Kids Books

Book Picks

Subscribe to this blog: RSS feed Email

Celebrate National Library Week: April 13 – April 19

National Library Week with Honorary Chair Judy Blume: April 13 - 19 2014Every April since 1958, National Library Week has been celebrated in the United States. 2014’s Honorary Chair is the one of the best loved children’s authors of all time.

Judy Blume is an ideal spokesperson for libraries. Not only have her books helped instill a love of reading in generations of children, she has also helped them cope with some of the more awkward stages of growing up, with classics such as Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Then Again, Maybe I Won’t. The New York Public Library lists her Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing as one of the 100 Great Children’s Books of the last 100 years.

Libraries are Judy Blume’s friends as much as she is theirs. Four decades’ worth of attempts to pull her books off the shelves have consistently placed her on the American Library Association’s list of Most Frequently Challenged Authors. Libraries, recognizing not only the educational and social value of Blume’s books, but that kids love them, continue to make sure kids get to read them.

Judy Blume has written about her own thoughts on censorship on her official Web site. There, she quotes a letter from a young reader:

"Dear Judy,
I don't know where I stand in the world. I don't know who I am.
That's why I read, to find myself.
Elizabeth, age 13"


How could anyone of any age put it any better?

There are lots of different ways to celebrate National Library Week, but perhaps one of the best is to check out a Judy Blume book.

Choosing the Right Book for Your Child: Infants (0 to 1 year)

It can be scary stepping into the library and seeing shelves upon shelves of books and trying to decide which one is right for your child.


This is a brief guide on selecting age appropriate books for your infant. Note that these are suggestions. All children are different. Children of the same age will handle the same book differently. Don’t give up after the first reading. A child’s brain is constantly in motion; thinking, analyzing and deciphering the text and illustrations they see. Repetition is one of the key ways that children learn. Even if you read the same book every single day to your infant, you are putting them on the path towards literacy and a love of learning.


Choosing books for your infant: 0 to 12 months


What to look for:

  • Books that are simple, with large pictures or designs with bright colors. 
  • Books that are high contrast books (black and white) for newborns.
  • Books that are made of cloth and soft vinyl books with simple pictures of people or familiar objects that can go in the bath or get washed.
  • Books with photos of babies and pictures of things they see every day - balls, bottles, chairs, dogs.
  • Sturdy, brightly-colored board books to touch and taste.
  • Small books sized for small hands.
  • Sturdy pages that can be propped up or spread out in the crib or on a blanket.
  • Small plastic photo albums of family and friends.
  • Books about saying hello and goodbye.
  • Books with only a few words on the page.
  • Wordless books, improvise your own story.
  • Goodnight books for bedtime.
  • Pop-up and lift-the-flap books.


Quick tips about reading to your infant:

  • Read to your child from day one, but at four months of age, babies become interested in objects and will begin to interact with books.
  • Around 8 or 9 months, your baby will be able to turn the pages of a book by themselves.
  • Point to the words when you are reading to your infant. Pointing to the words lets the infant learn that literacy is a combination of language and text.
  • Put board books out on the play mat during tummy time.
  • It’s OK if your infant tries to eat the book.
  • It’s OK if your child plays/throws with the book.
  • When your child starts pulling your books off the bookshelf, create a shelf for their books. Let them pull and explore their own books.
  • Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs to your infant.
  • Keep books everywhere. In the diaper bag, in the car, in every room of the house.


Some titles & authors to get you started:


Spots, Feathers, and Curly TailsBlack on White coverFreight Train coverGoodnight Moon coverMy Very First Mother Goose coverWhere is Baby's Belly Button coverCounting Kisses cover

Nursery Rhyme Time

Row, Row, Row, Your Boat cover

For a fun activity you can do at home, take a classic nursery rhyme like "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and turn it into your own. All you have to do is alter a few words to the tune of the song.


The original:

Row, row, row your boat

Gently down the stream,

Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily

Life is but a dream.


Try swapping locations and actions with words to match whatever activity you have planned for the day.

"Ride, ride, ride your bike

quickly down the street,



"drive, drive, drive the car

quickly down the street" 



"eat, eat, eat your lunch

slowly at the table"


For extra lyrics along with a funny story, check out Iza Tripani's book rendition of this classic song.


Do you like reptiles?  Would you like to learn more about them?  Libraries in San Jose have many books about reptiles that you can check out.  Here are a few that you many enjoy:


Eyewitness Reptile Book CoverEyewitness Reptile, written by Colin McCarthy is a great introduction to reptiles.  This book includes a CD rom with plenty of clip art.   There is information about reptile classification, reptile evolution, and an excellent glossary.

Slither and Crawl book cover imageSlither and Crawl: Eye to Eye with Reptiles, written and illustrated Jim Arnosky, is a beautifully illustrated book with life-size pictures of a variety of reptiles.  Some of the pages fold out to allow for larger pictures.


