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Unity. Kindness. Peace. are often asked for book recommendations to help children process the events of the day. The Association for Library Service to Children, an organization committed to their core values of core values of collaboration, excellence, inclusiveness, innovation, integrity and respect, leadership and responsiveness, has put together a list of children’s books dealing with Unity, Kindness and Peace. We hope they will inspire you and your children.

Click here to see the book list in the Library’s catalog.

Teaching Tolerance

Teaching young children to be tolerant of others and accepting of difference in others
can be challenging. Children have been only on this earth for a short period of time and their experiences are far fewer than that of an adult. The wonderful thing about this age, though, is that they encounter new experiences every day and are easily adaptable. Often people or experiences can be scary for the simple reason that they are new. Modeling openness and kindness to all is the best lesson.

12x12-stellalunaStellaluna by Janell Cannon is a delightful tale of a baby bat who is separated from her mother by an unfortunate mishap. Luckily for Stellaluna she happens to fall into the nest of birds. She quickly must adapt to the life of a bird. Eventually, Stellaluna is reunited with her mother and wants to share her new life with her bird family only to discover birds are quite different than bats. This story illustrates tolerance, acceptance and difference lovingly.

yokoYoko by Rosemary Wells is the story of a Japanese girl who is so excited to bring her favorite Bento box lunch to school until the children mock her for its contents. Her teacher plans an international food day to expose the children to difference. As a result, Yoko finds a new friend. Through their differences they find they have something in common: green tea ice cream!

hortonhearsawhobookcoverHorton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss tells the enticing tale of an elephant who, while splashing in a the “cool of a pool,” happens to hear a very faint “yelp.” Determined to help this very small creature floating past on a speck a dust. Horton states, “A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Very carefully he collects the speck of dust and rests it safely on a clover flower. The other animals in the jungle who cannot hear the creature’s call do not believe Horton, so he must do everything in his power to protect and prove that the creatures are there. Horton shows how difficult it can be to make others understand.

the_story_of_ferdinandThe Story of Ferdinand the Bull by Munro Leaf is a timeless tale written in 1936. It tells the story of a bull who has no desire to do the normal bull activities. Instead, he is quite at peace sitting beneath his favorite cork tree out in the pasture quietly smelling the flowers. Unfortunately for Ferdinand, live changes abruptly when he is stung by a bee. Discover how this young bull’s gentle demeanor alters bull fighting maybe forever.

its-okay-to-be-differentIt’s Okay to be Different by Todd Parr is the perfect book for the very young child. The vivid simplicity of this illustrated picture book looks at a wide range of differences with simple text and creative whimsical illustrations. A personal favorite: “It’s okay to lose your mittens.” To this day it baffles me that I grew up in the sub-zero New England winters and on more occasions than not managed to loose a mitten.


Read to a Dog

SHARE-A-Book Dogs
Saturday, October 22, 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

reading dog 2Kids in kindergarten and older can make 15-minute appointments to read aloud to friendly four-legged friends. It’s a great way to increase confidence and improve read-aloud skills in a fun, relaxed atmosphere. Program takes place in the Children’s Room.

Call (415) 389-4292 x4 or email to register for a 15-minute appointment.

Celebrate the Right to Read

image1We celebrate the right to read. In the Children’s Room this week, you will find a large display highlighting Banned Books Week and bringing attention to the many children’s books that are challenged or banned in the U.S.

We take this week each year to bring attention to the distressing truth that librarians and teachers across this country are asked to remove books from shelves because someone didn’t like what they read. When someone tries to remove a book from access, that is a challenge. When they succeed, that is what the American Library Association defines as banning a book.

Maybe the book that is being challenged had offensive language. Maybe it was seen as unsuitable for the age group that it was available to. Maybe it was violent, or contained sexuality, or depicted homosexuality. There are a lot of reasons why books are banned or challenged in the U.S. Often, these efforts are defeated. But all too often, they succeed — and books disappear from classrooms, school libraries, public libraries, college classes, even academic libraries.

As librarians, we believe it is the right of the individual to choose what to read and what not to read. That is called intellectual freedom, and it comprises one of the essential components of a thriving democracy and an informed citizenry. Even if what is being read is offensive or disagreeable.

The American Library Association (ALA) defines Intellectual Freedom as: “the right of every individual to both seek and receive information from all points of view without restriction. It provides for free access to all expressions of ideas through which any and all sides of a question, cause or movement may be explored.”

We champion strong opinions and we wholeheartedly say: If you don’t like a book, don’t read it. You are free to dislike a book as much as you want, and express that dislike wholeheartedly. But that doesn’t mean you can stop other people from reading it. That’s a violation of intellectual freedom.

Children deserve intellectual freedom, too.

