Children's Services Blog

It's All Happening Here!

Buki the Clown

Looking for something to do with your child this afternoon?  How about:

Author/Illustrator Todd Parr at the Temescal Library
, 12:30pm! (free lunch for kids and teens served 12:30-1:30)

Buki the Clown at the Eastmont Library, 1:30pm!  (free lunch for kids and teens served 12-1)

Decorate a Flower Pot & Plant Seeds at the Melrose Library 1pm! (free lunch for kids and teens served 12-1)

Children in the garden

"Where does food come from?" Gardening Workshop at the Main Library 3pm! (free lunch for kids and teens served 12:30-1:30)

Weekly Art With MOCHA at the West Oakland Library 3pm! (free lunch for kids and teens served 12-1)

Learn to Play Chess at the Dimond Library 3:30pm! (free lunch for kids and teens served 12:30-1:30)

This is just a small sampling of the events hapenning at your library this summer.  For more, check out the full library events listings, or our Summer Reading pages at

See you this afternoon!

Mysteries of the Unknown

Come explore real-life ghost stories and other paranormal mysteries at the library…if you dare! They’re shelved together at the very start of the non-fiction section – look for the 001s and 133s or ask a staff member to point the way.

Ghosts book coverAre you afraid yet? book coverHaunted Histories book coverBeastly Tales book coverMystery of the bermuda triangle book coverAre you psychic? book coverMystery of UFOs book coverEncyclopedia Horrifica

Ghosts: a nonfiction companion to A good night for ghosts / by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce; illustrated by Sal Murdocca

Are you afraid yet?: the science behind scary stuff / written by Stephen James O'Meara; illustrated by Jeremy Kaposy

Haunted histories: creepy castles, dark dungeons, and powerful palaces / J. H. Everett and Marilyn Scott-Waters

Beastly tales: Yeti, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster / written by Malcolm Yorke

The mystery of the Bermuda Triangle / Chris Oxlade

Are you psychic?: the official guide for kids / Helaine Becker; Claudia Dávila, illustrator

The mystery of UFOs / by Judith Herbst; illustrated by Greg Clarke

Encyclopedia horrifica: the terrifying truth! about vampires, ghosts, monsters, and more / Joshua Gee

Draw, Read, Eat!

In July and August 2013,  Todd Parr will be dropping in to many Oakland Public Library locations to read and draw with kids. Mr. Parr is the author and illustrator of dozens of books for children.  

All of his Oakland Public Library appearances will include a short read-aloud and tips on how to draw. Additionally, a free, healthy lunch will be served to youths ages 0–18, as part of the Free Summer Lunch Program held at many Oakland Library locations. Free Summer Lunch is provided by the Alameda County Food Bank in partnership with the City of Oakland.

Mr. Parr suggested the series of appearances as a gesture of support for Free Summer Lunch and the Library’s Summer Reading Program. Mr. Parr is donating his time free of charge.   Come see him at:

Temescal Branch, Thursday July 18, 12:30pm (lunch served 12:30-1:30)

Dimond Branch, Friday July 19th, 1pm (lunch served 12:30-1:30)

Melrose Branch, Wednesdsay July 24, 1pm (lunch served 12-1)

César Chávez Branch, Thursday July 25, 1:30pm (lunch served 12:30-1:30)

Main Library Children's Room, Monday July 29, 1pm (lunch served 12:30-1:30)

Eastmont Branch, Tuesday July 30, 1pm (lunch served 12-1)

West Oakland Branch, Wednesday July 31, 12pm (lunch served 12-1)

Elmhurst Branch, Wednesday August 7, 1pm (lunch served 12-1)

And check out his books today!


75 years of the Caldecott Medal

Caldecott Anniversary LogoThe Caldecott Medal turned 75 this year, and the Association for Library Service to Children (a division of the American Library Association) celebrated last week at the ALA national conference in Chicago, where the 2013 Caldecott Medal was presented to Jon Klassen for This is Not My Hat.

