Activities & Tips

Write a book for Children's Fairyland!

Update: Due to COVID-19, Turn the Page has been postponed. We do encourage kids to continue writing!

 

Dear kids and teens,

Imagine you're at a book festival at Children's Fairyland. As you walk around you see authors and illustrators sitting at tables with their names on them, talking with families and sharing their books. You recognize some names -- there's Lemony Snicket, there's Innosanto Nagara, there's Gennifer Choldenko... but look! YOUR name is on a table! Why? Because you wrote and illustrated a story for children, and you entered it in Fairyland's Children's Book Contest, and you won!Young author posing with copies of her book

If you are younger than 18, now's your chance to create your own book. Children's Fairyland is looking for books written and illustrated by teens and kids. The winners of our third annual Young Writers Contest will share their stories with Oakland families and adult authors and illustrators on May 16 at Fairyland's Turn the Page! children's book festival. Due to the COVID-19 epidemic, Children's Fairyland has postponed Turn the Page! until Fall 2020. 

cover of book "A is for Activist"

Questions

  • What should I write?

Write anything, as long as you think a kid (age 10 or younger) would like it. Past winners have included an ABC book about African-American women, a nonfiction book about food allergies, a superhero story about saving a friend from bullies, and more. Please write in English or Spanish. If you need ideas, we suggest walking around the children's section of the library and looking at different types of books.

  • What about pictures?

Pictures are a great idea! You can create pictures on your own or work with a friend. Your book could be mostly art (like a comic or picture book) or mostly words (like a chapter book or early reader).

  • How do I enter the contest?Cover of book "The bad beginning"
Enter online, or print out the contest entry form and bring (or mail) it to Fairyland or any Oakland Public Library.
  • When is the deadline?
Fairyland wants your book by April 3  whenever you're done! If your school is closed, you have extra time to work on your book. A new deadline will be set when we have a new date for the festival, sometime next fall.
  • Who chooses the winning books?
People from Children's Fairyland, the Oakland Public Library, and East Bay Booksellers will judge the contest.
  • Help! I need ideas!
Maya Christina Gonzalez has some great ideas for you here.

Cover of book "Al Capone does my shirts"More questions?

You can ask Margaret at the Piedmont Avenue Library: mrodriguez@oaklandlibrary.org.

Women's History Month

Girl Power Film Festival 2020Girl Power floral

Celebrate Women's History Month with a series of four films chronicling inspiring and trailblazing women!

  • 3/2 - What's Love Got to Do With It
    This autobiographical film is centered on the life of Tina Turner; her rise to fame and her fall from the idyllic American marriage.
  • 3/16 - Frida
    Salma Hayek stars as Mexican surrealist artist Frida Kahlo in this biopic, which chronicles her turbulent marriage to Diego Rivera, her political activism, and the severe pain she experienced following a bus accident.
  • 3/23 - On the Basis of Sex
    Future Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg launches her career fighting for gender equality by proving discrimination "on the basis of sex" is unconstitutional.
  • 3/30 - Harriet
    The incredible true story of Harriet Tubman, and her quest to lead hundreds of slaves to freedom on the Underground Railroad.

Mondays in March @ Eastmont Branch
Keywords: adults, films, movies, East Oakland

 

Women Bike Book ClubBook cover for the "the Mechanical Horse"

Let's explore the history of women in American cycling with Margaret Guroff's The Mechanical Horse: How the Bicycle Reshaped American LifeLearn how "women shed their cumbersome Victorian dresses—as well as their restricted gender roles—so they could ride. [...] Margaret Guroff demonstrates that the bicycle's story is really the story of a more mobile America—one in which physical mobility has opened wider horizons of thought and new opportunities for people in all avenues of life."

Thursday, 3/5 - 6pm-7:30pm @ Golden Gate Branch
Keywords: bikes, The Mechanical Horse, book club, Women Bike Book Club, North Oakland

 

 

Intro to Female Persian PoetsPersian Poetry

To celebrate Women's History Month, and to expand answer that was asked in our first session on Persian Poets, what about Persian female poets? In this session female poets, female feminist poets, modern feminism, and ancient Persia will be discussed.

Saturday, March 7 - 1pm-2:30pm @ Piedmont Avenue Branch 
Keywords: poetry, Persian, Persian poets, Persian authors, feminism, North Oakland, Piedmont

Button and Bookmark Making for Women's History MonthWomen's History Month graphic

Come make bookmarks and buttons featuring important and inspiring women. Use our artwork or create your own tribute to the important women in your life!

Saturday, March 7 - 1pm-4pm @ West Oakland Branch
Keywords: poetry, Persian, Persian poets, Persian authors, feminism, North Oakland, Piedmont

Black Women: Their Presence in the City of LightTomb of Josephine Baker

Journey with Oakland native Riki Stevenson, whose slide-illustrated presentation—Black Women: Their Presence in the City of Light—takes us across the landscapes of Paris, France. We explore places where African and African American females studied, created art, forged socio-political alliances, opened businesses, and at times made the famed City of Light their home. (This program is organized by Stevenson’s European-based company Black Paris Tours.)

Saturday, March 7 - 2pm-5pm @ African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Keywords: Black women, history, Black History, African American Women, African American history, culture, art, Paris, presentation, AAMLO

Women's History Trivia Nightvintage and outdated drawing of the female brain

Come test your trivia prowess and celebrate Women's History Month at a women's history-themed trivia night. Play solo or with a team. 6 people max per team. Eat snacks, learn, win prizes! Door at 5:30, trivia starts at 6pm. 

Tuesday, March 10 - 6pm-8pm @ Main Library
Keywords: trivia, women's history, games, adults, teens, Downtown Oakland, Lake Merritt

 

 

Meet Saadia Faruqi, author of the Yasmin! book series, & book giveawayBook cover for Yasmin! children

Come meet Saadia Faruqi, author of the popular Yasmin! series. Attendees will learn about the Yasmin! series in this fun, interactive presentation. Author, Saadia Faruqi, will also share her experiences growing up in Pakistan and talk about her journey as a writer. Pizza and refreshments will be served at 5:30. Presentation will begin at 6:00. FREE books will be signed and given away at the end of the presentation.  *Limited quantities of the books are available and are intended only for children in attendance at the program. One copy per child, please. First-come, first serve.  

Wednesday, March 11 - 5:30pm-7pm @ Main Library (Children's Room)
Keywords: children, kids, books, Pakistan, Yasmin!, food, free books, Children's books, family, Downtown Oakland, Lake Merritt

 

 

Shifting Culture Conversation Series: Race, Gender and Leadership with Shaana RahmanShifting Culture Conversation Series @ Main Library 

Shaana Rahman is a bicycle personal injury lawyer who runs her own firm, and is dedicated to tearing down barriers to women leading in business and succeeding in their careers. Hear Shaana's story and then join a guided discussion group on topics of race, gender, leadership in the workplace, and leadership in the bicycling movement. The Shifting Culture Conversation Series is presented in collaboration with Bike East Bay.  Bike East Bay promotes healthy, sustainable communities by making bicycling safe, fun and accessible.

Wednesday, March 11 - 6pm @ Main Library
Keywords: Shifting Culture, series, bikes, bicycles, business, professional, leadership, Bike East Bay, Downtown Oakland, Lake Merritt

 

Women and the Art of Meditationgraphic of dark head profile outline with a tree and roots within it

Learn how to rejuvenate yourself in our workshop, Women and the Art of Meditation. Part of AAMLO’s ongoing Festival of Knowledge, the session conducted by Josie Santiago focuses on “chair” yoga, relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, stress free music, and more.

Saturday, March 14 - 2pm-4pm @ African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Keywords: meditation, Festival of Knowledge, mindfulness, relaxation, health, adults, AAMLO, West Oakland, Downtown Oakland

 

The Girls in the Bandvintage black & white photograph of Black women with instruments

When the world told them they couldn't play, they did it anyway! They wiggled, they jiggled, they wore low cut gowns and short shorts, they kow-towed to the club owners and smiled at the customers…and they did it all, just to play the music they loved. THE GIRLS IN THE BAND tells the poignant, untold stories of female jazz and big band instrumentalists and their fascinating, groundbreaking journeys from the late 1920s to the present day. These incredibly talented women endured sexism, racism and diminished opportunities for decades, yet continue today to persevere, inspire and elevate their talents in a field that seldom welcomed them. This 2013 documentary is 88 minutes long. 

Tuesday, March 17 - 6pm-7:30pm @ Golden Gate Branch
Keywords: music, history, music history, women's history, Black history, African American history, arts, culture, jazz, documentary, North Oakland, Emeryville, South Berkeley

Shirley Chisolm: Unbought and Unbossed Film Screening

Recalling a watershed event in US politics, this Peabody Award-winning documentary takes an in-depth look at the 1972 presidential campaign of Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman elected to Congress and the first to seek nomination for the highest office in the land. Shunned by the political establishment and the media, this longtime champion of marginalized Americans asked for support from people of color, women, gays, and young people newly empowered to vote at the age of 18. Chisholm's bid for an equal place on the presidential dais generated strong, even racist opposition. Yet her challenge to the status quo and her message about exercising the right to vote struck many as progressive and positive. Official Selection at the Sundance International Film Festival and the SXSW Film Festival"A refreshing antidote to the opportunism and cynicism that rules the political roost today...an inspiring tale of someone who made a difference." - James Greenberg, Hollywood Reporter

Tuesday, March 17 - 6pm-8pm @ Temescal Branch
Keywords: women's history, Black history, African American history, American politics, Black politicans, Women Politicians, documentary, North Oakland, Emeryville

Documentary Film Series: She's Beautiful When She's AngryFilm poster for "She's Beautiful When She's Angry"

Join us at the Dimond Branch for a series of documentary films on Wednesday evenings. Snacks will be provided and a brief discussion will follow each film. March's film is She's Beautiful When She's Angry, a documentary about the birth of the Women's Liberation Movement in the 1960's.

Wednesday, March 18 - 6pm-8pm @ Dimond Branch
Keywords: women's history, Women's Liberation Movement, 1960s, documentary, feminism, films, Dimond District, Fruitvale, East Oakland

In Praise of Our Mothers and GrandmothersBlack Female Project poster

Join AAMLO for a community discussion, In Praise of Our Mothers and Grandmothersorganized by BlackFemaleProjectThe discussion will include topics such as: kinship roles, mentorship, workplace dynamics, and community leadership. 

Saturday, March 21 - 2pm-4pm @ African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Keywords: Black Female Project, mothers, grandmothers, community, leadership, adults, AAMLO, West Oakland, Downtown Oakland

 

Women's History Month Film: A League of their OwnA League of their Own movie poster

Come celebrate Women's History month with us by watching the true story of two sisters who join the first female professional baseball league. Snacks will be provided but feel free to bring something to share!

Saturday, March 21 - 3pm @ Lakeview Branch
Keywords: movie, true stories, sports, baseball, women's baseball, film, women's history, Lake Merritt, Grand Lake

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch Hour with the DivasMaya Angelou receiving medal of honor from ex-President Obama

Take a break for Lunch Hour with the Divas. Selected documentary film screenings explore Black women in the arts and the struggle for freedom. 

  • Monday 3/23 & Tuesday 3/24 - Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
  • Wednesday 3/25 & Thursday 3/26: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice 

Monday, March 23 - Thursday, March 26  @ African American Museum & Library at Oakland
Keywords: movies, documentaries, Civil Rights, films, lunch time, AAMLO

 

 

 

Trailblazing Journalist Delilah Beasley & California's African American Historyblack & white portrait of Delilah Beasley

Join Liam O’Donoghue, host and producer of the East Bay Yesterday podcast, as he interviews writers Dana Johnson and Ana Cecilia Alvarez, authors of the new book, “Trailblazer : Delilah Beasley’s California.” Dana Johnson is a professor of English at the University of Southern California and author of the short story collection, "In the Not Quite Dark." Ana Cecilia Alvarez is a professor at California Institute of the Arts and serves as the Development and Communications Manager at Clockshop, a Los Angeles-based arts collective.

Tuesday, March 24 - 6pm-8pm @ Main Library
Keywords: Delilah Beasley, East Bay Yesterday, East Bay history, Black history, women's history, African American history,Dana Johnson, Ana Cecilia Alvarez, journalism

 

Women's History Month Craftdrawing of Mae Jemison, first black woman in space

Create your own refrigerator magnets featuring famous women from history! Best for ages 3 and up.

Wednesday, March 25 - 3:30pm @ Dimond Branch
Keywords: crafts, DIY, arts, creative, programs, Dimond, East Oakland, Fruitvale

 

Shifting Culture Conversation Series: Intersectional Issues in Biking With Childrentwo young children pose in front of a bike

Parents are uniquely focused on the next generation. A panel of parents will explore the intersectional issues faced by people biking with children or while pregnant. Then we'll engage in discussion that turns to these leaders for safer streets and more people-focused infrastructure. The Shifting Culture Conversation Series is presented in collaboration with Bike East Bay.  Bike East Bay promotes healthy, sustainable communities by making bicycling safe, fun and accessible.

Wednesday, March 25 - 6pm-8pm @ Main Library
Keywords: intersectional, bikes, cycling, bicycles, biking, children, pregnancy, motherhood, Bike East Bay, Downtown Oakland, Lake Merritt

 

 

Before I Was a Critic I Was a Human BeingBook cover for "Before I Was a Critic I was a Human Being"

Join us in March for our monthly book club featuring titles from Small Press Distribution. Pick up a free copy of our March book at the February Book Club meeting (2/26), or at the Main Library Reference desk starting on February 27 while supplies last. MARCH’S BOOK CLUB PICK: Before I Was a Critic I Was a Human Being by Amy Fung. Literary Nonfiction. Asian & Asian American Studies. Native American Studies. Women's Studies. BEFORE I WAS A CRITIC I WAS A HUMAN BEING is the debut collection of essays by Amy Fung. In it, Fung takes a closer examination at Canada's mythologies of multiculturalism, settler colonialism, and identity through the lens of a national art critic. Following the tangents of a foreign-born perspective and the complexities and complicities in participating in ongoing acts of colonial violence, the book as a whole takes the form of a very long land acknowledgment. Taken individually, each piece roots itself in the learning and unlearning process of a first-generation settler immigrant as she unfurls each region's sense of place and identity. 

Wednesday, March 25 - 5pm @ Main Library
Keywords: Amy Fung, Small Press Distribution, books, Asian studies, Native studies, women's studies, conversation, book club, Downtown Oakland, Lake Merritt

 

 

Berkeley Rep Talk: School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girlsstill image from School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls play

By Jocelyn Bioh
Directed by Awoye Timpo
Main Season · Roda Theatre
March 19–May 3, 2020

“Modeling. That’s the plan after I graduate you know. Become the next Iman. College is cute, but I’m thinking about my future realistically.” Paulina, the reigning queen bee at Ghana’s most exclusive boarding school, has her sights set on the Miss Universe pageant and the glamorous life that’s sure to follow. But her plans and even her very reputation are shaken up when Ericka, a new student who’s strikingly beautiful and talented, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter—and Paulina’s hive-minded friends. Winner of the 2018 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Play and the Outer Critics Circle John Gassner Award, School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play is a biting comedy that tackles the universal issues of beauty and self-worth that face teenage girls across the globe.

Saturday, March 28 - 1pm-2pm @ Piedmont Avenue Branch
Keywords: Berkeley Rep, School Girls, plays, Ghana, African, Piedmont, Emeryville, North Oakland

 

 

Women's History Month Film: Queen of Katwe Queen of Katwe film poster

Come celebrate Women's History Month with us by watching the incredible true story of a Ugandan girl who sees her world rapidly change after being introduced to the game of chess in the Queen of Katwe. Snacks will be provided but feel free to bring something to share!

Saturday, March 28 - 3pm @ Lakeview Branch
Keywords: Queen of Katwe, true stories, chess, movies, films, Uganda, Lake Merritt, Grand Lake

 

 

Embodying Peace with Young Children

"We can very well set a mood of peace out of which a system of peace can be built” - Martin Luther King, Jr., "Dreams of Brighter Tomorrows," Ebony Magazine, March 1965 

As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, I am inspired to explore how his thoughts on peace can be embodied by young children and the people who love them. With the frantic pace of modern life, it is easy for all of us to feel stretched thin, distracted, and overwhelmed. When we are reacting to the ups and downs of our day without preserving moments to slow down and feel grounded in our bodies it can be more difficult to treat ourselves and others with the patience and kindness needed to make this world a more peaceful place.  

Luckily there are books that introduce even the youngest children to mindfulness practices that will have the whole family breathing and moving in ways that calm the body and mind and connect us with the earth.  

Image preview   

ABC mindful me : ABCs for a happy, healthy mind & body / Christiane Engel

Baby present / text, Rachel Neumann ; photographs, Ericka McConnell

Breathe like a bear : 30 mindful moments for kids to feel calm and focused anytime, anywhere / Kira Willey ; illustrated by Anni Betts

Here and now / by Julia Denos ; illustrated by E. B. Goodale

Meddy Teddy : mindful poses for little yogis

  

Meditation is an open sky : mindfulness for kids / Whitney Stewart ; illustrated by Sally Rippin

To try something right away, you can do this simple technique to practice mindful breathing together with a child you love: 

Steps:

1.  Hold the left hand in a fist.  Ask the child to imagine it is a flower.

2.  Hold the right hand in a fist.  Ask the child to imagine it is a candle.

3.  Inhale, pretending to sniff the flower.

4.  Exhale, pretending to blow out the candle.

Encourage the child to breathe deeply, to really smell the flower.  Then tell them to exhale completely, to really really blow the candle out. 

