Blogs: Parents

From Albina to Kenton to Troutdale, each of our 19 neighborhood libraries has a social story to help prepare for a visit. A social story uses photos and simple text to show children on the autism spectrum what to expect and how to behave in unfamiliar social settings. Knowing what to expect can help children with autism cope but the stories can be helpful for others too. Maybe you’re new to Multnomah County and unfamiliar with our libraries. Maybe you haven’t visited a library for a while and want to bring your child, but don’t know what your neighborhood library is like. Perhaps you’re a teacher helping your class prepare for their first visit to a library. Whoever you are, Multnomah County Library social stories walk you through the door, share what you can find in different areas, introduce the storytime presenters, and show where you can get a library card and check out materials.

social story page showing the Sensory Accommodation Kit available at each library
You can find your neighborhood library's story on the website by going to "Locations," clicking on the location from the list of libraries and looking for "My Library social story." The stories are pdfs on the website and ready for printing.

Also for children on the autism spectrum, our libraries each have a Sensory Accommodation Kit with tools to use during your visit to help with noise and distractions, and to help calm. Preschool Sensory Storytimes at the Fairview-Columbia, Hollywood and Woodstock libraries are especially welcoming storytimes for children on the spectrum and families who are looking for a smaller, more adaptive library experience.

ChIldren sitting on floor

Will your child be 5 years old by September 1? If so, sign up for kindergarten now so they can start school this fall. Sign up at your neighborhood school by June 1 to give your child a good start, connect to summer activities, and get access to free resources. School offices close for the summer, so don’t wait! 

To identify your school, call 2-1-1 or email health@211info.org. Help is available in many languages.

Mother and child reading together
It can be hard to find the right book for a beginning reader. But the library makes it easy. We divide all beginning reader books into four categories, and they are color-coded.

Starting Out (Yellow Reader)

Building Skills (Blue Reader)

Reading More (Red Reader)

On My Own (Green Reader)

To make it even easier, we put together Welcome to Reading bags. Each bag has five books in one of these categories. Getting books that are at the right reading level will help your child love reading and want to read more! Check out a bag from your local library.

In the face of tragedy and violence, it can be hard to know what to say to kids. How do you answer your child’s questions while reassuring them that you will keep them safe? The American Psychological Association says, "It is important to remember that children look to their parents to make them feel safe. This is true no matter what age your children are, be they toddlers, adolescents or even young adults."

Here are three resources that can help parents and caregivers:

Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting. From the American Psychological Association.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has several resources about mass violence available on their website including Talking to Children about the Shooting and Tips on Media Coverage

Irie Page is about to turn 14. Instead of, say, a birthday sleepover, she has planned a gift for her community, a free event featuring Mike Domitrz, the founder of the Date Safe Project and a consent educator for kids, teens and adults.  The funny, interactive presentation that he gives to teens and adults is called "Can I Kiss You?", which is also the title of his book. It focuses on how to have healthy, safe relationships and how to both avoid sexual assault and avoid sexually assaulting someone else. Her family raised money online to pay Domitrz's speaking fee, and after the story was covered on the local news, they got all the funding they needed. The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 9th in the Lincoln Recital Hall at Portland State University. PSU has waived the rental fees in support of Irie’s event.


I first met this remarkable young woman at the reference desk at my library when she was just a little kid signing up for our Read to the Dogs program. We book lovers who work at the library always notice the passionate readers, the ones who leave with huge stacks of books they’re obviously eager to dive into, and that was Irie. When she was old enough, I suggested that she volunteer for our Summer Reading program, giving out prizes to kids for reading, and she brought huge enthusiasm to this as well. When she told me last summer about the event she was planning, we decided to put together a book display. Irie chose all the books herself. If you can’t get in to see the display, here’s the list.

“After I saw Malala speak, I was inspired to do something for my community,” Irie told me. She originally wanted actress and feminist Emma Watson. "That's not going to happen," her mom told her, and then suggested Domitrz. When Irie happened upon a book here at the library about philanthropy parties, her idea took off.

“I’ve always seen things in the world and thought, ‘That’s messed up. I want to change that,” said Irie. Like Malala, the Pakistani advocate for girls’ rights to education, she decided she could make a difference. She chose to start here, in her own city. 


***EDITED to update Irie's story. This event was a huge success. There was so much community interest that Portland State University gave them a bigger theater in which to hold it, and it was still standing room only, with more than 500 in attendance. I took my middle school-age son and we both found it interesting and inspiring. I was delighted last week when I ran into Irie in the library and she told me she's one of two state honorees for the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. This is a very big deal! She's won $1000, a silver medallion, and a trip to Washington, D.C. At a ceremony in D.C., five national honorees will be chosen from among the state award winners. The staff at my library, who has known Irie for so long, is rooting for her to win the national award, which comes with even more honors and with cash awards for her and for the charity of her choice. We're so proud of her.

 

I've been overwhelmed and saddened by recent news. It's hard enough talking through it with other adults. I can't imagine having to explain to young children. How do you talk with kids and teens about violence and hatred? Children, even young children, are likely to be aware but not fully understand what has happened. Adults may not be comfortable, but “when it comes to talking to children, experts say diversity and discrimination are subjects that shouldn’t be ignored.” [The American Psychological Association]

Here are a few outside resources that may be helpful for parents and caregivers, along with two booklists.

From the American Psychological Association, Talking to kids about discrimination and Building resilience to manage indirect exposure to terror.

From the Anti-Defamation League, Empowering young people in the aftermath of hate

From Common Sense Media, Explaining the news to our kids

From Fred Rogers Company, Tragic events

Cover of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
I have two paperbacks which I read so much as a kid they fell apart. One is A Wrinkle in Time with its spine now duct taped and the other is From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

I wasn't exactly fond of visiting museums as a kid but I loved the idea of hiding in a museum. Now that I'm an adult, I love visiting museums. Sometimes I wonder what it was like to wear a suit of armor or sit for hours for a portrait painting. I definitely relish the idea of having a museum gallery to myself, having time to look, no one blocking my view, maybe being able to touch. Claudia and Jamie had the thrill of exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art after hours--sleeping in a canopied bed, bathing in the fountain, and going behind roped off areas--and found a mystery and eventually Mrs. Frankweiler's files.

Claudia and Jamie only spent a week in the museum, but their story has captivated readers for 50 years! To think it all began with a piece of popcorn on a chair behind a roped-off area in one of the museum's period rooms. That piece of popcorn and curiosity about how it got there inspired E.L. Konigsburg. What public space would you like to have all to yourself?

When it seems like the rain is never going to stop, don’t despair! Whether your tastes run more towards Portland puppets or Troutdale trains, Multnomah County has no shortage of fascinating and quirky museums that won’t cost you anything. (Check the links for updated hours and contact information.)

Whimsy. Revisit the toys of your (or your grandparents') childhood at Kidd's Toy Museum. And if your pipsqueaks are pleading to ponder a plethora of puppets, perhaps Ping Pong's Pint Size Puppet Museum is your pleasure.

Safety. Witness the evolution of fire fighting at the Historic Belmont Firehouse. You also might find the Portland Police Museum rather arresting.

History. We love that the Gresham Historical Society museum is housed in an original Carnegie library! Not to be outdone, the Troutdale Historical Society has three museums: The Barn Exhibit Hall, and The Harlow House. And don’t forget, the expansive and amazing Oregon Historical Society is free to all Multnomah County residents; just be sure to bring a proof of residency that includes photo identification.

Miscellany. Check up on medical history with the fascinating exhibits in the Main Library of Oregon Health & Science University or the Dr. Ernest E. Starr Memorial Museum of Dental Anomalies in the OHSU School of Dentistry. If you're interested in "the art and industry of the cast letterform," then the Museum of Metal Typography is definitely your type. Then float on over to the Lincoln Street Kayak and Canoe Museum to learn more about indigenous small watercraft and suck up some cleaning history at the Vacuum Museum at Stark's Vacuums.

Free Museum Day Portland and Portland on the Cheap both have information about when paid admission museums might cut you a break!

P.S. More in the mood for an art gallery ? Check out Rainy Days, Part 1: Free Art.

When it seems like the rain is never (ever) going to stop, don’t despair!

Multnomah County has a lot of hidden art to see that will get you out of the house and won’t cost you anything.

The area’s colleges and universities are a treasure trove of free art galleries! Here are links to some all over town:

Government buildings are a great place to see rotating exhibits, usually by local artists. Experience interactive and experimental media installations in the Portland Building Installation Space; visit the art gallery in the Gresham City Council Chamber Foyer; and check out the current exhibition at Central Library’s Collins Gallery.

The Regional Arts & Culture Council has a searchable database of public art around the county. (Tip: Click on Advanced Options to search by Collection and Discipline.)

View work by local photographers at Blue Sky Gallery, originally founded as the Oregon Center for the Photographic Arts.

Learn more about contemporary art in the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art’s Resource Room. It is both an archive and library, housing over 3,500 artist publications, magazines, and audio and video recordings, as well as a video archive of performances and lectures presented by PICA over the span of the organization's history.

But wait, there's more! Check out Rainy Days, Part 2: Free Museums!

Laura booktalks Salsa, Jorge Argueta

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