Most kids love a good scare, and Halloween is the perfect time to give it to them. Find these spooky stories at a library near you, and let us know in the comments if we missed any of your favorites!
Great Books and more
Truly Frightening (for older readers):
Adapted from American Sign Language (ASL, the primary form of communication in Deaf communities), baby sign allows children as young as 8-10 months to communicate when they are hungry, thirsty, sleepy, want more of something, are finished with an activity, and much more. Teaching babies to sign can be enjoyable, and presents a chance for adult-child bonding. Best of all, babies who are able to communicate their needs through sign may experience less frustration, which can reduce fussiness. That’s a benefit for everyone!
If you’re interested in exploring sign with your baby, come to the Dimond branch on Saturday, October 26, 2013 at 10:00 am for a Baby Sign Language Introductory Workshop. To learn more, call Rebekah Eppley at (510) 482-7844 or click here.
In the meanwhile, visit your local library branch to find these helpful baby sign books:
Baby signs: a baby-sized guide to speaking with sign language / [Joy Allen] ; pictures by Joy Allen
Baby signs for animals / by Linda Acredolo & Susan Goodwyn ; photographs by Penny Gentieu
I want--: teaching your baby to sign / Lora Heller
Let's sign!: every baby's guide to communicating with grownups / written by Kelly Ault ; illustrated by Leo Landry
My first signs / illustrated by Annie Kubler
For Older Children
Preschool and elementary aged kids can study and learn ASL as they would any other language. Some young children are fascinated by the idea of communicating without words, while others think it’s just plain fun! Kids typically have an easier time than adults picking up any language; this is especially true with sign because it taps into the tendency for children to be physical learners. Check out ASLU for online American Sign Language resources, and take a peek at these books and DVDs from your local library for more information:
American Sign Language for kids. Beginner level 1, volume 1 [videorecording]
The handmade alphabet / Laura Rankin
Signing fun : American Sign Language vocabulary, phrases, games & activities / Penny Warner ; illustrations by Paula Gray
Vivid. Colorful. Captivating. Nic Bishop’s nature photography is all this and more! His exciting insect and animal books, effectively designed for young readers, feature eye-popping images that satisfy children’s curiosity about the natural world. These are, quite simply, some of today’s best science books published for kids, and they’re available at your local library!
Bishop has been creating kids’ books for over 25 years, and is an experienced photographer both in the studio and in the field. Check out the trailer for his book, Spiders, for a glimpse into his creative process:
Animals and Insects
Chameleon, Chameleon / story by Joy Cowley
Red-eyed Tree Frog / story by Joy Cowley
Scientists in the Field series
Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot / text by Sy Montgomery (2011 Sibert Medal winner)
Mysterious Universe: Supernovae, Dark Energy, and Black Holes / text by Ellen Jackson
Quest for the Tree Kangaroo: An Expedition to the Cloud Forest of New Guinea / text by Sy Montgomery
Saving the Ghost of the Mountain: An Expedition Among Snow Leopards in Mongolia / text by Sy Montgomery
Snake Scientist / text by Sy Montgomery
Tarantula Scientist / text by Sy Montgomery
If you don't know the reference in the title of this blog post, then you haven't read the most frequently challenged book of 2012, Captain Underpants.
It is Banned Books Week, and you will find many resources online, inside your library or at your bookstore to learn more about celebrating the freedom to read. But I wanted to use the week as an excuse to think in general about kids making their own reading choices.
It can be intimidating to lead your child through a roadmap to reading, especially with the changes happening in our schools with the Common Core Standards. But before children can succeed in reading, they need to love it, and be engaged by it. And being allowed to read materials that they've chosen themselves directly impacts their engagement.
Your children's services librarian takes pride in helping you and your child find books to suit a variety of interests and needs. Come in and let us help you find something to suit your child's tastes, to accompany their assigned reading for school, and family reading choices. Captain Underpants is not for every kid, but it is for many. It is funny, it is visual, it is a little subversive, and friends are talking about it. All of these are legitimate reasons to read. This may not be the book that directly helps your child to the next reading level, or that teaches them about something you are trying to help them with. But it is very likely a book that will help them feel part of a reading community, and that will make them want to come back to the library again with you. If you haven't yet: check it out.
Here’s a bit of library fun for you: pick a fairy tale, any fairy tale. Go see how many variations of that traditional story are available at your local branch. For some, like Rumpelstiltskin or the Ugly Duckling, your options will be relatively few.
