Activities & Tips

It's Time to Talk Summer Camps!

It’s mid-January, the winter holidays are over and school is back in session...which means it is the perfect time to start researching summer learning options and making plans for your child’s summer experiences.

Surprised? It may feel like it’s too early to plan out attendance at camps and classes that are still five to six months away, but enrollment for many local camps begins this month. In addition, many camps that offer scholarships, financial aid, and/or sliding scale tuition based on a family’s finances have early spring application deadlines for awarding aid.

As a children's librarian, I often get families asking about these resources in May and early June; parents and caregivers are surprised and disappointed when I inform them that the camps they are interested in are fully enrolled and all available financial aid has already been awarded.

By getting an early start on planning for the summer, you can increase your chances at landing a spot at the camp of your choice!

Clifford the Big Red Dog and OPL Children's Librarian

Here are some tips for maximizing your summer planning:

Affording camp:

  • If you find a camp that you like but it seems unattainable because of the stated cost, ask about scholarship and financial aid opportunities. These opportunities are often available for those who ask, even if they aren’t listed on the camp’s website.

  • Don’t assume that your family won’t qualify for scholarships or financial aid.

  • Camps often expect payment at the time of registration but may offer a payment plan if needed and requested.

Finding a camp:

  • The ideal time frame for finding and applying for summer camps are mid-January to early April.

  • There’s a camp for almost every topic you can think of: art, coding, cooking, making, music, science and sports, just to name a few. If your child has an interest, there is probably a camp for it.

  • If you are looking for a camp for children with special needs or who need accommodations, the Easterseals Bay Area’s (EBA) camping resources page offers a great first step to finding a camp.

  • Think outside the box when looking for summer opportunities! Some local community colleges and universities have offerings for school-aged children. For example, Laney College offers a well-regarded music program for young musicians, and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) offers a popular engineering camp for elementary school students in Oakland.

  • Popular local attractions such as Fairyland, Oakland Zoo, and the Chabot and Science Center offer youth camps (and financial aid!).

  • The City of Oakland’s Department of Parks, Recreation & Youth Development offers a host of summer options, including an inclusion camp, as well as scholarship opportunities. Other local parks and recreation departments may do the same.

  • Visit the Oakland Unified School District’s (OUSD) Summer Learning page to find out more about its summer learning sites.

  • Many local independent schools offer summer programs for students who attend school elsewhere. (Don’t forget to ask about funding options.)

  • Check out the Oakland Activity Guide at www.inplay.org for information on quality summer learning opportunities.

  • The 510 Families site publishes a useful East Bay Summer Camp guide each February.

  • Local nonprofit and parent-to-parent network Berkeley Parents Network contains years of parent reviews of many of the Bay area’s camps, including many in Oakland. Visit www.berkeleyparentsnetwork.org for more information.

Do you have tips to share about finding a great camp? Let us know below in the comments.

Winter Craft : Snow Globes

It may not snow in Oakland but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying a little winter wonder. Mix a little glitter, glycerin, and water, pour into a jar and you have a Snow Globe.

We will have all the supplies necessary but if you have an extra or special jar and lid bring it in to use for your own Snow Globe.

Join us!

Where Does OPL Stand on Screen Time for Kids?

child and parent using computerIn the last few weeks, articles have been swirling online about Silicon Valley parents banning all screen time for their children, including this New York Times article from October 26. (Blocked by the paywall? Click here.) Some parents who work in the tech industry have decided that the products they create are not safe for children, even in small doses--even if the child is simply observing, not actually using the device.

So, where does the Oakland Public Library stand on screens for kids?

First and foremost, we believe all parents want the best outcomes for their children, and we support families choosing for their own children whether--and how much--they use smartphones, tablets, and computers, or watch TV. We are happy to help patrons seeking to develop a healthy media plan for their children, and can help you find research or write a Family Media Plan. We also offer these sample rules for online safety for parents and children to use together.