There are also a variety of databases with additional information about reptiles and other animals, including databases especially for students in grades K-8.  There is even a Science Reference Center that can connect you to more useful information.  All you need is your library card to access these useful databases


Happy Learning! 

The Muppets!

The Muppets book coverIt's time to play the music

It's time to light the lights

It's time to meet the Muppets

In their new movie tonight!


This week, Muppets Most Wanted will be hitting theaters Friday, March 21st! Relive the Muppet magic with their new and classic films. Get ready for the sequel by enjoying The Muppets again! This film follows three muppet fans, including the new muppet Walter, as they try to reunite the broken up Muppets before their historical theater is demolished.


For a trip down memory lane, don't forget The Muppet Movie, which follows Kermit and his dreams of show business. There's also the delightful double feature, Muppet Treasure Island and The Great Muppet Caper, packed with adventure, pirates, theft, conspiracy and Tim Curry. For even more Muppet madness, check out their other movies here!


Frogs are Funny! book cover

Did you know that Miss Piggy was raised on a farm and has two nephews named Randy and Andy? Or that Gonzo's girlfriend, Camilla the Chicken, can be identified by the color of her eyes, they're blue! From Kermit the Frog, to Animal and Fozzie Bear, the gang's all here! Find out more fun facts about your favorite characters with The Muppets Character Encyclopedia.


For some more Muppet fun, check out Frogs Are Funny! : The Most Sensational, Inspirational, Celebrational, Muppetational Muppets Joke Book Ever!


If you're looking for some history and the creation of these iconic characters, check out Of Muppets & Men : The Making of the Muppet Show and The Art of the Muppets : A Retrospective Look at Twenty-Five Years of Muppet Magic.

Posted by J Novak on Mar 17, 2014 | Comments: 0 |

Dr. Seuss' Birthday Party at Your Local Branch Library (Read Across America)

Cat in the HatYou will be in good company celebrating Dr. Seuss’ Birthday at your library. Everyone across the country is doing it! Party and read Dr. Seuss with your neighbors. It’s Seussical!


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Bascom Branch Library - 11:00a.m.

West Valley Branch Library - 11:00a.m.

Berryessa Branch Library - 11:30a.m.

Seven Trees Branch Library - 2:00p.m.

Alviso Branch Library - 3:00p.m.


Monday, March 3, 2014

Joyce Ellington Branch Library - 3:00p.m.

Educational Park Branch Library - 3:30p.m.

Cambrian Branch Library - 4:00p.m.

Calabazas Branch Library - 4:00p.m.

Tully Community Branch Library - 4:00p.m.

Vineland Branch Library - 4:00p.m.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Edenvale Branch Library - 11:30a.m.

Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch Library - 6:00p.m.

Alum Rock Branch Library - 6:30p.m.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Almaden Branch Library - 11:15a.m. - 6:30p.m.

Pearl Avenue Branch Library - 4:00p.m.

Hillview Branch Library - 6:00p.m.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

East San José Carnegie Branch Library - 4:00p.m.


Friday, March 7, 2014

King Library (Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library) - 4:00p.m.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Evergreen Branch Library - 4:00p.m.


"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go." - Dr. Seuss


Check out copies of all of your favorite Dr. Seuss stories at your local branches!

Early Literacy Foundations Part 6: Letter Knowledge

In this sixth blog post, we will explore Letter Knowledge.

For previous blog posts in this series, please see Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four and Part Five.

What is letter knowledge?

Letter knowledge includes recognizing the letters of the alphabet and knowing their names.


Why is it important?

The first step toward developing phonological awareness (an awareness of letter sounds), starts with letter knowledge. These skills are necessary for learning how to read.  


How can I help my child develop letter knowledge?

Activities that have your child focus on one letter at a time are great for building letter knowledge.


  • Make letter flashcards together and then use them to talk about each letter of the alphabet.
  • Have a "letter of the day" so you can focus on one letter each day and talk about it in depth. Print out the letter as large as you can and display it in your home. This will give that letter a presence in your home and allow your child to become familiar with its shape.  
  • When looking at alphabet books together, have your child trace over the letter with their finger. Help them follow the lines and talk about the shape of the letters.
  • Pointing out letters in the world around you is a great way to bring attention to individual letters. It's often good to start with the first letter of the child's name, for example: "Look there's an S, on the Stop sign, just like the S in Sam!"




It's never too early to begin working on early literacy skills with your child! Here are some hardpage books that would be great for reading with your baby:


cover for abc bookCover for everyday alphabetCover for baby abc



Books that focus on one letter at a time are great for teaching letter knowledge. Check out these books in the "My Sound Box" series:



 cover for my d sound boxcover for my v sound boxcover for my m sound box


In conjunction with books, DVDs such as Leap Frog Letter Factory are great for learning about letters. Other books like Kindergarten Alphabet Activities and Spectrum Learning Letters are also great for  building and expanding letter knowledge.


 cover for letter factoryCover for Alphabet Activitiescover for spectrum learning letters



To experience the six early literacy skills in action, visit your local branch for a storytime, music and movement class or early learning readiness program. If you'd like help finding more information and resources about developing early literacy skills with your child, drop in to any one of our 23 locations and ask for a librarian!