According to the American Library Association, 40 percent of the challenges to books in the U.S. come from parents. Parents care about what their children are reading. Of course! As parents ourselves, we care about what our own kids read. Parents should be involved in their children’s developing literacy, and we strongly encourage you to read what your kids are reading. But deciding what your own child reads — and what another person’s child reads — are two different things.

We also want to urge parents: Trust your children in their exploration of books and reading. Allow your kids to read broadly and diversely. Allow them to pursue their interests. Read the books your children are reading and talk to them about it. Start a family book group!

Our City Librarian Anji Brenner once wrote about Banned Books Week for this blog. What she said then still holds true today: “Fortunately, in Mill Valley, we’ve had very few instances — few and far between — of censorship on the order of banned books, something that continues to happen all too often elsewhere in the country. What isn’t so rare here is the more insidious version, perhaps just as destructive, in which well-intended parents interfere with the critical choice-making process of their children. Like anything else, choice is a skill, and it needs to be learned — by making choices.”

Books open the world to your children. Allow them to step through that door and become global citizens. Reading diversely makes our children more empathetic, informed, and self-aware. Reading for pleasure — even reading formulaic chapter books or comic books over and over and over and over — builds a foundation for a love of reading that will blossom for a lifetime. Allow your kids to practice intellectual freedom, and to learn to read with abundance. We can all celebrate our right to read.



Drama and Adventure: New Books for Older Readers

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
For Ravi and Joe the first week of fifth grade is off to a rough start. Ravi has just moved to New Jersey from India. At his old school he was a popular kid and star student, but now no one can understand his heavily accented English and he is left to eat lunch by himself. Joe never has great days at school, but this year his only friends have moved away and he has been left to be tormented by the class bully. When Ravi is forced to attend remedial class with Joe, the two boys start down a path that seems to be headed for disaster until the two discover a common enemy. Told through Ravi and Joe’s alternating perspectives this touching tale of finding your place in the world will resonate with fans of Wonder and Absolutely Almost. The boy’s strong voices, humorous situations, and all around charming story make this a highly recommended title!

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff
In this third fairy tale mashup by Shurtliff, readers journey deep into the Kingdom with Red, previously introduced in Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin. In Red’s tale she sets off on a quest to find a magical cure for her ailing Granny as every spell she has tried before goes horribly wrong. She is joined on her quest by an irritating girl called Goldie, a dwarf forced into her service, and one very unlikely ally. With every magical cure a little more terrifying than the last, Red begins to realize that immortality might not be the answer she seeks. Fans of Rump and Jack will be thrilled to see another adventure set in this fairy tale land and Red does not disappoint. This is a story full of bravery, humor, and plenty of magic.

Dara Palmer’s Major Drama by Emma Shevah
Dara Palmer knows she will land a leading role in her school’s production of The Sound of Music because she is destined to be a star, sowhen her name is not called for any part she is baffled. It couldn’t be because she is not a good actress, after all she spends her recesses practicing her dramatic faces. It must be because she doesn’t look like Maria, and her Cambodian heritage is standing in the way of her dreams. Or is it? Dara begins to examine her life and acting skills more closely and realizes she has work to do. This journey of self-exploration is made irresistible by Dara’s humor and eccentric personality. Adoption, race, and various tween issues elevate this seemingly simple tale of a drama queen onto a level with Drama and Better Nate than Ever.

The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey
Princess Jeniah is not ready to be Queen but the impending death of her mother has forced Jeniah to learn everything she can about ruling. Her kingdom is renowned for the peace, prosperity, and contentment of its people. That is, everyone except Aon who alone feels sadness and believes there must be something wrong with her. Day after day, Aon is drawn to the only place in the kingdom where sadness reigns, Dreadwillow Carse. Jeniah is also curious about the Carse as her mother has warned her that if she ever sets foot inside, the kingdom will fall. A chance meeting between the girls begins a partnership to determine the secrets behind the kingdom’s perpetual peace. The increasingly suspenseful mystery and the girls’ emotional tales make this book a real page turner. A great choice for readers who enjoy high fantasy or fairy tales with dark undertones.

-Sarah Beth

Take It and Make It

iconsukuleleDo you want to learn to play the ukulele or bongo drums? Try sewing or weaving? Or investigate with a telescope or a microscope? Maybe you’ve been itching to try out a GoPro camera, or Arduino or Makey Makey? Check out our new Take It Make It Experience Kits and get started on a whole new experience of creating, designing, making, or producing. Each kit contains everything you need to embark on something new.

goproThe maker movement is about experimentation and tinkering, and the Library will provide a small collection to help you get involved.