OPL offers free and open access to the internet for all patrons, and our Internet Policy applies to patrons of any age. OPL offers unfiltered internet access, and each cardholder may use a computer in one of our sites for up to one hour per day. OPL staff do not monitor children's use of electronic devices in the library, including the internet. 

If you're looking for more research about safe and healthy screen use for kids, we recommend the Media and Communication Toolkit  from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP's current recommendations do include setting limits for children around screen use; however, they also recommend using educational apps as a family, co-viewing age-appropriate videos, video chatting with loved ones, and other types of media use for families who choose to do so. See their full report and recommendations here.

Educator Resources for Native American History Month

Have you noticed Michael Wertz's ABC Oakland honors Natives with 'O is for Ohlone' ? Oakland is Ohlone land.  As we approach November and Native American Indians come to the forefront, we invite you to explore the culture, connect with the community and grow your understanding of Native Americans.  

Explore three oral histories shared by the California Museum.

Connect with educators at the Oakland Museum Teacher's Lounge 4-7pm Friday, November 2, where with the topic will be Reflections of Native California for Teachers.

Grow your Native Kidlit collection with recommendations from Alia Jones who will speak to educators and librarians at San Francisco Public library,  9-11:30am, Friday, November 16. RSVP by November 12

At OPL we strive for diversity every day and recommend the following online resources year-round. 

Día de los Muertos: A Top 5

While Halloween is celebrated October 31, Día de los Muertos is celebrated right after, on November 2. Many communities that celebrate Día de los Muertos also celebrate Halloween.

FIVE Facts About Día de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead)

  1. It’s not the same as Halloween
  2. It originated in Mexico and Central America
  3. It’s a celebration of life, not death
  4. The ofrenda is a central component
  5. Flowers, butterflies and skulls are typically used as symbols

FIVE BOOKS TO READ for Día de los Muertos

  1. The Day of the Dead /El Día de los Muertos by Bob Barner;translated by Teresa Mlawer
  2. The remembering day /El día de los muertos by Pat Mora;illustrations by Robert Casilla;Spanish translation by Gabriela Baeza and Pat Mora
  3. Festival of bones: the little-bitty book for the day of the dead / El festival de las calaveras by Luis San Vicente ; translation by John William Byrd & Bobby Byrd
  4. Mi familia calaca / My skeleton family by Cynthia Weill;paper-mâché by Jesús Canseco Zárate
  5. La Catrina : emotions /emociones : a bilingual book of emotions  by Patty Rodriguez & Ariana Stein ; illustrations by Citlali Reyes

FIVE FAMILY FRIENDLY BAY AREA CELEBRATIONS

  1. Sunday, 21 October, 12:00pm - 4:30pm Oakland Museum of CA
    24th Annual Days of the Dead Community Celebration
  2. Friday, 26 October, 2:30pm - 4:00pm Melrose Branch Library
    Build An Altar
  3. Monday, 29, October,  3:00pm Main Library Children's Room
    Decorate Non-Sugar Skulls
  4. Saturday, 3 November, 1:00pm Dimond Branch
    Coco & Calaveras
  5. Sunday, 4 November, 10:00am-5:00pm Fruitvale Village
    23rd Annual Dia de los Muertos Festival

 

Read to a Dog!

Girl reading to a dog

Dogs in the Library? Well, sure, when they're working!

Young readers can read aloud to a certified therapy dog who loves listening to stories! Reading to dogs can help increase children's reading confidence, skill, and enjoyment. 

Read to a Dog events are hosted at the following locations/times.  Please call in advance of your planned day to make sure the dog is expected.  Dogs take vacations too sometimes.  

Scout the Dog is ready for a story at:

Elmhurst Library, Every Saturday at 11am

Natasha the Dog is ready for a story at:

81st Avenue Library, First Wednesday of the month at 2pm

Rockridge Library, Second Wednesday of the month at 2pm

Montclair Library, Third Wednesday of the month at 1:30pm

Challenge Extended: 1000 Books Before Kindergarten!

