Blogs: Families

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

On car trips, my husband and I used to pretend that there was a noise-proof window between the front seat and the back. One of us would hit an imaginary button on the dashboard, and-- in our minds-- the window would close, so we couldn’t hear our little darlings squabbling and shrieking in the back seat at all-- except that sadly, we could still hear them, due to the unfortunate imaginary nature of the window.

I wish that we’d discovered audiobooks for the car ages ago! A whole lot of library users have apparently wised up to their usefulness in the past few years;  I've been asked frequently lately for audiobook suggestions for family car trips. So I’ve made some lists of great audiobooks that can be enjoyed by listeners of various ages, one in CD format and one in downloadable. You might also consider consulting two excellent lists a  colleague of mine made: this list of classics on audio and this one for very young listeners.

It’s amazing how much kids will settle down when they’re involved in a story. I tried to find audiobooks that would be interesting and involving for the adults in the car, as well. So go ahead-- plan a summer getaway. Just don’t forget the audiobooks.

Or the barf bags. (But that’s another story.)

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.

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!

On vacation last month, I listened to an audiobook that I just loved. I read it while taking long walks on the boardwalk of the New Jersey island where my mom lives, but it occurred to me that it would be a spectacular audiobook for families to listen to together on car trips this summer.

The War that Saved My Life tells the story of Ada, a 10-year-old who was born with a clubfoot and an absolutely awful mother. Ada’s little brother is allowed to go to school, but her mother keeps Ada locked up in their flat, saying she’d be embarrassed to have the neighbors see that she has a daughter who is a cripple. Both kids are starved and maltreated-- until World War II begins, and children are evacuated out of London to new homes in the countryside to keep them safe from German bombs. The loveliest part of this book is watching Ada getting stronger and learning to embrace her new family and watching how that family and her community embrace her. Until her birth mother shows up looking for the children…

Its celebration of family makes this a perfect book for families to listen to together, although the kids would need to be old enough to handle the darkness of the war and the terrible mother. If you’re planning car trips with your family this summer, here’s a list of great downloadable audiobooks and another of audiobooks on CD you should take a look at.

“No, I cannot help you build a portal to The Nether to mine soul sand.”

Photo of My Librarian Darcee reading Minecraft for DummiesIt felt like overnight my 7-year-old became totally absorbed in a world full of “Mooshrooms” and “Snow Golem” that I knew nothing about. He had discovered Minecraft.

I think most parents experience some sort of struggle between accepting early exposure to technology as part of this generation’s reality, while worrying that their kids will become so engrossed in it, that it will hinder their ability to develop other skills and interests. It was out of this sort of concern, that I started exploring Minecraft on my own.

On my first venture I added an unintentional water feature in my son’s igloo which turned his carefully crafted home into a flood zone. Oops. I’ve since sharpened my construction skills with the help of Minecraft books from the library and even added the Minecraft Pocket Edition app on my phone so I can play with my son. An awesome side-benefit is that setting limits has actually gotten easier. It’s clear to me now why he needs ample warning  to get back to his shelter and stow his inventory before re-joining the real world. I also understand that when you find an abandoned mineshaft or a desert temple you may need an extra ten minutes to explore, because “that is super rare.”

Check out this list for parents who want to get up to speed on Minecraft basics or you might encourage your kid to put down the pickaxe long enough to enjoy one of these books that share themes with their favorite game.

 

Four Welcome to Reading color coded kit bags and bookmarks

Learning to read is an exciting time. Finding books your child is interested in at the right reading level can be a challenge. Library staff is always ready to help. We've added another way to make that process easier for you and your child: Welcome to Reading Kits!

Multnomah County Library has kits at four levels: Starting Out (yellow), Building Skills (blue), Reading More (red), and On My Own (purple). Each color-coded bag contains 5 fun books and an information sheet on how to determine your child’s reading level, how to order more kits, and other activities you can do to help your child become a stronger reader. Some kits have books on a specific theme, like Comics, Dogs and Cats, or For Real! Facts. Many kits are called Five to Try, and contain a variety of books at the reading level. Explore several kits and help your child discover what he or she loves to read. Ask library staff about Welcome to Reading Kits today!

A college degree is one of the most expensive items you will ever buy. It can leave you in debt for years, so you want to be as smart as you can about your education. When you attend college, you are "buying" a college degree, much as you purchase other big-ticket items. So, you want to make sure you get your money's worth.

Barnard College

Figuring out what college is going to cost

The U.S. Department of Education has a useful website called College Scorecard. You supply information about the type of degree you are looking for and locations or regions that you are interested in, and you'll receive results that show the average annual cost of tuition and fees at each matching institution, the graduation rate, and the annual average salary of their graduates. It's a great website for getting an overview and comparing what different colleges cost.

Another great place to research college pricing and student aid is at The College Board website. There is a wide variety in prices charged by institutions of different types and in different parts of the country, so it can really pay to do your research.

Looking at online colleges? They can sometimes offer you more flexibility and easier access than traditional colleges. Check out Affordable Colleges Online to see, by state or by subject, which colleges offer affordable options. 

Be sure to add in what your room and board costs will be, including your meal plan, books and supplies, and other personal expenses

Your Personal Resources

Before you apply for student aid or scholarships, you'll need to figure out the amount of money that you and perhaps your parents can afford. Some parents choose to contribute and others believe that it is the student's responsibility to pay for college.

If you are saving for college, the State of Oregon offers the Oregon College Savings Plan which provides tax advantages. 

Federal Student Aid

If you plan to apply for aid, check and double-check the application deadlines. State and college aid may have earlier deadlines than federal aid. When you apply, you want to be in the first stack of applicants, not the last. You can check the federal and state application deadlines at www.fafsa.gov.

The first step to apply is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Financial aid experts recommend that all students fill out the FAFSA because it is used by colleges and grant-makers to figure out financial need. 

The fastest way to fill out the FAFSA is online at www.fafsa.ed.gov, but you can also get paper forms at all our public library branches: Just ask at a reference desk. Give yourself plenty of time to fill out the form. You'll need to have information about your financial situation and you or your parents' federal tax forms from the previous year at hand.

Using the information that you supply on the FAFSA, the financial aid office at your college will determine that amount of aid you may receive.

Abominable Snowman Movie AdYetis sounded so much scarier when I was a kid. There was only one yeti, The Abominable Snowman, (the terror of the Himalayas!) His malicious smile was complemented by nails long enough to pierce a person’s heart.  These days, Bigfoot, Sasquatch and yetis are still popular, but they’ve been rehabilitated. Two recent books for children show the loveable side of yetis. In fact, I found I found them to be yeti-sized funny!Yeti Files cover

Kevin Sherry’s The Yeti Files overflows with illustrations of yeti Blizz Richard’s home in the big trees, complete with an “epic tire swing,”a “zippy zip line,” and a “highly polished fireman’s pole.” Blizz is a happy-go-lucky guy, except for his need to keep hidden. And keeping hidden when you’re that big is hard work! Especially when your cousins are careless...and your friend, Bigfoot, is missing. The Yeti files is a great choice for kids who are moving up from easy readers into chapter books.The Abominables cover

Eva Ibbotson’s yetis in The Abominables are also happy-go-lucky creatures. A little girl named Agatha gets lost in the Himalyas and discovers a small group of yetis living peacefully together. They shelter and feed her and adopt her as one of their own. In turn she teaches them all she knows about civilization and lives with them into her old age. But when the yetis’ lives are threatened, Agatha comes up with a plan to ship them to England. This dangerous plan that involves keeping yetis quiet, calm and hidden in a refrigerator truck and soon becomes a series of near misses and misunderstandings.

For more laugh-out loud funny reads for kids reading chapters, try the attached lists.

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