Great Books and more

Mindfulness for Kids and Families

Got stress? Feeling overwhelmed? We have resources to help you learn and practice mindfulness skills that can support your family's mental and emotional wellness during these extremely challenging times!

Mindfulness is a science-backed practice that trains the mind, body, and heart to be in the present moment with specific mindful skills. Research shows the benefits of mindfulness include~

  • Reduced stress

  • Decreased anxiety and depression

  • Strengthened immune system

  • Improved attention and memory

  • Better sleep

  • Increased self-awareness

  • Improved blood pressure and cardiovascular health

  • Much more!

Last month, Oakland Public Library partnered with JG Larochette from the  Mindful Life Project to present a great series of online Mindfulness For Families programs. Recordings of these sessions are available for you to view~

Mindful Life Project is committed to supporting the wellness of kids, families, and school communities through mindfulness programming; they have excellent online resources to share, including an awesome free app and a YouTube channel full of informative practice videos.

And of course, the Oakland Public Library has books about mindfulness for all ages! Here’s a list of recommended titles to get you started~

Book cover image of Tummy RideNiños Mindful series / Whitney Stewart -- This delightful bilingual English/Spanish board book series introduces mindfulness concepts to babies and toddlers.




Book cover image of Meditate with meMeditate with me : a step-by-step mindfulness journey / Mariam Gates ; illustrated by Margarita Surnaite -- Cheerful illustrations accompany mindfulness skills instruction with a repeated invitation to, "Breathe in, and fill your whole body. Breathe out, and relax your whole body." For preschool - 3rd grade.



Book cover image of Mindful Day

 Mindful day / Deborah Hopkinson -- A young girl and her family show readers how to practice mindfulness throughout a busy day. For preschool - 3rd grade.



Book cover image of Breathe like a Bear

Breathe like a bear: 30 mindful moments for kids to feel calm and focused anytime, anywhere / Kira Willey; illustrated by Anni Betts -- Imaginative mindfulness exercises for focus and relaxation. For preschool - 3rd grade. 




Book cover image of Anh's Anger

Anh's anger / Gail Silver; illustrated by Christiane Krömer -- Anh learns how to sit with and move past his anger, instead of saying hurtful things to people he loves. For preschool - 3rd grade. 





Book cover image of Charlotte and the Quiet Place

Charlotte and the quiet place / Deborah Sosin; illustrated by Sara Woolley -- When Charlotte is overwhelmed by noise and a hectic world, she finds silence and practices mindful breathing. For preschool - 3rd grade. 



Book cover image of Mindful Me

Mindful me: mindfulness and meditation for kids / Whitney Stewart -- Mindfulness meditations and exercises for older elementary age kids. 






Book cover image of Just Breathe

Just breathe : meditation, mindfulness, movement, and more / Mallika Chopra; illustrated by Brenna Vaughan -- Practical advice, breathing exercises, and guided meditations to help kids cope with everyday challenges. For grades 3 - 7.





 Book cover image of Sitting still like a frogSitting still like a frog: mindfulness exercises for kids (and their parents) / Eline Snel -- Instructions for meditation practices to use with children; includes a CD with guided practices.





Book cover image of Growing Up Mindful

Growing up mindful: essential practices to help children, teens, and families find balance, calm, and resilience / Christopher Willard, PsyD -- Principles and practices of mindfulness for parents, caregivers, and teachers.






Book cover image of A Still Quiet Place

A still quiet place: a mindfulness program for teaching children and adolescents to ease stress and difficult emotions / Amy Saltzman, MD -- Presents an 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program for adults to use with kids and teens.





 Did we miss any of your favorite resources about mindfulness for kids? Let us know in the comments!

What’s New: 2020 Graphic Novels for Children

smile soverIt’s hard to imagine, but about seven years ago when parents and kids would ask me for graphic novels similar to Raina Telgemeier’s Smile, there wasn’t a lot to choose from. Sure, there were lots of superhero comics, manga series, and Sunday funnies classics like Garfield or Calvin and Hobbes, but Telgemeier was one of the first to realize how much kids would like seeing themselves reflected in contemporary fiction graphic novels. Thankfully, she wasn’t the last!

Today our graphic novel shelves are filled with all sorts of genres from horror to humor—but contemporary fiction still tops the list as one of the most popular! Because you can’t come in to browse our shelves right now to see what’s new, I’m highlighting some good ones that have come out in the past eight months or so. Click the link to find the book in our catalog and choose “Request It” to place a hold on the title. When it’s time to pick it up, come to one of our Sidewalk Service locations

To keep on top of more new graphic novels as we get them in the library, use this link to access our “Featured Lists” within our Classic Catalog and scroll to the bottom to get to the list of New Children’s Graphic Novels. All of the lists on this page are updated monthly.

