Activities & Tips

Early Learning - TALK

All children, no matter how young, listen to people talk. It is how they learn new words and begin to understand the world around them.


  • Talk with your child as you go about your day: making food, walking around the neighborhood, getting ready for bed, any time. 
  • You can add to their vocabulary when you respond to what your child says. If your toddler says “truck,” you can say, “We saw a big green truck today.” 

  • You can respond to babbling or even silence.

  • Use new words. If your child says “banana,” you can say, “Do you want a banana? That’s very healthy food.” 

  • Talk in the language most comfortable for you. Babies’ growing brains can easily learn more than one language.  



from DEMCO

  • Ask “what if” questions as you walk outside. What if it never got dark? What if there were no birds? 
  • Go for a walk with your child and point to all of the circles that you see.
  • Point to an object and ask your child to say the name for it and a word that rhymes with it.
  • Cut out pictures from magazines and have your child practice matching the pictures to the letter sound you say. “B, b-b-b-b-b.”
  • Ask your child to compare objects around the house. Which is smaller? Which is longer?
  • Tell your child a story about something funny that happened to you when you were young.
  • Emphasize the beginning sounds in words. “Let’s eat a p-pp-peach!”
  • After your child tells a story, ask questions to get more details.




The National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has prepared resources to track developmental milestones.

The most important time for a child’s development is the first 5 years of life. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s development, learning, or behavior, reach out to Help Me Grow. Getting support is crucial to ensure your child reaches their optimal development.

Early Learning - READ



  • Read with your child every day.

    It's not important what you read. The time you spend together will help your children develop a love of reading.  
    Talk about the story as you read.  If you're waiting for your holds to be ready for pick up at the library, a magazine, photo album or brochures will do.
  • Talk about the pictures or make up your own story. 

  • It’s okay to read just a little bit of a book.  Try board books, the pages are sturdy so you don't have to worry about your baby ripping any pages. We want children to play with their books.

  •  You don’t even have to read. You can just talk about the pictures.  

  • You are your child's first teacher,  let them see you like reading too.   

  • Words are everywhere: on store fronts, bus stops, and cereal boxes. Show these words to your child. 



(from Demco

  • September 1st is World Primate Day. Read about monkeys 

  • Sit with your child on your lap and point to the words in a simple picture book as you read them.  

  • Read a wordless picture book together, such as Journey by Aaron Becker. Have your child make up the words to the story. 

  • When you’re reading a story together, pause when something is about to happen and say, “I wonder what’s going to happen next.” Give your child time to think and respond. 

  • Read together, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin  or any other book with repetitive text. Repetition is key when mastering new skills.





September is library card sign up month. Get your child their own card 
Any California resident is eligible to get an Oakland Public Library card. 

Check out recommended reads for babies, toddlers and preschoolers.


Watch OPL Staff share storytime on YouTube 


What books does your child enjoy? 

#OPLSummer Reading Logs & Prize Books

Thank you for joining us for Summer Reading 2020, the official end date is August 1st.  In a pre-COVID world, we would be celebrating on Sunday at the Oakland Museum. We miss seeing you at the library and hope to say hello at the Summer Prize pick up locations.

Prize book pick-up will take place: 

If you are not registered in Beanstack, please return your summer reading logs to your local library drop box August 1-22, 2020. 


This year’s Kids' Summer Reading grand prizes are 17 Chromebook laptops. Raffle winners will be drawn and notified after August 31st


We invite you to look back at a few highlights from our Summer Programming.

  • Family Pride: 

    See video

  • Yoga with Misty: 

    See video

  • Cascada de Flores: 

    See video

Looking ahead, as you prepare to go "back to school", please remember our learning support resources are available 365 days a year. 

Your Oakland Public Library empowers all people to explore, connect, and grow.

