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.

Starting Out bags

Building Skills bags

Reading More bags

On My Own  bags

Welcome to Reading bags are made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation.

We have also created a guide to other reading level systems, like Accelerated Reader Book Search and Lexile Reading Level Book Search.

Author Nova Ren Suma
Nova Ren Suma is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling The Walls Around Us, which was an Edgar Award finalist. She also wrote Imaginary Girls and 17 & Gone and is co-creator of FORESHADOW: A Serial YA Anthology. Her most recent book is A Room Away From the Wolves. She has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and teaches at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Originally from the Hudson Valley, she spent most of her adult life in New York City and now lives in Philadelphia. She'll be at the Portland Book Festival on November 10. We asked her a few questions in anticipation of the festival.

 

Where do you look for inspiration for the supernatural and paranormal elements in your books?

I’m not sure I go looking for ghostly and strange inspiration for my stories — it just keeps on finding me. I honestly don’t like to be scared in my usual everyday life and would prefer to keep the creeping otherworldly fears and scares on the page only, but if you have an eye open to it, you’ll find supernatural inspiration everywhere. Almost as if it follows some of us. For example, while away for a reading last week I discovered that I was booked into the most haunted hotel in the city I was visiting — and I hadn’t even asked for it! With trepidation, and also because I couldn’t help myself, I Googled to find out the history of the hotel and discovered that a haunting disturbance happened on the 14th floor … which, you guessed it, was the floor my room was on. I had trouble falling asleep, so anxious I’d experience something. But when I woke up in the morning, completely unscathed and having seen nothing, I was kind of disappointed, too. Now a little idea from that hotel has entered my mind, and I can’t seem to shake it. See how I didn’t go looking for it and it found me anyway?

 

How do you stay connected with your teen audience when teen culture constantly evolves?

My last year in high school, I was voted “Most Individualistic” for the yearbook… which is just another way of saying I was weird. I think these are the teen readers my books connect to most of all: the teen readers who know they’re different, who don’t fit in, and who want stories that don’t fit so easily into a box either. The wonderfully weird and unique teen readers—my books are meant for them. And that crosses all generations.

 

What books are on your nightstand?  

There is a teetering tower of books beside my blue reading chair, some of which I’ve started, and some of which I long to start. They include: Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Hunger by Roxane Gay, Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera, The Mothers by Brit Bennett, Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore, Back Talk by Danielle Lazarin, and a YA short story anthology edited by Lamar Giles called Fresh Ink. But very top on the pile is the latest issue of Tin House magazine, on the theme of “Poison,” which landed in my mailbox yesterday.

 

What’s the most exciting part of the work you do?  

I started off writing stories only for myself — I never imagined so many people would read them. When I sit down and think about that, really think about that, it terrifies me the way it would have if I’d actually seen a ghost in that hotel room on the 14th floor last week. But it also thrills me at the same time. Late last night I got a personal, heartfelt email from someone who loved one of my books, and has read it over and over. They said it saved them at a difficult point in the past. I haven’t been able to reply yet because it moved me so much. The most exciting thing in the world is writing a book that could mean that much to someone else.

 

What are you looking forward to at the Portland Book Festival?

I’ve been wanting to attend the Portland Book Festival since I became a published author, back when it was still called Wordstock, so this feels like a long-held dream finally come true. I’m excited for my own panel with Elizabeth Acevedo and Brendan Kiely, because I think it will be such a great conversation, but also top on my list is to just be in the audience soaking in the wisdom of some of my favorite writers, including Alexander Chee, Eileen Myles, and Lidia Yuknavitch.

 

 

Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her debut novel is Fruit of the Drunken Tree. Rojas Contreras' essays and short stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Electric Literature, Guernica and Huffington Post, and she has received numerous fellowships and awards. She is also the book columnist for KQED Arts, the Bay Area's NPR affiliate. She'll be at the Portland Book Festival on November 10. We asked her a few questions in anticipation of the festival.

Your book Fruit of the Drunken Tree is about the experiences of two sisters growing up in a gated community in Bogotá, contrasted with the experiences of their live-in maid, a child who grew up in the slums. Why tell the story from the perspective of children?