Ready for some good books?

shirley and jamila coverShirley and Jamila Save Their Summer

When Jamila moves to a new town, her strict mother won't let her go to the basketball courts by herself. Then she meets Shirley, who's brilliant at her self-assigned job of neighborhood detective, but not so great at making friends. When the two join forces so they can both get what they want, they discover they have more in common than they originally thought. More than just a mystery, this graphic novel features very real-seeming kids figuring out how to negotiate friendships and creating community. 

stars are scattered coverWhen Stars Are Scattered

This memoir by Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson (who wrote and drew Roller Girl) recounts Omar’s life with his disabled brother in a refugee camp in Kenya after they flee war-torn Somalia. Omar longs to go to school to better his chances of someday going to America, but his first priority is taking care of his brother. Despite the boredom, frustration, and hardship of living in the camp, Omar manages to keep his hope alive and create a future for him and his brother.

snapdragon coverSnapdragon

This story focuses on nonconformist, animal loving Snapdragon who rescues some baby possums and enlists the local "witch" to help her, but it is so much more! Each member of the diverse cast of characters is fully developed, from Snap’s transitioning friend Lulu to Snap’s single mother to Jacks the witch herself, and the family history that winds through Snapdragon’s own story is thoroughly satisfying. Technically this is fantasy, not contemporary fiction, but all the characters are so well developed, you can almost believe it’s real!

twins coverTwins

Francine and Maureen are twins entering middle school and, for the first time ever, are put in different classes. While Maureen is horrified at being separated from her twin, Francine is ready to embrace the new opportunities that middle school offers. When each decides to run for president of the sixth grade student council, it strains their friendships, their family, and of course, their relationship with each other. The road to resolution is difficult but ultimately reassuring. 

big break coverThe Big Break

Andrew and Russ are best friends obsessed with making a movie about a monster of local myth, until Russ starts becoming more interested in a girl. Andrew feels left behind: he thinks he should put away his action figures and other tokens of childhood, but he’s not quite ready to do that. Sightings of the monster bring them together, but is it enough to save their friendship? Though we often hear the story of girl friendships that flounder when one becomes interested in romance and the other does not, it’s less common to hear the same problem in books about boys, and The Big Break does it with humor and empathy. 

stepping stones coverStepping Stones

When Jen has to move to the country because her mom and her mom’s new boyfriend want to try to run a farm, she is not happy. Jen misses her dad, and she’s not crazy about her new “sisters,” either. Jen now has to do farm chores and work at the fruit stand but, more importantly, she must learn to get along with new family members and deal with change that happens whether she wants it or not. 

class act coverClass Act

This is the sequel to New Kid, the very first graphic novel to win the prestigious Newbery Medal. The second entry in the series continues to chronicle Jordan’s experiences as one of the few kids of color at his prestigious middle school but also expands its focus to include the points of view of his friends Drew and Liam. Like New Kid, Class Act has a healthy dose of humor even as it touches on serious issues of class and microagressions.

all together now coverAll Together Now

In this sequel to All Summer Long, Bina’s passion for music continues to grow and she starts a band. Then her bandmates start dating, and Bina is left to go solo. When Bina’s best friend expresses romantic interest in her, she starts to wonder if there’s something wrong with her because she’s only interested in music! With age-appropriate angst, Bina strives to be true to herself and still maintain the friendships she cherishes.


Have fun reading! See you at the library!



What's New: Children's Books of 2020

One of the joys of my experience as a library patron is the New Books shelf. What treasures can be found here! Sure, if I know something new from a favorite author is due out this year, I get myself on the waiting list right away... but on the New Books shelf I might find something I'd never think to put on hold by myself.

Now that library shelves are closed to the public, though, that kind of discovery from browsing isn't happening. So as a librarian I want to share some of the new arrivals with you here! These titles were recently published, and came to OPL's shelves in 2020. Some have not yet been checked out, even once. You could change that.

Please request one (or many!) using the link to the library's online catalog to place a hold. (Here are some instructions if you're new to that process.) Then, when it is ready at your chosen location, you can come by for socially-distanced sidewalk pickup!

Current Events

Some of these topics can be intense, but many children are facing them in real life in our community. Consider whether literature can help to process their anxieties, make someone in the same situation feel less alone, stimulate empathy for others in tough circumstances, or just provide more information about complex subjects.

  • California Wildfires, by Sue Gagliardi, gives a nonfiction explanation of the factors that affect "fire season" here, while the I Survived... series provides a fictionalized account of 2018 events.
  • Vote for Our Future!, by Margaret McNamara. With election talk all around right now, this picturebook focuses on the practical function of a polling place, and why it's important to cast a vote.
  • Efrén Divided, by Ernesto Cisneros. A 12-year-old Mexican-American boy must take on adult responsibilities, like the care of his younger siblings, when his mother is deported and his father takes a second job.
  • Ruth Objects, by Doreen Rappaport, is just one of the many fine children's biographies and picture books about the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's mark on United States law and society.

These Challenging Times

These titles address the side effects of sheltering in place, schooling from home, missing family members and friends, and not being able to do many normal activities children used to.

  • I Believe in Me, by Lorie Ann Grover. Affirmations in board book form for toddlers and their caregivers.

  • I Calm Down, by Cheri J. Meiners. A little help to soothe tantrums and teach self-regulation to small people feeling stress. Check out similar books by this author for extra support.
  • Taking Time, by Jo Loring-Fisher. A simple tale of mindfulness and using all the senses. Try to take advantage of life moving more slowly than usual right now.
  • In My Heart, by Mackenzie Porter. Mother and child are apart while mom is at work, but they love each other always. Soothing for separation anxiety, daycare worries, or possibly family members separated during quarantine.
  • A Stopwatch from Grampa, by Loretta Garbutt. Now that Grampa's gone, only this keepsake and many memories are left. A child grieving a family member may identify with the young narrator.
  • Cheer: A Book to Celebrate Community, by Uncle Ian Aurora, celebrates the community helpers we all appreciate.

