Great Books and more

Sing a Little Song

musical notesSinging is fun but research has found that it is more than just that; it is also good for your health, lowering stress and releasing endorphins that create a feeling of pleasure.  Singing with your children will make you happy regardless of your musical abilities.  And there is even more reason to sing with them, it puts them on the road to reading success.  How?  Singing helps children, even ones who are very young, hear the sounds that make up words. Researchers call this phonological awareness.  Being able to hear distinct sounds helps children recognize those sounds and syllables when they are learning how to read.

Oakland Public Library can help you find songs and make singing fun in several ways:

copy of book coverWe have a collection of songbooks, many of which include the tune and lyrics in the back.  You can find them in our nonfiction collections under the 782 call number.  One of my favorites is The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort.

 

copy of cd coverWe also have collections of music CDs that you can borrow.  They range from lullabies for babies to the Frozen soundtrack.  Come and check them out!

Finally, we have a new music service, Freegal that lets you download and stream music from popular artists.  For music especially created for kids, click on “genres” on the bar at the top of the page, and then select “Children’s Music.”

As always, all of these materials and services are free, so check them out and let your voices soar!

Q&A: Patrons ask; librarians answer: Superhero books for my 4-year-old; bad idea or good idea?

Q: My child wants to read about superheroes, but those DC & Marvel comic books are too violent! Do you have anything for younger kids?  He’s only 4 years old. Kapow by O'Connor

A: Yes, we do! Here's a list of titles you can read aloud to your kids today – all of them about superheroes, most aimed at younger kids, ages 3 to 6.

The past decade has seen an explosion of picture books about superheroes. Many parents are concerned about violence in books and other media for children, and the basic idea of a superhero is that there's a bad guy to stop. If there's a bad guy, there's a strong likelihood that there's going to be fighting, maybe blood, and possibly death.

Wonder Woman by CosentinoClever authors & illustrators have managed to craft stories that include all the positive elements of superheroes (standing up for what's right, working together as a team, using your own special abilities, helping others, and wearing a cape) while de-emphasizing the terrible elements of the evil villains. In these books, the villains are not indestructible, the violence is off-screen, the battle doesn’t cause massive destruction, and the bad guy is stopped - not killed.

If you are hesitant to read these books aloud to your child, here are some further thoughts on reading violent books to children. First, there are books for every emotional, social, and intellectual stage of development. Can a case be made in favor of books that contain “violence” that is appropriate to each level? Consider these observations from the Children's Librarian's Desk: Courageous Captain America by Thomas

  1. Violence is clearly fascinating to many children (as well as teens and adults). The Mighty Thor by Thomas
  2. Families who shelter their children from violent literature do not seem to eradicate their interest in it nor their impulse to act it out.
  3. Reading superhero books does not seem to make a child more violent. (There is a little recent research on comic books and other literature with superheroes. However, anecdotally, my observations of library patrons indicate that readers become thinkers, and thinkers take a breath before they act violently.)
  4. Violence and aggression still exist in the real world, and many children are already trying to make sense of it. Even children who have been spared the direct experience of violence (or of witnessing it) meet other children who are experiencing it and they observe & interact with them with or without the presence and guidance of adults.
  5. Reading aloud together is an excellent way to start a dialogue about violence, consequences, and justice. The characters in literature can be good or bad examples, and while reading, you can discuss the best way to resolve conflict, recognize violence, avoid aggressors, and keep yourself safe.  

It's important to choose books that are right for your individual child -- luckily, most books for 4-year-olds are short enough so you can pre-read them and get ready to answer questions, discuss ideas, and give real-life examples. You can avoid those books that may be a trigger of specific fears -- until you both are ready to read them.Nino Wrestles the World by Morales

It makes sense to avoid gratuitous bloodshed, exploitative costumes, and stories about truly depraved, twisted evil-doers, and stick instead to superheroes who fight simple crimes and lay out the concepts of consequences and justice plainly.