#OPLSummer Week 9: Nature Close at Hand


We are pleased to present Morgan Guenther from East Bay Regional Park District with this week's activities: 

  • Animals in Action: 
    See video

    We all are animals! Join in as we hop, crawl, fly, and scuttle with the East Bay Regional Park District and pretend to be some of the animals found in our local parks.
  • Banana Slugs: 
    See video

    Discover the slimy secrets of the Banana slug! Join the East Bay Regional Park District as we take a closer look at this small but mighty superhero of the redwood forest found right here in Oakland. 
  • Habitat Sing-A-Long:  
    See video

    Sing along with Naturalist Morgan from the East Bay Regional Park District as we travel from habitat to habitat in Oakland - from the San Francisco Bay to the redwood forest, to the river, the marsh and more.
  • Scavenger Hunt: 
    See video

    It’s time to head outside! Explore Lake Temescal with Naturalist Morgan, download the “Nature Nearby” scavenger hunt, and find a spot of nature to explore with your friends and family yourself. Oakland has lots of nature to explore, from your own neighborhood to the East Bay Regional Park District! 


Let us know what you find along your walk by sharing your photos online using the #OPLSummer hashtag. 

If you have questions about Summer Reading email OR you can leave a voice mail with your full name and details at 510-238-3134.

Keep reading! We have ebooks, eaudiobooks, and more, you can browse OverdriveHooplaTumblebookRB Digital, and all of our other online resources.

#OPLSummer Week 6: Do-It-Yourself (DIY)

Welcome July!  We're more than half way through the summmer reading program. What have you learned to do since sheltering in place began? We've heard the stories of at home haircuts, bread baking and the challenges of home schooling. What are you doing for fun?

Here are some ideas:

 Check out these DIY titles from our collection 

Family Challenge

Find ten random items from around the house and invite the kids to build whatever they want. We'd love to see what they come up with. Share your photos online using the #OPLSummer hashtag. 

#OPLSummer Week 4: Art & Expression

"Children learn, develop critical skills, and have fun when provided the opportunity for creative, artistic expression. Painting, coloring, writing, making music, and making crafts are all creative activities. Creative expression helps children articulate their feelings and thoughts." ~ Kaboom


This week we encourage you to visit (virtually) museums which we hope will inspire children and families to build, make, create, play, and learn through art exploration. 

Art is everywhere! How do you express yourself?  Please share your art photos online using the #OPLSummer hashtag.

#OPLSummer Week 3: Health, Fitness and Community Wellness

There's been a lot going in the world and it's important to take time to nourish mind, body, and spirit - however you choose to define it. Below are some recommendations to support family fitness and community wellness. 





Tell us, how does your family stay fit/practice wellness?


#OPLSummer Week 2: Let's Play! Social Distance Sidewalk Arcade

8 years ago, there was a YouTube video about Caine's Arcade. Remember that? Ever since then, I've wanted to host an arcade program at the library, using all our delivery boxes and regular office supplies.

All these years, I was never able to make that happen at the library, but working from home with a bored child created the perfect situation to finally make this dream a reality. 

Here's how we did it:

STEP 1 - Collect Recycling

Collecting our recycling became a time to brainstorm as well. Should we throw this away? What could we use this for? Anything that sparked an idea was set aside. When the pile took over too much space, we knew it was time to get started. Cardboard boxes, egg cartons, toilet paper rolls, and plastic bottles were our main materials. 

STEP 2 - Gather art supplies and building tools from all over the house. 

As you can see from the pictures above, my kid likes to use bright colorful markers and stickers to decorate. If you don't have many art supplies at home, you can keep it simple. You will at least need to find a marker, pen or other way to label points, if points are a part of your game. Otherwise be ready to do a lot of explaining when you run your game. 

STEP 3 - Watch Caine's Arcade and get inspired. 

No seriously, watch it. Before we watched the YouTube video it was just a fun idea. Caine's enthusiasm was so infectious, that my own kid wanted to start making stuff right away! What I love about the story of Caine's Arcade is he just uses what is available to him - empty boxes from his dad's shop, packing tape, his own toys. 


You can see our games are not fancy or professional in any way, but they were fun to make and invent rules for. Almost anything can be a game with the right rules . . . Speaking of rules, that leads us to Step 5. 

STEP 5 - Invent rules and playtest. 

This is a key part of designing any kind of game. Come up with rules, test your game by playing. Change what doesn't work. Keep what does. Add new rules as you see fit. Repeat. We decided that to stay in line with social distancing all of our arcade games would involve throwing 5 pennies (or a ball, that can be wiped down), from far away. We chose pennies, because of the following reasons: 1 - We had a lot for some reason, so if we lost them, it would be okay. 2 - We could wash them beforehand. 3 - The pennies easily fit in the materials we had!

