Great Books and more

I'm Going On a Trip! Starring CultureGrams and Transparent Language Online

I'm going to France next month, for the first time ever! I'm very excited. To prepare for my trip, I'm going to pay a visit to one of Oakland Public Library's friendliest databases, CultureGrams.

Want to come too? Grab your library card and let's go!

We'll start here: Articles and Databases. Now scroll down with me. Come on, I wanna see you scrrooooooolll. All the way down to Country Information, where you'll see the link for CultureGrams.

At this point, you'll need to enter your library card number and pin. (If you have trouble during this step, call any OPL location during open hours--we'll help!)

And here we are:

I'll choose World Edition, and search for France.

Hey, cool! I can learn a lot here. But first, let's get practical. I want to know how far my money will go in the land of sidewalk espressos and Mona Lisas. I'll click on Currency Converter, in the bottom right corner, and type in $100 because I am all about the benjamins:

73 euros! Woo!

Now, let me get spooky. In France, they speak French. I don't speak any French. This is the first time in my life I will visit a non-English-speaking country, and I'm a little nervous about it. I'm a little reassured when I click on the Language link and see that English is the most common second language in France:

But really, what I need to do at this point is return to the Articles and Databases page, find the link for Transparent Language Online under Language Learning, create my free account, and learn a little of the language of love for myself. I can even download their mobile app to my iPhone for overseas language support.

(I did mention all this is free for OPL cardholders, right? No? It is. YES WAY.)

Now, I'm a children's librarian, which means I'll be using my trip as a teaching opportunity for the kids at my branch. When they gather round my computer, I'll click over to the Kids Edition of CultureGrams.

Pretty glad I did that, otherwise I might have placed my hands in my lap during a meal while in France, enraging my dining companions and causing a Bush-in-Tokyo-scale international incident.

Inevitably, while I am showing the children at my library the delights of France, one of them will remember with a start that she has a country report due tomorrow, on Kazakhstan.

Did you know that Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world? Did you know that the nomads of Kazakhstan used to live in yurts that they made themselves out of wood and sheeps' wool? Did you know that Ms. Murglesnort, the child's teacher, requires her students to prepare and bring for the class an authentic dish from their chosen country?

At that moment, the child's mother appears, and says they have to leave RIGHT NOW if they're going to scale all that fish. They don't have internet access at home, so I'll download a PDF of the Kazakhstan page and print it out for them. I'll also email it to mom so she can pull it up later on her smartphone.

So, that's CultureGrams! Not a bad place to spend a few rainy hours planning your dream trip, doing your child's homework, or just exploring the world. Don't miss the fantastic photo gallery for a true slice-of-life glimpse of any country you choose. 

Bon voyage!

ALA Youth Media Awards Announced!

The new winners of the Caldecott, Newbery, Coretta Scott King and other awards were announced early Monday morning at the American Library Association Midwinter Conference in Philapdelphia.

The winner of the Newbery Award is Flora & Ulysses, a short, graphically illustrated chapter book by Kate DiCamillo, who is also the recently appointed National Ambassador of Young People's Literature. 

The Newbery Honor winners are Doll Bones by Holly Black, The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes, One Came Home by Amy Timberlake, and Paperboy by Vince Vawter.

The winner of the Caldecott Medal is Locomotive by Brian Floca.  Caldecott Honors were awarded to Journey, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker; Flora and the Flamingo, written and illustrated by Molly Idle; and Mr. Wuffles!, written and illustrated by David Wiesner.  Miriam Medow, children's librarian at Oakland's Lakeview Branch, served on this year's Caldecott Award Committee!

The Coretta Scott King author award went to Rita Williams-Garcia for P.S., Be Eleven, the sequel to her award winning One Crazy Summer, which was set in Oakland.  The Coretta Scott King illustrator award went to Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me, illustrated by Bryan Collier.  Oakland Public Library's Supervising Librarian for Teen Services, Lana Adlawan, served on this year's Coretta Scott King Award Jury!

The Pura Belpre Illustrator Award went to Yuyi Morales for Nino Wrestles the World; and the Belpre Author award went to Meg Medina for Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass!, a book for teens.

We hope you explore all of the award winners, at your library!

Awards Excitement!

No, this isn't about who is custom-designing my dress for Oscar's night.  This is about the Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, and other Youth Media Awards, soon to be unveiled, on Monday January 27th!

You met Miriam Medow, OPL librarian and member of this year's Caldecott committee, a couple of weeks ago.  Miriam, and members of many award committees, are now in their final weeks of re-reading their confidential short-lists, nominated from among hundreds of children's books published this year.   Around the middle of next week, they will pack their bags with warm clothes, books and notes, and head to Philadelphia PA for the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. They will meet in closed sessions with their committees for 2 full days, often long into the night, discussing, voting, and coming to a consensus on which books will receive the gold and silver medals for their award.   Then, very early on Monday morning, those awards will be announced to the world at a press conference, which you can watch live at 8am ET.  Yep: that's 5am here.    

I will be there in Philadelphia and sitting in the press conference that morning, and can't wait to see books are honored. Your librarians will jump into action that morning to order more copies of anything we lack, so don't hesitate to request the books! Among the awards announced that morning will be: 

The Newbery Award for the most distinguished contribution to literature for children of any age.  It's an award for writing, but it doesn't have to be for a novel for older children, even if it usually is.   Poetry, nonfiction, easy readers and picture books have all been honored by the Newbery Award. The award was established in 1922.  (By the way...has your family submitted an entry yet to the 90-Second Newbery film festival?  The deadline is Monday January 20th!)

The Caldecott Award for the most distinguished picture book for children of any age. It's an award for art, but the books honored have ranged from books for toddlers to books for independent readers. The award was established in 1937. 

The Coretta Scott King Awards honor authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that "demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. It was established in 1969.

The Pura Belpré Awards honor writers and illustrators whose work "best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth."  It was established in 1996.

The Robert F. Sibert Award honors the author and illustrator of the most distinguished informational book for children.  It was first awarded in 2001.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given to the author and illustrator of the most distiguished beginning reader book.  It was first awarded in 2006, and is named for Dr. Seuss!

And this only scratches the surface! Will you join us in celebrating great children's and young adult books on January 27th?  

In the photo: me, Nina Lindsay, to the left of the top hat; and OPL librarian Sharon McKellar to the right of the top hat, at last year's award celebration. 

Book Trailers for Kids

Have you ever seen a book trailer? They’re just like previews that we see at the movies, only they’re advertising upcoming books! Publishers have been putting more energy into creating exciting and enticing trailers for their books, in the hopes that watching these videos online will encourage people to go out and read the whole story.

If you or your kiddos are ever in need of new inspiration for what to read next, book trailers are an excellent way to go! Check out these trailers to see if any capture your family’s interest.

Chapter Books

Picture Books

Nonfiction and Graphic Novels

Want more? Check out this blog and this pinterest page; they both present awesome children’s book trailers as they’re published. Interested in making a book trailer of your own? Here are many fine examples of student-made book trailers. Enjoy!

Fantastic Family Read-alouds

Kids are off school and the holiday season is drawing to a close. Tis the season for digging into a great all-ages read-aloud! Cuddle up with your kiddos, try some of these favorites, and tell us in the comments about the beloved books in your family:

Picture Books

Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock book coverSylvester and the Magic Pebble book coverTrue Story of the 3 Little Pigs book cover

Anansi and the moss-covered rock / retold by Eric A. Kimmel; illus. by Janet Stevens

Sylvester and the magic pebble / by William Steig

The true story of the 3 little pigs / by A. Wolf; as told to Jon Scieszka; illus. by Lane Smith

Moving Up

 Catwings book coverMercy Watson Goes for a Ride book coverMy Father's Dragon book coverStories Julian Tells book cover

Catwings / Ursula K. Le Guin; illus. by S.D. Schindler
 
Mercy Watson series / Kate DiCamillo; illus. by Chris Van Dusen
 
My Father's Dragon series / Ruth Stiles Gannett
 
The stories Julian tells / by Ann Cameron; illus. by Ann Strugnell
 

Chapter Books

 Adventures of Nanny Piggins book coverAll of a Kind Family book coverBorrowers book coverJames and the Giant Peach book coverMr. and Mrs. Bunny Detectives Extraordinaire book coverNight Fairy book coverTale of Despereaux book coverWinnie-the-Pooh book cover

The adventures of Nanny Piggins / by R.A. Spratt; illus. by Dan Santat
 
 
The borrowers / Mary Norton; illus. by Beth and Joe Krush
 
 
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny--detectives extraordinaire!: by Mrs. Bunny / translated from the Rabbit by Polly Horvath; illus. by Sophie Blackall
 
The night fairy / Laura Amy Schlitz; illus. by Angela Barrett
 
 
Winnie-the-Pooh / A.A. Milne; illus. by Ernest H. Shepard


 


 

 

Kids Can Cook!

Family gatherings and chilly weather make the holiday season a perfect time to cook and bake with kids. Come on over to the library and feast your eyes on these cookbooks, designed specifically for children!:

DK Children's Cookbook coverEasy Menu Ethnic Cookbooks series book coverGreatest Cookies Ever book coverGreen Eggs and Ham Cookbook coverI'm the Chef series book coverLittle House Cookbook coverRoald Dahl's Revolting Recipes book coverSalad People book cover

DK children's cookbook / recipes by Katharine Ibbs; photos by Howard Shooter

Easy Menu Ethnic Cookbooks series

The greatest cookies ever: dozens of delicious, chewy, chunky, fun & foolproof recipes / Rose Dunnington

Green eggs and ham cookbook: recipes inspired by Dr. Seuss! / by Georgeanne Brennan; photos by Frankie Frankeny

I'm the Chef series

The Little house cookbook: frontier foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's classic stories / by Barbara M. Walker ; ill. by Garth Williams

Roald Dahl's revolting recipes / ill. by Quentin Blake; with photos by Jan Baldwin; recipes compiled by Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl

Salad people and more real recipes: a new cookbook for preschoolers & up / Mollie Katzen

Hot off the Presses

Look in the “new” area of your local library to find these and other fresh, excellent books for kids. Let us know in the comments if we missed any of your faves!

Picture Books

Bully book coverCount the Monkeys book coverDay the Crayons Quit book coverMr. Tiger Goes Wild book coverNino Wrestles the World book coverOpen This Little Book book cover

Bully / Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Count the Monkeys / Mac Barnett; illus. by Kevin Cornell

The Day the Crayons Quit / by Drew Daywalt; illus. by Oliver Jeffers

Mr. Tiger Goes Wild / Peter Brown

Niño Wrestles the World / Yuyi Morales

Open This Little Book / by Jesse Klausmeier; illus. by Suzy Lee

Early Readers and Moving Up

A Big Guy Took My Ball book coverChews Your Destiny book coverMeanest Birthday Girl book coverSquirrel's Fun Day

A Big Guy Took My Ball! / by Mo Willems

Chews Your Destiny / Rhode Montijo

The Meanest Birthday Girl / Josh Schneider

Squirrel's Fun Day / Lisa Moser; illus. by Valeri Gorbachev

Chapter Books

 About Average book coverAl Capone Does My Homework book coverBetter Nate Than Ever book coverThe Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppet book cover

About Average / Andrew Clements; illus. by Mark Elliott

Al Capone Does My Homework / Gennifer Choldenko

Better Nate Than Ever / Tim Federle

The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett / Tom Angleberger

Nonfiction

Locomotive book coverWhen the Beat Was Born book coverWild Boy book cover

Locomotive / Brian Floca

When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop / Laban Hill; illus. by Theodore Taylor III

Wild Boy: The Real Life of the Savage of Aveyron / Mary Losure; illus. by Timothy Ering

The Beauty of Board Books

Book coverAs a children's services librarian, I am always thrilled to see anything about children's books or children's literacy get major news coverage.  So I woke up fast when I caught the New York Times article just over a week ago on the front page, below the fold (for those of who still read the paper paper) about board books.  Board books!  The overlooked and unappreciated format for, as the NYTimes put it, "the teething set."    Yet, my heart sank as I read on. 

Board Books have a funny place in a librarian's heart.  They are harder to order than other books because they don't get listed and reviewed as regularly as standard trade books. They are harder to process (where, exactly, do you put the barcode and the stamp?  What if the book is curvy?)  They are hard to shelve (that's why you often find them in browsing baskets), and we have to replace them constantly.  But constant replacement is a sign of constant use, and that is good news.

Board Books are supposed to be for babies and toddlers.  They are supposed to be manhandled (and yes, even chewed), to get your young one practicing fine motor skills and the idea of turning pages.  They should have images and words that you can play with together, and that are stimulating and appealing to a very very young child.

Which is why I was dismayed to read in the Times article about board books reconstituting fine literary classics such as Moby Dick and Sense and Sensibility (as if those works would still be"fine" when reduced to 16 pages) or presenting fine art by contemporary artists (shrunk down to 3 inch squares).  I'm not going to dish too hard because I wish small independent publishers all the best.   But I do think it does a disservice to board books, and their readers, to suggest that this is the newest and best thing on the market.   Board books are for babies, and your baby might better appreciate some of the tried and true, and very frequently replaced, board book classics that you'll probably find in a basket, on the floor, on the cozy rug, at your library. 

Some of my favorites are here (click through to have a copy sent to your library for pickup).  What other favorites do you have? 

The article mentioned is "A Library of Classics, Edited for the Teething Set" by Julie Bosman, New York Times, October 26, 2013

Spooky Stories! Mwah-hah-hahhh

Most kids love a good scare, and Halloween is the perfect time to give it to them. Find these spooky stories at a library near you, and let us know in the comments if we missed any of your favorites!

Slightly Spooky (for younger kids):

Humbug Witch book coverIn a Dark Dark Wood book coverSkeleton Hiccups book coverHubknuckles book coverGhosts in the house book coverLos Gatos Black on HalloweenDragon's Halloween book coverBig Pumpkin book coverLittle old lady who was not afraid of anything book cover

Humbug witch / Lorna Balian
In a dark, dark wood : an old tale with a new twist / David A. Carter
Skeleton hiccups / by Margery Cuyler ; illustrated by S.D. Schindler
Hubknuckles / Emily Herman ; pictures by Deborah Kogan Ray
Ghosts in the house! / Kazuno Kohara
Los gatos black on Halloween / Marisa Montes ; illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Dragon's Halloween : Dragon's fifth tale / Dav Pilkey
Big pumpkin / Erica Silverman ; illustrated by S.D. Schindler
The little old lady who was not afraid of anything / by Linda Williams ; illustrated by Megan Lloyd

Truly Frightening (for older readers):

 House With a clock in its Walls book coverCoraline book coverTailypo book coverWait Till Helen Comes book coverBunnicula book coverHeadless Horseman Rides Tonight book coverScary Stories to Tell in the Dark book coverBoy of a thousand Faces book coverGoosebumps book cover
The house with a clock in its walls / John Bellairs ; pictures by Edward Gorey
Coraline / Neil Gaiman ; with illustrations by Dave McKean
The tailypo : a ghost story / told by Joanna Galdone ; illustrated by Paul Galdone
Wait till Helen comes : a ghost story / Mary Downing Hahn
Bunnicula book series / by Deborah and James Howe
The Headless Horseman rides tonight : more poems to trouble your sleep / by Jack Prelutsky ; illustrated by Arnold Lobel
Scary stories to tell in the dark book series / collected from American folklore by Alvin Schwartz
The boy of a thousand faces / by Brian Selznick

Sign Language for Kids

For Babies

Adapted from American Sign Language (ASL, the primary form of communication in Deaf communities), baby sign allows children as young as 8-10 months to communicate when they are hungry, thirsty, sleepy, want more of something, are finished with an activity, and much more. Teaching babies to sign can be enjoyable, and presents a chance for adult-child bonding. Best of all, babies who are able to communicate their needs through sign may experience less frustration, which can reduce fussiness. That’s a benefit for everyone!

If you’re interested in exploring sign with your baby, come to the Dimond branch on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 10:00 am for a Baby Sign Language Introductory Workshop. To learn more, call Rebekah Eppley at (510) 482-7844 or click here.

In the meanwhile, visit your local library branch to find these helpful baby sign books:

Baby Sign Language Basics book coverBaby Signs book coverBaby Signs for Animals book coverI Want...book coverLet's Sign book coverMy First Signs book cover

Baby sign language basics: early communication for hearing babies and toddlers / Monta Z. Briant

Baby signs: a baby-sized guide to speaking with sign language / [Joy Allen] ; pictures by Joy Allen

Baby signs for animals / by Linda Acredolo & Susan Goodwyn ; photographs by Penny Gentieu

I want--: teaching your baby to sign / Lora Heller

Let's sign!: every baby's guide to communicating with grownups / written by Kelly Ault ; illustrated by Leo Landry

My first signs / illustrated by Annie Kubler

For Older Children

Preschool and elementary aged kids can study and learn ASL as they would any other language. Some young children are fascinated by the idea of communicating without words, while others think it’s just plain fun! Kids typically have an easier time than adults picking up any language; this is especially true with sign because it taps into the tendency for children to be physical learners. Check out ASLU for online American Sign Language resources, and take a peek at these books and DVDs from your local library for more information:

Handmade Alphabet book coverSigning Fun book coverAmerican Sign Language for Kids DVD coverSign Language for Kids book cover

American Sign Language for kids. Beginner level 1, volume 1 [videorecording]

The handmade alphabet / Laura Rankin

Sign language for kids: a fun & easy guide to American Sign Language / Lora Heller

Signing fun : American Sign Language vocabulary, phrases, games & activities / Penny Warner ; illustrations by Paula Gray