Great Books and more

Kids Bike: A Booklist from the Women Bike Book Club

Did you know that the Oakland Public Library co-hosts a Women Bike Book Club with Bike East Bay? We gather to discuss biking, feminism, and the intersection of the two on the second Thursday of each month at 6:00pm, at our Golden Gate Branch (5606 San Pablo Avenue). The book club was started by Bike East Bay as part of their Women Bike initiative, which brings women and gender nonconforming folks together in social settings to share experiences and resources with each other. 

Ok so the book club sounds awesome but why are we talking about that here?

Our meeting on November 9th will focus on children’s books! We'll have some great selections of bike-related children's literature, and we'll talk about moms, biking, and the next generation of cyclists. Join us to enjoy beautiful illustrations, good conversation, and maybe even pick up some gift ideas for the little feminists in your life. 

If you can’t join us, here are the books we’ll be looking at:

Picture books

Cover of Mei Mei loves the morning              cover of A Bike Like Sergios

Mei-Mei loves the morning by Margaret Tsubakiyama

The girl and the bicycle by Mark Pett

New Red Bike by James Ransome

A Bike Like Sergio’s by Maribeth Boelts

Along a Long Road by Frank Viva

Non-Fiction

cover of Tillie the Terrible Swede            Cover for Wheels of Change

Tillie the terrible Swede : how one woman, a sewing needle, and a bicycle changed history by Sue Stauffacher  

Wheels of change: how women rode the bicycle to freedom (with a few flat tires along the way) by Sue Macy 

Chapter Book

Cover for the green bike

The green bicycle by Haifaa Al Mansour 

JUST READ PART DEUX: COMIC BOOKS!

On Saturday May 6th 2017 visit ANY OAKLAND PUBLIC LIBRARY during open hours and get a free comic book. Eastmont and Brookfield branches are closed on Saturday so you can get yours tomorrow: Friday May 5th.

Someone might be asking: is this like giving away candy? They are fun to read but bad for you if you have too much of it? Nope! Actually comic books are more like giving away free homemade carrot cake muffins made with applesauce instead of oil; and you snuck some shredded zucchini in it. All the fun and flavor of a tasty treat, and it’s good for you too. So enjoy. 

What, you don’t believe me? Is it that you don’t believe that I have a really delicious recipe for a healthier carrot cake muffin, or that comic books are a good reading choice? Both are true.  To quote my favorite book referral resource, “but you don’t have to take my word for it.” Check out these links for more information:

                 

Right now someone’s mind is...

What? You have comic books that teach grown-ups about the benefits of comic books? But of course! There is no better way to illustrate that accurate, timely, factual, current, or interesting content is not suddenly eliminated because the material is placed in picture frame format. But none of the reasons the doctors and researchers give for reading comic books are why I want your kids to read comic books. Okay yes they are, but it’s not the biggest reason.

The biggest reason I want your kids (and you) to read comic books is because they are fabulous. The character development, plots, and storylines are complex, engrossing, and straight out some of the best stuff you and your kids will EVER read. Reason number two that I want you to read comic books with your kids is the next Guardians of the Galaxy movie is coming out tomorrow, and it would help if you know who Groot is before your kids drag you to the theater.  

So remember Saturday May 6th is Free Comic Book day at the Oakland Public Library. (Friday at the Brookfield and Eastmont branches.) Come to the library and get yours.

And get a new library card while you are at it. They have cool designs, but that is another blog post. 

Just Read!

It is my rare evening alone without my children.  I decide to go to the local Mermaid Cafe for my favorite pseudo-Italian caffeinated beverage and read a new book by my favorite author; one that I have been anticipating for months. 

While enjoying this book and sipping my caffeine a random person approaches me to criticize my reading selection and ask if I have read the latest Michael Eric Dyson book. When I state I have no interest in reading Mr. Dyson's book, this person tells me I should put my "drivel" away and “learn something.” That Mr. Dyson will "enlighten me" and his book is "good for me."  So I reply:

“You have inaccurately deduced that I am socially and politically antiquated based on my recreational literature selections. Furthermore you have deduced based on my preferred leisure activity that I am academically deficient. It is quite abhorrent of you to assign yourself authority to malign my literature selections, and reassign materials you ascertain more appropriate. Your sentiments are objectionable and unsolicited. Take your leave, sir!”

The person looked at me with a confused expression and said: “huh?” 

For those of you who do not want to grab a dictionary I basically used a lot of big words to say: "you are assuming I'm dumb and not "woke" because of what I chose to read for fun. That’s rude, I didn’t ask your opinion, and leave me alone.”

If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Dyson and his work, you may not understand how snarky my reply was. I borrowed Mr. Dyson's persona to reply to this rude stranger in Mermaid Cafe. Mr. Dyson likes big words.   He delights, educates, and entertains by using multisyllabic words in his books and speaking engagements. He also talks about race relations and politics alot.  

I may not read Mr. Dyson, but unbeknownst to the stranger I know who he is, and I respect his talents and body of work. I’ll even happily recommend his books to others. His topics of expertise is just not something I'll read for fun. 

So what does this story have to do with kids? 

Some parents are guilty of belittling their children’s reading choices, just like that stranger did to me; yet unlike me, children do not have the authority to contradict their parents and defend their reading preferences. 

For example have you heard a parent say?

  • That book is too easy for you.
  • You read too many comic books; you need to read a “real book.”
  • Why are you always reading _____________ series? Can’t you find something else?
  • Ugh. (eye roll) That book again.                                                               

My professional recommendation: Stop that. Just stop it and let the kid read what they want.

Why?

I want your kid to FALL IN LOVE WITH READING. I want your kid to read not because they have to for homework, but because reading becomes vital nourishment to their souls.  The only way for a child to fall in love with reading is to be allowed to freely read whatever they want.  I am speaking from experience when I tell you that just like adults, children have different preferences about what they read for fun. Some kids like graphic novels while other kids will enjoy poetry. It doesn't matter. Unlike, food, there is no such thing as a "bad book." 

 I can provide you with so many professional papers written by experts explaining how reading for fun makes your child smarter, healthier, happier, and a better person. But this blog is already getting too long. So trust me on this one. 

Okay fine, don't trust me. You can read a lenghy report titled "Reading For Pleasure -- A Door To Success from the National Library of New Zealand on the subject, or this brief but equally factual report titled Kids and Family Reading Report from Scholastic.

If you don't want to read either report I'll quote two very important facts:

  • “89% of kids ages 6-17 agree ‘My favorite books are ones I have picked out myself”
  • "A majority of kids pick out the books they read for fun at least most of the time (63%) and 88% say that they are more likely to finish books that they pick out."

So to rephrase: 1. Kids know what they want to read. 2. Kids will finish the books (aka actually read the books) they pick out for themselves.

Reading for pleasure is a big deal. Children benefit greatly academically, emotionally, etc when they fall in love with reading, and read regularly for fun.  Besides, I learned my big words from reading “drivel,” not from any of my homework assignments.

Often, the comments some parents make about a kid’s reading choices are demoralizing. If a child loves Goosebumps (or any series) and the parent has a poor opinion of Goosebumps, the child may not read them. However the child may not read anything else either. In turn the child learns to view reading as an uninteresting chore, something they are forced to do, and an activity they never find any pleasure in, even when they reach adulthood.

Before you panic, understand a love of reading does not measure intelligence or potential. The children who do not love reading will succeed in school, grow up and have good jobs, raise beautiful families, and have wonderful friendships and memories. But they won’t read for fun as children or adults, and will lose the benefits that come with reading for fun and making it a lifelong habit.

So let your kids develop a love of reading and allow them read what they want without judgment.  If your 10-year-old prefers Goosebumps to The Crossover just go with it.  The more kids read what they like, the more they will read.  Take it from a librarian who reads “drivel.” Your kids will be fine. 

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.