Isn't there something wonderful about super-powers, heroism, and winning a righteous fight? Even young children appreciate the vivid images of that glorious moment, of overcoming adversity, of standing proudly together, of your cape flowing in the wind!

The Picture Books that seem to me to best capture the awesomeness of superheroes, while respecting the sensibilities of younger readers are these:

Astonishing Secrets of Awesome Man  Batman by Cosentino  Superman by Cosentino  Max by Graham  Lucha Libre by Garza  Art Dog by Hurd  Marveltown by McCall  SuperHero ABC by McLeod  Superhero School by Reynolds  Superhero by Tauss  The Amazing Spider-man, an Origin Story by Thomas  Avengers, an Origin Story by Thomas  Wolverine, an Origin Story by Thomas  

There are a few board books:

Superman Fights for Truth by Lemke.  Batman is Brave by Lemke

...and in our Comic Books section, we have a few superhero series that avoid gore and give positive messages:

Fashion Kitty series  Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye series  Squish Super Amoeba series  DC Super Friends series  Tiny Titans series

Enjoy this one last book!

Kung Pow Chicken series

We've All Been Wrong About Something

Did you see the news? Turns out Hello Kitty is not a cat.

I know. I'm shocked too.

According to this LA Times article, Sanrio, the company that produces Hello Kitty, emphatically reports that Hello Kitty is a human child, and points out that she has a cat of her own

Surprising. However, if you're a parent of a kid who's obsessed with the red-bowed paragon of cuteness, you probably don't give a Bad Badtz-Maru what she is--you just want to silence the demand for Hello Kitty products that echoes through your home day and night. And you'd like to do it without spending any money. Guess who's here to help? The Oakland Public Library, of course.

      

We have a variety of Hello Kitty books, comics, and movies on our shelves.

And if you're just plain tired of her furry little face? Allow me to suggest some other adorably illustrated titles that may please. Mew mew.

                    

Q&A Patrons ask; librarians answer: Starting School

Q: My daughter is starting school in a few days...what books about school do you have that we could read together?

A: We have so many!* No matter what age or grade, we've got something for you to read abocover of Richard Scarry's Great Big Schoolhouseut school, to set the stage so that your child's anticipation is more likely to stay positive. Some kids need to know exactly what will happen, some are looking forward to joining the world of their older siblings, and some have worries or anxieties. Thankfully, authors & publishers have recognized the recurring need, and we have plenty of books to fill it.*

Click here to see an extended list of First Day of School books for Children at OPL.

Reading a book or two about the school experience gives you an opportunity to talk about it together. With so many books at the Oakland Public Library to choose from, you may want to narrow it down to the right age-level for your child/children. That makes the search a little trickier, but here are some book lists for different age-ranges. You can click on the age you want, below, or talk to your local children's librarian to get favorites.

Preschool          

Cover of Llama Llama Misses Mama cover of Maisy goes to preschool cover of See You Later, Alligator  cover of My Preschool by Rockwell  cover of Making Friends by Fred Rogers

Llama Llama misses Mama by Dewdney  // Maisy goes to preschool by Cousins  // See you later, alligator! by Kvasnosky  // My preschool by Rockwell  //  Making friends by Fred Rogers

Kindergarten

cover of Vera's First Day of School  cover image of Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner  cover image of The Kissing Hand cover of Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready cover of My Kindergarten by Wells  cover of Bilingual English/Spanish Look Out Kindergarten  cover of How to be a Friend

Vera's first day of school (Rosenberry)  // Annabelle Swift, Kindergartner (Schwartz)  // The kissing hand (Penn)  // Miss Bindergarten gets ready for kindergarten (Slate)  // My kindergarten (Wells)  // Look out kindergarten, here I come! = Prepárate, kindergarten! Allá voy! (Carlson)   // How to be a friend : a guide to making friends and keeping them (Krasny & Brown)

Elementary school

cover of First Day Jitters  cover of It's Back to School We Go cover of Feelings  cover of Judy Moody (#1)   cover of Monster Frights    

