Children's Services Blog

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

Can you believe that the first Harry Potter book is now celebrating its 15th anniversary of publication in the U.S.? Go ahead and celebrate by reading the whole groundbreaking series! Or, if you're craving something similarly awesome, check out the first book in another excellent fantasy series:

Dark is Rising book coverGregor the Overlander books at OPLHalf Magic book coverHow to Train Your Dragon book coverMagyk book coverPeter and the Starcatchers book coverWizard of Earthsea book coverWee Free Men book cover

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Half Magic by Edward Eager

How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell

Magyk by Angie Sage

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Leguin

The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Read to Your Baby!

It is never too early to start reading with your baby; she will associate the security and pleasure of your lap with reading and will want to learn to read when she is older. 

  • Read with your baby every day.
  • Try board books. Board books are books with hard pages your baby can throw, bite, and hit.
  • You don’t need to read the words at all. Just point to the pictures and talk about them.
  • Have him flip the pages. Let him play with the book.
  • Comment as you read. Connect what you read to what's happening in her life.   
  • Keep their board books in the same place as toys.
  • Let your child see you reading for yourself and enjoying it.
  • Come to the library often! Find new books and come to storytime.  

Help your library help Oakland youth: Summer Lunch Volunteer Site Coordinators Needed!

Girl Eating LunchDid you know that most Oakland Public Libraries now serve free lunch for children and teens during the summer?

We couldn't do it without the partnership of the Alameda County Community Food Bank, which recruits, trains, and places volunteers for the lunch service.  In addition, they train volunteer Site Coordinators, who commit to at least two weeks of coordinating the other volunteers at a single library site, during lunch time.

Could you be a volunteer Summer Lunch Site Coordinator?  While server positions are mostly filled, we still need some committed volunteers to help with this crucial role.  Coordinators work closely with library staff to make sure this is a fun experience, connecting youth with library programs and activities, and making sure the lunch service is seamless and enjoyable. 

Basic training shifts at the food bank are today, tomorrow, and next week.  Sign up here, and email to indicate your interest in the Coordinator position. 

More details on library volunteer opportunities can be found at


Celebrate Pride…with books!

June is Pride month for the lesbian / gay / bisexual / transgender / queer community – a perfect time to explore these books with LGBTQ themes available at the Oakland Public Library. If you want more recommendations, check out the Rainbow Book lists for children and teens…and let us know here in the comments if you have any favorites to share! Happy reading, and happy Pride!

Picture Books

And Tango makes three book coverDonovan's Big Day book coverFamily book coverIn our Mothers' House book coverKing and King book coverPugdog book coverSissy Duckling book cover10,000 dresses book cover

And Tango makes three / Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell; illustrated by Henry Cole.

Donovan's big day / Lesléa Newman; illustrations by Mike Dutton.

The family book / Todd Parr.

In our mothers' house / Patricia Polacco.

King & King / Linda de Haan & Stern Nijland.

Pugdog / Andrea ỦRen.

The sissy duckling  / Harvey Fierstein; illustrated by Henry Cole.

10,000 dresses / Marcus Ewert; illustrations by Rex Ray.

Chapter Books

After Tupac and D Foster book coverMy mixed-up berry blue summer book coverPopularity Papers books at OPLTotally Joe book cover

After Tupac & D Foster / Jacqueline Woodson.

My mixed-up berry blue summer / Jennifer Gennari

The popularity papers: research for the social improvement and general betterment of Lydia Goldblatt & Julie Graham-Chang / Amy Ignatow.

Totally Joe / James Howe.

Nonfiction and a Comic too!

Drama book coverGreat big book of families coverHarvey Milk Story book coverIt's so Amazing book cover

Drama / Raina Telgemeier; with color by Gurihiru.

The great big book of families / Mary Hoffman; pictures by Ros Asquith.

The Harvey Milk story / Kari Krakow; illustrated by David Gardner.

It's so amazing!: a book about eggs, sperm, birth, babies, and families / Robie H. Harris; illustrated by Michael Emberley.

Reading is Soooooooo Delicious

Join 10,000 Oakland children as they eat, er, read their way through the summer. We'll have prizes, entertainment, crafts programs, free lunches, and even books! The fun begins Saturday, June 15 with celebrations at libraries throughout Oakland and ends August 10. 

Children have fun keeping track of stickers and watching performers, but parents know that they are helping their child avoid "Summer Reading Slide" by encouraging reading for pleasure. Children who complete eight hours of reading will choose a book to keep, receive coupons for local attractions, and be entered in a raffle for even more prizes.   

This summer we will host performers: The Bubble Lady, Buki the Clown, Chiquy Boom! , Busy Bee Dogs, Dan Chan the Magic Man, Dance Arts of India, East Bay Vivarium, (Insect Discovery Lab and Edible EdVentures), Magical Moonshine Theatre, Mr. Shap, the Oakland Zoo Mobile, Owen Baker-Flynn, and last, but not least XTreme Science Magic. Check our events listings, or ask your library for details.

