MCL Blogs

Baby playing with food

You’ll hear a lot of different opinions about this topic, but many doctors and early childhood educators actually believe it is a good idea.

Playing with their food:

  • Helps babies learn to feed themselves
  • May prevent picky eating
  • Helps babies build their brains
  • Gives you a moment to catch up!

Playing with food begins as soon as babies are old enough to sit in a high chair. They love to reach for food and explore it in a hands-on, messy experiment of texture and taste. It may not be pretty, but it is a normal and healthy stage of development.

There is an element of play, but there are also important stages of learning taking place. Like mastering the pincer grasp, which eventually leads to holding a pencil! And kids who play with their food can be faster to learn words associated with food textures. In a 2013 study, toddlers who poked, prodded, swirled, mashed and even threw their food were interacting with key developmental concepts more than other children.  

And playing with your food isn’t just for babies, many preschool programs include activities where children participate in "sensory sessions," and touch, listen, taste, and smell different kinds of foods—then share observations with each other.

At any age it's fun to sing a song while you and your child “play” with your food. Here is one where you can make up your own variations together about the foods you like and how you cook and eat them.

All Around the Kitchen
Soup, soup, put it in the pot,
warm it up, warm it up, eat it while it's hot!

Bagel, bagel, put it in the toaster,
warm it, toast it, eat it with some jelly!

Ice cream, ice cream, put it in my tummy,
I like (flavor), yummy, yummy, yummy!

This post was featured in our monthly Family Newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here, and email us at learning@multcolib.org if you have any questions.

Family having dinner at the table

I know in my own family, it can be hard convincing my child to drink enough water and eat their veggies. And just saying, “it’s healthy” doesn’t cut it. So how do we convince our kids that eating healthy is important? 

Before we start, the most important thing is to never connect eating well to losing weight, being slim, or being attractive. All bodies are fabulous! It’s just great if they can feel their best, too. And second, healthy eating looks different to different people. Some families are vegetarian or vegan or keep halal or kosher.  What people do or don't eat can be driven by values and culture, as well as health.

Teaching kids to eat well can be tricky. You don’t want to give them more facts than they can handle or turn every meal into a lecture. But you also want them to know that everything they put in their mouths affects their whole body. And the more nutritious the food they put in, the better they will feel, the more energy they will have, and hopefully, the more fun! 

One idea is to talk about the properties, or nutrients, of food and how they can help give our bodies energy for playing our favorite sports, help our brain and mind focus on schoolwork, and make us better with our hobbies, even video gaming! Some of the books in this booklist might help with these conversations.  

Another tip is to avoid calling foods “good” or “bad.” Kids should learn that all foods have a place in their diet. Try labeling foods as “go,” “slow,” or “whoa.” Kids should eat “go” foods, like vegetables, every day. But they might want to go “slow” with less nutritious foods, like pancakes. And say “whoa” to foods like candy bars, and leave those for special occasions. Foods with less nutrition don’t need to be off limits, but the goal is for kids to stop and think twice before they eat them often. 

Another great idea is to have your kid help plan and post menus for the week. Include some favorites and try some new foods, as well. You can even check out a kid’s cookbook from this booklist.

In some cases of extreme pickiness or disordered eating, it's important to remember that doctors and occupational therapists can help and you should talk with your child's pediatrician.  

Perhaps the most important thing is teaching through modeling. Seeing their grownups eat nutritious food, will help kids want to do the same. Talk to them about how eating well is fun, makes you feel good, and gives you energy!

This post is part of our "Talking with kids" series, and was featured in our monthly Family Newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here, and email us at learning@multcolib.org if you have any questions.  

Child baking with grownup

For many, food is an important part of family life. Gathering together for meals is a way to share warmth, community, and family history. A recipe passed down through generations is a treasure. Exploring different cuisines is an opportunity to learn about other cultures. Homemade food is more nutritious than take-out or convenience foods and youth who learn to cook have healthier eating habits later in life. Beyond that, the kitchen is also an ideal place to teach kids reading, science and math.