First day jitters (Danneberg)  // It's back to school we go : first day stories from around the world (Jackson)  // Feelings (Aliki)  // Judy Moody (McDonald)  //  Monster School : first day frights (Keane)

Middle School

cover of A Smart Girl's Guide to Middle School cover of Too Old for This, Too Young for That cover of Middle School Survival Guide cover of Amelia's School Survival Guide cover of Dork Diaries (#1) cover of Middle School the Worst Years of my life  cover of Stuck in the Middle

A smart girl's guide to starting middle school : everything you need to know about juggling more homework, more teachers, and more friends! (Williams)  // Too old for this, too young for that! : your survival guide for the middle school years (Mosatche)  // The middle school survival guide (Erlbach)  // Amelia's school survival guide (Moss)  // Dork diaries series (Russell)  // Middle school, the worst years of my life (Patterson)  // Stuck in the middle of middle school : a novel in doodles (Young) 

 

Usually when parents or kids ask for books about school, it’s simply to celebrate or take a moment to focus on the occasion. Sometimes, however, it’s because they’ve got some anxieties about it. Like any life transition, starting school can bring up some pretty big issues for a person. Helping your child understand her thoughts and feelings -- and explore the thoughts and feelings of others -- helps her grow and understand. Reading books together gives you a way to start a conversation and find out how you can support your child.

Children each have their own point of view, and their own inner thoughts to sift through. The themes within back-to-school stories often include important life lessons about some or all of the following:

    • Being a friend
    • Getting along with new people cover of A Friend for Dragon
    • Accepting differences
    • Mending relationships with difficult people
    • Protecting yourself from dangerous people
    • Calming general anxiety
    • Conquering specific fears
    • Facing new situations
    • Accepting separation from loved ones
    • Celebrating accomplishments (your own & others')

           …and…

  • Being ready for and open to learning

Even if the book you read together doesn’t match your own thoughts and feelings, it could spark a discussion that helps clarify your observations, or helps your child relate to the other students she meets. As usual, I encourage everyone to make time to talk to and listen to your child.  cover of Going to School in India

* NOTE: We do have many books about starting school – but given the fact that Oakland is home to almost 16,000 children ages 3 to 5, and about 47,200 students are enrolled in the Oakland Unified School District, we may not have the book you want on the day you want it. You can place a hold on the title you want by clicking the “Request It” button and using your library barcode and pin number; or, let us help you place a hold! 

In the Comments below, please leave us the title of a back-to-school book you especially enjoyed, including the age of the student. We want to share what you like best! 

Great Graphic Novels for Kids

From superheroes to manga to comic strips and beyond, we have all sorts of excellent graphic novels and comic books for kids in the library. Ask library staff to help you find the 741.5s! Here, young readers will find interesting characters, awesome art, and fascinating stories full of humor, action, adventure, history, mystery, and emotion. Graphic novels are incredibly popular, especially among kids who like stories but aren't ready for long chapter books and students who are visual learners.
Here are some of our favorite / most popular graphic novels for kids. Let us know in the comments which of your favorites we may have missed!:
American Born Chinese book coverAmulet book coverAriol book coverThe Arrival book coverBabymouse book coverBig Nate book coverBone book coverGarfield book coverGreat American Dust Bowl book coverJedi Academy book cover Book One book coverMeanwhile book coverNaruto book coverOdd Duck book coverPoseidon book coverSidekicks book coverSmile book coverToon Books book coverZita the Spacegirl book cover
// American Born Chinese by Yang // Amulet series by Kibuishi // Ariol series by Guibert // The Arrival by Tan // Babymouse series by Holm // Big Nate series by Peirce // Bone series by Smith // Garfield series by Davis // The Great American Dust Bowl by Brown // Jedi Academy by Brown // March: Book One by Lewis // Meanwhile by Shiga // Naruto series by Kishimoto // Odd Duck by Castellucci & Varon // Olympians series by O'Connor // Sidekicks by Santat // Smile by Telgemeier // Toon Books series // Zita the Spacegirl trilogy by Hatke //

Q&A: Patrons ask; librarians answer: How do I teach my child not to fear the dentist?