Stories to Relax & Enjoy

And sometimes you'd just like to forget about the big important things happening around you for a while. That's normal and healthy -- try one of these!

  • Henry Wants More!, by Linda Ashman. A toddler on the go wants more, more, more. Can Papa, Grandma, and siblings keep up?
  • In the Sky at Nighttime, by Laura Deal. An Arctic lullaby with beautiful illustrations.
  • Just Like Me, by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. Poetry about many, many kinds of girls.
  • Love You Head to Toe, by Ashley Barron. A board book for any baby who is loved all over!
  • Bowwow Powwow, by Brenda J. Child. Join Windy Girl and her dog at a Native American celebration.
  • Brown Baby Lullaby, by Tameka Fryer Brown. Sweet, calming, affirming representation of an Afro-Latinx family.
  • Bedtime Bonnet, by Nancy Redd. The whole family is getting ready for bed, including protecting their hair for the night... but the youngest can't find her bonnet! Also available as an ebook.
  • Who Is Making a Mess?, by Maria D'Haene. Follow baby around the house to learn the cause of the various messes -- the answer may surprise you!
  • Sal and Gabi Fix the Universe, by Carlos Alberto Hernandez. This genre-straddling sequel combines friendship, science fiction, and mystery for middle graders.
  • Shuri: A Black Panther Novel, by Nic Stone. Wakanda's coolest and smartest little sister saves the day!
  • Plenty of Hugs, by Fran Manushkin. Two moms have lots of reassurance and affection for their toddler.

New Books Anytime

Here's a tip to find something new in the catalog: sort your search results by date. The newest publications come out on top.

  • Try an old favorite -- or the latest in a favorite series. We've got Dog Man, Baby-Sitters Club, Steven Universe, Lumberjanes, Fortnite, and much more!
  • While you're looking for things to do at home, don't forget to check out our collections of cookbooks, gardening guides, and crafts.
  • There are biographies and historical events to explore, too.

Your library is here for you -- even if you can't come inside just yet. Put some new children's books on hold, and we'll see you on the sidewalk.

How to find NEW Children's Books!

One of my favorite library experiences, as both a librarian and a patron, is admiring and purusing the new books that come in to the library.  

I get excited when books that I’ve ordered arrive at my desk for processing...there’s just something about that new book smell!  

As a children’s librarian in the Children’s Room at the Main Library it made me so happy to watch families search the latest books for the perfect read 

Even though we are offering side walk service at many of our locations, we know that it’s been hard not for you not to be able to browse the shelves and see all of the new books that have arrived 

However, we’re still selecting and ordering the latest published books -- new books that you’ve suggested, requested, and that we hope that you’ll enjoy. 

Three ways to learn about new children's books:

1. Use this link to access our “Featured Lists” within our Classic Catalog to see lists of newly arrived materials. The lists are updated monthly, so check back soon! 

2. A number of OPL locations that offer sidewalk pickup service have bundles of new books for check out. These bundles offer books selected by library staff for your enjoyment. Be sure to ask if your local library has new book bundles available.

3. Check here at Children’s Services Blog on the fourth Tuesday of each month to discover featured new books!

This month, I'm sharing five titles that we've acquired since our doors closed in March that I’m excited about! You can reserve a copy of each by placing a hold on the title and picking it up at a location that's convenient for you.

Click each link to learn more about each book.

The Girl and the Ghost – by Hanna Alkaf 

The Mosquito - by Elise Gravel 

Paolo Santiago and the River of Tears - by Tehlor Kay Mejia 

Ikenga –  by Nnedi Okorafor 

Your Name is a Song –  by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow 

What new books are you excited about? Let us know in the comments below.

#OPLSummer Week 8: Read, Watch, Listen - Global Society

Join the fun online this summer with OPL!

OPL children's librarians have selected some titles (available both online and, at select sidewalk pickup locations, in person) for you to read with us during this week of summer. Whether they depict people moving from country to country, living at home around the globe, or meeting people from different places, they encourage us to discover our commonalities, celebrate our differences, and learn to coexist peacefully.

Read, watch, listen, and enjoy!

Picture Books

Same, Same, but Different, by Jenny Kostecki-Shaw: Pen pals in the U.S. and in India learn about each other's daily lives and communities. Read it on Hoopla or check it out from your library (English and Spanish versions available).

This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World, by Matt Lamothe: Simple text compares and contrasts the homes, meals, families, schools, and environments of a collection of real-life children. Read it on Hoopla or check it out from your library.

Grandfather's Journey, by Allen Say: A young Japanese man makes a long trip across the sea in search of a different life -- what will it look like? A true story about the award-winning Say's family. Listen to the eaudiobook on Overdrive, watch an animated story on Kanopy, or check out a CD kit or picturebook from your library.

