Activities & Tips

Challenge Extended: 1000 Books Before Kindergarten!

Shhh.  Listen.  Did you hear that? 

Yes, it was the sound of librarians everywhere shouting hooray while reading about Daliyah Marie Arana. This amazing young book worm visited the Library of Congress, met with the newest Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and was Guest Librarian for the day, a most prestigious title, especially when bestowed upon an impeccably dressed 4 year old! Daliyah's special afternoon was in celebration of a big reading accomplishment that her family celebrated with their local public library.

 

When Daliyah was 3, her mom enrolled her in her public library's 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program in Georgia. This program encourages families to read 1000 books before the first day of kindergarten and when her family completed this most impressive feat, her mother contacted the Library of Congress to share the sweet accomplishment and request a tour for her young reader. Cue the collective sighs of joy.

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

 
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden welcomes 4-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana of Gainesville, Georgia to be "Librarian for the Day," January 10, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller.
Source: americanlibrariesmagazine.org

Adorable? Yes

Impressive? Oh yes!

Doable? Totally!

Now, I know that 1000 books seems like a lot but think about it, how many times have you read that one book? You know the one. That one with the bunny, or the truck or...heaven forbid, Caillou? You probably read that book 10 times just yesterday! When we run the hypothetical numbers, if a parent read  just one book, one time each day to their child every day since the day they were born until the day they turned five, that would be 365 books for 5 years, 1825 books!  

baby at library   

So Many Books, So Much Time! 

baby at library 

 

This means we all get wiggle room for busy days, or busy years. Even if your baby was colicky and you just walked around the house rocking her for the first three months and didn't get a chance to pick up Moo Baa La La for a while, you have probably already read a TON of books together.  Or maybe when your daughter was 2, she decided that sitting was just the worst thing ever so your bedtime snuggle with a book became a wrestling match with a toothbrush, it's okay, because I can bet on bowl of mush that you have read, Goodnight Moon about a million times. Or maybe it was a Pigeon book or maybe one of those floppy paperbacks that has way too many words but your daughter is so smart that she knows exactly what Thomas just said so you can't skip even one line.  Sigh.  

 

Where was I?  Oh yes,1000 books.  

So while librarians everywhere loved and widely shared the heartwarming story of the youngest librarian in our ranks, Ms. Daliyah, we know you can to it too. Oakland Public Library hereby extends the challenge to you and your family today. We may not be able to offer personal tours of the Library of Congress, but our online badges are colorful and our high-fives plentiful!  

Sign up today!  

https://oakland.beanstack.org/

Beanstack logo

   

   

Nitty Gritty Details

  • How does this all work?

Oakland Public Library has teamed up with Beanstack to help you reach some amazing reading goals!  Just click here and follow the steps. You can create a reading profile for each child in your family and keep everything together in one place. Choose the "1000 books before Kindergarten Reading Program" when registering and you're done! You can also choose to get one email a week with a personalized book recommendation, a link to the library catalog and reading tips based on your child's profile. 

  • Does it really count if I read the same book 5 or more times?

Yep! Repeated reading of the same book is extremely beneficial for pre-readers. It helps develop vocabulary, memory, positive connections with literature, self-confidence and more!

  • My kiddo is 3, is it too late to join?

No way! Even if your child starts kinder next year, you can still join! You can even go in a enter all of your favorites from back in the day and move on from there.

  • What if we don't make it to 1000 by the time kindergarten starts?  Did we fail?

Nope, you are awesome.

  • What do we do when it is done?

Keep reading of course! The Beanstack software can come in very handy for those homework reading logs too!

No More Lost Books, My New Years Re(solution)!

 

                                        

I’ll admit it, I am sick of my kids losing library books! Every week between 10-30 library books and movies enter my house, and it seems like every month or so one book or movie gets lost in the “black hole” never to be seen again.

So this year, I have a solution; not a resolution, but a solution. We are borrowing more electronic library books this year. I found a great deal on tablets for my children and got each of them one as a holiday gift.  The very first thing I did before giving them the tablets was download the following library apps, and enter their library card numbers so that they could enjoy the free online resources we offer. You have read my praises about Tumblebooks before, but the library offers so much more. Here are just a few kid friendly databases the library provides. Some even have mobile apps for your phone!

Overdrive/Kids: Overdrive will allow you to download full text books AND audiobooks that we (the librarians) selected. This means the children can enjoy the books without a wifi connection once they are downloaded to the device. Kids can place books on hold if they are all checked out (just like physical books in the branches), and the best part: these are automatically returned so no lost books!  You can search for and find Overdrive books in our regular catalog. So if a book your child wants is checked out at your branch, and Overdrive has a copy available, our catalog will tell you.  