Children under five learn about the world by using their senses. By touching, tasting, and smelling they’re being little scientists trying to figure out what the world is about. Using these senses is an integral part of the cooking process. Helping with simple tasks such as stirring, washing vegetables, and tearing lettuce helps these young learners develop their fine motor skills. Following step-by-step instructions teaches children executive functioning and gets them ready for school. 

As children get older and gain confidence, they can take over reading the recipe. There is so much that can be learned by reading a recipe. Recipes are math. Children need to understand fractions and ratios. They need to understand different units of measurement. It also supports literacy by exposing them to vocabulary that they won’t find elsewhere. How often are words like sear, tablespoon, dice, drizzle, or crimp used in daily conversation? Through trial and error children learn problem solving and that failure is just another opportunity to learn.

They say that baking is chemistry and cooking is art. The truth is that each one is both chemistry and art. Both allow for creativity once you understand the basics of a recipe. But it’s important to understand the basics for your recipe to turn out right. This is where science comes in. You probably don’t even realize how much science you use in the kitchen. Foods go through chemical and physical changes as they’re prepared and cooked. Certain elements are necessary in order for the recipe to turn out correctly. Which elements can change and which need to stay the same? Why? What adjustments, if any, do you need to make for any modifications? Why? These are scientific questions. Encourage children to ask questions. Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer. You can search for the answer and learn together. You can even ask the library for help!

Looking for more ideas? Look no further than Oregon State University's Food Hero program. They have lots of learning activities for all ages!

By grounding learning in the real world, kids are more likely to understand why the skills they learn are important and are better able to retain them. They’ll also have the satisfaction of eating the results of their lesson and the pride of sharing it with others.

- Keli Y, Teen Librarian, Rockwood Library

This article was featured in our monthly Family Newsletter, you can sign-up here to receive your copy!

Somos Familia es una organización que tiene una misión de “desarrollar el liderazgo en nuestras familias y comunidades latinas para crear una cultura donde las personas de géneros y orientaciones sexuales diversas puedan prosperar.” Ha creado infográficos y herramientas de cómo hablar sobre el género y la orientación sexual con su familia y videos sobre la importancia de la aceptación familiar.

Ve el video Tres Gotas de Agua de cómo el amor de tres madres les ayudó a entender a sus hijas e hijos LGBTQ+.

Tres Gotas de Agua


Escrito por Kimberly S.

La situación por la que estamos pasando en la actualidad tal vez no nos permita seguir con algunas de nuestras tradiciones familiares, pero también nos brinda oportunidades para alcanzar nuevos propósitos y empezar nuevas costumbres.

Se puede elegir una actividad simple por mes. La actividad tendrá éxito si todos están de acuerdo y es algo definido. Los niños, pueden jugar a contar los calcetines mientras los doblan y los guardan, ayudar con la preparación de algún postre o ¡hacer una piñata!  Los jóvenes, pueden ser parte de la planeación de cómo distribuir el presupuesto familiar, participar en las compras del mandado y ponerlo donde corresponde al llegar a casa. 

En familia, se puede hablar acerca de las celebraciones tradicionales que se han pasado de generación en generación. Cuando los niños y jóvenes aprenden y participan activamente de estas conversaciones, es más probable que aumenten su confianza, sean optimistas y refuercen su identidad. Jueguen y creen un libro con fotos y algunas historias de esas tradiciones para revivir los recuerdos.

Escrito por Violeta G.

Caring for ourselves helps us to better care for our families, especially during times of extreme stress. This post is being written during the time of the Covid pandemic: children are learning from home, grownups are struggling with work, people are scared, and stress is running high. It is In these times, more than ever, that parents and caregivers need to take care of their needs, to fill themselves up so they have enough care, patience and time to share with their families.  The Child Mind Institute has put together a wonderful article for caregivers on prioritizing their own well-being in order to benefit the whole family. Here are the main takeaways:

  1. Make time for yourself
  2. Prioritize healthy choices
  3. Be realistic (my favorite!)
  4. Set boundaries
  5. Reconnect with things you enjoy

We know it's easy to say, but not always easy to do. The library is here to help:

  1. If it would help to have the kids entertained so you can have quiet time, check out our storytimes and events for kids! These are always changing, so check back often.
  2. If you are looking for healthy recipes or exercises, we have thousands to choose from!
  3. We have books to help you set boundaries, help you set realistic expectations, and to give yourself a break
  4. If one of your favorite activities is sitting down with a good book, or watching a fun show, or listening to some beautiful music, we can help recommend any of those things for you. Check out the My Librarian group for a great suggestion (or 20!).
  5. If you want to learn something new or get back into an old hobby, we have lots of ways to help you get started. Just connect with us.