Fantastic Flying Books!

The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore - book coverSilicon Valley Reads 2014, a program designed to get the whole community reading together in the months of January through March, has selected a few children's books at different reading levels as companions to the adult program. For 2014, the book recommended for ages 4-8 is The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce and illustrated by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm. The San Jose Public Library also has the Spanish version, Los fantásticos libros voladores del Sr. Morris Lessmore.


The story of Mr. Morris Lessmore and his flying books started life as a short animated film that won the Academy Award for Best Animated Short of 2011. Since then, both the book and an iPad app have been adapted from the film.

SJPL's event calendar features a variety of events centered around the book and its theme at the King Library and several different branches. Check out what we've got on for the rest of February and March.  


Here's a couple of events that look especially fun to me:


Flying Book Story and Craft
After listening to the story, kids 4 and up will get to make their own books!
See when a branch near you is having the story and craft event.

Meet the Illustrator
The book's illustrator, Joe Bluhm, will be at the King Library on Friday, March 21, 2014 at 4:00 pm and the Evergreen branch on Saturday, March 22, 2014 at 1:00 pm to talk about the book, the film and the iPad app with the whole family.  

Early Literacy Foundations Part 5: Print Awareness

In this fifth blog post, we will explore Print Awareness.

For previous blog posts in this series, please see Part One, Part Two, Part Three and Part Four

What is print awareness?

Print awareness means being aware of printed text and understanding that the text has meaning. It also includes knowing how to handle a book.


Why is it important?

Recognizing that those shapes on the page are actually words and not just part of the picture, is an important first step in learning how to read.


How can I help my child develop print awareness?


Book Handling

Before reading together, explain the different parts of a book.

  • front cover
  • back of the book
  • right side up vs. upside down
  • point out the title and author

Eventually your child will be able to answer questions such as:

  • Where's the front cover?
  • Where's the title?
  • Which way does the book go?
  • Can you open the book and turn to the first page?


While reading together it is important to fingertrack (drag your finger underneath the words as you read them). This will start to develop your child's awareness that what you are saying is what is represented by the words on the page.


Everyday Life

Point out print that exists in the real world:

  • Road signs
  • Billboards
  • Price tags
  • Receipts

Create a print rich environment around the home by labeling household objects.

For example, print and tape up signs for:

  • Window
  • Refrigerator
  • Cabinet
  • Chair

Turn everyday activities into opportunities to reinforce print awareness.

  • Before grocery shopping trips, write a list together and explain what you are doing. "We need milk, so I am going to write milk here on our shopping list." You can even spell the word out as you write.
  • When eating out, explain that the words on the menu represent different food choices.
  • Use a recipe to cook something together. Say it aloud as you go through the recipe step by step, and have your child help you collect the ingredients.

All of these activities are great ways to help your child understand that those shapes are letters, which make up words and words have meaning!




The following items in the San Jose Public Library Collection can help reinforce print awareness. Click on the pictures below to view the items in our catalog.


Easy-Peasy Recipes and Kids Cook 1-2-3 are great books to use to cook with your child. They have great pictures and easy recipes that will help you get started in using print when cooking.

 Cover for Easy Peasy Recipescover for kids cook 1 2 3

Reading books like Maisy Bakes A Cake and Bunny Cakes, can be a great way to show your child how someone can follow the directions of a recipe or use a shopping list at the grocery store, without having to do all the work yourself!

 Cover for Maisy bakes a cakecover for bunny cakes

Flight 1-2-3 and Backseat A-B-See are wonderful books that can introduce your child to road signs and other forms of print and symbols in everyday life.

Cover for flight 1 2 3Cover for backseat A B See


Keep an eye out for the next and final blog post of Early Literacy Foundations, Part 6: Letter Knowledge.

The Year of the Horse with author Oliver Chin

The Year of the Horse book coverCome to the East San Jose Carnegie Branch Library on Wednesday February 12, 2014 at 6:00 PM in order to meet author Oliver Chin!  He will speak about Lunar New Year, and read from his newest book The Year of the Horse: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac, in this multimedia presentation for the whole family. Children will be invited to color a Zodiac animal themed coloring sheet as part of the event.


This event is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Friends of the East San José Carnegie Branch Library.

Year of the Horse ImageVengan a la Biblioteca de East San José Carnegie el miércoles 12 de febrero 2014 a las 6:00 PM para escuchar al autor Oliver Chin!  Él hablará del Año Nuevo Lunar y leerá de su libro más reciente The Year of the Horse: Tales from the Chinese Zodiac, en esta presentación multimedia para toda la familia. (La presentación estará solamente en inglés, sin embargo, todos están invitados.)   Los niños estarán invitados a colorear un papel con temas de los animales del zodiaco como parte del evento.


Este evento es posible gracias a la generosidad de Friends of the East San José Carnegie Branch Library.