Blogs: Parents

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. FrankweilerI 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 curiousity about how it got there inspired E.L. Konigsburg. What public space would you like to have all to yourself?

Almost 100,000 preschoolers, kids and teens are registered in the Summer Reading Program! We spread prizes out a little this summer and July 30 is the first day for your reader to get a Summer Reading t-shirt, coupons for Oaks Park, Oregon Ballet Theatre and Oregon Children’s Theatre, and enter the grand prize drawing. Don’t worry though if you’re not ready for a t-shirt yet.  Everyone has until August 31 to pick up prizes for any level and finish the game.Group of Summer Reading Volunteers

If your family has done Summer Reading for a few years, you probably noticed changes this summer. High school students have challenge cards and their own prize options. The high school game offers teens the choice of traditional reading along with opportunities to use reading to accomplish, create, and engage in the world in their own way.

For babies to 8th graders, we introduced a calendar to track reading, to stretch the game out for the ravenous readers as well as help reluctant readers be successful. We also hope this has helped families make reading a daily habit. As in previous years, we want this to work for you so hopefully you’ve adapted the guidelines to fit your family. If your child spends four hours reading voraciously, two calendar days could be marked off. Likewise, if your child is reluctant and is willing to spend only ten minutes with a book, that’s okay too and a day can be marked.

We welcome suggestions and feedback about the Summer Reading Program. Pick up a yellow Summer Reading comment card at your local library, comment below, or send us an email.

Stella Brings the FamilyWhen my kids were younger, I was always on the lookout for children’s books that stood up against stereotypes of all kinds. In King and King, a prince falls in love with another prince, not a princess. In bell hooks' Happy to Be Nappy, a little girl celebrates the beauty of her natural African-American hair. My Princess Boy tells the story of a little boy who loves to dress in pink, sparkly clothes. These titles are all classics of the anti-bias genre, and they still deserve to be read.

New ShoesBut a couple of weeks ago, a library patron asked me to suggest some anti-bias books that have been published more recently, and I discovered some real gems that I wish had existed when my kids were still the right age for picture books. It might not be too late for your kids, though, so check out this list! And let me know if you have more titles that should be included on it.

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, The Harlow House, and The Rail Depot. 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!

From what I hear from my kids about sex education at their schools, kids 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. And then, of course, there’s a whole host of conversations to have about our culture’s weird over-sexualization of girls.

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 those 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.

I feel like author Catherine Newman has been right there in the trenches of parenting with me for the past twelve years or so. I started reading a parenting column she wrote when she and I were both pregnant with our second children. Later, I enjoyed her book, Waiting for Birdy. She writes funny, thoughtful essays that show up all over the place, and she has her own blog. Her two kids are right about the same ages as mine, and she's got exactly the irreverent but warm sense of humor I most enjoy. She’s a passionate home cook, too, the kind of person who, like me, not only makes her own granola but glories in making it (even though neither of us would ever consider ourselves “granola”).

Catherine NewmanAnd now there's a new book. Catastrophic Happiness is more of a series of appreciations about kids and family life than a story about anything actually happening, although she does have some pointed things to say about how our culture foists its stupid ideas about gender on our children. If you have kids in your house, this book will make you laugh--a lot. It also might make you feel more present, make you stop spacing out long enough to love the life you have with your family.

 

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