Great Books and more

Black History Homework

Library Kid:   I have the hardest person EVER!!!!

Me: Who? 

Library Kid: I'll never find annnnnnything on herrrr... 

Me: Who?

Library Kid: Fannie Lou Hamer. 

Me: What about this book?  ( I pulled it out of our newly created Black History Books Display) 

Library Kid:  umm.... I wrote my report already.

Me: Really? Okay well you should take the book now anyway. Because if you "lose" your report before it's due the book might not be here.

Library Kid: 

This conversation and many more can be enjoyed by you and your child if you run to your nearest library and get the homework assignment book NOW. Odds are your child's teacher has already assigned your student the person they are required to study. Don't delay. But if you come later in the month and the books you need are all checked out, our online resources are ready to assist you!  And please pretty please for the love of accuracy and facts don't just "Google it". Ask a librarian to help you, or get started with the websites below. 

Biography in Context: An Oakland Public Library Database

You will need library card number and pin is required to use Biography in Context if you are not using a library computer.

African American Inventors

National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Geographic Kids: Black inventors and Pioneers of Science

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!

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. 

 

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.

Looking for a good book for Summer Reading?

Now that you and your child are signed up for Summer Reading...do you need a good book? 

Girl with binoculars

Check out some of our favorite recommended books for kids at our Great Reads page.

With Beanstack, set up a free account and select your child's age, interests, background, and reading level. You’ll receive a weekly email with recommended books from the Oakland Public Library!

Want to hear a story, or play a game? Try Tumblebooks! You'll need your library card.

Download kids' ebooks and audiobooks here.

Of course, we love it when you come by and visit too.  Hope to see you soon, and Happy Summer Reading!

Illustration © by Christian Robinson, in partnership with San Francisco Public Library. Courtesy, Leo, Chronicle Books.

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.

Words with Wings: Children and National Poetry Month

 

"He liked the word - its smallness, its density, the way it rose up at the end as if it had wings.  Poetry."  

-Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo     

April is National Poetry Monthwhat a wonderful excuse to share poems with youth! Story poems filled with adventure and glee, short bite-sized poems to fit in your pocket, classic poems to carry them through school, poems that rhyme and will forever be stuck in your head, and so many more! Language is beautiful and poetry is a wonderful way to encourage youth to play with words. 

                                         Cover of Poems to Learn By Heart

Here are just a few of the many ways that poetry can not only entertain but can reinforce early literacy skills.

"How do I love thee?  Let me count the ways."

-Sonnet 43, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

  1. Rhyme: Poems that rhyme are a great way for children to hear similarities between word sounds. There is a reason why The Cat in the Hat and Mother Goose rhymes are staples in developing early literacy skills: all that word play is great exercise for hearing matching sounds and making connections between words.
  2. Phonemic Awareness: This is a big word for the small sounds within words. For instance, that the word "book" has a "b" sound, a short "oo" sound and a "k" sound. Poems use tactics such as alliteration (using the same beginning letter sounds as in "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers") which highlights relationships between words or reinforce an image, like the "Big Bad" wolf who "blows" the house down.                                  Cover of Here's A Little PoemCover of Good SportsCover of Poems to Dream Together
  3. Syllables: Some forms of poetry are all about syllables, just think of the haiku! Breaking words and sounds down into smaller pieces allows children to recognize patterns while reading.  
  4. Figurative language: Poetry is full of metaphor and simile! Poems can fit a lot of meaning into a few short lines and figuring it all out can feel like a treasure hunt for something spectacular
  5. Print awareness: Most poetry is made to be read aloud and such sharing is ideal for helping children make connections between what words sound like out loud and what words look like on the page. 

Now that I am sure I have convinced you that poetry isn’t just for academic analysis, let’s dive into the world of rhyme, haiku, acrostic, couplet, hymn, limerick, ode and sonnet. And to get us started, here some titles to share with young children as an introduction to the world of poetry! 

  • Hip hop speaks to children by Nikki Giovanni: Hip hop is poetry!  This gem even comes with a CD of spoken word and lyrical performances.  
  • Mirror mirror: a book of reversable verse by Marilyn Singer: Fairy tale poems told forwards and backwards reveal very different stories.
  • Truckery rhymes by Jon Scieszka: For truck loving kiddos!  
  • Cover of Iguanas in the SnowIguanas in the snow and other winter poems by Francisco X. Alarcón:  Collection of winter poems in English and Spanish by the late Francisco Alarcón who passed away just a few months ago. Everything by him is amazing, a poet who celebrated language and encouraged youth to do the same.

