Blogs: Parents

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

Victoria Jamieson; photo: Herminio Jacome
Victoria Jamieson is the author and illustrator of  books for children, including the Newbery Honor book Roller Girl. Along with writing and illustrating, she teaches children's book illustration at Pacific Northwest College of Art.

A good percentage of my childhood was spent at the library. When my brothers and I were young, my mom helped organize the summer reading program at our local library outside of Philadelphia. I created many a diorama based on books during those summers. A few years later, my mom started working there as a children’s librarian where, much to our chagrin, she seemed to learn all of the gossip in town (“So, I hear you’re dating so-and-so!”)

The most formative books for me as a kid were the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. I related to her so much -- she seemed like a real kid. I appreciated the fact that her family worried about money, and her dad worried about finding a job. It reassured me to no end to read about kids facing real-life situations. I can’t tell you how many times I read those books. They MAY have been a factor in my deciding to move to Portland.

Other childhood favorites included Anne of Green Gables and all of the Roald Dahl, but especially The BFG.  That book inspired a lifetime of whizpopper jokes. I love re-reading childhood favorites. I teach a continuing education class in writing and illustrating children’s books at Pacific Northwest College of Art, and I always recommend re-reading old favorites. It’s fascinating to read them from an adult perspective, and if you want to write children’s books yourself, it’s a great way to remember what you loved about reading as a child.

Here’s a list of my recent favorites:
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
This was the last book that made me cry — like, a deep, body-shaking sob. If you like a body-shaking sob as much as I do, this is the book for you.

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin
As soon as I read this book, I knew it would be a book I would read to my kids someday. It’s just a book you want to share. Now I just need to wait for my son to be old enough.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
You just have to read it. It’s an amazing book.

Ida B by Katherine Hannigan
This book is both laugh-out-loud funny and cry-out-loud touching. Be careful where you read this one; I was reading it on the subway in New York when I started ugly crying.

A few more:

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

El Deafo by Cece Bell

One Crazy Summer by Rita Willams-Garcia

Get even more reading recommendations hand-picked for you by My Librarian.

Find Out What's Available

Trinity college
It's never too early to start looking for scholarships. The best time of year to start looking is in the summer or early fall. This lets you find programs before their deadlines have passed, and gives you enough time to complete a well-planned application. Many scholarship programs require an essay and recommendations from teachers or other adults who know you, and these take time to prepare.  

There are many scholarships, grants, fellowships, internships and work-study jobs available. You'll likely encounter some common eligibility criteria. These include which state you live in, if you've performed military service, whether you have minority status or a particular nationality or ethnic background, a religious affiliation, or if any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. If you fit the eligibility criteria, be sure to consider applying! 

Researching

The library is a great place to get started as you research scholarships. Whether you are looking for a scholarship in the humanities, the sciences, the social sciences, or sports, we can help you discover ways to find scholarship awards for higher education. 

The Scholarship Handbook is organized by common eligibility criteria. It lists scholarships based on which state you live in, whether you have performed military service, if you have minority status or come from a particular nationality or ethnic background, if you have a religious affliation, and whether any of your family members belong to a national or local organization or civic association. Each scholarship program is described by eligibility, basis for selection, application requirements, amount awarded, application deadline, and contact information.

 

"Billions of dollars in scholarships, grants and prizes." The Ultimate Scholarship Book organizes awards into categories such as humanities, social science, science and general. You don't need a perfect GPA or financial need to win a scholarship. There are plenty of awards that have none of these requirements.

 

 

College help for teens: More resources for financial aid, admissions, guides, and Study Abroad.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a neurological difference often characterized by difficulties with reading, writing and spelling.  It may run in the families and can not be “cured.” Individuals with this condition must learn coping strategies.

Dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence. With the right instruction, almost all individuals with dyslexia can learn to read.  A multi-sensory, phonics based approach is often the best way to help kids learn to read. The Orton-Gillingham, Barton System and/or Lindamood-Bell programs are well known programs that work.

This great Ted-Ed talk provides an overview of dyslexia.

What should I look for?

Decoding Dyslexia offers these early signs of dyslexia:

  • Late speech (3 years or later)
  • Mixing up sounds in multi-syllable words (e.g. bisghetti, aminal, mazageen)
  • Inability to rhyme by age 4
  • Difficulty with substitutions, omissions and deletions
  • Unusual pencil grip
  • Difficulty remembering rote facts (months of the year, days of the week)
  • Confusion of left vs. right

Several organizations offer online self-assessment tools.  Take a look at the the Uncovering Dyslexia Topic Guide for suggested websites.

Dyslexia and low self-esteem

One of the biggest challenges of dyslexia is counteracting shame caused by teasing and misunderstanding.  Children are often teased because they can’t read as well as others.  Teachers may say things like “she’s a slow reader” in front of the child or parents.  Kids know what “slow” means and they often grow up believing they are “stupid” and/or “lazy.”

Headstrong Nation’s Learn the Facts wants you to know the facts, help your child recognize her/his strengths and weaknesses, learn how to talk about it with trusted friends and family and eventually, be comfortable sharing one’s real self with the world.

How the library can help

There are three valid types of reading: with your eyes (print & video), with your fingers (Braille) and with your ears (audiobooks).  For information about Braille books, contact the Talking Book and Braille Library at the Oregon State Library.  Multnomah County Library will help you find materials for reading with your eyes and ears.  

Audiobooks

Typically easier for someone with dyslexia, the library has thousands of audiobooks on CD and in downloadable formats for people who read with their ears.  Library information staff can help you find and use audiobooks.

DVD/Blu-ray

The library has thousands of DVDs, Blu-ray and downloadable films for people who read with eyes & ears.  Library information staff can help you find and use these media.

Programs

Occasionally, the library offers a Dyslexia 101 program, in cooperation with Decoding Dyslexia Oregon.  Check Events & Classes to find the next class.

Reading list

The topic guide Uncovering Dyslexia is available on the website and My MCL.

Dyslexia Assessment in Multnomah County

Here are a few of the many assessment and intervention providers in the County.

The Blosser Center - Accredited by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, the Blosser Center provides assessment, tutoring and teacher training.

Language Skills Therapy - Provides assessment and tutoring

New Leaves Clinic - Provides assessment and treatment in Hillsboro, Oregon

PDX Reading Specialist, LLC​ - Provides assessment, tutoring, advocacy and professional development

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