Q: Do you have any books about visiting the dentist?  It’s my son’s first trip to the dentist, and I don’t want him to have the same phobias I have!  Do you have any great books that will put both of us at ease?

A: Yes, as a matter of fact we do.  To quote Mr. Rogers, “Learning to take good care cover image of Mr. Rogers book Going to the Dentistof yourself is an important part of growing. No matter how much you grow, though, there will always be times when you’ll need help keeping your body healthy. That’s true for everyone – children and adults.” His is still my favorite book, even though it was published in 1989. (The waiting room furniture is retro-trendy now.) Why did anyone bother publishing anything else after that?

Okay, okay, despite the multi-cultural kids, dentists of both genders, and spot-on child-friendly language of Fred Rogers, you still believe there might be other books for you!  If you want more books that tell your child what happens at a dental visit, and show more modern equipment, try these:

cover of book Dentist by Stockham            

In between visits, if you’re trying to make sure everyone in the family keeps up their dental hygiene practices, try some of these books about self-care:

     

If your child has reached the age where baby teeth are coming out, he or she might like some of these books – some are just silly, some are about the Tooth Fairy, and some give us an opportunity to learn about world cultures:

               

Oh! ¿Quieres leer un libro en español? Prueba con estos: Oh! You want to read a book in Spanish? Try these:

      

Finally, if you’re way beyond your first visit, here are some suggestions for readers ages 6 & up, and some for kids even older & into orthodontia:

      

As a person who experienced dental anxiety, I can tell you this; I now love my family dentist, our orthodontist, and even our periodontist. However, if I can, I want to help you keep your family away from the endodontist! Seriously.  I spent too many hours in the dental care world this summer. 

Okay, here's 2 bonus books because you made it to the end:

 

Give us a big smile, now!

Percy Jackson Read-Alikes

Every day in the library, we meet young readers who just can’t get enough of Rick Riordan. The author’s exciting blend of reality and mythology has exploded in popularity, with kids clamoring for books in his Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, as well as his Kane Chronicles and Heroes of Olympus series. Riordan superfans who are hungry for more fantastical action and adventure may want to give these books a try:

Gregor the Overlander book coverSea of Trolls book coverPandora Gets Jealous book coverAkhenaten Adventure book coverSkulduggery Pleasant book coverSavvy book coverGods of Manhattan book coverFablehaven book coverMagyk book coverAlchemyst book coverDusssie book coverShadow Thieves book cover Earth Shaker book coverTreasury of Egyptian Mythology book cover

The Underland Chronicles / Suzanne Collins

The Sea of Trolls trilogy / Nancy Farmer

The Pandora series / Carolyn Hennesy

Children of the Lamp series / Philip Kerr

Skulduggery Pleasant series / Derek Landy

Savvy / Ingrid Law

Gods of Manhattan series / Scott Mebus

Fablehaven series / Brandon Mull

Septimus Heap series / Angie Sage

Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series / Michael Scott

Dusssie / Nancy Springer

Cronus Chronicles series / Anne Ursu

The Olympians graphic novel series / George O'Connor

Treasuries of Mythology / Donna Jo Napoli

PAWS to Read: Summer Reading Recommendations for Kids

Parenting a Baby Part 2: Parenting Collections @ OPL

Is your baby having trouble sleeping through the night?  Is breastfeeding not going well?  How and when do you introduce food to babies?  What are the appropriate developmental stages babies go through and when should babies go through them?  Can babies learn sign language?  And, of course, a topic close to my heart, how do you read to a baby?

Raising a baby is hard work and we are here to help.  Last month I highlighted  some of the programs we offer babies and their families.  This month, we look at some of the materials we offer.  All of Oakland's libraries have parenting books, magazines and DVDs that can help you figure out how to best care for a baby and answer any questions you might have.  In fact, we have parenting materials for all ages of children and all kinds of families.   Just go to our home page at www.oaklandlibrary.org and key in your search topic or ask a librararian for help.