 Source: Kids Relaxation

Free Reading Apps for Kids

After the holidays families may have new devices to explore, connect with online resources or create new content. Below are FREE apps you can download to enjoy books, music and movies from our library collection. 

  • Enki -  This collection includes kid's comics, graphic novels, study guides and more kids of all ages. 
  • Hoopla  - Download or stream ebooks, music, audiobooks, movies, comics, and television. You can apply KIDS MODE which only show kid-appropriate content in browse and search results.
  • Libby for OverDrive - With OverDrive, you can borrow e-books (including Kindle books), downloadable audiobooks, and stream videos from OPL's  collection.
  • RBdigital  - Check out magazines like Highlights, American Girl and Ask.
  • Tumblebooks for Kids - Enjoy interactive, online picture books and early readers for kids for different reading levels, with games and puzzles.

Information about additonal online resources can be found online at: http://oaklandlibrary.org/online-resources/e-books-and-digital-content

What are some of your favorites? 

Family, Food and Travel

Focus on Early Learning

When I went to library school in 2008, I knew I wanted to be a Children’s Librarian because I wanted to share the joy of reading. As my career develops my focus on early learning and parent engagement is clear, thus I was super excited to hear Pamela Paul’s recent interview on KQED Forum discussing her new book, co-written with her colleague Maria Russo, "How to Raise a Reader." Pamela shares family literacy tips on creating read-aloud routines, "championing genre fiction" and nurturing a love of books in kids of all age.

My favorite five family literacy tips for raising a reader:

  • You are your child's first teacher- model behavior you want them to develop (as indicated in the image above)
  • Never treat reading like a chore
  • Read to your baby, your toddler, your tween, your teen
  • All reading matters...including comic books
  • Always carry a book when you know you'll be waiting e.g. supermarket, doctor's appointment, restaurants

 FREE community resources you can access that promote early learning include:

In my role as an outreach librarian, I present storytime once a month at the rec centers noted above.

  • The OUSD Play Group near Grand Lake Theater is a great option Friday mornings (before Oakland libraries open).
    Fridays, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm -  September 27 - December 13, 2019
    Lakeview Campus Portable A, 746 Grand Avenue Oakland, CA 94610
  • VROOM provides learning tips via text you can share with your young child (ren). Available in English or Español
  • Kidappolis by LitLab is a mobile app that encourages parents to use screen time as an interactive early learning opportunity. Try “Kidappolis: School Edition for FREE using the code “demo
  • Help Me Grow is a resource network which collaborates with agencies, families, and providers across Alameda County to help ensure children ages birth – 5 years reach their optimal development. If you have concerns about your child’s developmental milestones, give them a call 888 - 510 - 1211. Their staff is multilingual. 

What are your favorite family literacy activities? Please share your positive experiences in the comments section.

Online Learning for Kids

One might say your library card is the most valuable card in your wallet. For the price of FREE, you get access to books, movies, music and numerous learning resources.  Check them out:

Online encyclopedia and research resources 

Online reading tools (filter for Kids)

Learning from the Process of Art

Gone are the days when every student in the art class had to produce an identical still life. But sometimes a kid will melt down when faced with a new artistic challenge because "mine doesn't look like yours". It doesn't need to look just like anyone else's, though. That’s not how kids learn! And it’s certainly not how they have fun.

group of kids working with art supplies group of kids working with art supplies

Many educators and caregivers encourage children in what we call “process art” – where the process of making something is more important than the end result. That’s a valuable perspective at any age – but especially with preschool ages because of its importance for a developing brain and body. For a young child, just choosing the colors he wants to use and deciding where on the page to start coloring requires planning and the ability to think ahead. Actually following through with the physical steps strengthens important skills, too. 

To parents and other caregivers of small children: take a deep breath and step back from the pursuit of perfection.  Let your kids explore art. Embrace the mess, at least sometimes. Relax about artistic mistakes – there’s nothing wrong with them! Your child does not learn by creating a Pinterest-perfect replica of the teacher’s example. Your child learns by experimenting with how much glue is needed and how hard she has to squeeze to get it out of the bottle. By playing with the paint and squishing it between his fingers. By using the scissors themself, even if it takes longer and produces ragged edges. If they’ll soon be in school, kids will need to be able to do this stuff for themselves. Make sure they have many opportunities to practice. Older kids might be proficient with the scissors, but they have to follow directions many times every day, so they might need a reminder that it's okay to let loose now and again, too. Your budding perfectionist can learn to shake off mistakes and keep going, given time and repetition and your encouragement.