My Heart Fills with Happiness, by Monique Gray Smith: A calming, heart-warming book that even very young children will savor. Try this one before bedtime and dream of all the people and experiences that make you happy. Read it on Hoopla or Overdrive, or check it out from your library (available as an English board book or a bilingual picturebook in English and Cree).

Around the World in a Bathtub, by Wade Bradford: No matter where you live, kids and grownups clash over bathtime. Words for "yes" and "no" in many languages pepper this charming tale. Read it on Hoopla or check it out from your library.

Whoever You Are, by Mem Fox: Little one, whoever you are, wherever you are, there are little ones just like you all over the world... A gentle bedtime book about common childhood experiences from the author of Where is the Green Sheep? and Possum Magic. Check it out from your library (English and Spanish versions available).

Chapter Books

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood, by Trevor Noah: This Young Readers' version of the comedian's autobiography is accessible to middle graders. National, cultural, and personal history intermingle with humor. Read it on Overdrive, or check it out from your library.

Other Words for Home, by Jasmine Warga: Jude's family is separated when they must leave conflict-torn Syria for a strange new country. Written in verse, like Kwame Alexander's The Crossover, this account is a moving, relatable take on the immigrant experience. Read or listen on Hoopla, or check it out from your library.

Refugee, by Alan Gratz: A Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany; a Cuban girl trying to escape the riots and unrest plaguing her country in 1994; a Syrian boy in 2015. As the three stories develop, we begin to see their connections across time and place. Read it on Overdrive or check it out from your library.

When Stars Are Scattered, by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed: Omar and his little brother Hassan live in a tent in a big refugee camp in Kenya. Omar dreams of finding his mama, going to school, going home to Somalia, or maybe being chosen to live in Canada or America, but sometimes it seems like the whole world is off-limits. Graphic novel format for middle grade readers. Check it out from your library.


Family Reading


If the World Were a Village, by David J. Smith for CitizenKid, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong: Updated to reflect newer statistics in 2011, this nonfiction title approaches the world's diversity by imagining it as a village of only 100 people. Who lives where, speaks what language(s), has enough to eat and clean air and water? Check out a print copy, but also make sure to watch the animated video on Kanopy. (By the same author: This Child, Every Child.)

What the World Eats, by Peter Menzel and Faith D'Aluisio: Photos are worth a thousand words about various families and what they eat over the course of a week. A great way to explore topics like food justice, nutrition, and home economics. This title is only available in print from OPL, but there are a dozen copies to check out, so it's worth putting it on hold. (You can see more online in this article from Time magazine.)

The Red Bicycle: The Extraordinary Story of One Ordinary Bicycle, by Jude Isabella: Leo's treasured but outgrown possession finds new purposes ina  new communities. Back matter discusses how refurbished goods can make a difference, whether far away or close to home. Read it on Hoopla or check it out from your library.

You and Me Together: Moms, Dads, and Kids Around the World, by Barbara Kerley for the National Geographic Society: This is one of several titles in a charming photographic series that showcase children from many parts of the world spending time with their families and friends and dreaming big dreams. Check them out from your library.

Other Resources

Imagine all the people living life in peace. The classic song "Imagine" by John Lennon has been shared by many over the years, including a capella sensation Pentatonix. Click here for a video, and check out this book from your library! You may also want to read about real-life international peacemakers (winners of the Nobel Peace Prize) highlighted in this Hoopla ebook.

Perhaps your family is interested in learning a new language this summer. Video series like Muzzy BBC, Little Pim, and Learning to Speak can introduce you to Spanish, French, German, Italian, Chinese, Arabic, Russian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Korean. (OPL's collection of World Languages in print includes all of those, and more.) For a hands-on approach, check out The Book of Languages from your library. Dig deeper with OPL's free connection to Pronunciator, where you can set up language lessons for every member of the family. Just think of all the new people you'll be able to communicate with! 

And just as a reminder... there are many captivating picturebooks and graphic novels that are nearly or entirely wordless. Anyone can read them -- hesitant readers, very young book enthusiasts, language students. A favorite way to enjoy wordless books is to gather two or more people (from your household pod or social bubble) around the book and take turns telling what's happening as you turn the pages. To find these gems, search the online library catalog for "Stories Without Words". One of my favorites is Shaun Tan's The Arrival, a story familiar to anyone who has traveled far from home.

Let us know if you want more recommendations — you can submit a request through Book Me!, or email us with other questions at If you'd prefer, you can leave a voice mail with your full name and details at 510-238-3134. And for even more ebooks, eaudiobooks, and more, you can browse OverdriveHooplaTumblebookRB Digital, and all of our other online resources

What reminds you that we are all global citizens? Share with us in the comments!


#OPLSummer Week 7: Read, Watch & Listen: Black Joy!

Book cover of My People by Langston Hughes, photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr.

When I was a teenager, independent and sure of everything, I asked my mother, “Why did you even have kids? You of all people know how awful people can be and how tough life is.” My mother, raised in the backwoods of segregated Virginia, gave birth to and raised three daughters.  

I’m sure my hand was on my hip as I asked her. I directed my frustration—with racism, with sexism, with classism, with the whole world—at her. After all, she brought me into such a crazy world. She deserved some sass! 