 

Radical Princess and Pioneer Barbie

                                  

March is Women's History Month and OPL is hosting a Women's History Celebration in many libraries across the city.

But did you know that OPL's Womens History celebration was inspired by a costume contest? That's right, a simple game of dress-up resulted in the RADest Women's History celebration OPL has ever seen. 

I am bringing this to your attention because I want to remind you that our little girls play dress-up every day. Disney sells millions of dollars in costumes for Elsa, Ariel, Tianna and Merida et. al. During Woman’s history month, I don't want you to forget the power of a princess. Dressing up like a princess gives girls confidence to be anyone they can be. Just in time for Woman's History Month Disney has released the following video:

                                courtesy of:  http://princess.disney.com

I know that "you can be anything" is Barbie’s motto, at least it used to be the 80's when I played with her. Which brings about another point, don't discount the influence of Barbie. With Barbie a girl learns that she can do anything; because Barbie dolls are doctors, teachers, chefs, astronauts, drive fast cars, live in dream houses, and yes, always has the perfect outfit for the occasion. And Barbie has evolved, embracing diversity in complextion and body type. This video was released in January, but it is fitting Woman's History month too: 

                                     courtesy of www.barbie.com 

In a time when being strong is celebrated, and gender equality is making strides towards gender neutrality, don't forget that dressing up, teaches girls to be strong, powerful, and influential. Should your daughter be a princess and plans to rule the world while wearing stiletto heels, celebrate her this month. If your daughter prefers cleats and black eye grease unstead of eyeliner, celebrate her too. This month let your daughter  dress-up, because with a change of clothes there is no imagining what she can do. 

Black History Homework Re-Imagined!

Yesterday while talking to my friend who is a teacher she was bemoaning how bored she was with Black History and how she wished she could just "cancel the whole thing." 

To say I wasn't thrilled with her comments was an understatement.

But trying to give my soon to be ex-friend the benefit of the doubt, I asked her to clairify her statements. She continues by saying that although she enjoys celebrating Black History and loves the oratorical  competitions, she absolutely HATES reading 25 biographies about President Obama, 5 about Michele Obama and maybe 3 about a current Black celebrity or athlete. 

And just when I was about to shout 

she finished her diatribe with a very interesting statement: "I want to encourage the children to learn about someone or something  new when completing the Black History reports, not go with the easy topics just to get the homework done."

Let's just say I had a 

 and asked my new BFF a follow-up question: "You want your students to become engaged in the homework assigment as a part of celebrating Black History?" 

"YES!" She exclaimed. "And learn about someone they never heard of, and become inspired and ...."

"Well I'd love to help you with that." I told her. She looked at me skeptically and asked "How? I can't ditch the written report requirement, I have curriculum standards to adhere to ya know."

My reply was simple,

 

After brainstorming several ideas my Bestie's 5th grade Black History report assignment has been modified. Instead of writing about a biographical report about a historically significant Black American person, they will be writing about a significant EVENT or ORGNIZATION in Black  history. Some of which include:

  • Negro Baseball League
  • Port Chicago Mutiny
  • NAACP
  • Pullman Porters
  • Freedom Rides
  • Black Panther Party
  • Tuskegee Airmen
  • Tuskegee  Experiment
  • Buffalo Soldiers 
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Divine Nine
  • The Great Migration
  • HBCUs
  • 1968 Olympics

Once we were done she said, "hey, you are really good at this!" And I'm like " uh yeah! I'm a librarian, it's what I do."  

So if you need help with your student's Black History reports come to any branch of the OPL library and we will help you too. It's what we do! 

Introducing Cleo!

Cleo Edison Oliver will be your boss someday. For now, she attends the fifth grade, endures her mom's health food experiments, and dreams up new businesses. She also wonders about her birth parents; Cleo is adopted, and has two adopted younger brothers. How should Cleo react when kids at school tease her for being adopted? And what makes her family her family? 

Cleo's world is warm and supportive, and readers will appreciate the strong depiction of a multiracial family: her father and brothers are African-American, her mother is White, and Cleo herself is Filipina and African-American. Readers who love the Clementine series by Sara Pennypacker will love Cleo, too, for her scrapes and flashes of inspiration.

CLEO EDISON OLIVER: PLAYGROUND MILLIONAIRE is by Sundee T. Frazier, and just launched this week, so keep an eye out for her! OPL has already ordered copies, and you can reserve yours today.