Try process art at home – it can be as simple as a pile of paper to tear and some glue to put it together in interesting ways. Here are some ideas to get you started. Come to the library for art, too – whether led by MOCHA teachers or by library staff, it spares you some of the cleanup and exposes your child to new materials and methods. Pro tip: you don’t have to find a place for every project on the fridge. Take a picture and share it to social media… then recycle without guilt.

So let your little one peel Spongebob stickers off the sheet and put them all over old newspaper (not on the books, please!). It’s great for fine motor control! Refrain from coloring in the last bit of the picture for her. Let his monster have one arm and three tongues. Who knows what a monster is supposed to look like, anyway? Encourage them to try out some unusual options, and see where their creativity takes them.

Process art is messy sometimes. It takes longer. It won’t look perfect. That’s okay. You’re doing it right. And so are they.


"Polar bear goes here" by Maydela is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Here are some great books about embracing creativity, learning from mistakes, and loving the process of art!

   

The Art Lesson by Tomie DePaola

The Book of Mistakes by Corinna Luyken

Beautiful Oops! by Barney Saltzberg

Niko Draws a Feeling by Bob Raczka

The Art of Miss Chew by Patricia Polacco

OPL Responds: Know Your Rights with I.C.E.

OPL Responds Logo

It is important to know your rights with recent reports that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) may be coming to the Bay Area soon. 

The library can help you get the information you need to protect yourself, your family, and your neighbors. Ask us! If we don’t know the answer, we’ll connect you to someone who does.

Creative Commons photo by Joe Bruskins via Flickr.

We’re lucky to have several local organizations working to help people with immigration questions and challenges. There are too many to list here! For a comprehensive resource guide, check out our Know Your Rights page.

And remember, knowledge is power. Here are 5 Ways to Fight ICE Raids With Power, Not Panic.

If you want to volunteer to support your neighbors and friends in the event of an ICE raid, check out bayresistance.org or click here

If you're concerned about immigration coming to your workplace, review this very useful Employer Guide created by the National Employment Law Project and National Immigration Law Center.

For questions and reports about immigration enforcement, call the 24-hour hotline supported by the Alameda County Immigrant Legal and Education Partnership.

Poster for Alameda County Immigration Legal and Education Partnership     Spanish Poster for Alameda County Immigration Legal and Education Partnership                   

Early Learning Backpacks

In September 2018,  OPL’s West and Eastmont branches began a pilot program offering an exciting and fun way for kids ages 3-5 to boost their language skills and school readiness.  The First 5 Alameda County funded early learning backpacks available during family storytime and play café are a huge hit. Early literacy specialists understand parents are a child’s first and best teacher.These backpacks are designed to provide opportunities for rich interactions, fun, and learning by providing materials and books for families to use together. 

The backpacks are not part of our traditional collection. Families can simply choose a backpack, sign it out on a clipboard, and enjoy the rich contents inside to explore math, science, literacy and/or social skills at home. The following week families can exchange the backpack for one of the other 30 themed backpacks. The backpacks are see-through and full of educational activities, toys and books in English, Spanish, Chinese and/or Arabic. A child doesn’t need to know that each backpack’s contents were painstakingly put together by experts at First 5 Alameda and are meticulously connected to California kindergarten readiness standards. Children are drawn to the joy of engineering a bridge, examining bugs, taking care of a baby doll, or reading a book about a garden. Many families come back week after week because their child is excited to choose their next backpack. It has become an important part of their weekly routine and something special they do with each other.

Some caregivers ask for advice such as “Which Science backpack will teach my child the life cycle of a butterfly?” or “Which Social Skills backpack will help my child learn how to resolve conflicts with their friends?” Working in partnership with First 5 Alameda children’s librarians meet quarterly to engage with the materials and how they relate to aspects of the California Preschool Curriculum Framework to help make better recommendations. It is a joy to see the pride and excitement in a child’s step as they leave the library with their choice for the week snugly on their back and knowing that it is a tool to help them build the skills they need to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.

~ Celia, West Oakland Children's Librarian

Five Key Areas of School Readiness for Children include:

  • Promoting physical well-being and gross and fine motor development
  • Promoting social, emotional and self-regulation skills
  • Developing approaches to learning (awareness of how one learns best)
  • Fostering literacy and language development
  • Instilling cognitive development and general problem solving skills