At the time, I was sure I wouldn’t ever become a parent myself; I was just waking up, becoming aware of politics and history, the many wrongs committed through the years. Why didn’t you chose not to?” I asked.

Her response was simple. “Because then they would’ve won.”


Now I am a mother, a mother to a daughter, who is so full of happiness and curiosity. And now the world feels even crazier than it did that day with my mother. 

Despite the anguish and fear and outrage, we are witnessing an international uprising, demanding justice and working for a new, more equitable world.

The most inspiring faces in those crowds are the young people who know nothing but a world with frequent videos of graphic, state-sanctioned violence. And yet they march. 


This week at the Oakland Public Library, we celebrate diversity and focus on the idea of Black Joy. “Blackness is an immense and defiant joy,” writes Professor Imani Perry for The Atlantic. You can hear it in our music, you can see it in our art, and you can feel it in our poetry, plays and prose.

Book cover of Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole DoyonIt is resistance to be happy, proud and united in the face of sorrow. It is also a critical act of self-care, a skill I want our youth in Oakland to master.  

So even as we ride the rollercoaster of global protests and a global pandemic,  let’s find, create, and capture that Black Joy.

Let’s play with our hair in the morning. Let's cook our favorites through the day. My little one especially loves to dance, so we tune in to a good radio station and crank the volume up at the end of the day.  

Our children’s librarians recommend the following resources to tap into Black Joy, into pride in Black heritage, and to celebrate the diversity among Black people. Many of these resources are available digitally, and others can be requested for sidewalk pickup

Read, watch, listen, and enjoy!


Family & Community

Book cover of A Day at the Museum by Christine Platt

Ana & Andrew (series) by Christine Platt: Ana & Andrew are always on an adventure! They live in Washington, DC with their parents, but with family in Savannah, Georgia and Trinidad, there’s always something exciting and new to learn about African American history and culture. Read it on Hoopla, or check it out at the library.


Baby Goes to Market by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank: Join Baby and his doting mama at a bustling southwest Nigerian marketplace for a bright, bouncy read-aloud offering a gentle introduction to numbers. (Currently my daughter's favorite!) Check it out at the library.


Magnificent Homespun Brown by Samara Cole Doyon, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita: A joyful young narrator celebrates feeling at home in one's own skin. Watch the animated video on Hoopla, or check out this brand new book at the library.


Feast for 10 by Cathryn Falwell: Numbers from one to ten are used to tell how members of a family shop and work together to prepare a meal. Check it out on Hoopla, or check it out at the library.




Black Is A Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, illustrated by Ekua Holmes: A child reflects on the meaning of being Black in this anthem about a people, a culture, a history, and a legacy that lives on. Includes historical and cultural notes, song list, and two poems. Check out this brand new book at the library.


 An Ode to the Fresh CutCrown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James: This rhythmic, read-aloud title is an unbridled celebration of the self-esteem, confidence, and swagger boys feel when they leave the barber’s chair—a tradition that places on their heads a figurative crown, beaming with jewels, that confirms their brilliance and worth. Read it on RB Digital, or check it out at the library.


Book cover of Thirteen Way of Looking at a Black BoyThirteen Ways of Looking at A Black Boy by Tony Medina & 13 artists: A fresh perspective of young men of color depicting thirteen views of everyday life: young boys dressed in their Sunday best, running to catch a bus, and growing up to be teachers, and much more. Each of Tony Medina's tanka is matched with a different artist including recent Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Award recipients. Check it out at the library.


Book cover of My People by Langston HughesMy People by Langston Hughes, photographs by Charles R. Smith Jr.: Hughes's spare yet eloquent tribute to his people has been cherished for generations. Now, acclaimed photographer Smith interprets this beloved poem in vivid sepia photographs that capture the glory, the beauty, and the soul of being a black American today. Check it out at the library.



I Love My Hair! by Natasha Tarpley, illustrated by E. B. Lewis: A young African American girl describes the different, wonderful ways she can wear her hair. Check it out at the library.



 Shades of Black: A Celebration of Our Children by Sandra L. Pinkney, photographs by Myles Pinkney: Photographs and poetic text celebrate the beauty and diversity of African American children. Check it out at the library.


Art & Expression

Image of animated video of Dancing in the LightDancing in the Light: The Janet Collins Story: Janet loved to dance, and she especially loved ballet! When the world renowned Ballet Russe came to town holding auditions in 1934, Janet could hardly wait for her moment to shine. This is the inspiring story of the first African American prima ballerina, Janet Collins. Narrated by actor and comedian Chris Rock, this story teaches us that we can be anything we set our minds to. Watch the  video on Kanopy.


Trombone Shorty by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews, illustrated by Bryan Collier: A Grammy-nominated headliner for the New Orleans Jazz Fest describes his childhood in Tremé and how he came to be a bandleader by age six. Enjoy the read-along on Hoopla (read by Trombone Shorty himself!), borrow the eBook on Overdrive, or check it out at the library.



A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée: After attending a powerful protest, Shayla starts wearing an armband to school to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but when the school gives her an ultimatum, she is forced to choose between her education and her identity. Borrow the eBook or eAudiobook on Overdrive, borrow the eAudiobook on Hoopla, or check it out at the library.


