me. Unfortunately, Mother Nature has made keeping that promise a wee bit difficult. Much of the country has been dealing with weird weather the last few days and in Chicagoland, it has been no different. We’ve been in an extreme deep freeze since before Christmas, there was snow, wind and today, ice. With each day like this that passes, I’m finding it more and more difficult to keep my promise of kindness. And that’s what makes Dolly Parton’s latest album so timely.

It’s hard to fathom that in a career that spans five decades, I Believe in You is Parton’s  very first album for children, but it is. The 13 songs in this collection are all written by Parton and many are inspired by books like The Little Engine That Could, which are distributed through her Imagination Library program. In a time where bullies abound and people of all ages are speaking harshly and disrespectfully about one another, songs such as those found in this collection are definitely welcome. This album is filled with themes of friendship, acceptance, having confidence in yourself and others, and love. Included are songs such as “Responsibility” and “Makin’ Fun Ain’t Funny” that teach young children important life lessons as well as the upbeat “Chemo Hero” which tells what life is like having cancer from the point of view of the child. It is an empowering song that is important for not only children who have cancer to hear, but for their friends and family as well. Also included is a track of Parton reading her book, “Coat of Many Colors,” as well as a new recording of the song with the same name.

True country music is not a genre often found in children’s music, which makes Dolly Parton’s album a welcome addition to library collections and family listening. In addition, all proceeds benefit Dolly’s Imagination Library, which over the past 22 years has sent over 98 million free books to over 1 million children in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. For more information, visit Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.