Musical instruments: Ukulele, Bongo Drums
Science equipment: Orion Telescope, Microscope
Technology: Raspberry Pi, Arduino, Makey Makey, GoPro Camera
Fiber arts: Weaving Loom, Sewing Machine

makeyClick here for details on how to check out these new kits.

Hares and Colors and Bears, Oh My: New Books for Younger Readers

Hare and Tortoise by Alison Murray
Hare-and-Tortoise-by-Alison-MurrayAllison Murray, whose previous works included updated nursery rhymes with One Two That’s My Shoe and Hickory Dickory Dog, updates the classic fable, The Tortoise and the Hare. This friendly competition between bouncy Hare and slow Tortoise uses bright and simple illustrations with spare text that’s welcoming for event the youngest audiences. Humor and friendship dominate the competition, and the moral of the tale is there without being didactic. Friends to the end, Tortoise suggests a race to the lettuce patch next! (ages 3-6)

Swatch: The Girl Who Loved Color by Julia Denos
swatchSwatch is a young girl who loves colors. She paints them on her face and collects them from everywhere, finding Bravest Green to Rumble-Tumble Pink. When she locates the final color for her jarred collection, Yellowest Yellow, she thinks to ask whether it wants to be caught. Filled with gorgeous swirling colors and a message of leaving wild things wild, this book is unexpectedly exuberant about what could have been a tame subject. (ages 4-7)

A Brave Bear by Sean Taylor
a-brave-bearBear cub and Dad are on their way to the river on a very hot day. When the cub tries to show Dad a really big jump, uh-oh, the result is a hurt knee and a sad bear. Dad offers to carry the little bear, but the cub decides to go on anyhow, Dad replies encouragingly, “I think a brave bear is probably the bravest thing in the world!” Gentle encouragement and relatable characters make this a lovely choice showing a small adventure for Dad and his cub. The swirly lined art – in the bears’ fur and the background river and tree bark – adds to the fun atmosphere, and action words like “jumpiest” make this a delightful read-aloud. (ages 2-5)

How to Find Gold by Viviane Schwartz
How to Find GoldAnna wants to have an adventure to find gold, but her friend Crocodile thinks it would be dangerous and difficult. Anna replies “Good!” and off they go. The colorful and imprecisely drawn characters begin the story in front of gray, realistic backgrounds. As their imagination takes hold, the drawing fill in with increasing amounts of color, until the two swim down to sunken ships that fill the pages. Schwartz showcases the power of imaginative play in this lovely book. (ages 2-5)


Amazing Adventure: New Books for Older Readers

The Wooden Prince by John Claude Bemis
out of abatonIn this steampunk retelling of the classic Italian story, Pinocchio, a wooden automaton is haphazardly delivered to the outlawed alchemist, Geppetto. But unlike most subservient automata, Pinocchio asks a lot of questions and thinks! Why is Pinocchio here? As Geppetto and Pinocchio ponder the question, they are swept up in the midst of a war zone between the magical kingdom of Abaton and the imperialistic Venitia. The pretentious cricket Maestro provides comic relief as Geppetto and Pinocchio identify their role in these perilous times. This interesting twisted fairy tale should suit fans of Marissa Meyer’s Cinder and Liesl Shurtliff’s Rump.

Compass South by Hope Larson
CompassSouthCharles Dickens meets Robert Louis Stevenson meets Doug Tennapel in this seafaring comic book about orphaned twins Alexander and Cleopatra learning to survive in 1860’s New York as young gang members. When a burglary goes sour, the twins exchange information with the police for a ticket to New Orleans to begin a con of their own devices. Just when they think they’ve landed their lottery ticket to a better life, they meet a set of twins with the same deceptive itinerary! Garnish that with a disgruntled gang member from the past, and you’re in for a rip-roaring tale that will keep you on your toes. Hope Larson is the Eisner award-winning author of the graphic novel: A Wrinkle in Time. Readers who enjoyed Craig Thompson’s Space Dumplins will satiate their appetite for fast paced adventures with her new graphic novel.

Dream On, Amber by Emma Shevah
DreamonAmber1Not only does Amber have a brutally long name: Amber Alexandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto, she is also half Italian and half Japanese, which makes things molto confusing. Amber is starting 6th grade, which isn’t a walk in the park when there’s a super scary bully in your talk therapy class, you lack a smart phone like everyone else, and you don’t have a….Dad. How is Amber going to survive these in between years and be a thoughtful big sister? Written with a similar spunk as Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, this accessible book tackles real problems while remaining hilariously sarcastic and poignant. It is refreshing to see a protagonist navigate her identity as a bi-cultural tween in contemporary American culture. Dream On Amber also addresses bullying, single parent household, and self esteem.