Freedom Soup by Tami Charles, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcántara: Every year, Haitians all over the world ring in the new year by eating a special soup, a tradition dating back to the Haitian Revolution. This year, Ti Gran is teaching Belle how to make the soup. Together, they dance and clap as they prepare the holiday feast, and Ti Gran tells Belle about the history of the soup, the history of Belle's family, and the history of Haiti, where Belle's family is from. Enjoy the animated video on Hoopla, or check the book out at the library.



The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem's Greatest Bookstore by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie: In the 1930s, Lewis's dad had an itch he needed to scratch—a book itch. How to scratch it? He started a bookstore in Harlem and named it the National Memorial African Bookstore. And as far as Lewis could tell, his father's bookstore was one of a kind. People from all over came to visit the store, even famous people—Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Langston Hughes, to name a few. People not only bought and read books here, and they also learned from each other. Read this on Overdrive or Hoopla, or check it out at the library.


If you want more recommendations, submit a request through Book Me!, or email us with other questions at You can also leave a voicemail with your full name and details at 510-238-3134.  And for e-books, streaming video, and more digital content, browse  Overdrive Hoopla Tumblebook RB Digital, and all of our other online resources. 


#OwnVoices Books for Teens by Black Authors

by Ashley Bonifacio, Teen Youth Development Librarian

With the racial murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Rayshard Brooks, alongside countless racialized crimes documented on video against Black people, many across the country are opening their eyes to how racism has permeated various institutions and systems of our society. With police violence and brutality being exposed, along with recognition of the impact on the Black community as victims and survivors of that violence, there are many books that detail this portion of the Black experience.

Fighting against racial injustice and for equality is “the struggle” but being Black is not limited to only this struggle. Here is a list of books by Black authors that feature the range of their experience.




You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
A comedic, witty read about a girl who has to compete in her school’s sponsored beauty pageant to receive scholarship money for school.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Check out this modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Brooklyn.

If It Makes You Happy by Claire Kann
Body positivity and intersectional inclusion makes this book a refreshing read. For fans of Rainbow Rowell and Becky Albertalli.

Slay by Brittney Morris
Gaming and staying true to one’s creative voice in the midst of internet trolls. For fans of Marie Lu’s Warcross.

I Wanna Be Where You Are by Kristina Forest
A roadtrip, new friendships and romance shine in this story about a girl who defies her mother’s wishes to pursue her passion for ballet.


Let Me Hear A Rhyme by Tiffany D Jackson
As story about loss, friendship and the healing power of art. Set in the 90’s, this book is an ode to hip-hop culture and music of that time.

Odd One Out by Nic Stone
Love triangles are hard when they involve your best friends. A story about how confusing the lines between friendship and love can be.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
Teen humor and social awkwardness at its finest in this story of a Black Canadian boy moving to Austin, Texas.

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles
A story of the length one would go to impress and get close to their childhood crush. A funny yet insightful look at gender and breaking free of societal expectations.

On the Come Up by Angie Thomas
A story about striving to attain your dreams despite life’s challenges and obstacles.


Riding Chance by Christine Kendall
A troubled boy discovers his passion for horses when he is assigned community service hours at an Equestrian program.

Black Top Series by L.J Alonge
Follow a new character and their basketball journey in each book of this humorous and honest series set in Oakland, CA

Black Enough: Stories of Being Black in America
17 coming-of-age shorts from some of the top Black YA authors in publishing.




A Blade So Black by L.L McKinney
A modern retelling of Alice in Wonderland set in Atlanta. For fans of Melissa Meyer.

War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi
Set in 2172, in a world destroyed by nuclear war and climate change, two sisters fight to survive in their homeland of Nigeria. For fans of Marie Lu and Paolo Bacigalupi.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi
Set in a utopian world where violence has been eradicated, a selectively mute girl seeks to expose hidden secrets and hold accountable the town that refuses to acknowledge the true monsters that exist amongst them.

Kingdom of Souls by Rena Baron
A story of magic and power and the dangerous price that comes with them. Rooted in West African folklore.

The Sound of Stars by Alechia Dow
A girl falls in love with an alien in this dystopian world where books and art are contraband and human emotion and passion are forbidden—punishable by death. For fans of Marie Lu and Veronica Roth.




Black Panther by Ta-nehisi Coates
Check out this reimagining of Black Panther and the world of Wakanda.

The Crossover Graphic Novel by Kwame Alexander
The popular poetic story about two brothers and their love for basketball is set to dynamic illustrations in this graphic novel.

Black AF: America’s Sweetheart by Kwanza Osajyefo
A new Black superhero has taken the Marvel Universe by storm as she strives to fight terrorists’ groups and quell society’s fear of Black superheroes.




You Got This: Unleash Your Awesomeness, Find Your Path, and Change Your World by Maya Penn
Teen entrepreneur and girls’ rights activist Maya S. Penn shares her wisdom in this inspirational handbook for teens.

Black Girls Rock! Owning Our Magic, Rocking Our Truth by Beverly Bond
Featuring famous Black women and self-love affirmations on being black and female.

All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M Johnson
Personal essays from LGBTQIA activist George M. Johnson that examines the intersections of being Black and queer and the joy that can be found despite the toxicity of heteronormative gender expectations.