Free lunches for children ages 0-18 will be provided at eleven branches. The Main Library will serve lunches Monday-Friday; the branches Tuesday-Friday. Call your branch for meal times. Participating locations are: Main Library, 81st Avenue Community, César Chávez, Dimond, Eastmont, Elmhurst, Golden Gate, Martin Luther King, Jr., Melrose, Temescal, and West Oakland.

 Stay tuned or go to our summer reading site for the most up-to-date information and instructions for playing the game.


Major funders: Friends of the Oakland Public Library, Fentons Creamery, William G. Gilmore Foundation, Union Pacific Foundation, and The Bernard Osher Foundation.

Donors: Alameda/Oakland Ferry Services, Chabot Space & Science Center, Children’s Creativity Museum, Children’s Fairyland, Grand Lake Theater, Hometown Buffet, Lake Merritt Boathouse, Lawrence Hall of Science, MOCHA, Oakland A’s, Oakland Ice Center, Oakland Museum of California, and Pasta Pomodoro .

Free lunch is offered in partnership with the Alameda County Community Food Bankd and City of Oakland Department of Human Services. 

Celebrating Children in Oakland

Germar the Magician

Día de los niños / Día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day) is a celebration of children, families, and reading that culminates yearly on April 30th. This year Germar the Magician came to many of our libraries to help us celebrate. He  entertained children of all ages with birds that appeared and disappeared, magic coins that did strange and marvelous things, and more. He did so seamlessly alternating between English and Spanish.

Some of books we gave awayIn addition, children at those eleven branches got to choose and take home a free book to keep. 

But we're just getting started! Join us in June as we start our annual celebration of children and books during our Summer Reading Program. This year's theme is "Reading is sooooo Delicious!" Children will be entertained, encouraged to read, and win fabulous prizes. Stay tuned for more information.


Baby Faces

Babies LOVE gazing at faces. Parents and caregivers have always known this; brain research now backs it up as fact. Even the youngest of kiddos are hardwired to recognize faces, and will tend to look at pictures of faces longer than images of other objects.

Want to stimulate your baby's brains? Head on over to the library and find these board books featuring photographs of baby faces:

Global Babies book coverI love colors book coverShades of Black book coverBaby Faces book coverSmile! book coverBaby Food book cover

Baby Faces by Margaret Miller

Baby Food by Margaret Miller

Global Babies by The Global Fund for Children

I Love Colors by Margaret Miller

Shades of black: A celebration of our children / by Sandra L. Pinkney; photographs by Myles C. Pinkney

Smile! by Roberta Intrater


Music Makes the World Go Round

First 5 California has launched a Kids Station on the online music service "Pandora." This fun new - and free - station targets parents and features music to encourage learning and physical activity.  It includes not only children's music but also examples of other ways to engage and stimulate children's brains -- clapping, dancing, singing, humming!  There are even more suggestions on the First 5 California web site's "Activity Center" geared towards babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

Your library also has plenty of CDs for you to check out and listen to at home or in in the car.  Ask your librarian to show you. 


Hot Off the Presses!

Do you know where the newest and shiniest books are kept in your local library? If not, ask a staff member to show you the way! Most branches have a “new book” shelf where you can find these and other fresh, fantastic books for kids:

Picture Books

Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons book coverH.O.R.S.E. book coverKiss Means I Love You book cover

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons / written by Eric Litwin; created and illustrated by James Dean

H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination / Christopher Myers

A Kiss Means I Love You / by Kathryn Allen; photographs by Eric Futran

Early Readers and Moving Up

Rabbit and Robot book coverPenny and her Doll book coverLulu and the Duck in the Park book coverEarwig and the Witch book cover

Rabbit & Robot : The Sleepover / Cece Bell

Penny and Her Doll / Kevin Henkes

Lulu and the Duck in the Park / by Hilary McKay; illustrated by Priscilla Lamont

Earwig and the Witch / Diana Wynne Jones; illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky


Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms book coverStarry River of the Sky book coverWho Could That Be at This Hour? book coverNanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan book cover

Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery & a Very Strange Adventure / by Lissa Evans

Starry River of the Sky / Grace Lin

Who Could That Be at This Hour? / Lemony Snicket; art by Seth

Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan / by R.A. Spratt; illustrated by Dan Santat


Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors? book coverIsland book coverHow Many Jelly Beans? book coverMoonbird book cover

Who Says Women Can't Be Doctors?: The Story of Elizabeth Blackwell / Tanya Lee Stone; illustrated by Marjorie Priceman

Island: A Story of the Galápagos / Jason Chin

How Many Jelly Beans? / by Andrea Menotti; illustrated by Yancey Labat

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 / Phillip Hoose

Graphic Novels

Drama book coverTrip to the Bottom of the World book coverWrinkle in Time graphic novel book cover

Drama / Raina Telgemeier; with color by Gurihiru

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse: A Toon Book / by Frank Viva

Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel / adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson