Great Books and more

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.

#Winning: the 2016 ALA Youth Media Awards

Big news from the 2016 ALA Youth Media Awards! This year's Newbery Medal went to LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET, a picture book by Matt de la Peña--notable because the Newbery is the award for outstanding writing, not illustration. There's only been one other picture book in the almost-100 years the award has existed that beat every novel released that year for the esteemed prize.

de la Peña, who's most known for his young adult novels, is also the first Latino to win the Newbery Medal. (Paula Fox, who is Latina, won the award in 1974.)

LAST STOP's illustrator wasn't left out of the party--Christian Robinson garnered Honors for both the Caldecott and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award.

Read about all the Youth Media Award winners and honor books here.... or just follow the links below and request your OPL copy today!

WINNERS:

LAST STOP ON MARKET STREET, by Matt de la Peña, illus. Christian Robinson
Winner, Newbery
Honor, Caldecott
Honor, Coretta Scott King Illustrator
(also available as a readaloud ebook!)

FINDING WINNIE: THE TRUE STORY OF THE WORLD'S MOST FAMOUS BEAR, by Lindsay Mattick, illus. Sophie Blackall
Winner, Caldecott

BONE GAP, by Laura Ruby
Winner, Printz
(also available as an ebook)

GONE CRAZY IN ALABAMA, by Rita Williams-Garcia
Winner, Coretta Scott King- Author

TROMBONE SHORTY, by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, illus. Bryan Collier
Winner, Coretta Scott King- Illustrator

HOODOO, by Ronald L. Smith
Winner, Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe Award for New Talent- Author

VOICE OF FREEDOM: FANNIE LOU HAMER, SPIRIT OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, by Carole Boston Weatherford, illus. Ekua Holmes
Winner, Coretta Scott King / John Steptoe Award for New Talent- Illustrator

EMMANUEL'S DREAM: THE STORY OF EMMANUEL OFOSU YEBOAH, by Laurie Ann Thompson, illus. Sean Qualls
Winner, Schneider Family- Children 0-10

FISH IN A TREE, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Winner, Schneider Family- Middle grade (tie)
(also available as an ebook and downloadable audiobook)

THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Winner, Schneider Family- Middle grade (tie)
(also available as an ebook and downloadable audiobook)

THE UNLIKELY HERO OF ROOM 13B, by Teresa Toten
Winner, Schneider Family- Young adult
(also available as an ebook)

THE WONDERFUL FLUFFY LITTLE SQUISHY, by Béatrice Alemagna
Winner, Batchelder

THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE (AUDIO RECORDING)
Winner, Odyssey

DRUM DREAM GIRL: HOW ONE GIRL'S COURAGE CHANGED MUSIC, by Margarita Engle, illus. Rafael López
Winner, Pura Belpré- Illustrator

ENCHANTED AIR: TWO CULTURES, TWO WINGS: A MEMOIR, by Margarita Engle
Winner, Pura Belpré- Author

FUNNY BONES: POSADA AND HIS DAY OF THE DEAD CALAVERAS, by Duncan Tonatiuh
Winner, Sibert

GEORGE, by Alex Gino
Winner, Stonewall- Children's
(also available as an ebook)

THE PORCUPINE OF TRUTH, by Bill Konigsburg
Winner, Stonewall- Young adult

DON'T THROW IT TO MO! by David A. Adler, illus. Sam Ricks
Winner, Geisel

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, by Becky Albertalli
Winner, Morris

MOST DANGEROUS: DANIEL ELLSBERG AND THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE VIETNAM WAR, by Steve Sheinkin
Winner, YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction

Q&A: Patrons Ask; Librarians Answer. What books do you have for and about Muslim children?

Q: I’m looking for books to help our Muslim students feel welcome, and give the rest of the class some ideas of what it means for their classmates to be Muslim. Where do you keep books about Muslims for kids? I need books for kindergarten through third grade.

A: I made a short list of books that were recommended online by Muslim parents and teachers. Some of these stand alone as interesting stories with as much explanation as any non-Muslim reader would need to get a feeling for an aspect of the culture or practices in the Muslim community, and some of them are for Muslim children, so they don't explain every single thing. In those cases, they could work as a starting point for a dialogue. 

I hope these books increase our understanding of friends' traditions and celebrations. Trading and sharing information gives us an opportunity to become familiar with the small and large aspects of each others' lives so we can find ways to connect with one another.

Picture books

Picture books found under non-fiction (about holidays or religion)

Slightly longer books

Most of these ideas came from these 3 great sources of reading suggestions:  Isra Hashmi, Shirin Sinnar, Rukhsana Khan, with much-appreciated help from my colleague Arewa. There are other wonderful books in the library by, for, or about Muslims, these are simply a place to start.

We'd like to hear your favorites! Leave us a comment below.

As always, Oakland Public Library Children's Librarians are standing by to answer your questions. Submit a question by clicking on the button.

Q&A: Patrons Ask; Librarians Answer: Which is your favorite book about Thanksgiving for ages 3 to 7?

Q: What's your favorite book about Thanksgiving for ages 3 to 7?

A: Any question that begins with "What is your favorite..." is hard for me to answer, because my moods change, my tastes change, and new things are constantly coming into my consciousness. Also, it's my job to imagine what might be someone else's favorite.  cover of Circle of Days by Lindbergh

Having said that, I do have a favorite Thanksgiving book! It is Circle of Days by Reeve Lindbergh - every time I read it, it puts me in the mood to be thankful for the total experience of living on a planet that is full of wonderful as well as terrible things. The text is from Saint Francis of Assisi's Canticle of the Sun; as a secular humanist, I choose to change a couple of words when I read it aloud. It is a beautiful and meditative book. 

cover of Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by RobertsonA book that has recently come into my consciousness is Hiawatha and the Peacemaker by Robbie Robertson - this one has even more darkness in it, but is a vision for love and unity. Over the past year, many children have witnessed the turmoil in the world, and I am thankful that some authors and illustrators have crafted stories that bring us from fear and hate toward love and unity. I am also thankful that we have alternatives to the mis-portrayals of Native Americans that are ubiquitous at this time of year. If you'd like to read more authentic stories from the native people of North America, look to this blog.

cover of Our Community Garden by Pollak

The harvest feast with my family is the best thing about having a few days off of work and school in my opinion. I really appreciate books that show growing and eating food as a fun, beautiful, community endeavor. One great example (among many books on this topic!) is Our Community Garden by Barbara Pollak, which puts the focus on children's contribution to the harvest, and includes foods from a variety of cultures - plus it is set in the Bay Area!    

 Lado a Lado by FullertonCalifornia's Central Valley is home to dramatic episodes in the historical struggle for the rights of farmworkers, and people who (like me) make an annual trip down I5 will especially want to know this history. If you grew up here, you know about the grape boycot, and you might already include farmworkers in your thankful thoughts. Here's a book short enough to read at the rest stop when you're driving down to your SoCal relatives' dinner: Side by Side : The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez (Lado a Lado : La Historia de Dolores Huerta y César Chávez) by Monica Brown

 

If you are looking for a book about Thanksgiving history, try 1621: A New Look at Thanksgiving, which presents history alongside many commonly held myths about this holiday.  It may be a little beyond your 3-7 year old, but it is a nice text to pull and learn from.

It's easy to search a library catalog for "Thanksgiving" - it's more complex to find books that will help your family make meaning of the holiday. I hope my suggestions lead you to a favorite book to read when you are eating your favorite foods - and it doesn't have to be turkey, either.

Now it's your turn to submit a question. Click on the button, or leave a comment.  Thank you!