Black Joy: An Anthology of Black Boy Poems
Black boyhood and its different nuances are explored in this compilation of poetic works by young men of Oakland.

#OPLSummer Week 5: Reach Out for Pride

black trans lives matter

[Image description: The words #Black Trans Lives Matter are written in the background. A person with brown skin and long black starry hair that fades into the night sky is at the top, and a person with brown skin wearing a pastel rainbow and holding a megaphone at the front of a crowd is at the bottom, with a banner reading "Give us our roses while we're still here" in the background. Art by Ethan X Parker.]

It's Pride 2020, and this year we're celebrating by telling the stories of the protests and uprisings that brought us to the present, and that will carry us into the future. Check out our LGBTQ+ Family Pride event on Saturday, June 27, and keep reading for suggestions of queer community organizations to support, a recommended LGBTQ book list, and ways we're honoring the Stonewall rebellion this year (including links to protests to support #Blacklivesmatter).

Queer community resources & organizations

We're lucky to have many fantastic organizations in the Bay Area. Whether you're looking for a camp, a conference, midwifery or doula help to grow your family, or a support group, you can almost certainly find what you need. Many of these groups have moved their services online to support you from home during this unprecedented time.

Click here to check out our Bay Area resource list, full of links for adults and kids. Some kid- and family-friendly highlights: Our Family Coalition, The Unicorn ProjectGender Spectrum, and the Oakland LGBTQ Center are great places to start!

Book & media recommendations 

Check out our digital book list of titles available on Hoopla or Overdrive. We've got picture books, graphic novels, and middle grade fiction—and the first season of Steven Universe is available, too, if you're looking for something to watch!

they call me mx image of a silhouette and a rainbow

Now that our libraries are open again for sidewalk pickup, you can also put anything from our catalog on hold and have it sent to one of the locations near you. Did you like the thumbnail art of the silhouette with the rainbow behind it? It's from They call me Mix / Me llaman Maestrewritten by Lourdes Rivas, a nonbinary Oakland teacher, and you can put it on hold now!

Did you know you can also search by tags in our catalog? Check out our queer crushes tag for middle grade fiction and graphic novels and our gender diversity tag for picture books and middle grade fiction with trans and gender non-conforming protagonists.

Let us know if you want more recommendations—you can submit a request through Book Me!, or email us with other questions at If you'd prefer, you can leave a voicemail with your full name and details at 510-238-3134. And for even more ebooks, eaudiobooks, and more, you can browse OverdriveHooplaTumblebookRB Digital, and all of our other online resources! 

Get involved

Finally, check out our list of resources for Working Towards Racial Justice to support #Blacklivesmatter, and keep an eye on SF Funcheap's regularly updated list of protests for family-friendly ways to get out and get involved! 

How are you celebrating Pride this year?

#OPL Summer Week 1: Read, Watch, & Listen: Summer Media List

Join the fun online this summer with OPL!

Welcome to our first summer reading media list! OPL children's librarians have selected some titles (available both online and, once our branches reopen, in person) for you to read with us during this first week of summer. Looking for something to read or watch on your own or as a family to get your summer started off? Let us know if you want more recommendations—you can submit a request through Book Me!, or email us with other questions at If you'd prefer, you can leave a voice mail with your full name and details at 510-238-3134. And for even more ebooks, eaudiobooks, and more, you can browse Overdrive, Hoopla, Tumblebook, RB Digital, and all of our other online resources! 


Picture Books

Kitten's Summer coverWaiting coverMama is it summer yet coverPerfect Season for Dreaming coverSummer at the Seashore book cover

Kitten's Summer, by Eugenie Fernandes: Animals in the wild and on the farm scramble to avoid the rain. Will the kitten make it home before it is soaked? Read it on Hooplaread it on Overdrive, or check it out at your library when you can.

Waiting, by Kevin Henkes: An owl, puppy, bear, bunny, and pig wait for marvelous things to happen. Read it on Hoopla, or check it out at your library when you can.

Mama, Is It Summer Yet?, by Nikki McClure: As spring slowly turns to summer, a little boy builds a fort and plants a garden in impatient anticipation. Read it on Hoopla, or check it out at your library when you can.

Perfect Season for Dreaming / Un tiempo perfecto para soñar, by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, illustrated by Esau Andrade Valencia: Ninety-two-year-old Octavio Rivera has been visited by some very interesting dreams—dreams about piñatas that spill their treasures before him, revealing kissing turtles, winged pigs, and hitchhiking armadillos! Octavio doesn't tell anyone about his dreams except his young granddaughter Regina, because she alone understands beautiful and fantastic dreams... Read it on Hoopla, or check it out at your library when you can.

Taking a Walk: Summer at the Seashore, by Sue Tarsky, illustrated by Claire London: Join the fun of finding and counting all the animals, flowers, and insects, as more and more appear on a walk along the seashore during the summertime. Read it on Hoopla, or check it out at your library when you can.


