early learning

Focus on Early Learning

When I went to library school in 2008, I knew I wanted to be a Children’s Librarian because I wanted to share the joy of reading. As my career develops my focus on early learning and parent engagement is clear, thus I was super excited to hear Pamela Paul’s recent interview on KQED Forum discussing her new book, co-written with her colleague Maria Russo, "How to Raise a Reader." Pamela shares family literacy tips on creating read-aloud routines, "championing genre fiction" and nurturing a love of books in kids of all age.

My favorite five family literacy tips for raising a reader:

  • You are your child's first teacher- model behavior you want them to develop (as indicated in the image above)
  • Never treat reading like a chore
  • Read to your baby, your toddler, your tween, your teen
  • All reading matters...including comic books
  • Always carry a book when you know you'll be waiting e.g. supermarket, doctor's appointment, restaurants

 FREE community resources you can access that promote early learning include:

In my role as an outreach librarian, I present storytime once a month at the rec centers noted above.

  • The OUSD Play Group near Grand Lake Theater is a great option Friday mornings (before Oakland libraries open).
    Fridays, 9:00 am - 12:00 pm -  September 27 - December 13, 2019
    Lakeview Campus Portable A, 746 Grand Avenue Oakland, CA 94610
  • VROOM provides learning tips via text you can share with your young child (ren). Available in English or Español
  • Kidappolis by LitLab is a mobile app that encourages parents to use screen time as an interactive early learning opportunity. Try “Kidappolis: School Edition for FREE using the code “demo
  • Help Me Grow is a resource network which collaborates with agencies, families, and providers across Alameda County to help ensure children ages birth – 5 years reach their optimal development. If you have concerns about your child’s developmental milestones, give them a call 888 - 510 - 1211. Their staff is multilingual. 

What are your favorite family literacy activities? Please share your positive experiences in the comments section.

Early Learning Backpacks

In September 2018,  OPL’s West and Eastmont branches began a pilot program offering an exciting and fun way for kids ages 3-5 to boost their language skills and school readiness.  The First 5 Alameda County funded early learning backpacks available during family storytime and play café are a huge hit. Early literacy specialists understand parents are a child’s first and best teacher.These backpacks are designed to provide opportunities for rich interactions, fun, and learning by providing materials and books for families to use together. 

The backpacks are not part of our traditional collection. Families can simply choose a backpack, sign it out on a clipboard, and enjoy the rich contents inside to explore math, science, literacy and/or social skills at home. The following week families can exchange the backpack for one of the other 30 themed backpacks. The backpacks are see-through and full of educational activities, toys and books in English, Spanish, Chinese and/or Arabic. A child doesn’t need to know that each backpack’s contents were painstakingly put together by experts at First 5 Alameda and are meticulously connected to California kindergarten readiness standards. Children are drawn to the joy of engineering a bridge, examining bugs, taking care of a baby doll, or reading a book about a garden. Many families come back week after week because their child is excited to choose their next backpack. It has become an important part of their weekly routine and something special they do with each other.

Some caregivers ask for advice such as “Which Science backpack will teach my child the life cycle of a butterfly?” or “Which Social Skills backpack will help my child learn how to resolve conflicts with their friends?” Working in partnership with First 5 Alameda children’s librarians meet quarterly to engage with the materials and how they relate to aspects of the California Preschool Curriculum Framework to help make better recommendations. It is a joy to see the pride and excitement in a child’s step as they leave the library with their choice for the week snugly on their back and knowing that it is a tool to help them build the skills they need to be successful in kindergarten and beyond.

~ Celia, West Oakland Children's Librarian

Five Key Areas of School Readiness for Children include:

  • Promoting physical well-being and gross and fine motor development
  • Promoting social, emotional and self-regulation skills
  • Developing approaches to learning (awareness of how one learns best)
  • Fostering literacy and language development
  • Instilling cognitive development and general problem solving skills