We are here to help, so please let us know what we can do for you, and for your family! You can leave a comment below, or email us directly at learning@multcolib.org. Also consider signing up for our monthly Family Newsletter. Take care!

sign that says, "my pronouns are ____/ _____"
Youth who identify as LGBTQ+* benefit from a supportive network of family, friends, and peers, especially during times of stress and isolation.  Here are some organizations and resources that can help provide that support.

Local Resources for LGBTQ+ youth

  • Sexual & Gender Minority Youth Resource Center (SMYRC) has served local youth since 1998.  They provide empowerment, community building, education and direct services. 
  • Oregon Youthline is a local 24-hour youth crisis and support service.  Help is available via phone, text, email, or chat.  Youthline is staffed by trained teen volunteers from 4-10 pm daily.
  • GSA Network supports Gender & Sexualities Alliance (GSA)  groups that unite LGBTQ+ youth and their peers.  They also provide tips on how to run virtual GSAs.
  • Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Oregon chapter of the national organization that supports every student’s right to a safe, supportive education. 
  • Pride Northwest has a mission: to encourage and celebrate the positive diversity of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans communities, and to assist in the education of all people through the development of activities that showcase the history, accomplishments, and talents of these communities.

 

neon rainbow with "Love is Love" signs in the background
Virtual Resources for LGBTQ+ youth and those who support them

  • Gender Spectrum free online support groups for LGBTQ+ youth, parents and caregivers.  Groups also offered for parents/caregivers in Spanish.
  • Q Chat Space a safe space for LGBTQ+ teens to connect
  • Trevor Support Center provides resources and counseling via phone and chat. TrevorSpace is an international community for LGBTQ+ young people. 
  • PFLAG is the nation's largest family and ally organization, founded in 1973 after the simple act of a mother publicly supporting her gay son.
  • It Gets Better Project over 60,000 diverse video stories, all on a single theme.
  • Trans 101: Gender Diversity Crash Course helps people better understand what it means to be trans, and how we make the world a safer and happier place for trans and gender diverse people.  Available as a video series or booklet.
  • An age-by-age guide to talking to your kids about gender from Today's Parent.  No matter your kid's age, it's not too early (or late!) to talk to them about gender. Here's how to start the discussion, and keep it going as they grow.  

 

LGBTQ+ Booklists

Support can also come in the form of reading books and watching media with LGBTQ+ representation.   Your library is full of books for kids and teens that feature LGBTQ+ characters.  Explore the reading lists below, or ask us for a recommendation

*LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning.  The + is meant to include all gender identities and sexual orientations not covered by the other letters.  Read What Does LGBTQ+ Mean? for more information.

Cthulhu figurine
Maybe you’re reading Lovecraft Country or The City We Became. Or maybe you just like your fiction eerie, weird, or chock full of tentacles. Perhaps you find squidlike elder gods, or squids themselves, cute. In any event, despite H.P. Lovecraft’s despicable views - or as a reaction to them - current authors are gleefully reinterpreting his tales, giving them all kinds of twists he never would have imagined, and that he might have found downright... horrifying. Maybe even namelessly terrifying, indescribably eldritch, and worse yet (for him),  better written than the stories of old H.P. himself!

The fabulous irony of all this is that Lovecraft was an early proponent of fanfiction, shared universes, and remixing, so in a sense these authors are working in a tradition he encouraged, but use it in subversive and creative ways. And often that sense of otherworldly eerieness and creeping dread that is central to cosmic horror is even more vivid and terrifying than ever. Delve into this strange new world with the books below.

“Enjoy the little things. For one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” – Robert Brault

Life is full of unknowns and uncertainties. Children of all ages are sensitive to stress in their families' lives. Children feel emotions very strongly, but they don't always have the words to describe how they're feeling. Talking with even very small children about fears and sadness can help them feel more secure. And talking to them about gratitude can help as well!

Take time to pause and notice aloud the people and things you are thankful for every day. Kids are always listening and they pick up on our moods - negative and positive. Gratitude, or thankfulness, feels good! And it is really good for us, too! Scientists who study the brain tell us that positive emotions like appreciation and gratitude are good for our brains, our minds and even our bodies.     

Being thankful lets us balance out the negative emotions like fear, anger and anxiety that creep in. The incredible thing about gratitude is that it grows and increases the more we practice it. One positive thought can lead to dozens more. This type of positive thinking decreases stress and anxiety in people of all ages. 

It's been said that gratitude is like taking a U-turn on complaining and negative thinking. A game my family sometimes plays is "Unfortunately, Fortunately." It's fun for road trips or even when sitting around the dinner table. "Unfortunately, all my soccer games have been canceled, but, fortunately, we have had extra time to play lots of games together." 

It's about focusing on what's good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have. "Unfortunately, Poppy can't come and visit us on Sundays now, but, fortunately, we can draw pictures to send to him! And we get to walk to the mailbox!"

Teaching children an attitude of gratitude is as simple as helping them look at different situations from a positive point of view. It’s about focusing on what’s good in our lives, noticing the small things, appreciating and being thankful. We can model gratitude and appreciation for our children. We all take things for granted, but taking time to name those things reinforces trust, calm and joy.

Here are some things you can try with your family:

  1. Keep a running gratitude list on the refrigerator. Bigger kids can write the words and little ones can draw. Each day the list can be revisited. What makes you happy? Watching a puppy play,  helping dad cook? Add what makes you grateful? A sky full of stars,  the hummingbird at the window, a hug? 
  2. Try the Gratitude ABCs. Go through your ABCs and take turns coming up with something you are grateful for, for each letter. I am grateful for Apple pie, and Basketball, and Cats… This also works as a great tool for helping someone fall asleep. Get comfortable and concentrate on your Gratitude ABCs. The next day you can think about what letter you fell asleep on. 
  3. Practice sharing and giving. Share first within the family and then spread to the wider community. An older child can pass on treasured toys or collections to a younger sibling. Have a basket or bag for items that can be donated to those who may need them. Clothing, toys, food for a food bank. Go together to deliver them when the basket is full.
  4. Express gratitude with acts of kindness. “We have so many tomatoes. Let's bring some over to our neighbor. Maybe she would like some of these flowers, too.” “ Let’s ask Mr Jones if he needs anything when we go to the store. And I know he loves your drawings.”
  5. Gratitude can start right now. I bet we can think of three things right now that make us feel thankful. Maybe you'd like to send a note to someone showing your gratitude!

And of course, there are always books! The titles below can help you start conversations about gratitude with the young folks in your life.

Want to learn more tips on talking with kids, please sign up for our Family Newsletter.  And we are always available to help support families, especially through Home Learning. Connect with us at learning@multcolib.org

Do you read Facebook or Twitter for news? Subscribe to a newspaper? Peruse websites, or watch videos? In an era of so many choices for information, how do you make a judgement about what's fact, what's slanted and what's just completely untrue? 

Here are some tips for evaluating what you are reading, listening to or viewing.  

  1. Consider the source. You can learn more about a website by clicking on the "About Us" link  that most provide, but don't stop there. Research the organization or author's credentials. If statistics are cited, see if you can find the source, and double-check that they are represented correctly.  
  2. Read beyond attention-getting headlines to check the whole article. If a statement is made, is a source given? Click through to check the sources, and do your own searching on those citations.
  3. Check the date. Sometimes old news stories resurface, and they might be out of date or inaccurate. If currency is important, limit your search to recent results
  4. Watch for bias, including your own. Check different sources to see how each treats a news item. Consider your own beliefs and perspectives and think about how that might change how you perceive what you are seeing. 
  5. Too weird to be true? If something seems implausible, see what fact-checking sites like Snopes, PolitiFact, and FactCheck have to say. 

For more about being a smart information consumer, check out the infographic, "How to Spot Fake News", provided by The International Federation of Library Associations. If you're more of a visual learner, take a look at the CRAAP test video from librarians at California State University. If you'd like to engage in some deeper learning, try this 3 hour online course, Check, Please!

And remember, if you're looking for reliable information, get in touch with us. We're always happy to help.

 

Discover some of the ancestors of peoples now living in modern day Mexico to Peru from these websites and books about the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans. 

Map of Mesoamerica, Aztecs, 14th-15th centuries
Map of Mesoamerica, Maya

 

The British Museum in London has artifacts from around the world, representing people, places and cultures from the past two million years. Khan Academy has detailed information about the Aztecs, Incas and Mayans. Click on photos to find out more about that object and its importance. 

 

Map of Latin America, Inca Empire, 15th century

 

Have fun exploring the Mesoamerican Ballgame -a sport of life and death.  Check out the video below about the rubber balls used for the game and see an example of how a version of the game was played.

Rubber Balls in Mexico Have a Long History

If you want or need more help, contact a librarian. We're just a click away!

Photo of John McLoughlin
Are you studying Portland history? Read on to learn more about famous Portland residents, past and present.

Long before white settlers arrived on the Oregon Trail, the Portland area was home to the Multnomah people, a band of the Chinook Tribe. One of their leaders was Chief Kiesno (sometimes spelled Cassino).  Tragically, many of the native inhabitants of our area died from diseases brought by the Europeans.

John McLoughlin is often called the Father of Oregon. He moved to the area in 1824 and established Fort Vancouver just north of Portland. Later, his general store in Oregon City became the last stop on the Oregon Trail.

Photo of Abigail Scott Duniway
By 1845, Francis Pettygrove and Asa Lovejoy owned land in the area and flipped a coin to choose an official name. Pettygrove won the two out of three tosses, and since he was from Portland, Maine, he chose to name the new city after his hometown.

Abigail Scott Duniway is famous for fighting for women’s rights, especially the right to vote. After many tries, she finally succeeded in Oregon in 1912.  Intriguingly, Abigail’s brother, Harvey Scott, editor of The Oregonian newspaper, was opposed to letting women vote.

McCants Stewart was the first African American lawyer in Portland and started a newspaper, The Advocate. Dr. DeNorval Unthank is well-known for his role in fighting for civil rights for African Americans and was named Doctor of the Year in 1958. A park in North Portland is named for him. 

Some other famous Portlanders include children’s author Beverly Cleary, Matt Groening (creator of The Simpsons), and Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike.

For more information on famous residents of Portland, visit the Oregon History Project’s biography page, or search the Oregon Encyclopedia.

Located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in present-day Iraq, the cultures of ancient Mesopotamia made remarkable achievements in writing, art, and agriculture. 

Image of ziggurat

This Khan Academy video provides a short introduction. For older students, here’s a John Green Crash Course video with more details. 

The University of Chicago has an amazing collection of artifacts from ancient Mesopotamia, and at their website, you can examine them in depth, learn about what daily life was like, listen to interviews with archaeologists, or even go on a virtual archaeological dig.

At the British Museum’s Mesopotamia site, you can find maps and information about the writing, mythology, buildings, and astronomers from various Mesopotamian cultures.

Ancient Mesopotamia covers geography, religion, economics, and the government of Mesopotamian cultures.

Several different empires existed in region of Mesopotamia, including the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians. The Sumerians were known for inventing cuneiform writing. You can see what your monogram would look like in this writing system. They also wrote the first superhero story, the Epic of Gilgamesh, and played board games. One Babylonian ruler is famous for creating Hammurabi’s Code, a collection of laws. Ziggurats, large step pyramids like the one shown in the photo, were built by the Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians.

If you didn’t find the information that you need, please contact a librarian for more assistance.

1001 Inventions and The Library of Secrets - starring Sir Ben Kingsley as Al-Jazari

The Golden Age of Islam spanned from the mid 8th to the mid 13th century A. D., although recent scholars have extended it into the 15th and 16th centuries. It encompasses the life of the prophet Mohammad and the beginnings of the Islamic religion. Islamic culture in Europe also influenced Western civilization. The Golden Age of Islamic Culture included many innovations in science, medicine, mathematics, astronomy, Hindu-Arabic numerals, and words. It was a time of inventions and exploration. The Golden Age ended with the siege of Baghdad in 1258 A.D. and with the rise of religious dogma, discussed here by Steven Weinberg and Neil deGrasse Tyson.

How Hollywood stereotyped the Native Americans

Hollywood movies and TV shows are full of stereotypes. To find the truth, you need to do good  research.

When I start my search, I make a list of all the names I know that might be good to search. Many tribes have both their own name and an anglicized name (for example, Diné  and Navajo) and it’s good to search under both. For more general searches, search multiple terms such as: Indian, Native American, First People or First Peoples,or try searching ”culture”  and “indigenous” with the geographical area, for example American indigenous culture.

When doing online research on Native Americans I check not only what the website says, but who is providing the information. Techniques for Evaluating Native American Websites provides good tips on what to look for. Another website post with good information is Tips for Teachers: Developing instructional Materials about American Indians. Does the website present a view that the people it describes support? Is the information current? Does the information come from Native Americans themselves? Many new age sites and commercial websites that are trying to sell you something take Indian culture and rewrite it for their own needs. If the website is created by an institution like a museum, or government agency, remember that it might represent that institution’s perspective, but not necessarily the perspective of Native peoples.

When looking at historical issues of newspapers, like The Historical Oregonian I have to consider that many of those stories will include racism and one-sided views that were common at the time.”Historic Newspaper Accounts of Oregonian Native Americans” provides some good insight into the slant of these articles over time, both good and bad.

Need more help? Contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.

NEZ PERCES HORSES

This video explores the integral role horses played in Nez Perce history and how they relate to the tribe’s culture today.

When researching Native Americans of Oregon, the Oregon Blue Book provides a good introduction to Oregon tribes, and has information on current tribal leaders and the economy of the tribe, plus an overview of the tribe’s history and culture.

Native Languages of Americas provides information about the original inhabitants of Oregon and includes a map of where they were located.

The Northwest Portland Area Health Board provides history and geographical information for the nine tribes that make up its membership in Oregon, as well as many tribes in Washington and Idaho. 

The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians provides information about Oregon tribes and a list of links to their websites, plus information about natural resources, economic development and tribal government for the Cow Creek Band.

Access Genealogy contains an overview of the history Oregon tribes, and links to many tribes' individual websites.

You can also search the library’s catalog, or do an online search for a tribe’s name. Many tribes have their own websites, which contain current information about tribal affairs, and might also include historical material.

Many resources about Indigenous people include biased information, so please also read How to Evaluate Native American and American Indian Websites, which provides help evaluating books too. 

If you still need more help, contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.

Searching for information on Native American tribes and Native nations? These big web sites may be able to help you.

Whose land are you on? Native Land is an interactive website and an app that allows you to search any location and see who are the original inhabitants of the land, worldwide. The website also features a blog with updates and a page for Territory Acknowledgements, with the ability to search specific locations to get tribal affiliation, language, and treaties associated with that area.

You can search tribes alphabetically to learn about them, and learn about native languages as well as native culture. Try putting the name of the tribe you are looking for in the search box to see what other information they list, or scroll down to find the names of tribes listed alphabetically.

If you would rather search by location using a map, you can find state-by-state information, covering historic and contemporary information, languages, culture and history.

Many resources about Indigenous people include biased information, so please also read How to Evaluate Native American and American Indian Websites, which provides help evaluating books too. 

If you still need more help, contact a librarian to be sure you get what you need.

Native Americans use ALL of the Buffalo

 

Did you know that young children begin to notice and point out the differences they see in people as early as six months? This ability to put things into categories like "safe to eat" and "hungry animal to run away from" has helped humans survive over hundreds of thousands of years. But if we aren't paying attention, it can also lead to making oversimplified generalizations about people, and those stereotypes can be harmful. 

Because even babies are starting to sort people into categories, it's never too early to start talking with children about the stereotyping they will observe in the world around them, and help them question and push back against it. Here are some ideas for talking about stereotypes in a very kid-friendly way:

  • Ask your child to draw or describe someone from a specific category, such as "girl" or "boy". Chances are you'll hear things like, "girls have long hair" or "boys are messy" which gives you an opportunity to talk about people you know who may not fit those stereotypes. For example in my family, mom is a messy woman with short hair! 
  • Children's books can be a great way to start conversations, so as a family, do a "diversity audit" on books in your own home! Look for stereotypes and bias in your own books, or books you have checked out from the library, using some of these criteria. Be sure to talk about it as you go. You can use words like “fair/unfair” when talking about stereotypes you find in your books. For instance, “Wow, this picture book only included white male inventors. That’s unfair. Black women invented lots of things, too. Let’s read about some African American women inventors.” I guarantee you will learn a lot from the experience!
  • Look for books specifically written to talk with young children about stereotypes and how to celebrate differences: Here is a book list to help get those conversations started. 

These activities can be done any time of year. Here in the U.S, November is a time when we celebrate Native American Heritage Month and Thanksgiving, which gives extra opportunities for non-Native families to talk about stereotypes specific to Native Americans and Indigenous people. For example, ask your child to draw a Native American dwelling or home. Talk about how most Native and Indigenous families live in houses and apartments. They are modern, vital people in our society, not just historical figures. 

For some additional resources, I recommend this article about teaching preschool and kindergartners about Native and Indigenous peoples. You can also find info in this A Racial Justice Guide to Thanksgiving to help you tell the factual story of the holiday. We also have more book lists in this post Celebrating Native American Heritage month!

Like language, stereotyping is learned over time. It is never too early - or too late - to talk with children about kindness and fairness and diversity, and to demonstrate the many ways we can treat all people with respect and dignity.

This post is part of our "Talking with kids" series, and was featured in our monthly Family Newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here, and email us at learning@multcolib.org if you have any questions.

Did you know that the Indigenous peoples in Multnomah County are descended from over 380 different tribes? Nearly 70,000 strong, Portland has one of the highest urban Native populations in the country. In November, we celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions and histories of Native peoples, and honor the many important contributions they make to our communities. Here are some ways to celebrate and learn with the young people in your life!   

Attend a program, class, or visit a museum exhibit. Many cultural events normally held in person have moved online.    

Share stories and explore history and culture with your children all year long.

Adults and teens may enjoy the materials featured on the lists below:

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Multnomah County is sited upon the ancestral homelands of the Multnomah, Mollala, Kathlamet, Chinook, Clackamas, Tualatin Kalapuya and many other Indigenous Nations. These Nations have become the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, as well as the Chinook Nation and Cowlitz Nation in Washington State. Land acknowledgements recognize and respect the enduring relationship that Indigenous People have with their traditional homelands. The effects of colonization can still be felt today and land acknowledgements are a small step down the path of repair, reconciliation and cultural revitalization.  Land Acknowledgement, courtesy of Melanie Fey, Central Library Access Services Assistant

Gun rights and gun control are topics that come up often these days. It can be hard to find good resources that present multiple viewpoints on issues like this, and provide quotable sources.

An excellent electronic resource is Opposing Viewpoints in Context. It provides links to articles, videos and audio files from multiple viewpoints (you will need a library card # and password in order to access this electronic resource from outside of the library).

 For the legal history of gun control, check out Infoplease’s Milestones in Federal Gun Control Legislation  which covers laws up until 2013.

L.A.R.G.O. Lawful and Responsible Gun Owners and the N.R.A. National Rifle Association both support gun ownership in America. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and The Violence Policy Center both work to reduce gun violence. The Violence Policy Center is also a good resource if you’re looking for statistics related to gun violence (including drive by shootings and suicide).

This Guardian article compares gun crime in individual states and FindLaw shares Oregon Gun Control Laws. FactCheck looks at statistics in the media after the Newtown shootings, and reports on Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts.  Looking towards changes in the law, gun control is supported by more women than men, and that may have an effect on future legislation.  But right now,  despite repeated pleas for change after every mass shooting, nothing seems to change. 

Need some specific gun facts or laws we haven’t covered? Contact a librarian and we’ll be glad to help

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