Q&A: Patrons Ask; Librarians Answer: Will you really let my kid read whatever they want?

Librarians fight for your freedom to read. Read this to learn why.

Summary of a conversation I had this week: 

Parent: My kid said you will let him read whatever he wants! Is that true? 

Me: The short answer?  Yeah.  Anything available to the public he is allowed to borrow. 

Parent reply: He's only 9 years old! The library is full of subjects he is not mature enough for yet! You are going to let him borrow anything!?!?!

Me: As long as he checks it out with his library card... yeah, pretty much. 

Click here to read more

Literacy Week: Spongebob, Olaf, and Letting Them Pick

Why do we have so many Spongebob and Dora books? So kids can choose.

When I was in library school, I had a WONDERFUL children's literature professor who one day went on a rant about not buying what I will refer to as "junk" for our libraries (she used a more colorful four-letter word). "I don't want to see any [junk] on your shelves!" she told us. "There are too many good books out there for you to be buying [junk]."

By [junk] she meant books like these:


Click here to read more

Literacy Week: Bringing the World of Words to Families

When parents – especially mothers – have trouble reading, their children often do too. We can help!

By Ann Daniels, Families for Literacy Coordinator

If you have children, you’re surrounded by a world of words: On forms and flyers from school, instructions on toys, medicines and equipment, party invitations, homework your children want you to help with … But what if you struggle to read?

When parents – especially mothers – have trouble reading, their children often do too. According to the National Coalition for Literacy, studies show that a mom’s reading ability is the single best predictor of her kids’ success in school — more than race, ethnicity and family income. It’s also true that children from higher income homes hear 30 million more words by age 4 than children from lower income homes. Thirty million!

Families for Literacy, a program of Second Start at Oakland Library, works with low-literacy adults who have children to help close the 30-million-word-gap and make reading a

Click here to read more

Q&A: Patron's Ask; Librarians Answer: I'm out of time, can we do this later?

My hands are full, my meter just ran out, my kids are knocking things off shelves, I can't remember if we read that already, I have to take the little one to the bathroom...but I need your librarian skills - HELP!

Q: I love coming in to my local library to get one-on-one help from a children's librarian, but I only have a few minutes! A clock - meant to show time is running out.How can I get your expert help faster?  My middle-school-age daughter is dyslexic, her younger brother is an avid reader of comic books - exclusively, and my toddler has just figured out how to undo her seat belt on the stroller. I need book recommendations for all three of them, and I have to get to the market before dinner. Actually, forget it, I have to take this call from the pediatrician. We'll come back next week!

A: We love it when you come in person to the library, because speaking with you one-on-one allows us to be our most effective. Getting to know you helps us figure out which materials will be right for you. First of all, thanks for making

Click here to read more

How hot was it? Too hot for these joke books!

Joke books might just be the coolest thing around.

How hot is it in Oakland right now? Well, this morning I saw two trees fighting over a dog!* LOL

If that joke made you want to punch me in the face, chances are you're a lil' cranky over this heat wave we're having. And if that is the case, for the love of pickles, do NOT let your child anywhere NEAR this number:


That is the Dewey Decimal number for joke books. Your local OPL branch has a treasure trove of irritating, groanworthy jokes that are sure to make your kids howl with laughter, while you howl in pain. Whatever you do, keep your child away from 793.735, or risk getting pummeled with awesome jokes like these:

Q. Why don't cookies go to the library when it's hot out?
A. Because they feel too crummy.*

Q. Why did the lady leave her purse open when she went outside?
A. Because the newscaster said there would be some change in the weather.*

Q. Why do we

Click here to read more

Q&A Patrons Ask: Do I have to read to my baby?

Is reading to your baby becoming a chore instead a fun activity? Here are some tips to consider to bring the joy back into reading with your baby.

Q: I'ma keep it 100%.  I love my baby, but I really don't want to read to her every night at bedtime. And I don't want to feel pressured and called a bad parent! 

A:  I'm a momma too, so I got you. I'd never call anyone a bad parent. I understand all the well-meaning advice about what you "should be" doing with your children and how to "do it right" is unwelcome and unnecessary.  That's why I'm not gonna add to it – much. 

Reading to your baby is very important, we all know that. So as a professional I can't say “don’t read to your child."  But I will say, reading is supposed to be a fun way to bond with your child. In short, your baby needs words, not a nightly ritual you dread. So if you don't want to read tonight don't stress about it; sing to her. If you don't want to sing, play with her. If you don't want

Click here to read more

Meet George!

Oaklander Alex Gino's new middle grade novel about a transgender girl is a sweet delight.

There's a new girl in town: George, a fourth grader who loves acting and dreams of playing with makeup. George was assigned male at birth, but knows she is really a girl--but how can she tell her best friend, her teachers, the classmates who bully her, and most importantly, her family?

Oakland resident Alex Gino's new middle grade novel is a realistic narrative of life as a transgender child. The writing is honest and kid-friendly; it doesn't water down the hardships George faces, but there's no content that's inappropriate for a very young reader. It would be a great family or classroom readaloud.

OPL has ordered George by Alex Gino, and it'll be on shelves soon--place your hold today

Click here to read more

Q&A: Patrons ask; librarians answer: Feelings About Starting School

Q&A: Children's Librarians answer questions all day, every day, from children, parents, caregivers, and teachers. In August as usual, people need books about starting school.

Q: School is starting in a few days...we’re excited and anxious – both!  Do you have any book suggestions to calm our anxieties? 

Poster from the movie Inside OutA: It sounds like today you’re looking for ideas about the emotions you & your child are feeling, rather than the facts of what will happen the first week of school.  You can read about either, or both…This time of year gives parents and children a great opportunity to practice recognizing your own & others’ feelings, identifying them, expressing them, and responding to them. 

When children read books or watch movies that have any emotional content, they learn about

Click here to read more

News Flash: Picture Books are Good for the Brain!

New research confirms that reading picture books with your child stimulates many different parts of their growth.

Mom and girl readingWell, I think we've always known it, but it's always nice to have some science to back it up.  The recent New York Times Article, Bedtime Stories for Young Brains, by Dr. Perri Klass, summarizes a newly published study confirming that reading picture books together with your child develops all parts of their brain, beyond word literacy. 

What a perfect excuse to check out your favorite picture book now.  And if Dr. Klass's article intrigued you, we have more by her too. Just no pictures. 

Click here to read more

Summer Reading Winners

Thousands of Oakland kids read 20 days or more this summer, ensuring they go back to school ready to learn, and with stories and fun to remember.

Boy and mom and ipadCongratulations to all summer readers!  

Thousands of Oakland kids (4900 and counting) have logged their days of reading this summer and met the Summer Reading Challenge of at least 20 days of reading. If you've not yet collected your prize, stop by your library soon--it's not too late.  We want to congratulate each and every one of you. 

The challenge officially ended last weekend, and we drew grand prize winners from the raffle.  Jeremy Augman is the lucky winner of the iPad, and came with his mom to pick it up at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch Library.  

girl with prizeThe one-year family membership

Click here to read more