Tumblebooks for Kids: my oldy but goody. The books are not borrowed but enjoyed via the internet. This is a favorite for my youngest children. And no lost books.

Hoopla:  Not only books, Hoopla has comics, graphic novels and movies available. The best part about Hoopla is that EVERYTHING on the site is ALWAYS available. No hold lists, no waiting. You can also download your items to your device for reading later. The catch: you can only borrow 6 items a month. BUT just like Overdrive/Kids the items “return themselves” eliminating those pesky lost books.

Are you sensing a theme here? Sincerely hope so.  There is more:

Zinio Magazine Collection: Don’t overlook this database and assume it’s only for adults. Plenty of kid-friendly magazines are readily available for your child’s enjoyment. For example:

           

World Book Kids: This is not just for homework anymore! For children who are not necessarily “book readers,” but enjoy exploring topics that interest them, World Book Online is an ideal resource. It is interactive with games, puzzles, and videos, designed to encourage children to enjoy researching and exploring any topic. I recommend this database whenever your child asks: “Do you know of any ‘good games’ online?”

Total Boox: This one is crazy. Like straight up bananas. So you go to this database and borrow children’s books. And the books you borrow, you keep. FOREVER! Like WHAT THE WHAT? I am not joking. This is the wildest thing I have ever seen ever. There are no holds, so the books in the Total Boox catalog are always available. The books don’t return themselves, and nobody emails or calls you to remind you to return stuff. So if your kids loves a book and wants to read it over and over again, there is no need to worry about returning it. EVER!  And you can download the books to your device for offline enjoyment. What’s the catch?  Well the library is offering this on a trial basis. So if the community doesn’t use it or love it, it might go away. PLEASE USE IT BECAUSE I LOVE IT. Trust me on this one, you will love it too.

So goodbye lost books (I hope), and hello to another year of enjoyable reading.

Bad Words

Y'all!

Y'all!!

Y'ALL!  

This election has gone off the chain! I had to stop watching the news. The 6 am/pm news! Because thanks to a leaked Access Hollywood video, and some exhaustive news coverage, my 4-year old son asked me to explain a 5-letter word that begins with the letter "P."

I am not linking  the video. If by some chance you haven't seen or heard about it because you were living off the grid for the past two months, just Google: "Donald Trump,"  "Access Hollywood," and "Video." 

It's bad enough that my 4-year old son with autism, who is just learning to talk, quickly learns to say THAT WORD, but he wants a definition too? 

Yes Oakland I am upset. When I was 4- years old the only reference I had to that "P-word" was this guy:

 

                                           

and when I was 8-years old I knew all about this band: 

                                          

but I had no adult reference to that word!

So I chickened-out. I sure did. I had no desire to explain the adult version of a word when saying "it's a cat" would do. I read my kid Puss in Boots, checked out the movie from the library, and sat him down for a very important talk. I explained that sometimes adults use words in rude ways, and we shouldn't repeat everything adults say. Then I read this book to him:

                                              

He thought it was funny. He runs around the house saying "flarf"  and "shalark" repeatedly now.  Hey a momma's gotta do what a momma's gotta do. 

 

Sesame Street Presents: Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration

Last month a child I know personally came to me crying because she learned her mother was incarcerated. After sobbing her heart out to me her last request was:

"... and don't give me a book Ms. Nichole. Every time I have a problem you are always giving me a book to read!"

I replied something like, "Sweetheart I'm a librarian, not a shrink. I can listen but I can't help, not really. Maybe reading a book can help?"

She said "no. I'm too sad to read."

Since books were not an option at that time, I sat her down with my tablet and headphones and let her watch this:

See video

Then I downloaded the following app on her tablet (her dad said it was okay:) Little Children, Big Challenges: Incarceration.

Yesterday, dad thanked me for offering his daughter support, and told me she was ready to start reading books again. I recommended these:

    

I'm not a therapist or a counselor so I can't offer much, but I can recommend books and resources.  If you know a kid in a similar situation, maybe these resources can help them too.

Homework hint...

Creative Commons photo "Homework" by Roberto Faccenda is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

This has been a really interesting political season. I'll be the first to admit I am enjoying watching the process unfold. All of the plot twists are better than any night-time drama; furthermore this has given me plenty of opportunities to teach my 8-year-old son real life lessons.

Last summer I intentionally sat down and watched this video on my tablet and started laughing. After a while my son stops playing with his trains and sits by me to see why I was so amused.

He looks at the video, confused and asked me, "what's so funny?"

My set-up is successful! I now opened the door to teach my kid a new word: Plagiarism.

Plagiarism (explained to a 8-year-old child:) is stealing someone’s words, and pretending they are your own. It is not only dishonest; you can get in a lot of trouble with your teachers.

"Words belong to people?" My son asked. Using the word "stole" really grabbed his attention.

