Events & Programs

Winter Crafts at the Library



This month at the Library we are offering two festive Winter Crafts. If you like glitter then you should come make a Snow Globe. We will have plenty of glitter and other fixings to let you create a winter wonderland in a jar. (If you have an extra jam jar or two at home please bring it with you!) 

If you prefer frosting to glitter,  you may want to make a Graham Cracker House.  We have loads of sweets and plenty of Graham Crackers for you to design and create the home of your dreams.


Hope to see you at the library this December!

Snow Globes

Martin Luther King Jr., Saturday, December 13th-2:30pm

Elmhurst Branch, Tuesday, December 16th-4:00pm

Montclair Branch, Wednesday, December 17th-2:00pm

Asian Branch, Thursday, December 18th-3:30 

Cesar E. Chavez Branch, Tuesday, December 23rd-1:00pm

Graham Cracker Houses

Montclair Branch, Thursday, December 11th-3:30

Elmhurst Branch, Saturday, December 20th-1:00pm

West Oakland Branch, Tuesday, December 23rd-4:00

Martin Luther King Jr., Tuesday, December 30th-2:30pm

Books for Wider Horizons - Taking Storytimes to Young Children for Twenty Years

Books for Wider HorizonsThis year is our 20th anniversary of taking storytimes to young children in Oakland preschools, including Head Starts and CDCs, through the efforts of our trained volunteer storyreaders. We will be celebrating all year with posts on the history and future of Books for Wider Horizons.

Picture of Gay DuceyFirst up is an interview with Gay Ducey. Gay is a nationally-known storyteller and has been training our volunteers since the beginning. Her commitment to this program is legendary within the library, and she is a beloved mentor to all our volunteers.

We interviewed Gay on Saturday, October 11.

How and why did Books for Wider Horizons start?

As a group, OPL’s children’s librarians were not happy seeing only the children whose parents brought them to the library. We knew there were children who were not being exposed to the gifts the library can offer and wanted to reach them but knew we didn’t have the time to do it well, or even at all. It began when the Children’s Services Supervising Librarian at the time, Julie Odofin, asked me to put together a proposal and curriculum. The rest is history.   

What is the most important quality of a successful storyreader?

Two come to mind: commitment, a real steadfast commitment to the children; and the ability to share the love and joy of literature and language to children, so that the children carry it with them as they grow older and have choices.

Do you have a most vivid memory of the program?

There are so many… Our first training class started with six people. By the end of the three weeks, two had dropped out. So, on graduation day – a wet, cold, hailing, windy kind of day – there were just four brave souls who attended. We heard the door open and shut, thought it was just the wind, and continued with what we were doing. But it wasn’t the wind. At the door were Martín Gomez, the library director, and Ruth Metz, the assistant director. These two administrators had braved the weather on their own time to honor the four volunteers who were graduating. It was nice for me and wonderful for the volunteers.

The second came from trainings we gave to Head Start directors, staff, parents, and the public. These trainings had been requested by Head Start and organized by one of our earlier coordinators, Zarita Dotson. I'll never forget the comment of one of the mothers. She said, “If this had been available to me when I was little, I would have liked reading, been able to read better, and shared it with my children. It wasn’t, and I didn’t. My children were on their own once they could read just a little bit.”

What is the most important message you have for new volunteers?

Again, there are two. The first is to tell them they are dedicating their time to the children of Oakland, who deserve the very best. The second is that they are sufficient as they are. We provide a tool box; the volunteers can choose which tools they use.

Is there something you’d like to share that I haven’t asked? Gay Ducey with BWH bag

Yes. When our volunteers begin training, they are eager, well intentioned and nervous. The little secret we tell them on the first day is that they are going to be rock stars. They will find that this storyreading experience ranks very high on their list of fun things they have done in their lives. 

Thank you Gay. And thank you for your years of service to the children of Oakland, who deserve the very best.


Our fall training series is already underway, but if you might be interested in being a Books for Wider Horizons storyreader, please call (510) 238-7453 or e-mail Rochelle Venuto at for more information about our next series.  A 7-night training session (offered each fall) is required for this program. Upon completion of the training, each participant agrees to prepare and present a weekly storytime at a partnering preschool site for at least 6 months.

Meet Children's Book Author Andrea Davis Pinkney

Did you know there are many award-winning children's book authors coming to town next week for the sold-out ALSC National Institute?  That's where a lot of us will be, but we jumped at the chance to ask Andrea Davis Pinkney to stay a little longer in town to meet with you at your Main Library, on Monday September 22nd at 1:30pm

Martin and MahaliaMs. Pinkney is a Coretta Scott King Award-winning and New York Times best-selling writer of more than 20 books for children and young adults including picture books, novels and nonfiction. These books include Bird in a Box and several collaborations with her husband Brian Pinkney, including Sit-In,Hand in Hand, and Martin & Mahalia.   Ms. Pinkney is also a publisher, and launched Hyperion Books for Children/Disney Publishing’s Jump at the Sun imprint, the first African American children’s book imprint at a major publishing company. 

Red Pencil Book CoverJoin Ms. Pinkney for conversation as she introduces her newest title, The Red Pencil, a novel in verse about a Sudanese girl turning twelve in the early days of the Darfur conflict.

Groups (grades 4-6 recommended) must register in advance with Nina Lindsay, Supervising Librarian for Children's Services at and wait for confirmation; space is very limited.

Summer Reading Challenge Celebration - Come to OMCA to Party!

Paws to Read! LogoIt’s fun for the entire family as the Oakland Public Library’s 2014 Summer Reading Challenge finishes up with its 10th annual Summer Reading celebration at the Oakland Museum of California on Sunday, August 3, from 12 to 4 p.m. The party will take place in the Museum Gardens, 1000 Oak Street, just two blocks from the Main Library.

The celebration links two fantastic summer events – the library’s Summer Reading Challenge and the Oakland Museum of California’s Free First Sundays – for a wonder-filled day of culture, entertainment, learning, and fun. Admission is free!

Picture of Little Explorers Petting ZooThe celebration offers fun ways to learn and celebrate a love of reading.  Entertainment and activities will include performances by Germar the Magician, caricature art by Rad Sanza, appearances by the animals of Little Explorers Petting Zoo, face-painting by folks from Oakland Parks and Recreation, storytime, hands-on arts and crafts, and more. There will be a brief ceremony to honor all Summer Reading Challenge participants who succeed in reading 20 days or more this summer.

The Summer Reading Challenge is a fantastic way to encourage children to explore the world through reading and activities. This year’s theme has been “Paws to Read!” Participants have benefitted not only from the pleasure of reading, but also from a summer’s worth of free events.

Reading, Talking, Singing, Writing and Playing Works

picture of babyI recently returned from sweltering Las Vegas where the American Library Association Annual Convention was taking place.  One of the programs I attended looked at whether or not the five activities developed by Every Child Ready to Read 2 - reading, singing, talking, writing and playing with children aged 0-5 had a statistical impact on that child's literacy levels.  A research grant in Washington State looked at the literacy levels of kids who attended storytimes where those practices were modeled.  

The results?  Yes they do!  Children who attended library storytimes that incorporated those activities did have higher literacy rates.  Just another reason to come to the storytimes offered here at the library and practice these activities at home.

For more information about the study, check out:  and click on the "Project Views" link.

To find our storytime schedule, check the OPL calendar:

Are Your Children Bored this Summer? There's Lots to Do at the Library!

Busy Bee Dogs at Dimond                    Germar the Magician at Rockridge
                                                                              and 81st Avenue    




Make a Bug Magnet at                        East Bay Vivarium at Golden Gate
  César Chávez

Bug on a branch





Chess Clinic at West                             Paper Airplane Contest at Elmhurst

Picture of chess pieces

                 Picture of a paper airplan



PAWS to Read with BARK                Weekly Art Workshops with MOCHA 
Therapy Dogs at                                   at Main Children's Room, 81st Ave.
Montclair and 81st Ave.                           and Eastmont

Picture of a BARK therapy dog

                MOCHA Logo



Afternoon Crafts at Melrose                     PAWS to Read at Lakeview

  Picture of craft making                  PAWS to Read at Lakeview

Join us. 

Hands-on Summer Reading!

Summer at the library is for reading, sure, but that's only part of it.  We have all kinds of activites planned to engage you and your children when you stop by for a visit.  Check out our full events page, or our daily events calendar to see what's in store.

We know that reading during the summer is important to a child's reading and learning success, but this has to be a part of a variety of engaging learning opportunities.  And fun!  At your library you'll find hands-on craft activites, fabulous magic and theatrical performances, and--in the spirit of this year's theme "Paws to Read"--lots of animals!  This week, for instance, you can catch the Oakland Zoomobile at:

César E. Chávez Branch, tonight, Tuesday June 24th, at 6pm

81st Avenue Branch tomorrow, Wednesday June 25th at 1pm

Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch Saturday June 28th at 2pm

See you soon!  And while you're here, ask us for something fun to read. We'll find it.

Summer Begins Early in Oakland

 Summer Reading Challenge - Paws to ReadWild About Books cover

Your child does not have to lose her or his reading skills over the summer. Studies have shown that by reading just 20 minutes a day, a child retains, and can even increase, reading levels. We once again offer two fabulous grand prizes: one family membership in Children's Fairyland (ages 0-4) and one iPad (ages 5-14). 

Our 2014 Summer Reading Challenge runs from June 14 through August 9. See our blog from last week for suggestions for books to read on this year's theme. 

