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Attention educators! Did you miss our summer educator workshops this year? They are a great place to learn about the latest and greatest materials to use in the classroom. Don't worry; we now have booklists and videos available to share.

Gotta Read This: New Books to Connect with Your Curriculum: This workshop highlights new books you might integrate into your language arts, social studies, math, science and arts curriculum.

For K-5th grade educators: Watch part 1 and part 2 of the Gotta Read This K-5 recorded webinar.

For 6th-12th grade educators: This booklist is broken down by subject, so you can choose the topics most relevant for you.

 

Novel-Ties (for 4th -8th grade educators): Discover hot, new fiction to use in book discussion groups and literature circles. 

Watch the Novel-Ties videos (and feel free to show them to students, too).

 

Talking Equity and Social Justice: School Corps librarians share quick booktalks on titles that address these topics, in this recorded webinar. A list of all the books and other resources mentioned in the talk can be found below the videos on YouTube.

Contact School Corps with any questions!

While reviews on online shopping and crowd-sourced review sites are often helpful, the average person doesn’t purchase and compare five vacuum cleaners at once. The reviewer that does do that is Consumer Reports, which accepts no advertising and is known for editorial integrity. The library subscribes to the paper issues at all 19 locations, which you can browse whenever you visit the library.

Image of Consumer Reports and Annual Buying Guide

But did you know that there is also a way to access Consumer Reports  from home?


The Consumer Reports website has limited coverage if you aren’t a subscriber; you can see that a particular product was reviewed, but not the review itself. However, you can read the full text of the reviews, and see the illustrations of the ratings in chart form, with your library card through MasterFILE Premier. Go to MasterFILE Premier, click "Publications" at the top of the screen,  and type "Consumer Reports"  in the Browsing:  MasterFILE Premier -- Publications box. Once you click on Consumer Reports, you can either browse by issue date, or search within the publication for your topic.

If you use “search within this publication,” add your search term to the JN "Consumer Reports” that the database has already filled in, for example, JN "Consumer Reports" and mattress. The results default to “Relevance,” so change that drop-down box to “date newest” to see the most recent reviews.

You can also search in the Consumer Reports Buying Guide by starting in the library catalog; select the “Click here to access title” link on the right of the page to access the content of the guide.

Consumer Reports isn't the only source out there, though!  Here are some other well-regarded product review sites:

Wirecutter:  Reviews of technology, appliances, home goods, etc. from the staff of the New York Times. If you hit a paywall, some Wirecutter content is in the New York Times (1980-present) database (log in with your library card number and PIN/password).

Good Housekeeping:  GH has been testing consumer products and awarding the Good Housekeeping Seal of approval since 1900. Focuses on domestic products like kitchen appliances, toys, cleaning products and personal care items like cosmetics and bras.

CNET: Primarily reviews of technology (phones, streaming services, laptops), but also some non-tech items like mattresses and meal kits.

The Strategist:  From New York magazine, focusing on online shopping. Also has lists of recommendations on a theme (books by genre/reader) as well as traditional reviews by topic (pillows, picture frames, etc).

Specialty Reviews

If there’s a magazine or website for a particular hobby or interest, chances are they review products for that hobby. For example:

Image of Cooks Illustrated, Runner's World and Car and Driver magazines
Cooks Illustrated can recommend an air fryer or bakeware.

Runner’s World tests running shoes, athletic clothes and earbuds that won’t fall out while you do laps.

Car and Driver is another source besides Consumer Reports to look for automobile recommendations.

How to evaluate a review or shopping site

Not sure if that mattress review site is independent, or a fake that only posts positive reviews of the products sold by the website? Here’s some things to look for:

  • A review site should have an “about us” page that tells you who owns it or funds it, and should describe its editorial policies. 
  • You won’t necessarily get wrong information from a site that sells products to consumers, but a site that wants to sell you office supplies or mattresses will probably not be willing to evaluate a product it carries as “unacceptable” (like Consumer Reports occasionally will).
  • Any site that allows customers to review products or services without verifying purchases (for example, Amazon, Yelp, Tripadvisor) can be manipulated, and it’s worth reading these reviews with a degree of caution or skepticism.

