Activities & Tips

Nursery Rhymes Rock

Regardless of where and when you grew up, rhymes are a part of childhood.  In the United States, Mother Goose rhymes are the most common but all rhymes are great fun to read with your very young child.  Not only are they silly, but they have a definite beat. That rhythm is an important way to show your child how to hear individual sounds in words.  Hearing the sounds in rhymes will help your child hear the sounds in words when reading them.  You can increase the fun time together and the impact of the rhythm by bouncing or moving along with the rhymes. Where can you find them?  Why, the library, of course!  Oakland libraries have rhymes from all around the world; some locations even have separate nursery rhyme sections.  Come in and check them out!

Baker, Keith.                 Cabrera, Jane                    Orozco, Jose Luis
Big Fat Hen.               Old Mother Hubbard.        Diez Deditos =
                                                                                          Ten Little Fingers

Cover of Big Fat Hen

                Cover of Old Mother Hubbard                 Cover of Diez Deditos

 

Crews, Nina.                   Opie, Iona.                  Wu, Faye-Lynn
The Neighborhood      My Very First             Chinese & English
Mother Goose                Mother Goose            Nursery Rhymes

Cover of the Neighborhood Mother Goose              Cover of Mother Goose                 Cover of Chinese & English Nursery Rhymes

Q&A Patrons ask; librarians answer. The Reluctant Reader

The Reluctant Reader. Part 1.

Q: My son is 8 years old and he hates reading. It's like torture to get him to sit still for the 20 minutes each day his teacher requires. I'm at my wit's end. I'm worried about him, and I know he's feeling stressed about it, too. What can I do?

sketch of a librarian ready to take notesA: It's not time to panic. I've met plenty of kids who say they don't like to read, and who avoid reading at all costs, and yet they grow up to be readers. Parents don’t always know that each person starts reading in their own good time. Statistically, this often happens sometime around or before 3rd grade, but it's not universally true that by 3rd grade everyone reads on their own. Plenty of bright children become readers later than anyone expected.

The single best predictor of whether or not a child will learn to read, read capably and with ease, and read for pleasure for the rest of his or her life is whether or not he or she enjoys reading.

“Yes, but how do I make this happen?” you ask? The two best ways you can help your child enjoy reading are:

  • Read aloud to him
  • Let him choose his own reading material

If we enjoy something, we put more energy into it, we are patient with ourselves about it, and we keep trying even if we don't succeed immediately. You are the ideal person for this job; to give your child the joy of reading. Share your enthusiasm with your son. Allow him to choose what he wants to read, and then read it to him – up until the moment when he says he wants to read it on his own.

sketch of a kid reading to her mom

As you visit the library and read aloud to him, try for a light-hearted, breezy, low-stress attitude. If your son continues to express dismay, frustration, disappointment in himself, or fear about his abilities, I would suggest that you acknowledge his feelings, and then tell him that eventually it will “click” for him. In the meantime, enjoy your time together.

Don't fear that you must read aloud to him for the rest of his life. This phase can last just long enough so he gets the strong message that reading is fun, it's important enough to you to really spend time on it, and you are enjoying this parent-child activity as much as he is. At some point, his ability to sit still, focus on the page long enough, recognize a sufficient number of words by sight, and bring various decoding skills into play without strain will all reach critical mass, and he'll embrace reading on his own. It will happen eventually.

Note: If your child is struggling with other issues like nearsightedness, dyslexia, or another condition that might need some attention, know that the signs of those kinds of constraints could be subtle, and not very different from what is perfectly, developmentally normal in all children. It doesn't change the advice here, but there may be other work involved to get him from where he is today to being an enthusiastic reader. If you observe or suspect something like this, talk to your child’s teacher or pediatrician.

“Wait!” you say? “I need a book, not advice.” Okay, I get it! When you go to the library, talk to the children's librarian. Mention that you want to find a good book to read aloud to your son, age 8, and to make sure it's a really captivating, exciting, wonderful story. So many people ask this question, that we will know how to take it from there. Try us.sketch of mom reading to kids at a table

Fun on (Almost) Zero Dollars a Day

With the holidays upon us, pressure is on to buy expensive toys. However, for babies and toddlers, play = the chance to smell, taste, hear, touch and see different things. That is how babies and toddlers explore their new, exciting world. Here are some tips for simple and almost free things you can make for your toddler this holiday season (with thanks to Rachel Payne at Brooklyn Public Library):

  • Cover a table with a sheet of contact paper sticky side up. It teaches your child the meaning of sticky.
  • Make a set of blocks out of cardboard boxes you already have at home. Think about those empty cereal boxes and spaghetti boxes you plan to throw out or recycle and repurpose them.Cereal Box
  • Stuff a scarf into a paper towel tube and what do you have, an instant game of peek-a-boo.
  • Tape some bubble wrap to the floor and let your child walk on it.
  • Have a paper shredder? Let your child play with the shredded paper put into a box.
  • Large cardboard boxes are everywhere this time of year. Let your child crawl around, in, and under one. To make it extra fun, precut some holes in it for instant peek-a-boo fun.
  • Tape some aluminum foil to the floor or floor mat and let your child look at things from a new angle.

And don't forget, your participation is the most important ingredient. If you have fun, your child will too.

What to Make?

Want to make something with your kids, but need some ideas?  If you're tired of browsing online, come in and ask our staff to show you the arts and crafts section.  You'll find plenty of books to page through for ideas.

