preschoolers

Q&A: Patrons ask; librarians answer: Superhero books for my 4-year-old; bad idea or good idea?

Q: My child wants to read about superheroes, but those DC & Marvel comic books are too violent! Do you have anything for younger kids?  He’s only 4 years old. Kapow by O'Connor

A: Yes, we do! Here's a list of titles you can read aloud to your kids today – all of them about superheroes, most aimed at younger kids, ages 3 to 6.

The past decade has seen an explosion of picture books about superheroes. Many parents are concerned about violence in books and other media for children, and the basic idea of a superhero is that there's a bad guy to stop. If there's a bad guy, there's a strong likelihood that there's going to be fighting, maybe blood, and possibly death.

Wonder Woman by CosentinoClever authors & illustrators have managed to craft stories that include all the positive elements of superheroes (standing up for what's right, working together as a team, using your own special abilities, helping others, and wearing a cape) while de-emphasizing the terrible elements of the evil villains. In these books, the villains are not indestructible, the violence is off-screen, the battle doesn’t cause massive destruction, and the bad guy is stopped - not killed.

If you are hesitant to read these books aloud to your child, here are some further thoughts on reading violent books to children. First, there are books for every emotional, social, and intellectual stage of development. Can a case be made in favor of books that contain “violence” that is appropriate to each level? Consider these observations from the Children's Librarian's Desk: Courageous Captain America by Thomas

  1. Violence is clearly fascinating to many children (as well as teens and adults). The Mighty Thor by Thomas
  2. Families who shelter their children from violent literature do not seem to eradicate their interest in it nor their impulse to act it out.
  3. Reading superhero books does not seem to make a child more violent. (There is a little recent research on comic books and other literature with superheroes. However, anecdotally, my observations of library patrons indicate that readers become thinkers, and thinkers take a breath before they act violently.)
  4. Violence and aggression still exist in the real world, and many children are already trying to make sense of it. Even children who have been spared the direct experience of violence (or of witnessing it) meet other children who are experiencing it and they observe & interact with them with or without the presence and guidance of adults.
  5. Reading aloud together is an excellent way to start a dialogue about violence, consequences, and justice. The characters in literature can be good or bad examples, and while reading, you can discuss the best way to resolve conflict, recognize violence, avoid aggressors, and keep yourself safe.  

It's important to choose books that are right for your individual child -- luckily, most books for 4-year-olds are short enough so you can pre-read them and get ready to answer questions, discuss ideas, and give real-life examples. You can avoid those books that may be a trigger of specific fears -- until you both are ready to read them.Nino Wrestles the World by Morales

It makes sense to avoid gratuitous bloodshed, exploitative costumes, and stories about truly depraved, twisted evil-doers, and stick instead to superheroes who fight simple crimes and lay out the concepts of consequences and justice plainly.

Isn't there something wonderful about super-powers, heroism, and winning a righteous fight? Even young children appreciate the vivid images of that glorious moment, of overcoming adversity, of standing proudly together, of your cape flowing in the wind!

The Picture Books that seem to me to best capture the awesomeness of superheroes, while respecting the sensibilities of younger readers are these:

Astonishing Secrets of Awesome Man  Batman by Cosentino  Superman by Cosentino  Max by Graham  Lucha Libre by Garza  Art Dog by Hurd  Marveltown by McCall  SuperHero ABC by McLeod  Superhero School by Reynolds  Superhero by Tauss  The Amazing Spider-man, an Origin Story by Thomas  Avengers, an Origin Story by Thomas  Wolverine, an Origin Story by Thomas  

There are a few board books:

Superman Fights for Truth by Lemke.  Batman is Brave by Lemke

...and in our Comic Books section, we have a few superhero series that avoid gore and give positive messages:

Fashion Kitty series  Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye series  Squish Super Amoeba series  DC Super Friends series  Tiny Titans series

Enjoy this one last book!

Kung Pow Chicken series

Reading, Talking, Singing, Writing and Playing Works

picture of babyI recently returned from sweltering Las Vegas where the American Library Association Annual Convention was taking place.  One of the programs I attended looked at whether or not the five activities developed by Every Child Ready to Read 2 - reading, singing, talking, writing and playing with children aged 0-5 had a statistical impact on that child's literacy levels.  A research grant in Washington State looked at the literacy levels of kids who attended storytimes where those practices were modeled.  

The results?  Yes they do!  Children who attended library storytimes that incorporated those activities did have higher literacy rates.  Just another reason to come to the storytimes offered here at the library and practice these activities at home.

For more information about the study, check out: digitalyouth.ischool.uw.edu  and click on the "Project Views" link.

To find our storytime schedule, check the OPL calendar: http://oaklandlibrary.org/events

Play with your Words

Kids love to play, and librarians love to see kids playing with words! Visit your local library to find these books full of palindromes, puns, spoonerisms, homophones, and much more. And let us know in the comments if we missed any of your favorites!

CDB book coverDear Deer book coverE-mergency book coverFollow Follow book coverOn Beyond Zebra book coverPalindromania! book coverPhantom Tollbooth book coverRrralph book coverRunny Babbit book coverSix Sheep Sip Thick Shakes book coverSmart Feller Fart Smeller book coverWumbers book cover

C D B! / William Steig

Dear deer: a book of homophones / Gene Barretta

E-mergency! / Tom Lichtenheld, Ezra Fields-Meyer

Follow follow: a book of reverso poems / Marilyn Singer; illus. by Josée Masse

On beyond zebra / Dr. Seuss

Palindromania! / Jon Agee
Phantom tollbooth / Norton Juster; illus. by Jules Feiffer
 
Rrralph / Lois Ehlert
 
Runny Babbit: a billy sook / Shel Silverstein
 
Six sheep sip thick shakes: and other tricky tongue twisters / Brian P. Cleary; illus. by Steve Mack
 

Smart feller fart smeller: and other spoonerisms / Jon Agee

Wumbers: it's a word cr8ed with a numbers! / Amy Krouse Rosenthal; illus. by Tom Lichtenheld

Writing and Reading

The skills needed to learn how to read and write are connected in children's brains.  In order to ready your child for reading, try some of these easy and fun writing activities:

FOR BABIES:  Of course your baby is not ready to read or write just yet, but learning to recognize shapes is the first step towards acquiring those skills. So point out different shapes you see and describe them to your child.  Find things that are round, such as balls, and let your child explore them.  Boxes are all around you; let your child play with a cardboard box and talk about squares and rectangles.  Playing with simple shape and color puzzles will also help develop these skills.

FOR TODDLERS:  Keep playing with shapes but also have fun introducing alphabet letters.  Toddlers love hearing their names,  Expand the sound of your toddler's name by writing it on all sorts of surfaces, on paper, with blocks or magnetic letters, on chalkboards or even with water.  Identify each of the letters in their name.

Child Drawing

Print is everywhere.  Help your child notice alphabet letters by pointing out the names on food containers, words on road signs and names of stores. Point out letters to your toddler as you go through your day.  

Let your toddler try writing!  Scribbles are a great way of strengthening their fine motor skills.  Fat crayons are great at helping them grip crayons without their breaking. 

FOR PRESCHOOLERS:  Play "I Spy" to find letters in the room.  Silently choose something that your child can see.  Say, "I spy with my little eye something that starts with the letter (name a letter)  What is it?"

Play games like "We are going to a place to eat whose name begins with the letter "B."  Where do you think we are going?"

Sing the alphabet song while pointing to the letters of the alphabet.

Writing can be done anywhere: in the sand or dirt, on a chalkboard, in a pan filled with rice or flour, with a piece of yarn, with blocks, and even in the tub. Make writing letters a game you play every day.

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

Children’s Author Spotlight: Nic Bishop

Vivid. Colorful. Captivating. Nic Bishop’s nature photography is all this and more! His exciting insect and animal books, effectively designed for young readers, feature eye-popping images that satisfy children’s curiosity about the natural world. These are, quite simply, some of today’s best science books published for kids, and they’re available at your local library!

Bishop has been creating kids’ books for over 25 years, and is an experienced photographer both in the studio and in the field. Check out the trailer for his book, Spiders, for a glimpse into his creative process:

 

Animals and Insects

Nic Bishop Snakes book coverNic Bishop Butterflies and Moths book coverNic Bishop Spiders book coverNic Bishop Marsupials book cover

 

For preschoolers

 Chameleon, Chameleon book coverRed-Eyed Tree Frog book cover

Chameleon, Chameleon / story by Joy Cowley

Red-eyed Tree Frog / story by Joy Cowley

 

Scientists in the Field series

Kakapo Rescue book coverMysterious Universe book coverQuest for the Tree Kangaroo book coverSaving the Ghost of the Mountain book coverSnake Scientist book coverTarantula Scientist book cover

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot / text by Sy Montgomery (2011 Sibert Medal winner)

Mysterious Universe: Supernovae, Dark Energy, and Black Holes / text by Ellen Jackson

Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea / text by Sy Montgomery

Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia / text by Sy Montgomery

Snake Scientist / text by Sy Montgomery

Tarantula Scientist / text by Sy Montgomery

Full Steam Ahead: Picture Books about Trains

Here’s an understatement for you: train books are popular at the library. They have the power to capture the attention and imagination of wiggly toddlers, curious preschoolers, and knowledgeable school-aged kids alike. They inspire squeals of delight when discovered and, sometimes, tears of despair when returned! Come find these tried-and-true books at the library for the train lover in your life:

Trains book coverAnd the Train Goes...book coverFreight Train book coverDown by the station book cover Steaming! Pulling! Huffing! book coverCaboose who got loose book coverLittle engine that could book coverI saw an ant on the railroad track book coverSeymour Simon's book of trains book cover

Trains / Byron Barton

And the train goes-- / William Bee

Freight train / Donald Crews

Down by the station / by Jennifer Riggs Vetter ; illus. by Frank Remkiewicz

Trains : steaming! pulling! huffing! / by Patricia Hubbell ; illus. by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy

The caboose who got loose / Bill Peet

The little engine that could / retold by Watty Piper ; pictures by Loren Long

I saw an ant on the railroad track / by Joshua Prince ; illus. by Macky Pamintuan

Seymour Simon's book of trains / Seymour Simon

 

Oh Say Can You Sing?

Want to discover a library secret? Go ahead and take a trip to the 782 section of the children’s nonfiction shelves and you’ll discover something amazing. Hidden treasures! Picture books that are meant to be SUNG! Some are traditional, others are silly – but all are crowdpleasing. Here are a few recommendations to warm up your singing voice:

Baby Beluga book cover  Down by the station book cover  Hush little baby book cover  I ain't gonna paint no more book cover

I love you! A Bushel and a Peck book cover  Let's Play in the Forest book cover  Let's sing a lullaby with the brave cowboy book cover   I love my white shoes book cover  Seals on the Bus book cover

Baby Beluga / Raffi; illustrations by Ashley Wolff

Down by the Station Jennifer Riggs Vetter; illustrations by Frank Remkiewicz

Hush, Little Baby / adapted and illustrated by Brian Pinkney

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! / Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow

I Love You! A Bushel & a Peck / Frank Loesser; pictures by Rosemary Wells

Let's Play in the Forest While the Wolf is not Around / Claudia Rueda

Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy / Jan Thomas

Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes / Eric Litwin; art by James Dean

The Seals on the Bus / Lenny Hort; illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Play and Literacy

Boy playing with LegosPlay has a direct link to early literacy experience. Play and stories work together to encourage creativity, imagination, and dexterity: all skills that help your child learn.  

If you have DUPLOS at home, try some of the acitivities in the the Read! Build! Play! at Home Toolkit developed by LEGO in partnership with The Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC).  

We also have DUPLOS and LEGOS for your child to play with  at many library locations. Bring your child of any age in to one of our monthly LEGO Mania! clubs, where they can play and build with others. 

LEGO Mania! Monthly Lego Clubs

First Tuesdays at 4pm at the Eastmont Library

First Fridays at 3:30pm at the Dimond Library

Second Thursdays at 3pm at the Main Library Children's Room

Second Fridays at 3pm at the Lakeview Library 

Third Fridays at 3pm at the West Oakland Library

Ask your Librarian for other ways for your child to play at the library!

Malik Pedraza-Palomino is ready to fly with his LEGO creation at the 81st Avenue Library.  

 

Superhero Picture Books to the Rescue!

Do you have any superhero-obsessed 3-year-olds in your life? If so, then you may know how tough it can be to find age-appropriate books that satisfy these kiddos' interests.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/9c/Redrangeralex.jpg/256px-Redrangeralex.jpgBut never fear, the library is here!

Pull on your crime-fighting capes and head to your local branch to check out these awesome superhero books for the preschool set:

Breen, Steve. Violet the Pilot.

Buehner, Caralyn. Superdog.

Chabon, Michael. The Astonishing Secret of Awesome Man.

Cosentino, Ralph. Batman.

Cosentino, Ralph. Superman.

Cosentino, Ralph. Wonder Woman.

Cottringer, Anne. Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero.

Graham, Bob. Max.

Grey, Mini. Traction Man Is Here!

Grey, Mini. Traction Man Meets Turbo Dog.

Macdonald, Ross. Bad Baby.

Mcleod, Bob. Superhero ABC.

O’Connor, George. Kapow!

Pilkey, Dav. Dogzilla : starring Flash, Rabies, and Dwayne.

Pilkey, Dav. Kat Kong.

Portis, Antoinette. Princess Super Kitty.

Schwarz, Viviane. Timothy And The Strong Pajamas : A superhero adventure.

Reynolds, Aaron. Superhero School.

Rogers, Gregory. Midsummer Knight.

Tauss, Marc. Superhero.

Thomas, Rich. The Amazing Spider-Man : an origin story.

Thomas, Rich. The Courageous Captain America : an origin story.

Thomas, Rich. The Mighty Thor : an origin story.

Thomas, Rich. The Uncanny X-Men : an origin story.

Weigelt, Udo. Super Guinea Pig to The Rescue.

Whatley, Bruce. Captain Pajamas.

Weitzman, J. Superhero Joe.

Ziefert, Harriet. Mighty Max!

Onward, upward, and away!