Happy shopping!

 

El Día Internacional del Migrante es muy significativo para mí porque hace más de veinte años, sin entender mucho de las implicaciones de dejar nuestro país natal, mis hermanos, mis padres y yo nos despedimos de todo lo que sabíamos hasta ese momento. Conscientes del cambio que significaría para nuestra familia emigrar a Estados Unidos, mis padres optaron por trasladarnos a un lugar donde pudiéramos tener una vida mejor. Si bien los desafíos que enfrentamos como extranjeros nos dejaron cicatrices que siempre nos recordarán lo difícil que fue este cambio, la inmigración a este país nos llevó a un futuro donde había espacio para metas personales y profesionales. Metas por las que los mienbros de mi familia han trabajado incansablemente.

Sin embargo, no podría contar mi historia de inmigración sin agradecer a mi padre por arriesgar tanto en su búsqueda de horizontes más prometedores. Sin muchas garantías pero obligado por las consecuencias de las políticas internacionales, decidió emprender un viaje hacia una vida mejor. Pero compartir cómo me convertí en inmigrante no estaría bien si omitiera el papel de mi madre en esta decisión. Desde su primer viaje a los Estados Unidos, mi madre sabía que tendríamos refugio en este país. Y una vez que mi padre entró a Estados Unidos como trabajador agrícola, confirmó la lista de posibilidades a las que podíamos acceder, muchas de ellas imposibles de lograr en México. Si bien la transición entre sus deseos y sus logros no fue fácil, hoy mis hermanos y yo hemos logrado hacer realidad ese sueño que tenían para cada uno de nosotros.

woman standing tall

 

International Migrants Day is very significant for me because more than twenty years ago, without understanding much of the implications of leaving our native country, my brothers, my parents, and I said goodbye to everything we knew up to that moment. Aware of the change that immigrating to the United States would mean for our family, my parents chose to move us to a place where we could have a better life. While the challenges we faced as foreigners left us with scars that will always remind us of how difficult this change was, immigration to this country led us to a future where there was room for personal and professional goals. Goals my family members have worked tirelessly for.

However, I could not tell my immigration story without thanking my father for risking so much in his search for more promising horizons. Without much guarantee but forced by the consequences of international policies, he decided to undertake a journey to a better life. But sharing how I became an immigrant would not be well told if I omitted my mother's role in this decision. From her first trip to the US, my mother knew we would have refuge in this country. And once my father entered the United States as an agricultural worker, he confirmed the list of possibilities that we could access, many of them impossible to achieve in Mexico. While the transition between their wishes and their achievement was not easy, today, my brothers and I have managed to make that dream that they had for each of us come true.

When David Shine, an English teacher with the Multnomah Education Service District, and Multnomah County Library (MCL) Program Specialist Jody Redifer teamed up, their goal was to bring the youth at Donald E. Long (DEL) Juvenile Detention Center together for a national songwriting competition. The library’s outreach work at DEL is made possible by a longstanding partnership between the library and Multnomah County’s Department of Community Justice.

The songwriting competition, held by BreakFree Education, supports the organization's mission to “radically improve education in the juvenile justice system.” 

Microphone and audio equipment on shelf at library

For Jody, who has been facilitating a music production class in the library at DEL since late 2020, it was exciting to have English teacher David Shine approach him to collaborate on this competition.

During his time teaching the music production class, Jody has recorded over 200 songs by more than 50 youth. With the combination of David and Jody working together, students at DEL were thrilled to have this project underway. David took lead on the writing, and Jody managed the production and engineering. 

Through the songwriting competition youth not only explored music, but also the specific themes pertaining to each song. It is this lesson plan component that allows the youth to grow introspectively, while gaining new musical skills. 

BreakFree Education’s mission for this program is that "through this initiative, students explore policy issues that impact their lives. Students harness the power of music to create, produce, and share songs that address issues related to juvenile justice reform.” The songwriting competition is the result of this work, and through it the organization “amplifies the voices of youth justice.”

Students at DEL put their all into the songwriting and performances. This is something which may sound practical, but is not always easy in a detention environment. They expressed their perspective on social conditions and the struggles they and other youth face.

As a result of the hard and thoughtful work the youth put in and the collaboration between MESD and MCL, two of the units at DEL finished in the top 10 nationwide, with unit A2 taking 3rd place on October 28, 2021!

Students at DEL, David and Jody are excited for the prospect of more partnerships like this. In the immediate future, the next collaboration looks to be the publication of works of fiction and non fiction by the students at DEL with the help of MCL. With David working on the writing aspect, and Jody on the publication side, this is bound to be a successful venture! Again bridging the creative ideas of youth, into hands-on and constructive skills.

Article written by BCLA Program Specialist Jody Redifer, with support from Communications Specialist Paty Rincon

Every year, we create a beautiful page of the best books of the year -- the ones our staff and volunteers have loved. Whether you're a fan of picture books that celebrate bravery, suspense stories that keep you guessing, or books centering the voices of Black, Indigenous and people of color, we have you covered. 

Check out our favorite books for 2021. 

Want to see what we've recommended in past years? Explore the links below:

Best Books 2020

Best Books 2019

Best Books 2018

Best books 2017

Best Books 2016

Looking for personalized book recommendations? Ask the My Librarian team.

 

From what I heard not too long ago from my kids about sex education at their schools, children in the Portland area are getting abbreviated, inadequate information about sex in these classes. Studies show that kids are probably also getting plenty of information from Internet porn. Neither of these options are very good.

I want them to know things that are never talked about in sex ed class-- that sex is supposed to feel good for girls, too. That pornography almost always presents an insanely stylized, but also unimaginative version of sex, and that real sex won’t and shouldn’t look like that. There’s a whole host of conversations to have about our culture’s weird over-sexualization of girls. And what if our kids are different from the norm? Representation matters for young people who are LGBT or gender-nonconforming, for young people with disabilities or bodies of different shapes and sizes.

Clearly, we need to talk to our kids about sex, even though it is perhaps not their favorite subject for a chat with parents. For the questions they would never ask you, there’s a great sex-positive website called scarleteen you can point them to. And, of course, library books can help, too, so I created this list of really good books for kids of all ages.

What is speculative fiction? Well, that depends who you ask. 

Some see speculative fiction as an umbrella term for any fiction with supernatural, futuristic, or fantasy elements. Others see it as books that ponder questions like, "what if this happened?' and "what if the world were this way" -- in other words, speculate. And still others see it as a  mish and mash elements from multiple genres that break the mold. I like this last definition, myself. In the past year I've seen so many books published lately that fit into sci-fi, fantasy, or horror, but bend the genres and include pieces that make them hard to categorize. The librarian in me wants to categorize them -- here's your fantasy, here's your horror -- but the reader in me delights in the unexpected mix of elements, often in a book I first took for just one thing. Though is any good book just one thing? 

Take Akwaeke Emezi's Pet as an example of what I mean: a novella set in a near-world society much like our own, except that it has rid itself of monsters (utopia). Teenage Jam meets a terrifying creature from another world named Pet, who emerges from a painting when a drop of Jam's blood is spilled on it (fantasy). Pet's come to hunt a monster... and the monster is in Jam's house (horror). So there you have utopia, fantasy and horror mixed together in a novella and which genre, my dears, do we set that inside? (the library places it simply on the fiction shelf, which makes things a lot simpler.)

This list includes just a few of my favorites in speculative fiction. Curious to learn more? This Book Riot article is a great introduction to the history and more recent definitions -- Margaret Atwood and Ursula K. Leguin had a famous debate about it -- of speculative fiction. 

ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System and many employers utilize it these days. Basically, it means a computer will scan your resume first. If it is not readable or doesn’t have the proper information it may be passed over. Here a just a few tips for making your resume “ATS Friendly”:

  • Keep your format simple. Avoid graphics, embedded tables and columns.
  • Avoid using headers and footers.
  • Make sure your resume is in an acceptable file format. PDF is often best but .doc and .docx can also be acceptable. Check the application instructions for the job you are applying to.
  • Most importantly, the ATS is looking for keywords that match the job description. Look for words and terms used often in the job description and apply them to your resume in your job duties, skills and education as appropriate.

For more details, check out these articles from LinkedIn and Indeed about writing ATS friendly resumes.

Get Help from the Library

We can help you review and improve your resume. Email a copy to workplace@multco.us and one of our volunteers will review it to provide feedback in a virtual consultation.

We have books to help you create and improve your resume too!

 

a group of kids help pick up trash at a park
Winter is a wonderful time to give back to the community.  Did you know that you can volunteer with your kids?  It's true!  Many local organizations allow young people to volunteer alongside the adults in their lives.  Read on for community service opportunities where your whole family can make an impact.  

Start with a Short-Term Project.  Hands On Greater Portland, a volunteer program of United Way of the Columbia-Willamette, connects thousands of volunteers to projects every year.  There are short-term (2 hours maximum) and long-term opportunities with a variety of organizations.  Start with the Volunteer with Your Kids page for their calendar of upcoming family-friendly projects.  

Help Fight Hunger.  Check with Oregon Food Bank or Sunshine Division, which rely on volunteers in getting food and other necessities to families and individuals who need them the most.  

Gather Supplies for Shelters. Spend a few hours collecting and distributing items needed for shelters that serve people experiencing houselessness.   Organizations in need of supplies include: Portland Family Homeless Solutions, Blanchet House, JOIN, CityTeamPortland Rescue Mission, and Transition Projects.  Check their websites for their most urgent needs.

Deliver Meals and Groceries. Bring your kids along to drop off meals or food baskets to people who cannot easily leave their homes.  Volunteer with Meals on Wheels People and Store to Door of Oregon

Get Outdoors.  Plant trees, get rid of invasive weeds, and help maintain school, community and public gardens!  Check out Zenger Farm, Portland Fruit Tree Project, Friends of Trees, City of Gresham, and Portland Parks and Recreation for outdoor, nature-based opportunities.  

Give Books! Collect used children's books in your community or neighborhood to donate to kids in the area who may not have access to books at home or at a library.  Children's Book Bank is a local organization that distributes books to local Head Start programs and other community organizations in need of books.  

Do you know of additional family-friendly service opportunities that we should include here?  Please let us know and we'll add it to the list.  

This article was written for our Family Newsletter, available in English and Spanish. Please sign up here and you can email us at learning@multcolib.org with any questions.

1. What do you think of Jacob’s style of art? Would the story have been less or more effective with a different style?

2. Have you ever read a graphic novel or illustrated memoir? How do the illustrations help the reader to understand the relationships between characters?

3. How do the big historical events described in the book tie in with the storyline of Jacob’s life -- do they advance the story? Setting aside that this is a memoir, could a plot without reference to national events have been as effective?

4. How does the relationship between Mira and her son serve to underline the themes of the book? How are Z’s questions different from those an adult might ask, and how do they change our understanding of the author’s narrative?

5. Jacob includes many conversations around skin color and how that shapes her marriage opportunities. How did she first learn that “dark meant ugly” within her Indian culture? How does she connect and contrast that colorism to the choices she makes and her relationships with family?

6. As a first generation American, Jacob’s personal and romantic life contrast with those of her family, who expect her to marry an Indian man. How does she navigate the cultural divide? How does she explore issues of sexuality?

7. The title Jacob chose is sometimes said at the end of a difficult conversation. How is that common usage played upon in the memoir?

8. Think about your own life and the conversations that you might include in your own memoir. Why were these conversations significant? Were there any important conversations about world events? Is there a common theme among them?

9. Here are some more topics for further discussion: Relationships between generations and cultures; immigrants parenting first generation Americans; unconscious bias and microagressions; the role of religion in politics.

Learn about Everybody Reads and upcoming events.

Everybody Reads 2022, a community reading project of Multnomah County Library, is made possible in part by gifts to The Library Foundation with author appearance made possible by Literary Arts.

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