Events & Programs

90-Second Newbery Film Festival, Not Too Late to Enter!

90 second newbery logoThe 90-Second Newbery Film Festival is once again coming to Oakland on Saturday February 7, 2015, 12 noon-1pm at the Rockridge Branch Library

It is not too late to submit your entry!  The deadline for submissions has been extended to January 16, 2015, which means that you can spend your winter break working on your video, of 90 seconds or less, that tells the entire story of a Newbery-winning book.

We'd love to see your Oakland entries in the festival, and welcome you to post your links here as well.   Does anyone dare take on the 2014 Newbery Medal book Flora & Ulysses?  I can lend you a vaccuum cleaner, but just be careful with the squirrel, the ones I've met are not so nice. 

Books for Wider Horizons - The Anniversary Celebration Continues

Books for Wider Horizons has had a busy couple of months.    

Congratulations Class of 2014!

OurBWH graduating class 21st class of Books for Wider Horizons volunteers graduated in November. These hardy souls spent 21 1/2 hours in training and observing, only to commit to spending 2-3 hours per week preparing and presenting storytimes at Oakland Head Starts, OUSD Childhood Development Centers, and other preschool sites for the rest of the school year. Gluttons for punishment, some of this year's volunteers actually came to both graduation days, so they could get more ideas on what books to choose, songs to sing, and ways to present!

Volunteering for BWH does take commitment and time and enough energy to interact with a class full of preschool students for a half hour a week. But the rewards are hugs and rock star status. 

The next volunteer training is not until fall of 2015, but if the idea of reading stories to preschool children appeals to you, please send an email to the Books for Wider Horizons coordinator, Rochelle Venuto ( She will keep your name on file and be in touch with you as the time for the new training class approaches.


Check out our new logo!

We asked a different set of volunteers to design a new logo to take us into the next 20 years. Designed by one of those wonderful people (who would like to remain anonymous), the logo we chose conveys our mission of adding joy to the lives of young children through books, songs, chants, and fun. 



It's time to party!

And finally, we are planning a birthday party for Sunday, January 25. If you have been involved with Books for Wider Horizons as a volunteer, teacher, student, donor, or staff member, and would like more information, please send Rochelle Venuto ( an email. She will send you the party details. One thing I can tell you right now, there will be cake!

The staff here at Oakland Public Library are proud to be associated with the people, past and present, who have contributed to the success of this program. Thank you. 

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