You can also check out our events listings this month for arts and crafts, knitting, and other hands-on activities.   Tomorrow, try:

Afternoon Crafts at the Melrose Library, Wednesday Dec 5th and Dec 18th at 2:30pm

Weekly Art with MOCHA, Wednesdays at 2pm (this month through December 18th), at the 81st Avenue Branch, the Eastmont Branch, the Main Library, and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch.

 Art with MOCHA at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch

All seasons and spaces for play

girls playing in libraryAs fall weather sets in and we get news of that rare thing called rain, it gets harder to plan for outdoor play with your child. How about stopping at your library?

Check out our kids events listings for storytimes for your baby, toddler, or preschooler...or just come in play with them in our picture book areas, where you'll find comfy floor space and toys near the picture books.  Ask the librarian for a new book to read with your child--though it's good for them to hear their favorites over and over, it's also good for them to hear you having fun with a story.  

We also offer all kinds of out-of-school activities for your school-age child, from art to chess to knitting to button making.  Or, you can just visit us online and Discover and Go with free museum passes available to you with your library card.

Oakland is lucky to have pretty welcoming winter weather, so your outdoor play shouldn't suffer too much.  But we're happy to be a dry and warm place for your children to play with their brains, with their hands, with each other. Stop by, even if it's just on your way to the park. 

Your librarian plays at Fairyland, circa 1974

 

 

Make a 90 Second Newbery Video!

Book CoverThis past Sunday I went to the East Bay Mini Maker Faire at Studio One Art Center, where I saw kids making new clothes out of of old clothes, rockets out of toilet paper rolls, giant milk crate structures (while strapped into a harness in a crane), terrariums, butter, and more. 

So who is primed and ready to make a "90 Second Newbery" video?  This online contest and festival is starting up its third year.   Upload your video and share it (check out the instructions here) before December 10, to be considered in this year's contest.  Screenings of the winners will take place around the country. 

My current favorite from past years?: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankeweiler...in Legos. 

To choose which book you're going to retell, you can look at the whole list of Newbery winners hereAnd... you know where to get them

Therapy Pets Dogs Help Children Learn to Love to Read

Child reading to dogIs your child shy about reading out loud? Is he or she shy about reading at all? Join us on Wednesday afternoons in October. Therapy Pets in Oakland is bringing dogs to the Lakeview Branch to give your child a easy way to practice reading. These gentle dogs do not judge children; they only love them. Research has shown that children gain ease in reading when they read to dogs.

Sign up for a 20-minute session at Lakeview

LEGO Mania!

Did you know that you can play with Legos (R) at Oakland Libraries? Six of our branches have monthly Lego parties. We don't even care if the children make noise!

Dimond Branch - First Fridays at 3:30 

Eastmont Branch - First Tuesdys at 4:00

Lakeview Branch - Second Fridays at 3:00

Main Library/Children's Room - Second Thursdays at 3:00

Piedmont Avenue Branch - First Fridays at 3:00

West Oakland Branch - Third Fridays at 3:00

Children have fun at these events, but the truth is, playing with Legos is also educational. Here are four fun facts about playing and its effect on children:

  1. Play is a timeless feature of human societies, and when combined with 21st Century learning it provides children and adults with opportunities to experiment with their surroundings as a form of problem solving.
  2. Through play, children explore and develop their multiple senses, which creates more brain synapses. This in turn contributes to a child’s overall intelligence.
  3. While playing, children can stretch and bend reality. All rules can be broken and all kinds of new rules can be invented.
  4. When children play with adult family members, it creates a stronger bond between them.

Playing with Legos (R) is a perfect way to experience all these benefits.

Museum of Children's Art Weekly Workshops

MOCHA at Main Children's RoomCome join us as we create art with MOCHA. The programs, for children from 3 to 18, travel to OPL libraries every Wednesday at 2:00 pm. MOCHA's brand new home is not opening until November, but you can do art with their fabulous artists at four of our branches right now.

81st Avenue Branch

Eastmont Branch

Main Library- Children's Room

Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch

MOCHA artist workshops have been weekly events at OPL branches for over three years now. The programs have been very popular at all the sites. Last year the students at two of our branches - 81st Avenue and Elmhurst- created winning projects in the annual ReCreate Art Competition developed and sponsored by Oakland's Public Works Department.

We are pleased to begin another year with MOCHA and its artists. Join us!

 

Every Child Ready to Read - Singing

Every Child Ready to Read Logo

Songs are a wonderful way for children to learn about language and pick up new words. Singing also slows down language so they can hear the different sounds that make up words. This helps when children begin to read printed language. There are some easy and fun things you can do with your child with songs and music.

  • Sing the alphabet song to learn about letters
  • Sing nursery rhymes so children hear the different sounds in words
  • Clap along to the rhythm in songs so children hear the syllables in words
  • Sing your own favorite songs so your child can share your passions

You are your child's first teacher, and your home is where your child begins to learn. Help your child get ready to read by providing early literacy opportunities around your home. In addition to singing, you can talk, read, write, and play with your child to help him/her get ready to read.

Talk and listen to your child as you prepare meals, do household chores, get ready for bed - any time is a good time for conversation.

Read books. Have them within easy reach. Make a special spot for books somewhere in your house. Come to the library often and find new books to make reading fun. Show your children how important reading is by reading yourself.

Draw & write. Keep paper and crayons or markers on a table where children can return again and again. Use magnetic letters on the refrigerator to spell words and messages.

Play. Have a prop box with inexpensive items that children can use for imaginative play. Bring out a box and pretend it's a spaceship or a train or a volcano and play with your child.