STEP 6 - Gather unwanted toys, books or knick knacks to use as prizes. 

All those little kid's meal toys are perfect for this kind of thing. Two of our games involved winning a prize outright, but most had a ticket system. 10 pts = 1 ticket. We had some prizes that were 2 for 1 ticket, 1 for 2 tickets, 1 for 5 tickets, and our grand prizes were 1 for 10 tickets. You don't have to get this complicated. We're just hella extra. 

Psssst! Parents! This is a good way to get your kid to get rid of all those items they never use.

Safely Inviting Others to Play: Things to Think About

If you are fortunate enough to have a big family, you can have an arcade day with each other! We have one child. Our recent play dates have been shaped by social distancing. They mainly involve Face Time, Zoom dates, bike rides, or shouting at our neighbor friends from the sidewalk as the stay near their porch. All of our in-person interactions with people from other households happen outdoors and with masks on. We have several neighbor friends that we have sidewalk play dates with. We know each other very well, and are all on the same page when it comes to staying a safe distance away, wearing masks, etc. We also know that they practice social distancing with others. If you have family or friends that you feel safe with, those are the ideal people to invite over for something like this. People you know and trust. 

Regarding prizes: We knew we were inviting neighbors. Since we live in different households, we quarantined our prizes in our shed for a week to be safe, as Covid does not survive on plastic or cardboard past 72 hours. We had hand sanitizer near our prize area, and instructed players to point at the prizes they wanted. Clorox wipes were also on hand, if someone wanted to be super safe and wipe down their prize.

When inviting others you will definitely need to figure out logistics of set-up. We made signs with rules for our games. We also had signs telling people to wear masks, stay 6 ft. apart, and use hand sanitizer before playing (and we reminded people to use the hand sanitizer throughout their time at the arcade). Even if you are inviting people you know, if you do this near the sidewalk, you may have a curious little passerby that would like to play. Having assigned monitors (we had 3 grownups tasked with supervising certain stations), as well as established rules, and signs in place make it easy to incorporate a newcomer to join in on the fun. 

If this encourages you to make your own arcade, or if you have other creative ways to play with friends, please email pictures to OR tag us using #OPLSummer


How do you play from far away?

Bridging the Learning Gap / Cerrando La Brecha de Aprendizaje

Desplácese hacia abajo para leer en Español... 

Even though the school year is over, learning doesn’t have to stop.  

Here’s what your Oakland Public Library has available for learning 365 days a year:

The library provides free one-on-one tutoring with live tutors through The site can be accessed directly at For instructions on how to connect with a live tutor, check out thivideo. 


Completing research has never been easier with the resources available through your library. World Book, Encyclopedia Britannica, and other resources are available every day of the year! You can find these resources at our student research page: 

Reading Suggestions: 

Are you looking for the perfect book? OPL’s children’s librarians have worked hard to develop great lists of book recommendations. These lists will soon be updated to reflect our eBook titles too: Stay tuned! 

Connect with a Librarian for Personalized Reading Advice: 

Just because our physical buildings are closed doesn’t mean that you can’t connect with a librarian! Schedule your appointment to speak with a librarian who can help recommend the perfect book for you or your child: 

Kid’s Books Online! 

Electronic books can be a great resource for readers young and old! Our two most popular e-reading platforms are Overdrive and Hoopla. Books on Overdrive can be found here: The Libby app for Overdrive is a great way to use Overdrive on mobile devices. Instructions for how to use Libby to find kids books can be found in this video created by Ms. Sally from the 81st Library. 

Hoopla’s eBooks and audiobooks are always available, although users are limited to 10 checkouts a month. You can access Hoopla here online and also as an app through your mobile device. 

Finding eBooks for early readers has never been easier. Check out this video from Ms. Sally on how to search the library’s catalog to find books.  

If you’d like to listen and read a book or story online, try Tumblebooks! 

Online Programs for Kids: 

Your favorite programs for the library are now online!  

Stories, rhymes, and songs provide much-needed stimulation for brain development and language acquisition in young children. They are also a great way for caregiving adults and children to stay connected. Head to the links below to view online storytimes by local librarians! 

