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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.


The Lego Book coverGet ready for Lego madness! THE LEGO MOVIE comes out this Friday, February 7, 2014! From childhood building blocks, to creating whole cities, there's something for everyone with LEGOS.


For those who want to jump right in, The LEGO Book by Daniel Lipkowitz is the perfect place to start. It outlines the 50+ year history of LEGOs, from it's beginnings as the Kirk family business, to to the massive Legoland theme park. Find out how LEGOs have been designed and manufactured throughout the years. This book is full of dozens of LEGO kits that have been created over the years, as well as awesome LEGO brick art.


When you want to get started on your own LEGO building adventures, be sure to check out the LEGO Play Book : Ideas to Bring Your Bricks to Life and The LEGO Ideas Book : Unlock Your Imagination. These books contain hundreds of LEGO building instructions and inspiration so you can build your own dinosaurs, castles and cars. Or make your own unique creation!

 Lego: a Love Story cover

For those who want to see extreme lego building, check out Beautiful LEGO for artists who push the medium of LEGO brick art. This is an ebook you can immediately and easily click or scroll through, while admiring complex models like castles, giant robots, and even convincing food creations.

For a more serious and heartfelt look, check out LEGO: A Love Story, a memoir about one man's reconsidered childhood dream of becoming a master LEGO model builder. This book takes an inside look at LEGO conventions, community, behind-the-scenes at LEGO headquarters, as well as a warm and personal story about the attempt to build with LEGO and build a family.

Posted by Jessica Reilly on Feb 3, 2014 | Comments: 0 |

Pete Seeger Lives Forever in the Library

Young Pete Seeger with banjoAmerica has been mourning the passing of our great folk singer Pete Seeger this past week. He was giving and helpful to so many communities, and the library world is no exception.  The American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress posted about him on its blog:

"In the 1930s, Pete was invited by his friend Alan Lomax to work at the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Song, which is now the AFC Archive. There’s no record of his being paid, so we consider him the Archive’s first intern!  Several AFC collections from the 1930s and 1940s contain materials collected by Lomax and Seeger, as well as music and square-dance calls performed by Seeger alone and with groups."


The AFC's blog post has a link to an archived recording of Pete Seeger performing a song called "Dear Mr. President" at the Library of Congress in 1942 - go read the entire blog post and give the song a listen!

The San Jose Public Library catalog is also full of treasures Pete Seeger left us, in print, electronic, audio and video format. We've also got his children's books based on a South African lullaby and folk story, Abiyoyo and Abiyoyo Returns.

Some of us thought Pete might live forever. We were right. He is always in the library.

Early Literacy Foundations Part 4: Narrative Skills

In this fourth part of Early Literacy Foundations, we will explore Narrative Skills.

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


What are narrative skills?

Narrative skills include the ability to describe things, the ability to tell a story, and the ability to follow a story that someone else is reading or telling. This includes understanding a sequence of events (first, middle, last) and being able to predict what will happen next.


Why are narrative skills important?

Narrative skills allow a child to develop their oral language skills as well as their comprehension of what others are saying or reading. Being able to follow a story, and being able to interpret and understand what is being read, are linked with being able to read. These skills are foundational for general reading comprehension and have implications for being able to listen and understand what a teacher is saying in a classroom or what is written in the instructions of an assignment or project, later in life.


How can I help my child develop their narrative skills?


Activities using prediction

Ask questions that provoke your child to predict what will happen next. This can be done when reading together or in everyday life. Questions like: "Look the cup of milk is on the edge of the table, what do you think will happen if someone bumps it?" will help your child begin to think about cause and effect and be able to verbalize a sequence of events.



Ask questions after reading a book about what happened such as "Can you remember what it was that the girl found in the treasure chest? What happened after she opened the chest? Where did they go after that?". These types of questions will help your child recall what just happened in the book and allow them to work on their oral language skills as well as their comprehension of the book that was just read. Help your child along in re-telling the chain of events from the book.

Even in everyday life, something as simple as asking your child to recall what they did today can help develop narrative skills. Get the whole family involved and take turns having each family member describe their day at the dinner table.



Cover for show me a storyTelling stories together is a great way to develop those narrative skills, work on oral language skills and use our creativity and imagination! Making storytelling kits can be a great craft project to do together as well. A random collection of small objects (a key, a stuffed animal, a shoe, a box) can be a great starting point for any number of creative stories. You can also use object flash cards! Have your child pick five at random and help them create a story using those objects. Help them along by giving them a leading sentence or two: "Once upon a time, the child picked up a magical stick, and then..."