Shhh.  Listen.  Did you hear that? 

Yes, it was the sound of librarians everywhere shouting hooray while reading about Daliyah Marie Arana. This amazing young book worm visited the Library of Congress, met with the newest Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden and was Guest Librarian for the day, a most prestigious title, especially when bestowed upon an impeccably dressed 4 year old! Daliyah's special afternoon was in celebration of a big reading accomplishment that her family celebrated with their local public library.

 

When Daliyah was 3, her mom enrolled her in her public library's 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program in Georgia. This program encourages families to read 1000 books before the first day of kindergarten and when her family completed this most impressive feat, her mother contacted the Library of Congress to share the sweet accomplishment and request a tour for her young reader. Cue the collective sighs of joy.

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!

 
Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden welcomes 4-year-old Daliyah Marie Arana of Gainesville, Georgia to be "Librarian for the Day," January 10, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller.
Source: americanlibrariesmagazine.org

Adorable? Yes

Impressive? Oh yes!

Doable? Totally!

Now, I know that 1000 books seems like a lot but think about it, how many times have you read that one book? You know the one. That one with the bunny, or the truck or...heaven forbid, Caillou? You probably read that book 10 times just yesterday! When we run the hypothetical numbers, if a parent read  just one book, one time each day to their child every day since the day they were born until the day they turned five, that would be 365 books for 5 years, 1825 books!  

baby at library   

So Many Books, So Much Time! 

baby at library 

 

This means we all get wiggle room for busy days, or busy years. Even if your baby was colicky and you just walked around the house rocking her for the first three months and didn't get a chance to pick up Moo Baa La La for a while, you have probably already read a TON of books together.  Or maybe when your daughter was 2, she decided that sitting was just the worst thing ever so your bedtime snuggle with a book became a wrestling match with a toothbrush, it's okay, because I can bet on bowl of mush that you have read, Goodnight Moon about a million times. Or maybe it was a Pigeon book or maybe one of those floppy paperbacks that has way too many words but your daughter is so smart that she knows exactly what Thomas just said so you can't skip even one line.  Sigh.  

 

Where was I?  Oh yes,1000 books.  

So while librarians everywhere loved and widely shared the heartwarming story of the youngest librarian in our ranks, Ms. Daliyah, we know you can to it too. Oakland Public Library hereby extends the challenge to you and your family today. We may not be able to offer personal tours of the Library of Congress, but our online badges are colorful and our high-fives plentiful!  

Sign up today!  

https://oakland.beanstack.org/

Beanstack logo

   

   

Nitty Gritty Details

  • How does this all work?

Oakland Public Library has teamed up with Beanstack to help you reach some amazing reading goals!  Just click here and follow the steps. You can create a reading profile for each child in your family and keep everything together in one place. Choose the "1000 books before Kindergarten Reading Program" when registering and you're done! You can also choose to get one email a week with a personalized book recommendation, a link to the library catalog and reading tips based on your child's profile. 

  • Does it really count if I read the same book 5 or more times?

Yep! Repeated reading of the same book is extremely beneficial for pre-readers. It helps develop vocabulary, memory, positive connections with literature, self-confidence and more!

  • My kiddo is 3, is it too late to join?

No way! Even if your child starts kinder next year, you can still join! You can even go in a enter all of your favorites from back in the day and move on from there.

  • What if we don't make it to 1000 by the time kindergarten starts?  Did we fail?

Nope, you are awesome.

  • What do we do when it is done?

Keep reading of course! The Beanstack software can come in very handy for those homework reading logs too!

No More Lost Books, My New Years Re(solution)!

 

                                        

I’ll admit it, I am sick of my kids losing library books! Every week between 10-30 library books and movies enter my house, and it seems like every month or so one book or movie gets lost in the “black hole” never to be seen again.