Chapter Books

forget me not summer coverunusual chickens coverevery soul a star coversummer we saved the bees coverone crazy summer cover

The Forget-Me-Not Summer, by Leila Howland: When their parents, a screenwriter and a film editor, go off on summer projects, Marigold, twelve, Zinnia, eleven, and Lily, five, must visit their Great Aunt Sunny in Cape Cod, where they learn much about themselves and each other and grow closer than ever. Read it on Hoopla, or check it out at your library when you can.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath: Through a series of letters, Sophie Brown, age twelve, tells of her family's move to her Great Uncle Jim's farm, where she begins taking care of some unusual chickens with help from neighbors and friends. A great family readaloud! Read it on Overdrive, or check it out at your library when you can.

Every Soul a Star, by Wendy Mass: Ally, Bree, and Jack meet at the one place the Great Eclipse can be seen in totality, each carrying the burden of different personal problems, which become dim when compared to the task they embark upon and the friendship they find. Read it on RB Digital, listen to the audiobook on RB Digital, or check it out at your library when you can.

The Summer We Saved the Bees, by Robin Stevenson: Wolf's mother is obsessed with saving the world's honeybees, but Wolf and his siblings all have their own reasons to not want to take her Save the Bees show on the road in their beat-up van. Wolf doesn't want to miss weeks of class, his teenage stepsister doesn't want to leave her boyfriend, and one of his little half sisters has stopped talking altogether. But it isn't until the kids take some drastic action of their own that their mother finally realizes something big is going on with her family. Read it on Hoopla.

One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams Garcia: In the summer of 1968, after traveling from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to spend a month with the mother they barely know, eleven-year-old Delphine and her two younger sisters arrive to a cold welcome as they discover that their mother, a dedicated poet and printer, is resentful of the intrusion of their visit and wants them to attend a nearby Black Panther summer camp. Read it on Hoopla, listen to the audiobook on RB Digital, or check it out at your library when you can.


Graphic Novels

all summer long cover 

All Summer Long, by Hope Larson: Thirteen-year-old Bina faces her first summer without her best friend, Austin, who has left for soccer camp. Read it on Overdrive, or check it out at your library when you can.



all the world coverlittle bird and caterpillar cover

All the World, by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee, film by Weston Woods: Follow a circle of family and friends through the course of a day from morning till night as they discover the importance of all things great and small in our world, from the tiniest shell on the beach, to warm family connections, to the widest sunset sky. Watch the animated video on Kanopy, or check it out at your library when you can.

The Little Bird and the Caterpillar, a Magnet Film: It’s summer. High above in a tree the little Bird cherishes and nurtures the green leaves of his home. Suddenly a hungry caterpillar sets out to eat the appetizing leaves. The little Bird manages to lure away the glutton and an adventurous journey begins. Watch the video on Kanopy.

What are you reading or watching this summer? Let us know in the comments!

Earth Day Electronic Resources for Teens and Others

By Ashley Bonifacio, Teen Services Youth Development Librarian

With the world at home sheltering in place, a correlation between the decrease in daily human activity and the environment has been a topic of interest in the media these last few weeks. Talks about the decrease in air pollution in countries with high carbon emissions like India, as well as sightings of rare wildlife in urban streets, has encouraged humanity to think about its impact on the natural world.

With Earth Day on Wednesday April 22nd, what better way to think about the Earth and the impact we have on the environment than to check out the electronic resources we have on the subject. Whether you are a passionate environmentalist or someone just wanting to learn a little more, these resources will help you find your voice on various environmental issues.

You can browse all our databases by typing the title into our catalog or by selecting “Online Research and Learning”, under “Online Services”

You'll need your library card to access most of them, but don't worry. If you don't have a card, or can't find your card, or forget your PIN, even while closed, we can help you out.  If you don't have a card, please complete an online application and email to set up your account or resolve any account issues.  You can also use that address to resolve any issues with your card if you do have one.

Not sure where you stand? Get a complete view of differing perspectives by visiting Gale’s in Context: Opposing Viewpoints. Opposing Viewpoints contains primary and secondary resources that range from viewpoint articles and topic interviews in addition to videos, podcasts, statistics and full-text magazine and news articles. This database is especially good if you are writing an opinion piece or position assignment for school.

Just by browsing the issues, you can see find many relevant topics including the Flint Water Crisis, Food Waste, Sustainability, Renewable Energy, Green Cities, and so much more.

Similar to Opposing Viewpoints, Gale’s in Context: High School database is a great way to introduce yourself to the different resources available on environmental studies. The interface is very user-friendly where you can browse by issue or type an issue of interest in the search box. From there you can narrow down a subject further by selecting your content type.

Want to learn more about Earth Day and top environmental issues? Check out the World Environment Earth Day section in Newsbank: Hot Topics. Newsbank provides information on a variety of hot topic issues and also provides access to full-text articles from the Oakland Tribune. You can browse articles, videos and can also get connected to other reputable websites. Newsbank also gives you the flexibility to browse by subject so you can narrow down your search by location (if you’re interested in environmental issues by geography), specific environmental issues such as “global water shortages” and so on.

OPL also subscribes to various magazines that you can check out online on RB Digital. All you need is your library card number. ID (Ideas & Discoveries) Magazine is a science and nature magazine and May’s issue focuses on climate change. Check it out online by clicking here.

If you simply want to look at beautiful pictures and read some articles about the world and its wildlife, check out National Geographic’s magazine here.

Happy Earth Day!