"Yes," I explained. "See this picture you worked hard on?" I pointed to his picture of a train he painted that was on the fridge. "How would you like it if I erased your name and put mine on, then told everyone I painted the picture?"

My son was incredulous. "BUT THAT'S CHEATING!" he shouted. "I worked hard on that."

'Yea," I replied. "You should be upset if I did that. That is your picture you made all by yourself. I can't just steal it. You can't do that with words either. If someone wrote a song first, or a speech first, or a paper first, you can't just copy it and put your name on it. Okay?"

"Okay!" he exclaimed shaking his head." I won't do that."

"Hey buddy", I followed up, "Here is the thing, if you want to use someone's words that’s ok. You just have to give them credit for it. "

"Huh?" Now he is seriously confused.

"Let's pretend I take your picture off the fridge and put it in a pretty frame and hang it in the living room."

"Ookayyy...."

" Every time someone comes over the house admires your picture I say, Jason made it. "

"Yea... so?"

"So I'm using your picture to make my living room pretty, but I am not pretending the picture is something I made myself."

"That’s good, cause that's cheating," he replies.

"Exactly, you can do the same thing with words. You can use someone else’s words to make your words better, and when you give them credit it's called "quoting".

"Ohhh..." the little light bulb of understanding awakens in him. "Don't cheat, just quote."

"Exactly!"

I'm proud of that boy.

Long blog post short; don't cheat on your homework this year. If you want to borrow someone else's words when completing your assignments that is ok. You just have to give them credit for it. Ask me or any other librarian how to do it. We will be happy to help you.

Happy Mother's Day

                                 Picture courtesy of ElvisKennedy.com via Flickr Commons.

There is this saying that "Motherhood is the hardest job you will ever love."  It's true. I love my children and I love my job.  My love for my job shows whenever I have the oppertunity to read stories to children. I sing, I dance, and I have a great time. Afterwards, it never fails:  several  parents will compliment my reading style, and follow- up with the question/statement: You must read to your children all the time! 

My answer always is: ABSOLUTELY NOT! 

I love my kids don't get me wrong; but at the end of the day I am a momma just like you (unless you're a poppa but you get my point) and I don't want to read a bedtime story every night.   And if I read Goodnight Moon ONE MORE FREAKING TIME during the bedtime routine I am going to join that cow jumping over the moon. 

I love my kids, don't get me wrong; but at the end of a work day, the LAST thing I want to do is work some more. Even though it is my own kids. Even though I love my job.  Think about it: if you are an accountant, do you come home looking forward to helping your child with their math homework?  Or if you are a short order cook, do you anticipate coming home after a hard day slaving in the restaurant kitchen, to cook another meal? Don't lie, the answer is no. 

So in the spirit of honesty, from one parent to another I will gift to you how I "read" to my children at home. I present to you Tumblebooks. An online database of children's books that read the stories out loud to your kids! Thanks to Tumblebooks I have stopped reading to my children, while enjoying quality time with them before bedtime with a good book. Here is a sneak peek at my simplified bedtime routine that brings the joy of reading into our home.

An added bonus is my 3 year old son is now enjoying beginner chaper books as well. Here he is reading  Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig by Kate DiCamillo

                                                 

If you click on the link to the book and look at the right side of your screen, you will notice that Tumblebooks provides:

  • Reading Levels
  • A/R Levels
  • Grade Levels
  • Lexile Numbers
  • Common Core Standards List 
  • Accelerated Reader Information (at available for all books sadly) 

 I know what you are thinking: OMG THIS WILL MAKE MY LIFE SO MUCH EASIER!

 You're welcome. And Happy Mother's Day.

Potty Training Adventures...

Sunday afternoon I walked into the living room and saw this:

As shocking as this sight was, I became very excited. This is the first sign he might be ready to start potty training. The second sign was the next morning when he woke up shouting "Momma, I gotta pee pee!" YEA AGAIN... except, I don't know how to train a child to go pee pee. This is a problem when I have an excited toddler ready to get rid of his diapers. So off to the library I go, and here is what I brought brought home for him:

                          

And here is what I brought home for me:

                

Because hey, it happens!

Stay tuned, more to come...

Preschool Adventure : Exploratorium

If you have encountered me at all, chances are I have talked your ear off about OPL's Discover and Go service. It is one of my favorite services!

Museum passes for FREE! How can you not like that?!?!

If you have been raising a preschooler in California, they have spent their whole lives in drought weather, and this rainy, wetter than usual winter is driving your household crazy. 

What do you do when you can't run them ragged at the park? How are you going to expend their energy?

My answer: Discover & Go Adventure Days

This month, I'll share our Exploratorium adventure with you.