And then, there is Cinderella. Hundreds of versions of this classic tale exist, in multiple languages across many, many cultures. At some library branches, it’s possible to find 20 or more variations on the shelf! Try comparing and contrasting some of these editions with your kiddos, and let us know which are your very favorites:
Walt Disney's Cinderella / retold by Cynthia Rylant; pictures by Mary Blair
Abadeha: the Philippine Cinderella / adapted by Myrna J. de la Paz; illustrated by Youshang Tang
The rough-face girl / Rafe Martin; illustrated by David Shannon
Glass slipper, gold sandal: a worldwide Cinderella / Paul Fleischman; illustrated by Julie Paschkis
The golden sandal: a Middle Eastern Cinderella / by Rebecca Hickox; illustrated by Will Hillenbrand
Domitila: a Cinderella tale from the Mexican tradition / adapted by Jewell Reinhart Coburn; illustrated by Connie McLennan
Cendrillon: a Caribbean Cinderella / Robert D. San Souci; illustrated by Brian Pinkney
Yeh-Shen: a Cinderella story from China / retold by Ai-Ling Louie; ill. by Ed Young
James Marshall's Cinderella / illustrated by James Marshall; retold by Barbara Karlin
The gift of the crocodile: a Cinderella story / by Judy Sierra; illustrated by Reynold Ruffins
The way meat loves salt: a Cinderella tale from the Jewish tradition / Nina Jaffe; illustrated by Louise August
The Persian Cinderella / Shirley Climo; art by Robert Florczak
The Korean Cinderella / by Shirley Climo; illustrated by Ruth Heller
Smoky Mountain Rose: an Appalachian Cinderella / by Alan Schroeder; pictures by Brad Sneed
The orphan: a Cinderella story from Greece / by Anthony L. Manna & Soula Mitakidou; illustrated by Giselle Potter
Cinderella / illustrated by K.Y. Craft
Have you ever stumbled upon the library’s collection of craft books for children? They’re in the 700s (near the art books), and chock full of great ideas for creative kiddos of all ages. Origami? Absolutely. Knitting? Indeed. Sewing? Mask-making? Scrapbooking? Ceramics? Yes, it’s all there! Check out some of these favorites, and let us know which craft books your kids adore:
Create with Maisy / Lucy Cousins
Kid Made Modern / Todd Oldham
Kids Crochet: Projects for Kids of All Ages / Kelli Ronci
1-2-3 Calligraphy!: Letters and Projects for Beginners and Beyond / Eleanor Winters
Organic Crafts: 75 Earth-friendly Art Activities / Kimberly Monaghan
Paper Airplanes: Models to Build and Fly / Emery J. Kelly
Sneaky Art: Crafty Surprises to Hide in Plain Sight / Marthe Jocelyn
If you’re looking for something to captivate youngsters during an end-of-summer road trip, OPL has you covered! Each of our library locations carries a selection of children’s audiobooks to engage even the wiggliest of passengers. Ask library staff to help you find book/CD kits, too; these are books that include a CD so kiddos can read along with the audio.
Have you tried audiobooks with your kids? Let us know which ones they have especially enjoyed!
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland / Lewis Carroll
Charlotte's Web / E.B. White
Harriet, the Spy / by Louise Fitzhugh
Just So Stories / Rudyard Kipling
Peter Pan / J.M. Barrie
The Phantom Tollbooth / by Norton Juster
Rabbit Ears (folk and fairy tales)
Three Tales of My Father's Dragon / Ruth Stiles Gannett
Becoming Naomi León / Pam Muñoz Ryan
Bud, Not Buddy / Christopher Paul Curtis
Diary of a Wimpy Kid series / Jeff Kinney
Harry Potter series / J.K. Rowling
Kane Chronicles series / Rick Riordan
Magic Tree House series / Mary Pope Osborne
The Tale of Despereaux / Kate DiCamillo
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon / Grace Lin
My first story of finding the book that made someone a reader is one of my favorites.
I work closely with classes at Markham Elementary, and last year one class began visiting me at Eastmont every two weeks. They were a small class, first and second grade special ed, with a warm and attentive teacher who worked hard to help each student find a book they wanted to check out.
One girl, a child of six I'll call Josefina, had not yet learned to read, and was not interested in doing so.
It's not hard to identify the reluctant readers in a class visit. They're the ones who, every time you show them a book, look at you something like this:
A reluctant reader throws shade on an EXCELLENT book suggestion
Josefina's very kind teacher was showing her books that she might like, and Josefina was giving her reluctant reader face. The teacher explained to me that Josefina was still learning to read, and needed something with very simple words to practice on. The books she wanted, though, were the DC Super Pets readers her classmates had swarmed upon like ants on a lollipop. Josefina wanted cute, cartoony pictures; she *needed* something with short, simple words, lots of open white space, and minimal sentences per page.
Well, I just did what any children's librarian worth her salt would do: I pulled out the Mo Willems books. I am especially fond of Elephant and Piggie, and the best part is, they're as good for struggling older readers as they are for little guys; superb cartooning, expressive linework, funny like a good joke. Josefina, though, went wide-eyed over Cat the Cat.
Josefina LOVED Cat the Cat.
Josefina checked out Cat the Cat. Her teacher read it with her, and then she read it on her own. Josefina came back wanting MORE Cat the Cat. Josefina checked out and read every Cat the Cat book in existence. (There are four)* And then, Josefina came in with her teacher all a-flutter and asked for the Cat the Cat book where she does ballet.
I searched; we reviewed all four books; we determined that there IS no Cat the Cat book where she does ballet. On the cover of Let's Say Hi to Friends Who Fly, Cat is striking a pose and wearing pink; Josefina had remembered that picture and invented a Cat the Cat book about ballet. Josefina deflated like a little polo-shirted balloon when I explained to her that, sadly, the book she was looking for did not exist. And then, I added my standard follow-up to that sentence: "...but since you want to read it, and it doesn't exist, you should write that book yourself."
I've said that to a bunch of kids over the years, and most of them have responded with the same look of hope and intrigue I got from Josefina. But I was in no way prepared for the phone call I got four weeks later from Josefina's teacher: they'd been writing, illustrating and binding the book for the past month, it was finished, and Josefina was bringing me a copy TODAY.
Also, the teacher told me, Josefina was so nervous about presenting me with the book that she couldn't eat her breakfast that morning, and the teacher wanted to make sure I knew how important it was to her so I could react accordingly.
When they came in, I was prepared with a thousand watt smile, a Cat the Cat poster I'd picked up from a giveaway, and a circle of chairs in case Josefina wanted me to read her book to the class. She did. In fact, because her book is so wonderful, I'd like to read it to you. I can never look at it without picturing Josefina shaking, hopping from foot to foot, clutching her first published work to her tiny chest, and then breaking out in a grin as she handed me one of four copies in the world of TINA, THE CAT BALLERINA.
I present it to you below in its entirety (though with her name redacted), with thanks to Mr. Willems and recommendations that you read every single book he's ever made (available at your local public library!). And as you read, I want you to pay attention to the author's already remarkable sense of narrative structure-- her pacing is spot on, and I challenge any seasoned children's author to craft a more perfect last line than Josefina's: "Last, she bowed."
Cat the Cat was the right book for Josefina. It made her not only a reader; it made her an author. Here's to many more right books in Josefina's future, including a long bibliography of her own.
TINA, THE CAT BALLERINA, by Josefina
First, Tina the Cat Ballerina went to ballet school.
Next, she was happy she went.
Then Tina was dancing in a ballet show.
Last, she bowed.**
*Mo Willems, if you are reading this, please write more Cat the Cat books. Actually just write more of everything.
**Josefina, if you are reading this, please write more books and bring me copies.
What a great meeting about Telegraph Hill by Michael Chabon!
There were 10 of us and our leader did a great job! She had done research on Michael Chabon and told us about his early life in Columbia, Maryland in an almost utopian middle class Black and White community. This background gave credence to his depicting a multiracial/multicultural world on Telegraph Avenue. One member told us that she knows Michael Chabon, because their children attended the same school. She said he is a really nice person. Other members have heard him speak at other venues and thought he seemed shy, almost childlike, but seemed really nice.
Our discussion leader set the stage for us by finding a play list of 126 of the 128 musical mentions in the book. We sat down to the background music of sweet/funky jazz played on an Ipad. We were provided with a long list of Chabon’s awards, including the Pulitzer Prize. Our leader’s assessment of reviews was that Telegraph Avenue was critically acclaimed, but regular readers either loved it or hated it.
Her first question of our members, who have lived in Oakland for a long time, was whether the depiction of Telegraph Avenue in the past actually was correct for the time. The group discussed how the Bay Area has changed demographically over the last 30ish years. One member pointed out that Oakland used to have a 50% Black population and now Oakland is 25% Black, 25% White, 25% Asian and 25% Hispanic/Other. In other words the Black population has gone down in the recent years. There was "Black Flight" to Atlanta and Antioch due to the difficult conditions here. Overall the members of the group, who were in Oakland in the past, thought Chabon's depiction was accurate.
Discussions next were of the structure of the book, the character development and themes. We figured the themes were Shared Community, Fatherhood and Racism.
People liked the relationship between Gwen and Aviva. Gwen and Aviva had the most stable relationship of the characters in the novel. The character Gwen questioned her relationship to the community she lived in. She wondered if she should be with her own community. She did, however, feel she was not supported by members of her own community. The book club members disagreed as to whether the two women were the main characters of the novel. One member pointed out that women are the foundation of every society. This might mean that if they were not the main characters of the book, they were the foundation, the stability, of the book.
Members thought the description of childbirth was really accurate. As various times during the discussion a member mentioned a page number and read a passage she thought to be outstanding. The childbirth passage was one of these. One member said that WAS her childbirth experience. Members thought that the character, Gwen, was justified in telling off the racist doctor.
Another passage that members liked was where Gwen talked about enduring life's difficulties, and there is no way that you can prevent those negative perceptions from being passed on to the next generations. We thought her comment on marriage being based on deception and lies to be profound. People are all flawed, but look for a unit to belong to.
One member commented that it was passages like these that kept her reading, although she found it difficult to stay engaged throughout the novel. This member liked the second half the book best. Another liked the beginning better.
The character, Luther, is a tragic person in the novel. He never reached his dreams, yet never gave up on those dreams, unlike most people who become disillusioned and, therefore, adjust their life views to be resigned to what life has given them.
Regarding the style, the group discussed chapter 58, which has no period. Most people didn't care. One compared it to James Joyce. That person said that Oakland was to Michael Chabon as Dublin was to James Joyce (or vice versa). Another member strongly disagreed to a comparison of Chabon to James Joyce. That member said that Chabon was no James Joyce. She could read James Joyce all day and love it and she could not make it through Telegraph Avenue. She thought the endless "guy" details about records and comics and other such minutia was an insurmountable barrier to continuing with the book. Others agreed. Several couldn't finish the book. They thought that Chabon was "full of himself" and his choice of words. They thought he was intellectual, i.e. left brained, and unable to catch the reader emotionally the way that James Baldwin did for us in Another Country.
One member didn't like the characters, couldn't keep them straight and generally got bogged down in the details. Other comments on style had to do with stream of consciousness passages and another chapter of 30-40 pages without a period in it. A comment was made about there being a "little pomposity," and another member immediately said, "A LOT." Members of the group who had trouble staying engaged, who are in their 50's, 60's and 70's, felt life was too short to push through this book. One mentioned that she might have liked it better if she read it in her 30's.
Several mentioned that the reader couldn't tell what race the characters were. Some thought that was a good thing and others thought it was a problem. We all wondered what Black people would think of this book, in fact, would Black people even read this book?
One comment was that Chabon was trying to write the Great American Novel. Many thought he did not succeed. One thought that maybe with the passage of time, this book would be considered as the Great American Novel. Someone asked what is considered The Great American Novel. Two suggestions came out, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Moby Dick.
Several comments on the use of jargon which they thought very accurate, such as the use of the words Shameless and Scand'lous. One comment was the beauty of the dedication of the book to Chabon's wife, referring to phonograph records, "from the drop of the needle to the innermost groove."
Regarding the symbolism and plot devices one member pointed out the clever choices of Chabon such as the owner of the Blimp, who was as big as a blimp, that the book begins with a death and a birth and ends that way...that the theme is about the cycle of life which is set is a record store...where records are round.
We discussed the locations cited in the book and commented that there really is a record store on one of the locations.
So the consensus seemed to be just as predicted, Michael Chabon is a brilliant writer, who uses words and plot and style in ways others have not quite done. His insights are true and places in this novel shine beautifully, yet around half of the group, though understanding why people really like Chabon, or even this novel, could not expend the energy to stick with it. The clever writing wasn't enough. Those people wanted to connect with the characters emotionally and just were never able to do so.
So often we agree overall as to the merits and general enjoyment of a book we have chosen, yet for this title we were almost equally divided, but loved to hear what our friends thought. This is a wonderful group!
Thank you all for sharing.
(Any misinterpretation of anything found in my notes or memory is all mine. Please accept my apology if I misheard, misunderstood and/or misquoted any of you.)
Mary Farrell, Branch Manager, Lakeview Branch
Here’s an understatement for you: train books are popular at the library. They have the power to capture the attention and imagination of wiggly toddlers, curious preschoolers, and knowledgeable school-aged kids alike. They inspire squeals of delight when discovered and, sometimes, tears of despair when returned! Come find these tried-and-true books at the library for the train lover in your life:
Trains / Byron Barton
And the train goes-- / William Bee
Freight train / Donald Crews
Down by the station / by Jennifer Riggs Vetter ; illus. by Frank Remkiewicz
Trains : steaming! pulling! huffing! / by Patricia Hubbell ; illus. by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
The caboose who got loose / Bill Peet
The little engine that could / retold by Watty Piper ; pictures by Loren Long
I saw an ant on the railroad track / by Joshua Prince ; illus. by Macky Pamintuan
Seymour Simon's book of trains / Seymour Simon