How to Play

  1. Sign up online or come to your neighborhood library.
  2. Choose whatever you want to read, and start reading.
  3. Track your progress online and add optional book reviews to share with friends. For every day you read or are read to, add an online sticker or put one in your reading log.
  4. Pick up your coupon prize packet after 10 days of reading.
  5. Choose your free book and get a badge and a raffle ticket when you complete the 20-day reading challenge.

 Performers and Crafts and Parties, oh my!

Bubble Party at ChavezWe started strong with a Bubble Party at Melrose, Magic Dan at Elmhurst, Bodac Drumming at Martin Luther King, Jr. Busy Bee Dogs at the Main Children's Room, and Arts & Crafts at Brookfield. But wait, there's more, lots more. In just the next two days (Tuesday, June 17 and Wednesday June 18) we have many more activities for children and the whole family.

Cesar Chavez hosts Magical Moonshine Theatre at 6:00 June 17

Rockridge hosts Sean's Shadows at 7:00 June 17

Dimond hosts Goofball the Magician at 7:00 June 17

Golden Gate hosts Bodac Drumming at 10:30 am June 18

Elmhurst hosts East Bay Vivarium Reptile Show at 1:00 June 18

81st Avenue hosts Little Explorers Petting Zoo at 1:00 June 18

Main, Eastmont, and 81st Avenue host MOCHA Art Workshops 2:00 June 18

And there's more where all this came from. Check our kids' events page to find out what's going on from day to day. 


And last, but not least, summer lunches at ten branches for children 0 to 18. 

Girl eating lunch

81st Avenue Tuesday-Friday from 12-1 

Cesar Chavez  Tuesday-Friday from 12:30-1:30

Dimond Tuesday-Friday from 12:30-1:30

Eastmont Monday-Friday from 12-1

Elmhurst Tuesday-Friday from 12-1 

Golden Gate Monday-Friday from 12:30-1:30 

Main Library (basement & second floor) Monday-Friday from 12:30-1:30

Martin Luther King, Jr. Tuesday-Friday from 12:30-1:30 

Melrose Tuesday-Friday from 12-1 

Temescal Tuesday-Friday from 12:30-1:30 

Summer Means Activity at Oakland Public Library

Our children's Summer Reading Challenge runs from June 14 through August 9. There are some changes this year. We have changed both the rules and the prizes. We are counting days read instead of hours. And we are awarding coupons at ten days and a badge (see right), a book, and raffle entry at twenty days.

How to Play

  1. Sign up online (starting on June 14th), or come to your neighborhood library.
  2. Choose whatever you want to read, and start reading.
  3. Track your progress online and add optional book reviews to share with friends. For every day you read or are read to, add an online sticker or put one in your reading log.
  4. Pick up your coupon prize packet after 10 days of reading.
  5. Choose your free book and get a badge and a raffle ticket when you complete the 20-day reading challenge.
  6. Get an extra raffle ticket for reading 30 days, 40 days and 50 days.

Branches will have raffle drawings throughout the summer, and on August 11 we will have the grand prize raffle drawings - a yearlong family membership in Children's Fairyland for children 0-4 and an iPad for children 5-14.

In addition to the reading challenge, branches will host performers, offer craft programs, and serve lunches to children and teens.  

Yuyi Morales is Coming to Oakland

Yuyi MoralesThe Oakland Public Library (OPL) will be hosting Yuyi Morales at the César Chávez Branch on Tuesday, May 27th, at 6:00pm.

Yuyi Morales is an award-winning author and illustrator whose books include Niño Wrestles the World, Just in Case, Little Night/Nochecita, and Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book. Her books have won a total of four Pura Belpré Awards, the Américas Book Award for Children’s and Young Adult Literature, The Golden Kite Award, the Christopher Award, the Jane Addams Award and the Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award.

As a Spanish-speaking immigrant and new mother who migrated to the U.S. from Mexico in 1994, Yuyi struggled with English and adapting to a new home. She found support in public libraries, where she and her son practiced English by reading children’s books. There she found her life passion writing and illustrating children’s stories.

She writes on her web page's bio, "When I grow old I dream in becoming a professional liar. You know, those kind of people that tell stories and everybody goes, “Ahh, Ohh!"'

On Tuesday, May 27th, at 6:00pm, Yuyi will read her work and talk about her personal history and Mexican children’s folklore at the César Chávez Branch of the Oakland Public Library (3301 East 12th Street, Suite 271). She will be available to answer questions and to autograph books which will be for sale at the event. The library will be closed that day and will open only in the evening for this very special program.

This will be Yuyi’s only East Bay appearance during a Bay Area tour that includes presenting the prestigious Effie Lee Morris lecture at the San Francisco Public Library. This is a rare chance to see this visiting author/illustrator.