You can celebrate at home or at your library!  Free resources at the Caldecott 75th Anniversary webpage include downloadable bookmarks with clues and answers about the special anniversary logo created by Brian Selznick, and pictured here.  Can you identify the 10 Caldecott honored titles pictured in the logo?  (The answers are here.)

Also be sure to check out  for multimedia resources about your favorite Caldecott winning books, including interviews and videos with the illustrators.   Do you want to know how to pronounce "Chris Raschka"?  Or "Jon Scieszka"? They will tell you.  See how Bryan Collier creates his collage illustrations, or browse a collection of video and audio interviews with Maurice Sendak.  

Which is your favorite Caldecott winning book?  

The Caldecott Award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The 75th Anniversary illustration and logo copyright © 2012 by Brian Selznick. Used with permission of ALSC/ALA


Oh Say Can You Sing?

Want to discover a library secret? Go ahead and take a trip to the 782 section of the children’s nonfiction shelves and you’ll discover something amazing. Hidden treasures! Picture books that are meant to be SUNG! Some are traditional, others are silly – but all are crowdpleasing. Here are a few recommendations to warm up your singing voice:

Baby Beluga book coverDown by the station book coverHush little baby book coverI ain't gonna paint no more book coverI love you! A Bushel and a Peck book coverLet's Play in the Forest book coverLet's sing a lullaby with the brave cowboy book cover I love my white shoes book coverSeals on the Bus book cover

Baby Beluga / Raffi; illustrations by Ashley Wolff

Down by the Station / Jennifer Riggs Vetter; illustrations by Frank Remkiewicz

Hush, Little Baby / adapted and illustrated by Brian Pinkney

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More! / Karen Beaumont; illustrated by David Catrow

I Love You! A Bushel & a Peck / Frank Loesser; pictures by Rosemary Wells

Let's Play in the Forest While the Wolf is not Around / Claudia Rueda

Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy / Jan Thomas

Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes / Eric Litwin; art by James Dean

The Seals on the Bus / Lenny Hort; illustrated by G. Brian Karas

Growing Readers Gardening Workshops

Have you seen the gardening containers in the front of the Main Library's Children's Room? This summer we have a special series of gardening programs for children on Thursdays. Acta Non Verba; Youth Urban Farm Project is teaching us about soil, seeds, bugs and more. 

In addition to the programming, we also have a new shelf full of gardening books for children. Come to the Main Library Children's Room to both garden and learn about gardening. 

Programs are mostly on Thursdays at 3:00. This week the program will be today (Tuesday) at 3:00. The topic is Weed or Plant? How are weeds and plants different? 

Look at some of the activities! You too could be part of the fun. Come on by!

Meet Manny Hernandez

Manny Hernandez is a Library Aide who works in several locations, including the Main Library Children's Room.  Library Aides are the backbone of your library: they touch every book checked in and out  in the whole system, and are often the first smiling face you see.  But let's hear about it from Manny.

What brought you to the Main Library Children’s Room?

I was drawn to the Main library Children’s Room because it was my local childhood library growing up in the Lake Merritt area. My career goal is to become a children’s librarian and what better place to receive experience, guidance and motivation.

 Give us an example of what a day at work looks like for you?

On regular day at work I have assigned duties which consist of organizing and shelving books. Doesn’t sound too interesting does it? You’ll be surprised. Library Aides work hands-on with all sorts of books. Some books are historical, others are humorous; a day at work gets pretty exciting not knowing what cool books you will encounter next. At work I also help create new library cards. Now this is where all the fun begins. Everyone loves library cards, especially children. I am the lucky guy who gets to observe their reaction after handing them their very first library card. I’ve seen screaming, jumping, running, laughter, smiling, all sorts of fun reactions that make me look forward to coming to work every day.

 What is your favorite thing about the Main Library Children’s Room?

My favorite thing about the Children’s Room has to be its wonderful collection of juvenile books. There is a humongous variety of awesome books, very rare for a patron to leave this branch with just one book in hand. Browsing the shelves easily turns into a stack of books in your hands. So if you’re ever in the area swing by and check the branch out and don’t forget to say HELLO!