Storytimes - 

Play & Learn Rhymes, Songs, and More - 

This year, OPL’s annual summer reading program, will be online. Check our Summer Reading page regularly to learn about this opportunity to read and get free books! 


Aunque el año escolar ha terminado el aprendizaje no tiene que parar. 

Esto es lo que la Biblioteca Pública de Oakland tiene disponible para aprender los 365 días del año: 

La biblioteca ofrece tutoría individual y gratuita con tutores en vivo a través de Se puede acceder al sitio directamente en  Para obtener instrucciones sobre como conectarte con un tutor en vivo mira este video  


Completar una investigación nunca ha sido mas fácil con los recursos disponibles a través de su biblioteca. World Book, Encyclopedia Britannica y otros recursos están disponibles todos los días del año. Puedes encontrar estos recursos en nuestra página de investigación para estudiantes: 

Sugerencias de Lectura: 

¿Estas buscando el libro perfecto? Los bibliotecarios infantiles de la Biblioteca de Oakland han trabajado duramente para desarrollar excelentes listas de recomendaciones de libros. Pronto se actualizarán estas listas para reflejar nuestros títulos de libros electrónicos también: 

¡Manténte al tanto!  

Conéctate Con Un Bibliotecario Para Recibir Recomendaciones Personalizadas de Lectura: 

El hecho de que nuestros edificios físicos estén cerrados no significa que no puedas conectarte con un bibliotecario. Programa una cita para hablar con un bibliotecario que pueda recomendarte el libro perfecto para ti o para tu hijo/a:  

Libros Para Niños en Línea: 

Los libros electrónicos pueden ser un gran recurso tanto para lectores jóvenes como para los de mayor edad. Nuestras dos plataformas más populares de lectura electrónica son Overdrive y Hoopla 

Los libros en Overdrive se pueden encontrar aquí: 

La aplicación Libby es una excelente manera de usar Overdrive en dispositivos móviles. Las instrucciones sobre como usar Libby para encontrar libros para niños se puede encontrar en este video creado por la Sra. Sally que trabaja en la Biblioteca de la Avenida 81. 

Los libros electrónicos y audiolibros de Hoopla siempre están disponibles, pero hay un límite de 10 prestamos al mes para todos los usuarios. Puedes acceder Hoopla aquí: 

en línea y también como una aplicación a través de su dispositivo móvil.    

Encontrar libros electrónicos para lectores principiantes nunca ha sido mas fácil. Mira este video de la Sra. Sally sobre cómo buscar en el catálogo de la biblioteca para encontrarlos. 

¡Si deseas escuchar y leer un libro o una historia en línea pruebTumblebooks! 

Programas En Línea Para Niños: 

¡Tus programas favoritos de la biblioteca ya están disponibles en línea!  

Historias, rimas y canciones proporcionan la estimulación necesaria para el desarrollo del cerebro y la adquisición del lenguaje en niños pequeños. También son una excelente manera para establecer un vinculos entre los adultos y niños. Dirígete a los enlaces a continuación para ver Las Horas de Cuentos de los bibliotecarios locales. 

Hora de Cuento 

¡Juega y Aprende Rimas, Canciones y Mas!  

Este año el programa anual de lectura de verano de La Biblioteca Pública de Oakland estará en línea. Visita nuestra pagina de Lectura de Verano Summer Reading regularmente para informarte de la oportunidad de leer y obtener libros gratis.  

Storytime You Can Watch From Home

Oakland library locations are closed until further notice, but with today's technology, that doesn't stop storytime! OPL children's librarians are presenting germ-free virtual storytimes weekly on our Facebook page:

  • Mondays 10:30 AM: Play & Learn
  • Wednesdays 11 AM: Bilingual Storytime (Spanish)
  • Saturdays 10:30 AM: Family Storytime

We have gathered a list of free online stories, music, art, and more for kids and families to enjoy while practicing social distancing.

More fun for little ones:

  • Mo Willems teaches you how to draw his favorite characters
  • Mariela (an OPL favorite!) leads Rimas y Canto for toddler and preschoolers in Spanish
  • 123 Andrés plays live concerts in Spanish and English
Please note: Oakland Public Library provides access to entertainment and education all year round. Babies and children need words (and music and books) every day, and they have lots of fun while learning with you. We hope to see our storytime friends at the library soon, and also remind you to check out these cool online places anytime: