Gardening with Homeschool Tuesdays

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The planting has begun in the community garden at the Main library in Oakland!  The children who participate in the Homeschool Tuesdays program series helped to plant a variety of vegetables today.  The Preschool Discovery group that meets on Thursdays will help to fill the second raised bed later in the week.  The First Floor department has graciously agreed to let participants from Children’s help with the maintenance and nurturing of the garden throughout the summer.

During the coming weeks the children in Homeschool Tuesdays will learn about garden journaling, pollination, helpful insects, soil, and organic gardening.  The focus this summer is nature and getting outdoors!

 Debbie E. & Debbie P.

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Anansi and other tricksters, part 1

Have you seen our puppet show this month?  The Children’s Department is presenting Anansi and The Moss-covered Rock, a West African folktale.  There’s still many days to see this production, so don’t miss it!  Plus, you’ll get a chance to see it on Sunday, June 8th at our Summer Reading Extravaganza!

Anansi is a trickster playing rather mean tricks on (of all people) his friends.  He’s lazy, almost always hungry, and un-motivated to do even the simplest of tasks, so he finds other ways to get the job done.  Most of his friends fall for the trick, but there’s one friend who watches all of this happen and decides that it’s time for the trick to go the other way.  Laughter, music and dancing are also a part of this show.

There are tricksters in many cultures–in fact so many that they can’t all be mentioned in just one post, so here are just a few.  Another list will come out shortly.  Check these out!

Monkey: a trickster tale from India


The Sticky Doll Trap


Pig-Boy: a trickster tale from Hawai’i


 Sister Tricksters:  rollicking tales of clever females


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Happy Mother’s Day!

You are invited to

A Mother’s Day Tea Party

Saturday, May 10, 2014

12:30-1:30 PM

Come and celebrate Mother’s Day with treats and activities

And when you’re done with the tea, check out some of these books!

My Mother is the Most Beautiful Woman in the World

a Russian folktale retold by Rebecca Hourwich Reyher


M. O. M. (Mom Operating Manual)

by Doreen Cronin and Laura Cornell

Mommy, Mama, and Me

by Leslea Newman

A Mother for Choco

by Keiko Kasza

My Mom

by Anthony Browne

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The “Coloured” Fairy Books

Andrew Lang was born in Selkirk, Scotland in 1844, educated at Oxford and later settled in London to become one of the greatest journalists of his day.  He did lots of writing in many forms of literature but is best known as a translator and editor of folk and fairy tales.  He collected the tales and published them in a different “colour book” almost every year for 25 years!

Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books and are a series of 12 collections of fairy tales.  These are also know an Andrew Lang’s “Coloured” Fairy Books or Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books of Many Colors.  The collections were published between 1889 and 1910.  There are 437 tales, in all, and they come from a wide range of cultures and countries.  You can find many of these “coloured” collections in the Special Collections section in the Children’s Department.

The first book, published in 1889, is The Blue Fairy Book.  It contains stories like Little Red Riding Hood, Rumpelstiltzkin, Beauty and the Beast, and Hansel and Gretel just to name a few.  Andrew has said, “These are the stories every child should have in his library.  These are the ‘story people’ the child should know best.  Their names and their sayings have passed on into the language.  Think of not knowing the Cinderella story!”

You may hear some of these and others at our Storytelling Around the World program on Saturday, May 3 at 2:30pm.

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A Parade of the Best Books for Babies 2014

The Best Books for Babies for 2014 are now up on our website and their own web page. As a member of the committee of librarians and other early childhood experts  who chose these, it’s most gratifying to be able to honor a book written by one of our own: Baby Parade by Rebecca O’Connell, a librarian at the Squirrel Hill branch children’s room.  I’ve had the pleasure of reading it at my toddler storytime and at child cares. Its near perfect combination of colors, textures and baby development were inspired by the Baby and Me program here at Main given by Kathy Maron-Wood.


Other books on the list include Global Baby Girls which depicts baby girls from around the world who are “beautiful, strong, bold and bright.”  Diggers Go and Goodnight Trucks represent the ever-so-popular vehicle contingent. Share babies doing what babies do best with this series of four: Cuddle, Eat, Move and Reach by  Elizabeth Verdick.

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Books about farm animals, bedtime routines, a volume of nursery rhymes and concepts chosen and illustrated by David McPhail and a cute and kooky cat round out the list.

Best Books for Babies is a cooperative venture of CLP, the Fred Rogers Company and the Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children. It strives to identify books that will delight and engage both babies and the adults who care for them.

Tina Zubak

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We have an App for that!

Apps are popular for everyone . . . even really young children, say 5 years or even 3 years and younger.  The apps can help them with their fine motor skills, vocabulary building, coordination and creative thinking.