So this year, I have a solution; not a resolution, but a solution. We are borrowing more electronic library books this year. I found a great deal on tablets for my children and got each of them one as a holiday gift.  The very first thing I did before giving them the tablets was download the following library apps, and enter their library card numbers so that they could enjoy the free online resources we offer. You have read my praises about Tumblebooks before, but the library offers so much more. Here are just a few kid friendly databases the library provides. Some even have mobile apps for your phone!

Overdrive/Kids: Overdrive will allow you to download full text books AND audiobooks that we (the librarians) selected. This means the children can enjoy the books without a wifi connection once they are downloaded to the device. Kids can place books on hold if they are all checked out (just like physical books in the branches), and the best part: these are automatically returned so no lost books!  You can search for and find Overdrive books in our regular catalog. So if a book your child wants is checked out at your branch, and Overdrive has a copy available, our catalog will tell you.  

Tumblebooks for Kids: my oldy but goody. The books are not borrowed but enjoyed via the internet. This is a favorite for my youngest children. And no lost books.

Hoopla:  Not only books, Hoopla has comics, graphic novels and movies available. The best part about Hoopla is that EVERYTHING on the site is ALWAYS available. No hold lists, no waiting. You can also download your items to your device for reading later. The catch: you can only borrow 6 items a month. BUT just like Overdrive/Kids the items “return themselves” eliminating those pesky lost books.

Are you sensing a theme here? Sincerely hope so.  There is more:

Zinio Magazine Collection: Don’t overlook this database and assume it’s only for adults. Plenty of kid-friendly magazines are readily available for your child’s enjoyment. For example:

           

World Book Kids: This is not just for homework anymore! For children who are not necessarily “book readers,” but enjoy exploring topics that interest them, World Book Online is an ideal resource. It is interactive with games, puzzles, and videos, designed to encourage children to enjoy researching and exploring any topic. I recommend this database whenever your child asks: “Do you know of any ‘good games’ online?”

Total Boox: This one is crazy. Like straight up bananas. So you go to this database and borrow children’s books. And the books you borrow, you keep. FOREVER! Like WHAT THE WHAT? I am not joking. This is the wildest thing I have ever seen ever. There are no holds, so the books in the Total Boox catalog are always available. The books don’t return themselves, and nobody emails or calls you to remind you to return stuff. So if your kids loves a book and wants to read it over and over again, there is no need to worry about returning it. EVER!  And you can download the books to your device for offline enjoyment. What’s the catch?  Well the library is offering this on a trial basis. So if the community doesn’t use it or love it, it might go away. PLEASE USE IT BECAUSE I LOVE IT. Trust me on this one, you will love it too.

So goodbye lost books (I hope), and hello to another year of enjoyable reading.

Bad Words

Y'all!

Y'all!!

Y'ALL!  

This election has gone off the chain! I had to stop watching the news. The 6 am/pm news! Because thanks to a leaked Access Hollywood video, and some exhaustive news coverage, my 4-year old son asked me to explain a 5-letter word that begins with the letter "P."

I am not linking  the video. If by some chance you haven't seen or heard about it because you were living off the grid for the past two months, just Google: "Donald Trump,"  "Access Hollywood," and "Video." 

It's bad enough that my 4-year old son with autism, who is just learning to talk, quickly learns to say THAT WORD, but he wants a definition too? 

Yes Oakland I am upset. When I was 4- years old the only reference I had to that "P-word" was this guy:

 

                                           

and when I was 8-years old I knew all about this band: 

                                          

but I had no adult reference to that word!

So I chickened-out. I sure did. I had no desire to explain the adult version of a word when saying "it's a cat" would do. I read my kid Puss in Boots, checked out the movie from the library, and sat him down for a very important talk. I explained that sometimes adults use words in rude ways, and we shouldn't repeat everything adults say. Then I read this book to him:

                                              

He thought it was funny. He runs around the house saying "flarf"  and "shalark" repeatedly now.  Hey a momma's gotta do what a momma's gotta do.