Children have a naked way of understanding the world. When thinking of the universe of devastating things Colombians have to contend with—war, abuse, betrayal—I was interested in knowing what a naked understanding of those things could be. Is it possible for some Colombians to be mostly unaffected by the civil conflict because they are protected by their class, while others will experience the full brunt of violence also because of their class? That was the reality of Colombia in the 90s, and I wanted to write about what this reality was like for girls. 

One of the perks of being a librarian is recommending books, but sometimes we'd like to be on the receiving end. What's the one book you'd like to suggest for us and why?

How about three? Rita Bullwinkel's Belly Up because it gave me so much joy, Samantha Hunt's The Dark Dark because it reminded me that at any moment we may meet the delicious surreality riding beneath the surface of our lives, and If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim because it's an immigrant saga that packs a lot of heart.

What books are on your nightstand?   

I am reading Freeman's Power issue, and Elaine Castillo's America is Not the HeartBoth are indelible companions to me right now. 

What’s the most exciting part of the work you do?   

The most exciting part is an empty room, an endless supply of matcha, my blue bathrobe, my fingers on the keyboard, the blank page. 

What are you most looking forward to at the Portland Book Festival?

I am really looking forward to This is America: Race and Family. It has a knockout line up with Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Nicole Chung and Luis Alberto Urrea. I am very excited to hear them speak. Also Lidia Yuknavitch (!) who is speaking with Aminder Dhaliwal, Ling Ma and Leni Zumas on the subject of women at the end of the world.

Privacy and cyber security are just two facets of digital literacy. Technology is drastically changing the way we find and apply for jobs, manage our finances, and make sense of the daily news. It’s changing the way we understand and implement things like copyright, diplomacy, and activism. As more industries are disrupted by digital innovations, the opportunities we seek may distort and disappear without warning.

Check out these local resources for more information about efforts in our community to bridge the digital divide and create a future where the promise of better living through technology is offered to everyone:

Free Geek

Municipal Broadband PDX

Digital Equity Action Plan

Protecting Yourself Online

 

Take a look at these other resources designed to help people navigate the information jungle:

Terms of Service Didn’t Read

How Secure is my Password?

Have I Been Pwned?

Snopes.com

Library Freedom Project

Mozilla Learning

 

As always, your library is here for you. Peruse these reads that explore the various elements of web literacy.

 

thinking man
Ask yourself these questions when you're evaluating a website:

  1. What authority is responsible for this site? Who developed the site, and is there a clear link to contact information? What are the author’s credentials, and is the site supported by an organization or commercial body?
  2. What is the purpose of the site? Is the purpose to inform, persuade, convey an opinion, entertain, or parody something/someone? Is the site geared to a specific audience (students, scholars, public at large), and does the content support the site’s purpose?
  3. What is the extent of this site’s coverage? Does the site claim to be selective or comprehensive?  Are the topics explored in depth? Compare the value of the site’s information compared to other similar sites.  Does the site provide information with no relevant external links?
  4. Is the information posted on the site current? Does the site list the date the information was first written, published online, and last revised? Are there any dead links or references to sites that have moved?  Is the information provided so time-specific that its usefulness is limited to a certain time period?
  5. Is the site clearly objective, or is it trying to sway its audience? Is the information presented with a particular bias?  Is site advertising at odds with the content? Is the site trying to explain, inform, or persuade, or is it selling something?
  6. Is the information accurate? Does the site provide references, and does it use correct spelling and grammar?


There are also specific criteria in evaluating government websites, which are especially important when trying to access vital services:

  1. Does the website address end in ".gov."?
  2. Does the site charge a fee for blank government enrollment/application forms? Government forms and instructions are free.

Contact Consumer Action’s hotline at 415.777.9635 or online if you have a question about a suspicious site that claims to be government related.

Finally, here are some more ways to protect yourself online.

Sources:

Re-Hashed: 5 Ways to Determine if a Website is Fake, Fraudulent, or a Scam (Hashed Out)

6 Criteria for Websites (Dalhousie University)

Be aware of government imposters (Consumer Action)

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