Reserving an Exploratorium pass through Discover & Go allows for 2 free admissions. Kids 3 and under are free! Don't forget to print out your pass, and bring a photo I.D. 

We started our day with a SF Bay Ferry boat ride. What 3 year old doesn't love the ferry boat? Tip: Adult fare for the ferry is $12.80, roundtrip. If you have a Clipper card, it is $9.60. Kids under 5 are free! 

If you take the ferry, you'll get off at the SF Ferry Building. Go in and eat all the samples. 

From the Ferry Building, you'll walk 10 minutes to the Exploratorium's new location. If you grew up going to the old location at the Palace of Fine Arts, don't worry! This location is easier to access and you'll be pleasantly surprised that some of your favorite exhibits are still there. (YES, even the Shadow Box!!!)

For drizzly weather, bundle yourselves up in rain gear. The short walk will be a puddle jumping blast!

If BART is more your style, get off at the Embarcadero station.

Once you get there, present your Discover & Go pass and photo i.d. Staff will exchange it for tickets, and you can dance happily into the museum with the joy of knowing you are a smart library patron that just saved $30-60!

Look at all the fun we had:

 

THE BEST PART? . . . Sleepy kiddos!

Using Discover & Go my child and I have had the most memorable playdates. From Bay Area Discovery Museum, to the U.S.S. Hornet, and Cal Academy. Every museum has different deals, so read closely when you book. 

Which should I profile next month?

What is your favorite Discover & Go offering?

Literacy Week: Spongebob, Olaf, and Letting Them Pick

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:

    

Licensed characters. TV tie-ins, we call them. Books that were cranked out by a movie or TV studio to add to the pile of money already being thrown at them. At the time, my eyes glistened. Yes, I silently swore, I will never buy these books for the children in my libraries. I will only buy quality literature with literary merit and artistic acclaim!

My former professor would hate my libraries now. A peek at my monthly orders would make her skin crawl. I buy [junk] books at an astonishing rate, spending THOUSANDS of dollars at a time on licensed characters with uninspiring stories. 
Why do I do this?

When we talk about teaching kids to read, we talk a LOT about letting them choose their own books. In lots of communities, we talk about getting kids to choose books at all, when TV and smartphone games compete and Mom's working three jobs and doesn't have time to read to them. When books aren't part of a family's home life--and this is the case for many, many families--librarians face an uphill battle in getting young children interested in books. Then when those children start school and begin formal reading instruction, they're expected to learn to read whether they're interested in books or not. 

If you can imagine a group of kids, some of whom are interested in books and some who are not, which can you imagine having a harder time learning how to read?
Yup.

So if packing our shelves with Dora, Frozen, Doc McStuffins, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles means a three-year-old's head turns and he runs to the shelf to get his hands on a book, you better believe I'm going to do it. Those licensed characters are familiar faces. They are friends. An Angry Birds paperback may not have excellent character development and a nuanced story, but it offers comfort and familiarity, which inspire confidence.

So here is my plea to parents, teachers, and librarians who hope to inspire a love of reading in their children: 

Let them pick what they want to read.
No, seriously. Let them pick what they want to read.

If your student picks out a Barbie book and you hate Barbie, resist the urge to say "no, that's not a good book." The child thinks it's a good book. Believe them. Ask them sincerely, "what do you like about this book?" Listen to their answer. Help them find more books they like.

Believing they make good choices in reading and are correct in liking the things they like will be the crucial factor in whether your child continues reading as a lifelong habit. Confidence is a determiner of success here. Fun is too.

Literacy Week: Bringing the World of Words to Families

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 family value. By starting with what parents know, including talking, singing, and playing, we’re giving parents the skill and confidence to read with their little ones and do other early education activities to boost the literacy skills of parents and children alike.

In addition to our monthly family literacy events and one-on-one coaching, Second Start works with Children’s Services and other library departments to make sure the library’s materials are easy to read. We’ve also begun a new class series: Literacy for Parents. The class teaches participants how to use children’s books to boost their reading skills and gain confidence so they can share these activities with their children and grandchildren.

We launched these classes at a re-entry program for men returning from prison. A shocking 75% of state and 59% of federal prisoners read below a 5th grade level and didn’t finish high school. The class series at Center Point Inc. helped participants bring books into the relationships they are re-forming with their children and grandchildren. Participants shared the books they loved most as children, discovered new books they enjoyed, and practiced ways to use ABC books and games for endless fun. It was a huge success.

Through Families for Literacy we’re bringing parents into the world of words, so they and their families can do even more as citizens of the world.

If you know someone who might benefit from Second Start and Families for Literacy, call us. Ask for Ann Daniels or Amy Sonnie: 510-238-3432.

 

The National Adult Education and Family Literacy Week, September 21-26, is sponsored by the National Coalition for Literacy. @NLCAdvocacy