For other storytelling kit ideas, Show Me A Story by Emily Neuberger is a great book full of creative storytelling activities.


Another great tool for storytelling is the wordless picture book. Books such as Where's Walrus, Flotsam, and Higher! Higher! have little or no words and allow you (with the help of your child) to provide the narrative. Make sure that you spend a good amount of time on each page really explaining what is going on and asking questions about what your child thinks is happening. Take turns on each page describing what is happening and what the characters might be saying. Without printed words there are many possibilities and opportunities to work on those narrative skills.

Cover for where's walrusCover for flotsamCover for Higher Higher



Cover for baby read aloud basicsIn addition to the many wordless picture books in our collection,Cover for the read-aloud handbook

the San Jose Public Library has a wide variety of resources to assist you in helping your child develop his/her narrative skills. Titles such as Baby Read-Aloud Basics and The Read-Aloud Handbook can give you strategies for purposeful reading aloud and ideas for making every book you read with your baby or child meaningful and fun!


Keep an eye out for the next installment of Early Literacy Foundations, where we will talk about the fifth early literacy skill: Print Awareness.

Early Literacy Foundations Part 3: Vocabulary

In this third part of Early Literacy Foundations, we will explore Vocabulary.

(Have you read Part 1: Print Motivation or Part 2: Phonological Awareness yet?)


What is vocabulary?

Vocabulary in the early years of a child’s life includes knowing the names of things, concepts, feelings and ideas.


Why is it Important?


Give Your Child Their Best Chance at Learning How to Read

Vocabulary building is an essential early literacy skill for learning how to read. It is easier to learn how to read when the words being sounded out (or the sight words being recalled) are familiar to the learner.


Kindergarten Readiness

It is generally accepted that children entering school need to know between 3,000 and 5,000 words. Knowledge of words and concepts is a key component of kindergarten readiness.


Overall Academic Success

Studies have shown that the number of words a child is exposed to in their early years is a strong predictor of later academic success. It will be much easier for a child to become excited about an assignment if they are not struggling with reading and comprehending the instructions.


Social-Emotional Development

A key factor in social emotional development is a child’s ability to express oneself. Children with strong vocabularies have a wider variety of words to choose from when expressing themselves, not just as a child, but also as an adult. It will also help with developing a sense of empathy when they have read and learned about a wide variety of emotions. They will be able to understand when someone is lonely or overwhelmed if they have knowledge of those emotions.


Lifelong Learning

The act of vocabulary-building encourages lifelong learning. By exploring new words, subjects and ideas together, you can pique your child’s interest in any number of possibilities in this great big world! Who knows, by reading about planets, stars and meteors, you might be inspiring the next astronaut or, by reading about orcas, humpback whales and giant squid, you might be sparking the interest of the world’s next great marine biologist!


How can I help my child build their vocabulary?


Oral Language

Talking and reading to your baby and child is extremely important. What better way to help increase your child’s vocabulary than by sharing your own word knowledge with them? It is never too early to start talking with your child. Before your child is even able to talk, you are helping their cognitive development by exposing them to language.


DVDs and books for introducing new words and feelings to your baby:

Cover for Action WordsCover for Bee Smart BabyCover for How Does Baby Feel?Cover for First 100 Words



Once they are able to speak, it is important to give your child many opportunities to learn new words. Repetition reinforces words they've heard once or twice, so make sure you repeat yourself even if it feels redundant. Have them repeat after you, even if you don't think they can pronounce the word perfectly yet. The goal is to get them to experiment saying different sounds and words and will help with their language development even if they don’t master the word right away.


Non-fiction Reading

Cover for Lots of SpotsIncorporating non-fiction books when reading out loud to your child. Often non-fiction books have a wider variety of vocabulary words and bigger words as well. Do not shy away from big words, either. Children are capable of understanding more than we sometimes give them credit for. Go ahead and tell them the full details: "Do you see that vehicle? It is called an excavator! Do you see the bucket that excavates the dirt out of the ground?" By pointing out these things, especially in everyday life, they will begin to grasp the meaning over time, if not right away.


Cover for InsectBooks like Lots of Spots by Lois Ehlert will introduce your child to different kinds of animals and help your child focus on the details that separate different kinds of the same animal. For example, instead of just saying “bird”, the author shows us that there are many different kinds of birds: Chickadee, Robin, Bluejay, Hairy Woodpecker and Loon. DK Press' Eyewitness Books are great for kids who are a little bit older. They have full color photographs and break down non-fiction subjects in great detail. Perfect for learning lots of new words!


Activity Books, Nursery Rhymes and Picture Dictionaries

Ready, Set, Preschool has a wide variety of activities, stories and poems that are great for vocabulary building. It is also wonderful for working on any of the other early literacy skills!


My Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie and Rosemary Wells and Mother Goose's Storytime Nursery Rhymes by Axel Scheffler are great for teaching well loved and well-known nursery rhymes to your child. Nursery Rhymes often have interesting and different words than aren't commonly used in everyday language and can help expand your child's vocabulary. Folk, Fairy Tale and Nursery Rhyme Books are great for introducing new words to your little one and allowing them to learn through context. "Little Miss Muffet sat on a Tuffet", for example, will teach your child what a tuffet is, without having to explain it!


The American Heritage Picture Dictionary will allow you to turn to any random page and learn about many exciting things! Picture dictionaries are great for making connections between the words and the pictures. The I Spy series of picture books will provide you and your child with hours of fun with each page chock full of hundreds of obscure objects, both large and small.

Cover for Ready Set PreschoolCover for my very first mother gooseCOver for mother gooses storytime nursery rhymesCover for American Heritage Picture Dictionary

Keep an eye out for the next post in this series, Early Literacy Foundations Part 4, where we will explore Narrative Skills.

Silicon Valley Reads 2014 is Coming to a Library Near You!

Silicon Valley Reads 2014 has posted their online schedule for the seasons’ hottest author tickets in the South Bay – including events at the San Jose Public Library. The good news is all the events are free and don’t really require tickets!


The event series, beginning with the official kickoff on Wednesday, January 22, 2014 is entitled: "Books & Technology: Friends or Foes". Doors open at 6:45 p.m. with the actual event commencing at 7:30 p.m. There are no reservations required – first come, first seated at the historic Campbell Heritage Theatre.


Mr. Penumbra's 24 hr Bookstore Book Cover

The Shallows book cover

Here are the two headlining authors:


Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore, will be joined on stage by Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy – a man experienced in the art of the interview.




Many more events are scheduled throughout February and March. Many of the events are perfect for the youngsters in your life and go well with these selected companion books for children:

All of the authors above will be at various libraries around town. Please check our events calendar for upcoming events. Each year Silicon Valley Reads encourages everyone in Santa Clara County to read and discuss the same book during the months of February and March. Take advantage of this opportunity. Be part of the community discussion. Make Sunday dinner an "all ages can participate" forum for fun. It’s bound to be lively and can include the whole family with the age appropriate selections.

When you have finished reading the featured books for Silicon Valley Reads 2014 you might want to try these books! Also, just for fun, why not try an ebook? Happy reading everyone!

Early Literacy Foundations Part 2: Phonological Awareness

In this second part of Early Literacy Foundations, we will explore Phonological Awareness.

If you would like to read part one of Early Literacy Foundations first, please read it here.


What does it mean?

Phonological awareness is being conscious of letter sounds. It means understanding that those symbols on the page (letters) represent sounds that we then speak. Being aware that words are a combination of sounds and that words rhyme that have the same letter combinations are both part of phonological awareness. 


Why is it important?

You need to have phonological awareness in order to be able to sound out words. Children who do not develop a strong phonological awareness often have trouble learning how to read.


How can I help my child develop phonological awareness?

Alphabet books (see the concept book area at the library), can help your child develop this skill by focusing on one letter at a time. While reading these books to your child, have them repeat you as you say the name of each letter and sound it out. 


Cover of Sesame Street ABC book

Another type of book that can help with developing phonological awareness are word books, such as the Sesame Street ABC book. These types of books often have many objects on the page that all start with the same letter. They also have the printed word on the page next to the object so that they can make the connection between the words on the page, the obects, and the letter that you are focusing on.



The Cat in the Hat coverRhyming books like the Cat in the Hat, are great for introducing how words with the same letter combinations can rhyme. As you point to the words, you can have your child repeat the words after you. By showing them how the words look and sound similar, you are helping them develop this early literacy skill.






cover for Letter sounds dvdThe San Jose Public Library has a wide variety of resources available to help you develop phonological awareness with your child.  Dvds such as: Meet the Phonics: Letter Sounds, Pocket Snails Aquaphonic Adventure, and Rock 'N Learn Letter Sounds (pictured left) are great for getting your child started on developing an awareness of letter sounds.



We also have a large selection of ABC books (located in the concept book area), such as Alpha Oops! by Alethea Kontis & Bob KolarZ is for Moose by Kelly Bingham & Paul Zelinsky, Richard Scarry's ABC Word Book and ABC by Bruno Munari.  


Book Cover for Alpha oopsCover for Z is for Moosebook cover for abc word bookbook cover for abc



Another great resource to ask a librarian about is our bilingual kit called Books and More!. These kits contain books, DVDs, toys and tips, all for working with your child on early literacy skills.



Check back next week when we will explore the next early literacy skill: Vocabulary!

Early Literacy Foundations Part 1: Print Motivation

Early Literacy Foundations

In this series of blog posts we will explore the six early literacy skills that a child must have in order to be ready to learn how to read and write. These six skills are pre-reading skills that focus on developing cognitive abilities. Why are these skills important? Reading is the foundation for all learning so taking the time with your child in their early years will enable them to start school prepared and excited about learning and ensure they have a strong foundation for their whole academic life and beyond.


The Six Early Literacy Skills (in no particular order):


Print Motivation

Phonological Awareness


Narrative Skills

Print Awareness

Letter Knowledge


In this first post, we will talk about Print Motivation.


What does it mean?

Print motivation means being interested in books and reading and being motivated by stories and books. It means having a positive relationship with books and reading so that a child genuinely enjoys these activities.


Why is it Important?

 If your child is excited about reading and books, they will be excited about learning. Setting up this relationship from an early age can help them tremendously in setting the course for a strong academic future. Reading and learning will never be seen as a chore for them if they truly love it.


How can I help my child develop print motivation?


Start Early and Read Often!

Book Cover for ten tiny babiesStart reading as soon as possible with your child, it's never too early to start exposing your child to books. Even as a baby, your child can handle books, play with them and touch them while you read. The most important thing is to make sure you take the time with you child to read every day. Try for ten minutes a day and make a habit of it. Stress the importance of this time together with books as it is a special time to be cherished and that will encourage the positive relationship so that your child we be a motivated learner through preschool, kindergarten and beyond.


Monkey See, Monkey Do!

If your little one sees you reading, they will be interested in it too. Modeling a good relationship with books is one of the most important things you can do. Take the time to explain to them what you are doing and why you are doing it. "I am reading these words on the page because I want to know or learn about ____" or "I am reading this story about a boy that goes on an adventure because it is fun and I want to know what happens next!" Remember, you are not only your child's first teacher, but also their first role model! 


Make it fun!

If you are enthusiastic about the book you are reading together, your child will take an interest in it as well. Reading in silly voices, acting out parts of the book as you read--these are all ways that you can make the books you are reading more entertaining and interesting for your child. Take your child to the library on a regular basis and allow them to spend time picking out books. They will look forward to taking those books home and reading them together if they picked them out themselves! 


And last but not least, don't forget to make reading a social activity! Take your child to one of our many storytimes or literacy-related events offered throughout the San Jose Public Library system. Making storytime a habit is a healthy one and can add to the joy of reading if your child looks forward to seeing, interacting, singing and dancing with other kids at storytimes and other events.



Book Cover for LMNO Peas

The San Jose Public Library has a wide variety of resources available to help you develop print motivation with your child. All of the San Jose Public Library branches have a large selection of Picture Books, Concept Books (books that focus on ABCs and 123s) and Fairy Tale Books for your child to fall in love with. Also, don't forget to ask a librarian about our bilingual kits called Books and More! that contain books, DVDs, toys and tips, all for working with your child on early literacy skills.


Check back next Friday where we will explore the next early literacy skill: Phonological Awareness!

Pink Me UP

cover of "Pink Me Up"

Young Violet is so looking forward to attending the "PINK" picnic for mothers and daughters.  Everyone will be wearing lots of PINK! Alas! Something unexpected happens.  What to do next becomes quite a plight for Violet. What about the "Pink-nic"? Will this be the worst day of her life? With the help of a surprise guest, Violet is able to face the challenges ahead of her.


Violet learns a valuable lesson: A temporary setback does not equal failure nor does it mean something is impossible to achieve. Violet and her parent have a "Perfectly-Pink" time at the "Pink-nic".


A delightfully "pink story" by Charise Mericle Harper.