 Where is your favorite place to visit in Oakland?

Lake Merritt is my absolute favorite place to visit. It is the heart of Oakland and a symbol of peace and a great place to spend a day out in the sun.

What’s your favorite book?

This is a very difficult question to answer but hands down my favorite book is Dog Breath. Author Dav Pilkey uses humor to tell a heroic story of a special dog named Hally Tosis who has a unique smell. So if you’re curious about Hally’s unique stinky smell and ready to hold your nose, then give this book a try. I give this book two thumps up!

 What’s your favorite food?

 I am a food fanatic, love eating.  As a matter of fact I’m probably eating right now, but there is one plate that seats at the very top of my food pyramid. A grilled Alaskan salmon, with a side of steamed rice marinated in butter. This plate is my weak spot and a very good way to make me your best friend.


What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen in a library?

In summer 2011, OPL partnered with the City of Oakland and the Alameda County Food Bank to provide meals for children during the summer. The craziest thing I’ve ever seen was a line of around 75 hungry children waiting patiently at the Cesar Chavez branch to be served free lunch. This line looped around the entire library, it was a remarkable sight and crazy moment I will never forget.

Thanks Manny!  Here's to a long career in Children's Library Services!Kids Eating Lunch

Awesome Early Readers

It’s not always easy finding the right books to place in the hands of brand new readers. Letting kiddos choose their own books is a surefire strategy for creating excitement about reading – you can use the five finger rule to decide if a book is too hard for a child. If you want some tried and true favorites, take a look at the Geisel Award winners and mosey on over to your library to find these awesome early readers!:

I spy Fly Guy book coverRabbit and Robot book coverAre you my mother book coverPenny and her Song book coverZelda and Ivy Keeping Secrets book coverLing and Ting book coverFrog and Toad are friends book coverThere is a bird on your head! book cover

I spy Fly Guy! / Tedd Arnold

Rabbit & Robot: the sleepover / Cece Bell

Are you my mother? / P. D. Eastman

Penny and her song / Kevin Henkes

Zelda and Ivy: keeping secrets / Laura McGee Kvasnosky

Ling & Ting: not exactly the same! / Grace Lin

Frog and Toad are friends / Arnold Lobel

There is a bird on your head! / Mo Willems

MOCHA at Libraries this Summer

Artists from the Museum of Children's Art (MOCHA) will continue their workshops at eight branches this summer! See below for the schedules. These weekly programs for preschool up to middle school students have been very popular for the past two years. Each week brings a different art project: sculpture, weaving, painting, collage. Children always leave with art in hand.  

Wednesdays 1-2 and 2-3 Main Library, Children's Room

Wednesdays 2-4              81st Avenue Community Branch 

Wednesdays 1-3:30        César Chávez Branch

Wednesdays 2-4              Eastmont Branch

Fridays 1-3                       Elmhurst Branch

Wednesdays 3-5              Golden Gate Branch

Wednesdays 2-4              Martin Luther King, Jr. Branch

Thursdays 3-4:30            West Oakland Branch

It is Summer and Your Library is Open!

Bubbles at West Oakland libraryThis Saturday kids turned out all over Oakland to help kick-off the Summer Reading Program.   Bubble-parties at many branches let families enjoy the sunshine with each other and their books,  and a bike meet-up at the Main Library pedaled over to the West Oakland branch to enjoy an incredible Scraper Bike workshop with Tyrone "Baybe Champ" Stevenson.   

Scraper Bike Meet up at West Branch

What's next? Check out the listings for your favorite performers and activites, or look to see what's happening this week at your branch.   Branch libraries are closed today, Tuesday June 18th, for the last City of Oakland Mandatory Business Closure Day of the fiscal year; but will reopen on Wednesday, when many of them will start serving Summer Free Lunch for kids and teens.  (The Main Library is open Tuesday).  

But you don't have to wait to sign up for the Summer Reading game to win prizes for your reading!   More than 1,000 children signed up this Saturday.  Have you?

Serenity working on a bikeBubbles at Montclair