Events & Programs

Talking with Kids about Race and Racism

Right now, stories of racialized violence, images of protestors demanding justice, and discussions about the movement for Black Lives are dominating the media – and people nationwide are struggling to find age-appropriate ways they can talk with youth about current events, race, and racism.

If you’re looking for support with these difficult conversations, come to the library! Oakland Public Library has books, DVDs, and an up-to-date, downloadable #BlackLivesMatter resource series to help spark discussion with kids of all ages.

We also have this powerful audio recording available to stream, from a recent panel discussion that features local parents, caregivers, and educators sharing their thoughts, experiences, and best practices relating to how adults can effectively talk about race and racism with children. 

Panel discussion 1, photo by Rivkah Beth Medow

This conversation, which took place May 10th at the West Oakland library, was co-sponsored by the Youth and Families committee of Showing Up for Racial Justice Bay Area.

Panel discussion 2, photo by Rivkah Beth Medow

Lindsay Imai Hong facilitated the panel, which included Shayna Cureton from Abundant Beginnings, Marilyn Hollinquest from the Radical Monarchs, artist and activist Ariel Luckey, and Malaika Parker from PACT, an Adoption Alliance.

Please share this blog post and the audio recording out to your social networks! And contact Miriam Medow at if you have any questions about the May 10th event.

Do you have suggestions of how the library can better support equity and justice in our community? Let us know in the comments!

Photos © Rivkah Beth Medow, used here with permission.

Oakland Celebrates Día (Diversity in Action)

Día, celebrating its 20th year in 2016, is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds. It is a daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures. We uphold this daily commitment, and this April and May, each Oakland Public Library location will celebrate Día with one of the following performances, followed by a book giveaway. Please join us.

Image advertising Alphabet Rockers Alphabet Rockers, a hip hop, rapping, moving kind of group, is Oakland's answer to "Sesame Street." They amplify family fun in their new show: "The Playground Zone." This hit new show for kids age 3-9 and parents uses hot beats, hip hop moves, and rap lyrics.

West Oakland 4/14/16 at 1:15 PM 

Golden Gate 4/19/16 at 6:30 PM

Dimond 4/21/16 at 10:15 AM

81st Avenue 4/21/16 at 1:30 PM

César E. Chávez 4/30/16 at 2:00 PM


Image advertising Mariela HerreraMariela Herrera a Chilean-born performer who is well-versed her native country’s folkloric traditions, brings her energetic and exciting bilingual music, dance and storytelling to Oakland Libraries. Especially for ages 2-6.

Melrose 4/7/16 at 10:30 AM

Montclair 4/19/16 at1:00 PM

Brookfield 4/22/16 at 1:00 PM

Main Library, Children's Room 5/14/16 at 10:30 AM


Image advertising Sean's ShadowsSean's Shadow Puppet Theatre entrances audiences with folk tales come from Africa, China, or the Caribbean. His stories, hand-made shadow puppets, and instruments from around the world demonstrate the power of tales in every culture. 

 Lakeview 4/13/16 at 11:00 AM

Elmhurst 4/13/16 at 3:00 PM

Martin Luther King, Jr. 4/14/16 at 10:30 AM

Eastmont 4/14/16 at 2:00 PM


Kamishibai (paper theater) is a story telling form that was popular throughout Japan in the 1920s to 1950s.  Join Librarian Erica Siskind as she travels from branch to branch on her bicycle to deliver stories.

 Asian 4/6/16 at 10:30 AM

Piedmont Avenue 4/27/16 at 10:15 AM 

Temescal 5/18/16 at 10:30 AM

What Will You Submit to the 90-Second Newbery Festival?

90 Second Newbery LogoOnce again, we are thrilled to host a screening of James Kennedy's 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, coming to the Rockridge Branch on Saturday, February 13, at 12noon.  

James will introduce many of the amazing films, made by kids around the country, that tell the story of a Newbery book in 90-Seconds or less. 

Will he show your film? Not if you don't submit one! The rules are all at, and the deadline is January 10, 2016

So check out or download your favorite Newbery title for the Thanksgiving break, and start planning your 90-second Newbery. Here's one of my favorites: a musical rendition of Ramona and Her Father:

Make Zines with Author Cathy Camper

Book Cover Lowriders in SpaceCathy Camper, the author of Low Riders in Space, comes to Oakland to present a series of zine-making workshops at five braches. Join us as she shares her process in writing Lowriders in Space and shows how to create zines. These workshops are designed for ages 10 to 14, but all are welcome. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015 - 1:00pm 81st Avenue

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - 10:30am Martin Luther King, Jr

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 - 3:00pm Elmhurst

Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 1:00pm César Chávez

Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 4:00pm Eastmont


Celebrate Families and Reading this Sunday with us at the Oakland Museum

Picture of Chiquy Boom!

Oakland proved we know how to party with our city-wide celebration of the Warriors in June. Now it's time to celebrate something even more important: almost 10,000 children have read this summer in the Oakland Public Library's Summer Reading Challenge. So let's party! 

Logo of Oakland Museum of California

Join us at the Oakland Museum of California on Sunday (August 2) from 12 to 4. All children who've finished the Summer Reading Challenge will receive a signed certificate of completion. Everyone is welcome, and every child will receive a book, thanks to the East Bay Children's Book Project. 

Storytime at OMCABut wait... there's more! Chiquy Boom! will bring her unique style of silly magic and movement in two languages with two shows, at 1:30pm and 3pm. We'll have a DJ to dance our sillies away, art projects, and food trucks from Off the Grid. Oakland Parks & Rec will entertain us with games, a bouncy house, and face painting; and of course there will be storytimes, with your favorite librarians. 

This is a free day at OMCA. Entry and all the entertainment will cost nothing for the whole family. Prices vary for the food trucks.

It is not too late to participate in the Summer Reading Challenge.  You can sign up online, or stop by any Oakland Public Library for a summer reading calendar.  Children ages 0-14 are rewarded for reading completed between June 13th and August 8th this summer. Any reading counts, including being read to, because we know that reading for fun makes good readers. 

Be a Summer Reading Super Hero!

OR2020 LogoAll kids are invited to participate in Oakland's Summer Reading Challenge. But two special events this Friday invite kids to be summer reading heroes!

Join us on Friday, June 19th, from 1pm to 3:30pm at the Martin Luther King Jr Branch, or the 81st Avenue Branch, for a summer reading festival including free books, facepainting, bubbles, popcorn, storytime, a superhero photo booth, and a chance to win a Kindle!

The Summer Reading Super Hero festival celebrates National Summer Learning Day, and is sponsored by Oakland Reads 2020.

It's Summer at Your Library!

The Oakland Public Library has reading, fun, and adventure for children, teens, and adults this summer.

Smiling girlWe invite you to hang out, play, meet new people, and read for fun this summer.

Studies show that kids who don’t read during the summer lose approximately two months’ worth of gains made during the school year.  But we have you covered, with the kids Summer Reading Challenge.  

We know (because studies also show!) that when kids choose their own reading, they enjoy reading more, and when reading is fun, they become better readers.  We'd like to celebrate your child's summer experiences by rewarding them for reading, which they can track in their own reading log.  Come to any Oakland Library to pick one up.

While you're here, check out our amazing activities and performances. Music, puppets, marble runs, an instrument petting zoo and a live animal petting zoo...there's always something to do at your library. 

Baby Bounce ProgramCelebrate reading with the whole family. 

Any child can participate in the Summer Reading Challenge whether they know how to read or not.  Even babies are learning important literacy skills when you or another loved one read to them.  Read together, read often, it all counts, because it all makes a difference.  

You can also get prizes for your own reading, for attending a library program or bringing a friend to the library, or checking out a free Discover & Go pass.  Just ask for an Adult Summer Reading raffle card at any location.  And, yes, your teenager too!

Girl and boy reading togetherStart now.  Here's our favorite reads. 

We love to talk to you and your children at the library to find the perfect book, but your can always browse our favorites at our Great Reads page.   We also love OUSD's Elementary Summer Reading list, and hope you will try our new service, Beanstack. Set up a free account and select your child's age, interests, and reading level. You’ll receive a weekly email with recommended books from the Oakland Public Library!

We've got plenty in store...

Don't miss our end of summer extravaganza at the Oakland Museum, or that special event that just right for you and you child.  We are also serving free lunch for youth at many of our libraries. Check out out events calendar any day this summer.  We can't wait to see you. 

Girl eating lunch in the library

Spring 2015 Picture Book Showcase

Let's face it: everyone who's into illustration, cartooning, design or just plain old fine art is into the art of the picture book. Next Thursday, May 21, the Oakland Public Library is joining the Octopus Literary Salon to show off some of our newest favorites....

It's the Spring 2015 Picture Book Showcase! Won't you come on over, buy yourself a drink, and enjoy the show? A surprise musical guest will make an appearance. Copies of the books will be for sale, too.

OPL's Spring 2015 Picture Book Showcase
Thursday, May 21, 2015, 6:30-8:30pm
The Octopus Literary Salon
2101 Webster Street in Oakland

Here's a sneak preview:

Vegetables in Underwear, by Jared Chapman


Last Stop on Market Street, by Christian Robinson

The Spider, by Elise Gravel

What else will make the cut? Who knows! I do. And soon you will too. See you next Thursday!

The Octopus is a literary salon, re-interpreted in the 21st Century to engage and entertain readers and writers of all ages in Uptown Oakland, California. The Octopus Literary Salon includes a café, a small-scale specialty bookstore and publisher, and a space for public readings and discussions as well as other literary spontaneity.

OPL Celebrates Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month with Megumi!

Picture of MegumiJoin us at Oakland Public Library as we celebrate Asian Pacific Islanders Heritage Month with Megumi. This wonderful bilingual storyteller (English/Japanese) will entertain and move us with tales of all types. She especially delights in sharing Japanese folk tales. Megumi will be at four branches in May:



Tuesday May 5 at 12:30pm at the Martin Luther King, Jr Branch

Wednesday May 6 at 10:30am at the Asian Branch

Friday May 15 at 1pm at the Brookfield Branch

Saturday May 16 at 11am at the Montclair Branch

Wheeee! Roller Coasters....At the Library?

Do you love roller coasters?  The loops, the speed, the excitement, the wind in your hair?  Have you ever wondered why some coasters are faster or scarier than others?  How roller coaster cars stay on the track?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, have we got something special for you!


On Thursday, April 2nd at 3:30, Lawrence Hall of Science is coming to the 81st Avenue Library to teach kids Lawrence Hall of Science logoall about the science and engineering of roller coasters with hands-on experiementing and table-top creations!  Kids and families will design, create and test their mini-coasters and will be challenged to keep their marble on track through all their loops and turns.


Note: Participants will get to take home their projects.

Marble roller coaster 1