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Read, Play, Create

Happy Valley Library Youth Services Blog

Books & Beyond

Just One More Chapter!

Here are some of our favorite family read alouds, great for preschoolers through 3rd grade or so. Included is a rough estimate of how many sittings it might take to finish them. Whether you read to your child at breakfast, before dinner or at bedtime, it's all good!

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Let's Learn About...

Letters & Mail

Sending and receiving mail is practically magical. When they write their own letters, kids have the power to communicate as they wish, whether it's a drawing, a story, or just them writing their name down. Learning how to address an envelope has it's own art as well, understanding the importance of place in the world. But how does it all work? Here's our guide to the true and, well, exaggerated magic of mail.

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Books & Beyond

Sharing Mindfulness with Children

These books encourage children (and their grownups) to slow down and bring their awareness to the present moment. Mindfulness for kids might mean taking time to explore a flower or to taste a single strawberry.  Just like grownups, being mindful can support children in navigating strong emotions or worry.  These mindful titles encourage us all to take a breath with awareness, to be in the moment, and to practice kindness to ourselves and others.

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Exploring Seasons: Winter

January and February can feel like such long, cold months, but there's joy and excitement in the season of winter! Here are some of our ideas for finding the fun in freezing cold. So wrap up in warm clothes and head outside to explore the wonderfully, often rainy, season of winter in Oregon! 

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Books & Beyond

You Can Never Read Too Many Comics

I like to think of certain comics as being so good, such instant classics with wide-ranging appeal, that they serve as entrance points into a lifetime of comics-reading for many a kiddo. Let's look at these as pathways through the world of comics - from around Kindergarten level up to upper elementary.

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Listen Up

Audiobooks for Older Listeners

When children are young, it’s easy to see the benefit in parents reading out loud to their child. Children who are read to have better vocabularies, stronger reading skills and healthy social/emotional development. But why stop there?! Keep reading for some of our favorite books to listen to for upper elementary through middle school.

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Listen Up

Start with Episode One: Epic Podcast Storytelling for Older Kids (and their grown-ups!)

I've started thinking about capturing that special-event feeling of movie night with the joy of listening to podcasts, and I've found some wonderful works of storytelling art I just have to share.

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Parenting Place

New Baby – A Guide for New Parents

Welcoming a new baby into your home is an amazing experience. And incredibly overwhelming! Those of us who have been there have appreciated some help along the way. Yes, you can definitely read books, but let's be honest, while a newborn sleeps a lot, you'll need rest too! Here are suggestions for support, including some local agencies. 

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Create!

Baking with Kids

Math, science, art...baking has it all! Whether you've got a toddler or tween, it's never too early to get in the kitchen and start baking together. Yes, there will be a mess, but it will be worth it! And there are some things you can do to minimize the potential wildness.

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Let's Learn About...

Snowflakes!

What do you know about snow? If you're curious and you want to learn more, then you've come to the right place. I dug through the internet looking for some great snow science sites for kids, and here's the best of what I found!

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Books & Beyond

New Baby – A Guide for New Siblings

There is so much excitement when your family grows. Making the transition from single child to more can be a monumental change, especially for the soon-to-be-no-longer-only child. Here are some of our favorite books for sharing with your child from pregnancy to becoming a big sibling.

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Books & Beyond

Book Gift Giving

Don't know if you know, but librarians love books! We love sharing books and especially giving books as gifts. Books are great gifts on their own, but sometimes it's nice to make a whole bundle of fun to go with it.

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Let's Learn About...

Dinosaurs!

Why do we find dinosaurs so fascinating? We love to learn their names, look at pictures of how we imagine they looked, and daydream about that time in the deep past when dinosaurs ruled the earth.

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Books & Beyond

Rethinking Native American Stories

We're sharing some wonderful books by Native authors. We've selected a few picture books that offer diverse perspectives on the contemporary Indigenous experience, some historical fiction for middle grade readers, and some alternatives to the traditional Thanksgiving storybooks.

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Parenting Place

Growing Gratitude

In a culture where it is easy to consume, purchase, and receive, it can be a challenge to instill a sense of gratitude. Balance with that the want to provide joy, excitement, and enrichment for our kids. Here are some ideas of sharing thankfulness as a family.

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Parenting Place

Information and Support for parents during the Coronavirus Pandemic

Here we share some reliable resources for current information about issues confronting parents during the pandemic.  You'll find videos, webinars, podcasts, and more.  Perhaps you'll find something that helps you to make a difficult decision, or to cope with your own or your child's stress.  We are here for you!

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Explore Your World

Pumpkin Math

Have a few pumpkins around? Kids of all ages (and grownups) can flex their math muscles with some simple activities using pumpkins!

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Let's Learn About...

Spiders!

What do you think about spiders? Are you intrigued by them? Scared of them? They may be much smaller than us, but spiders can cause quite a reaction from people. So let's look closely at this creature that shares out world, and see what we can learn.

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Explore Your World

Exploring Seasons: Autumn

Each season brings a special opportunity to explore and discover the world around us. As someone who grew up in a place with mostly one season (ah, Louisiana, the land of muggy and hot, and muggier and hotter), the beautiful relief and joy of autumn is something to celebrate! Here are some of our suggestions for exploring the season with your kiddos.

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Books & Beyond

Latinx Voices: Picture Books

Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 - October 15, celebrates the contributions  to American society and culture of Americans with roots in Mexico, Central America, South America, the Spanish-speaking nations of the Caribbean, and Spain. To celebrate, we're highlighting some recent books by phenomenal Latinx authors and illustrators. 

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Explore Your World

Trees!

Want to learn more about trees? It's easy to find information online, but it's hard to know what's worth your time. Here are some sites to enlighten, entertain, and amaze you!

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Parenting Place

Body Positivity

Growing up, body positivity was not a term I heard. Now raising my kids, I am acutely aware of messages about bodies (their abilities and differences) and facing questions from my kids about how bodies work. Here are some picks for cultivating a sense of awareness of our amazing, fascinating, and sometimes bizarre bodies.

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Explore Your World

Germs!

Are germs and microbes the same thing? Is a microorganism alive? Can they be seen without a microscope? The world of microscopic creatures is all around us, hanging out in our gut, on doorknobs, in ponds...pretty much everywhere. Here's our guide to the world of microorganisms, including websites, databases, and search terms to use to find library books to dig deeper.

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Books & Beyond

Start a Family Book Club

Kids are starting school, but it doesn’t look or feel the way it usually does.  The standard books about starting school just don’t apply this year.  We've gathered some books about doing something new.  We looked for titles that address the inner thoughts and emotions of children.  We hope that that sharing one or two of these books with your child helps them to acknowledge and talk about feelings of excitement, fear, or worry accompanying the start of this school year.  Searching for ways to make this time feel special?  We’ve included books that celebrate growing up and being you!

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Create!

Let’s Get Writing!

Just like reading, writing is a skill to nurture in young learners. Writing allows them to make a connection between written and spoken word. It also encourages them to develop their creative side, whether they are crafting a new story or writing a letter.  Rather than just copying down words from a page, there are some fun and simple activities your child can do to become a better writer (even if they can't read yet!). 

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Books & Beyond

Picture Books for the Start of School in 2020

Kids are starting school, but it doesn’t look or feel the way it usually does.  The standard books about starting school just don’t apply this year.  We've gathered some books about doing something new.  We looked for titles that address the inner thoughts and emotions of children.  We hope that that sharing one or two of these books with your child helps them to acknowledge and talk about feelings of excitement, fear, or worry accompanying the start of this school year.  Searching for ways to make this time feel special?  We’ve included books that celebrate growing up and being you!

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Books & Beyond

Politics for Kids

More and more families are having open conversations about big issues, including politics. We most often associate politics with big moments in history, things like presidential elections. But when you boil it down, politics is how people in groups make decisions, at many different levels. Here are some ideas of how to introduce this concept of politics, voting, and what it means to be a citizen to your kid.

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Books & Beyond

Early Reader Levels…What Do They Mean?!

If you’ve ever browsed our Early Reader section, you’ve probably noticed numbers on the sides of many of the books, or friendly names or colors. To make it more complicated, your child might have really like a Level 1 of a particular series, but when you pick up a Level 1 of another series it’s way too hard or too easy. Why is it so difficult?!

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Books & Beyond

Very Beginning Readers

Is your kiddo ready to start reading? Each kid is ready in their own time, but sharing simple text with lots of repetition can help develop their literacy skills. The world of early readers can be a complex place with leveling (set by publishers), movie/franchise tie-ins (with complicated words), and lots of very little spines. Here are our suggestions of great first books to share with your kid.

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Create!

Drawing Adventures

Everybody can use a little spark of creativity. Some amazing authors/illustrators have stepped up with videos that encourage your child to explore art in new and exciting ways. Check out some of these video links for creative fun!

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Parenting Place

Local Parent Support

Parenting can be really hard. And with so much uncertainty and isolation, finding support can really make a difference. Fortunately, there are several local groups offering parenting classes, support groups, and other services for Clackamas County families.

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Books & Beyond

Diverse Board Books:  A Place to Begin

When should you start talking to your child about race?  Today!  Babies as young as 6 months old notice and categorize people by race.  Ibram X. Kendi, in his new book, Antiracist Baby outlines nine steps to raise an antiracist child.  Number one is, “Open your eyes to all skin colors”. Here is a list of board books that illustrate the beautiful range of skin tones in our world.

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Books & Beyond

Weeding…Books

Parting with things, especially books, is never easy. Here are some tips on how to go through your book collection with your kids.

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Explore Your World

Homemade Science Lab

Kids are natural scientists. As a grownup without much of a science background, it can be daunting to try an experiment at home, because I feel like I don't have the vocabulary or knowledge to answer my kids' questions. But, it really doesn't matter! Science is about discovery, questioning and exploring. Look for the answers together! And just enjoy the process. 

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Create!

Sidewalk Chalk Summer

SIDEWALK CHALK Out of ideas for how to occupy the kids? Give them some sidewalk chalk and set them loose on the sidewalk or driveway.  You can also draw indoors with black or dark colored paper.   Free play is always a great option, but here are some ideas to spark creativity, imagination, and movement. GAMES ...  

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Explore Your World

Kiddie Pool Science

Have a kiddie pool (or a bathtub)? There's something magical about those 4-6 inches of water! Kids are content to splash and sit in water for a ridiculous amount of time. Here are some simple ideas to extend that play, that require just a little prep.

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Create!

Let’s Make a Simple Box Puppet!

I'm always impressed with how lively some people get once there's a puppet on their hand. If you're like that, or if you want to find out if you're like that, here's a painless way to turn your recycling into your friend.

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Explore Your World

Virtual Trip: Outer Space

It orbits around the Earth every 90 minutes and has for the last 20+ years! The International Space Station acts as a home, research facility and exploration tool for many countries. Here are some of resources to start your own adventure to the great unknown.

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Books & Beyond

Rainbow Reads: Chapter Books

Looking for elementary and middle school books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters?   We’ve got you covered!  Here are a few new titles we love.   Chapter Books with Lesbian Characters The Mighty Heart of Sunny Saint James by Ashley Herring Blake Hurricane Child by Kacen Calendar One True Way by Shannon Hitchcock Redwood and Ponytail by K. A. ...  

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Books & Beyond

Juneteenth: Honoring Black History and Culture with Picture books

The Juneteenth holiday  (a portmanteau of June and nineteen) commemorates June 19, 1865, when Union general Gordon Granger read federal orders in Galveston, Texas, that all previously enslaved people were free — finally freeing slaves in Texas over two years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.  The Juneteenth holiday is a time to celebrate ...  

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Books & Beyond

Rainbow Reads

LGBTQIA+ kids, teens, parents, and families: we see you! LGBTQIA+ authors and stories are in our collections. Your stories matter.  We have picture books and parenting resources for gender nonconforming kids, queer comics for all ages, books to support questioning kids and teens, and more.  We are here for you. You are part of our ...  

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Listen Up

Podcasts for Parents

I'm a librarian, so of course I love books and reading, but when I'm feeling wiped out it feels so much more appropriate to plug in my earbuds, press play, close my eyes, and listen.

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Books & Beyond

Social Justice for Kids

Parenting is hard. Having big discussions, even with other grownups much less kids, can feel daunting. Navigating what to share, how much detail and all of the other decisions can make you feel like it’s easier just not to talk about it. But kids know stuff happens. They hear it from friends, hear their grownups ...  

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Explore Your World

Virtual Trip Adventures

With actual trips taking a bit of a hiatus, it's a great time to go on world travel from the comfort of your home. Grab a globe or a map, your imagination and your computer to craft an amazing adventure for your family. These resources are fantastic for planning your virtual trips.

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Explore Your World

Flower Colors

With so many flowers blooming, now is a great time for some science exploration. Collect some various colors to see what colors (if any!) they produce. What can you do with the colored water?

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Books & Beyond

Asian & Pacific Islander Voices

We believe kids need to see characters who look like they do in stories, and we strive to have a collection that allows all children to see themselves in books.  We hope that these titles can offer kids who may not often see themselves reflected in the media, the chance to imagine starring in their own adventures.  

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Books & Beyond

Podcasts for Kids

Podcasts can be completely overwhelming, but once you’ve found ones you like it’s great to have new episodes queued up and ready to go! Here’s some of my current favorites for sharing with my kids.

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Parenting Place

Hedger Humor

At this moment, life at home with kids has many of us struggling to keep our balance. Adrienne Hedger has an inspired eye for finding the humor in our current situation.

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Books & Beyond

Time for Comics!

Hey kids! Do you miss coming into the library to check out what’s new in the comics section? I know I do.

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Parenting Place

Wide Open School

How's it going with structured activities in your home? For me, it's a balancing act, and some days I feel successful if my kids have eaten food, gotten some fresh air, and cracked open a book.

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