Here are some of our favorite parenting books about babies.  What are some of yours?

Book Cover

      Book Cover     Book Cover   

 Book Cover     Book Cover     

The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep /Harvey Karp

Feeding the Whole Family/Cynthia Lair

The Nursing Mother's Companion/Kathleen Huggins

The Read Aloud Handbook/Jim Trelease

What to Expect the First Year/ Heidi Murkoff et al.

My First Signs/Annie Kubler

Q&A: Patrons ask; librarians answer: Can picture books fix my kid’s behavior problems?

Q: Is there a Berenstain Bears book about not biting people? My daughter has been biting other kids at preschool. Her teachers say it’s getting worse! Is there a book I could read to her showing how wrong this is?

A: Yes! Your question is a profound one. Children’s authors, publishers, teachers, parents, therapists, and children themselves have been seeing books as bibliotherapy for generations. As a result, there are a variety of books both silly and profound that could help in this siNo More Biting for Billy Goattuation. How can bibliotherapy help?Among other things, kids realize...

  • It's okay to have feelings

  • It's okay to talk about it

  • Other people have faced similar problems

  • There are different solutions available

  • Kids can solve problems 

So, where to start? The easy answer is to look up your preschooler’s particular issue in our online catalog. (...type in biting – or any other behavioral issue – and limit to children's books.) If nothing comes up, we'd take a look at A to Zoo: Subject Access to Children’s Picture Books. It has picture books indexed under 1,215 subjects, including 53 different behaviors, from “animals, dislike of” to “worrying,” although, biting is not there – but we can look through the 35 books about “fighting.” A cool online resourcehas a few more titles. The Berenstain Bears books often have a clear behavioral message, and kids like to hear stories about characters they know and love. Since there isn’t one on biting, you might take a look at this one; The Berenstain Bears and the Trouble with Friends

Berenstain Bears & the Trouble with Friends

I am often asked for books to help a child overcome a particular problem – biting, hitting, whining, lying, stealing, teasing or bullying others, fears, sucking her thumb, screaming or throwing tantrums, etc. Practically every kid does something, sometime! So...is misbehavior a universal experience?

When I was a new parent, I read several parenting books that put forward the view that all children's negative behavior is an attempt to communicate. (Like the 3 below.) These authors proposed that when the behavior annoys, angers, scares, or hurts others, it's very likely an indication that the child has some strong or negative feelings. Therefore, the solution – to all irksome behavior – is to teach the child how to effectively communicate negative feelings & whatever caused them.

   

An adult who spends a lot of time with a child teaches this vocabulary simply by saying aloud what they observe and guess about the child's feelings – but some things just don’t come up until a moment when the parent isn't there to interpret.

Books provide extra scenarios to absorb or to discuss feelings – the characters’, your own, and your child’s – so you don't have to wait for something to surprise you. Any book that shows characters having any feelings can start a conversation. The language of feelings is complex and may take a lifetime to fully explore. Here are my favorite books on the general topic of expressing feelings, in order from those for the youngest kids (2 years) to the oldest (about 9+ years):

         

In addition, the popularity of some rather uncomfortable books illustrates how negative feelings are human and common– it really is a comfort when someone else (even a character in a book) struggles through similar feelings. Here are a few that are wonderful to read to a child. They convey that you will love her and take care of her, even when she has so-called bad feelings, and even when she makes mistakes:

     

All these books (and many others on unrelated topics) show characters feeling something and being heard – by the reader if not by the other characters in the story!

You may not need a book about a biter, a hitter, a screamer, a liar, a thief, or a tantrum thrower. Children's books, by providing a wide range of situations and responses, build the child's repertoire of familiar life experiences. Each book, on any topic, can build understanding, empathy, and self-awareness, and allow your child to witness or imagine possible responses.