The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks
nameless cityThe present conquerors call the great city DanDao, but the dwellers in the outskirts know better. The city is nameless, because it is defeated every 30 years. The 30 years is upon DanDao as the rulers feverishly train the next generation of soldiers. Naïve and absentminded, Kaidu begrudgingly shoulders his new responsibility as a future Dao soldier. His pensiveness reroutes him to a feral and magnetic girl of the city streets, a skral girl named Rat, who opens his eyes to the reality of the tumultuous political landscape he inhabits. With a strong female character, action oriented plot, and vibrant art panels, The Nameless City is a quality graphic novel that should suit fans of Kibuishi’s Amulet series.


Pokémon Go for Family Fun

pokemon2For the past few weeks I have been playing Pokémon Go to understand this new phenomenon, and as a children’s librarian I am embracing this game. Before you shrug this game off as the downfall of our society into a plugged-in-zombie-pedestrian dystopia, I would encourage you to try it out if you can, especially if you have children or grandchildren. From my research, I found many positive associations with this game.

Note: If you don’t know what a Pokémon is and want to learn how to play, visit this beginner’s guide.

Why play?

  1. Familiarize with the latest shift in our culture and prepare for future innovations in the virtual reality gaming domain
  2. Connect with your family! Playing this game is a great way to bridge generational divides and connect with kids and millennials, who may be nostalgic players.
  3. Explore the Bay Area, particularly landmarks, and get to know local history. The creators of this game created an algorithm that selects landmarks as “pokestops” where players collect goodies. Places with many historical landmarks are great for Pokémon, providing opportunities to learn local history. For instance, you might take your kids to the Rosie the Riveter historical park to catch Pokémon and learn about WWII.
  4. Harness a love of Pokémon and encourage them to read about their beloved pocket monsters: there are books pertaining to Pokémon, such as encyclopedias and graphic novels like as the Pokémon Essential Handbook and Pokémon XY. 
  5. Be involved in the dialogue about the latest Pokémon frenzy. The frenzy has sparked some controversy, such as:

rosieExplore the Bay Area!

Getting out with family is my favorite part of the Pokémon Go experience. Pack water, snacks, and sandwiches to explore/revisit the Bay Area. You won’t find many Pokémon in residential areas, so go to places with landmarks where you will have phone service. I have had great experiences at the University of California Berkeley, Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park, San Francisco hotspots like the Palace of Fine Arts and Fort Mason, and downtown Redwood City. I plan to visit the John Muir National Historic site, the Yoda Fountain at LucasFilm, the Oakland Aviation Museum, and the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz (although lack of cellular service may be a barrier). Check out the Library’s Discover & Go museum passes to get free admissions to Bay Area museums!

Practice safety skills and positive social skills

  1. There are already horror stories of people climbing up fences on highways to catch rare Pokémon, and people playing while driving and crashing into police cars. Let’s remind our kids to play smartly! Even if it’s common sense,  we can always remind kids to step out of the way so bikers can ride past, look up when crossing streets and be wary of strangers. Play during the well-lit daytime, and play with friends!
  2. Practice planning skills: bring water, snacks, money, food, chargers and extra clothes.
  3. When you go out to play Pokémon in popular places, you will likely notice other people playing. Kids can practice positive social skills such as greeting others, making eye contact, smiling, and being aware of other people’s space. There have been heart-warming articles about Pokémon Go making a positive difference for kids who are on the autism spectrum.
  4. Be patient with grumpy bystanders. There are many bystanders who are confused by this frenzy or express their resentment about it. If kids notice hostile comments, we can practice empathy skills, and talk people’s reasons for being upset such as change, and how we can react.

Who can play?

  1. The free app is accessible to all ages, though you’ll need a digital device to download and play.
  2. People with an android or iOs (version 4.3 or higher) digital device that has a GPS signal and Internet connectivity. You must download the Pokemon Go app on your android or iOS device, and have at least 200 MB of storage available on their phone for this initial download and updates to follow


The most frustrating aspect of playing Pokémon Go is that it rapidly depletes your phone’s battery. Here are some tips for dealing with this nuisance:

  1. Make sure your phone is fully charged! Bring your charger with you. You can stop by a library branch to charge your phone and read while you wait!
  2. Go into your settings and turn off the notifications for all of your apps. Your phone uses battery power when it’s checking for app updates and email.
  3. Go into your settings and set your battery to low power mode
  4. When you go out to eat or do other things, you can turn off your phone or switch it to airplane mode to conserve the battery
  5.  You can buy a portable phone charger so that you can play longer. There are good deals on Amazon!
  6. Bring your charger with you, so you can come into the Mill Valley Library and charge up!

Did you know that the Mill Valley Library is a PokéGym? Come on in to battle your Pokémon!

Have fun!