Here in the Children’s Department, we’re offering an “App Fun @ The Library” program on Tuesdays in April at 7:00 PM.

Come and try out some of these apps:


I Hear Ewe—A simple game full of 24 different authentic animal sounds and 12 different vehicle sounds




Endless Alphabet—Learn your abcs plus build vocabulary with this interactive puzzle game



Moo, Baa, La La La—Sandra Boynton’s book comes alive with sound and movement and gloriously unpredictable interactivity



Make a Scene – Farmyard—Animated sticker app with descriptive audio and farm sound effects

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World Family Day is Tomorrow!

Last year’s World Family Day was a hit, full of stories, languages, crafts, food, and fun. And this spring’s new and improved version looks to be just as good and more!

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Come hear stories in Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, Hindi, and Marathi.

Stay to play games with chopsticks, create a beautiful Costa Rican morpho butterfly, and hang up a Chinese paper lantern.

Take a break to get a temporary henna tattoo from talented local artist Kady Patil.

And when you feel like you’re starting to slow down, fuel up with delicious snacks from around the world donated by local restaurants. There will be Korean sweet potato noodles from Seoul Mart, hummus from Ali Baba, luxurious French hot tea from Crêpes Parisiennes, and much more!

Round the afternoon off with an energetic dance bonanza, where you’ll learn dances from different cultures with our dance expert Miss Kathy!


World Family Day is TOMORROW from 2:00 – 4:00 pm in the Children’s Department. You won’t want to miss a single minute of it!

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What’s Hoppin-ing?

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Children at today’s Sensory Storytime created these bunny finger puppets! Join us next Sunday at 2:00 PM, or view our Events Calendar for more information on other upcoming programs and events.

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Storytelling Around the World

Stories, stories and more stories . . . that’s what Storytelling Around the World is all about (kind of like the hokey pokey!).   The next one will be Saturday, April 5 at 11:00 AM in the Children’s Department and we invite kids of all ages to come and be a part of this great tradition.

We’ll be focusing on stories that kids might like to tell; we’ll also play some games that will help bring out the storyteller inside them.  You can find some ideas for storytelling games and stories for kids to try in these sources:

Raising Voices: creating youth storytelling groups and troupes 

by Judy Sima and Kevin Cordi

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Children Tell Stories: teaching and using storytelling in the classroom

by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss

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How and Why Stories:  world tales kids can read and tell

by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss

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Noodlehead Stories:  world tales kids can read and tell

by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss

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Stores in my Pocket:  tales kids can tell

by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss

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Through the Grapevine:  world tales kids can read and tell

retold by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss

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Every Child a Storyteller:  a handbook of ideas

by Harriet Kinghorn and Mary Helen Pelton

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Story Play:  building language and literacy one story at a time

by Mary Jo Huff

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Closing Women’s History Month with a few lesser known women

At the close of Women’s History Month, I have been thinking of some lesser known women who led interesting and influential lives. They may only be lesser known to me—I have holes in my grade school education, which as far as women’s history didn’t go much further than Amelia Earhart and Helen Keller and Rosa Parks. So, here are a few women I was glad to learn about:

Laura Bridgman. I was hooked when I read She Touched the World, Sally Alexander’s affectionate biography of the first deafblind American woman to receive an education. Bridgman, in fact, indirectly started a seed of possibility for Helen Keller; she taught Annie Sullivan to fingerspell. Bridgman not only lost her sight and hearing to illness, but also most of her taste and smell, except for acidic flavors. Fortunately, Samuel Howe was experimenting with ways to teach language to deaf people, and took Bridgman as a pupil. Despite having one-on-one attention for only a few hours a day, unlike Keller, Bridgman excelled. Bridgman’s eagerness for words is palpable, and I love this exchange between Bridgman and her teacher: “‘Four senses. Think, and nose, mouth, and fingers. I have four senses.’ Miss Drew must have smiled. Laura certainly did have think!”

Ada Lovelace understood the difficulties of being a woman in the tech field, way back in the 1800s. The expectation for women to raise children created demands on her time, which made it difficult to pursue her education in mathematics. When she did, working on an explanation of the pre-calculator Analytical Engine, she was not allowed to attend Royal Society meetings. Eventually, however, she envisioned uses for a machine she never saw personally, some of which, like punch cards, were used in early computers.

Grace Hopper, aka Amazing Grace, was the only woman in her class at Yale to obtain a Ph.D. in math. Her mathematical talent served her well in the Navy, where she programmed computers with punch cards. This led to improvements in coding, such as compilers and the use of English in code instructions. Eventually, she helped to promote COBOL, a then-universal business computer language.

More women are sure to be mentioned in April–National Poetry Month!

See also:


Lift the Wings

Happy Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day!






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