green branch

social justice library and gathering space for youth of all ages

Notable Children’s Books of 2013

Happy New Year!

The New York Times recently published their yearly list of notable children’s titles.  We think it’s worth a quick review. The list includes books for very young children to young adults with quick synopsis of each books. We love the diversity of subjects, people and places of these books!

Check out this slide show of the best picture books!  Visual Feast!


Don’t forget to check out (and contribute!) our Indiegogo page to get a Green Branch Bookmobile on the road!


Get our bookmobile rolling!

Get our bookmobile rolling!

 Our fundraising campaign is off and running- please help us spread the word! Cutest little claymation film, saving the world, and some cool perks if you donate– pretty sweet deal all around!

You're invited!

Green Branch is in a festive mood as we prepare to launch our 
Indiegogo Fundraising Campaign in 
support of our bookmobile project!

Come celebrate with us as we premiere our new claymation video (it's adorable!) 
and fundraising website. Stay and enjoy local crafts for sale, a cocktail bar, 
and children's author readings.

We hope you join us at Runway Style House, in Oakland's Uptown District on 
Thursday, December 12th 
from 6-8 p.m. for libations and good people!

A new bookmobile would allow us to bring our social justice and 
environmental books and multimedia 
collection to more kids who need them.

Drink, party, and help us spread the word!

Connect with us on our Facebook event page to RSVP.

Please note it is a cash only bar, but there is an ATM located downstairs. 
If children will be attending, please keep them supervised, and relax 
together in our cozy book corner! There is street parking available, as 
well as a parking garage on the corner of 17th and Broadway. 
The 19th St. BARTstation and several bus lines are all convenient 
to the party's location at 455 17th St., between 
Telegraph and Broadway.

Excited to see you all and celebrate with you!

Shari, Chloë, Ever & Rachel

Board of Directors

Closing the gap

Statue of child readingA recent study published by Stanford University scientists in the journal Developmental Science (vol.16:2, 2013, p.234), corroborates that children from lower-income families and less educated parents usually have poorer language skills and show substandard scores on language development tests by the time they enter school.  And as predicted, the children of better educated and more affluent parents do better on language development tests, as well as on subsequent educational activities.

The study, conducted over a span of fifty years, suggests that the fundamental difference in language development between rich and poor children lies in the amount of language stimulation that the parents provide to their infants. At 2 years of age, lower-income children may already be six months behind in language development.

This study is important not only because it is the first scientific attempt to identify and corroborate an achievement gap, but also because it could inform strategies for educational intervention–such as early literacy–to support the needs of disadvantaged children.

Closing the language development gap through promoting and supporting early literacy is very much at the core of what we do at the Green Branch Library, with the advantage that our books empower and educate children about environmental and social justice issues.

It is difficult to avoid feeling troubled and saddened by the results of this type of research; however, these negative facts help us to reaffirm our commitment to continue providing educational materials to help reduce the disparities that begin at such an early stage in life.

In a few weeks the Green Branch Library will be launching its first campaign to raise funds so that we can purchase a vehicle and start a bookmobile. This bookmobile will help us to enhance the services we provide, as well as to extend our services to other Bay Area communities.

We hope that you can continue supporting the Green Branch Library during our bookmobile project.
Thank you!

A Mighty Girl

A Mighty Girl

We highly recommend this girl-empowering website. They have an extensive resource list of empowering toys, books and films (and more!) for strong girls of all ages. Their book list features some titles we are proud to own in our collection already (like the Paper Bag Princess!). And as the holiday season approaches, be sure to check out their toy selections, especially if you are sick of the pink sparky vapid fare that currently dominates the toy aisles.


Veterans Day Reading for Kids

Veterans Day is a time to honor those who have served in the military. This can be a hard topic to discuss with children, even though it affects children profoundly to have a family member in military service. Here’s a wonderful book written from the perspective of a young boy whose big brother goes to serve in the army:


Veterans Day is also a perfect time to talk about peace with children. Because what better way is there to respect the lives of soldiers than by fostering peace in the world? 

The Jane Addams Peace Association gives out yearly awards to children’s books that “effectively promote the cause of peacesocial justiceworld community, and the equality of the sexes and all races as well as meeting conventional standards for excellence.” 

Check out their list of past winners here for some great ideas of books to share with the kids in your life. 

Our First Market!

Come join Green Branch at our first public appearance! We’ll have our reading room set up tomorrow, Saturday, at the downtown Berkeley Farmers’ Market, from 10-3. It’s going to be beautiful weather- come stroll around, buy delicious organic veggies, and check out our eco-themed children’s books! Hope to see you there. 

Volunteer with us at the farmers’ market!

If you are interested in reading awesome books with awesome kids on beautiful spring Saturdays, keep reading!
1. Our new date to start up at the Berkeley farmers’ market is now April 14th. (due to Easter and Passover both being on the weekend before). We hope to see you there!
2. If you would like to volunteer at the markets, please visit our google calendar and sign yourself up for a shift. (or as many shifts as you’d like!) There are four available shifts per Saturday, two from 9-12, and two from 12-3. If you see a slot on the calandar without someone’s name replacing the generic “Volunteer 1” or “Volunteer 2” title, then it is available. If you’d like to take it, simply “edit” the event and add your own name in the title. It will ask if you’d like to repeat this event or if it is only for that one day. You decide. 🙂
3. We will have mini-orientations at the beginning of each shift to familiarize ourselves with talking points for the public, and with read aloud tips if you’d like to lead a read aloud.
Please get in touch with us if this interests you.
Thanks everyone! Let me know if you have any questions, and I am so looking forward to starting this adventure with you!

Farmers’ Market!!

Get ready, Bay Area!

Green Branch is officially launching our reading room at the downtown Berkeley farmers’ market on Saturdays, starting April 7th! Come one, come all!

We will have lots of fun activities for kids of all ages, including read-alouds and storytelling, all taking place in our comfy cozy Green Branch tent. Peruse the books and make yourself at home. Enjoy a quiet moment in the middle of the bustling market. Have some fun with books!

More details to come about the festivities planned for April 7th. We hope you’ll become Saturday morning regulars- we’d love to see you there!

A Thanksgiving Message

As we celebrate a major American holiday this week,  I want to share some thoughts from a perspective of social justice. Alison Merz serves on the Green Branch Board of Directors, and is a 4th and 5th grade teacher at Oxford Elementary School in Berkeley, CA. She highlights the importance of looking at Thanksgiving with fresh eyes, and points us in the direction of resources we can share with our children.

She writes:

Thanksgiving can be a time of giving thanks, expressing gratitude, and sharing with friends and family.  It is also a U.S. holiday rife with myths, stereotypes, spectacle, racism, and propaganda.  Talking honestly to children about the fraught history of this holiday is very important, but can be overwhelming because of the multitude of misinformation and myths surrounding this holiday’s history.   It is essential to have excellent resources that come from a range of often unheard Native perspectives, as well as an anti-racist, social justice framework.  The following is a list of resources that I have used in my 4th/5th grade classroom.

Oyate is a Native American/American Indian advocacy and education organization that “reviews children’s literature and advocates for Native Americans/American Indians to be portrayed with historical accuracy, cultural appropriateness and without anti-Indian bias and stereotypes” (  On the Oyate website, there is a tab called “Thanksgiving” that directs you to a page with a list of recommended books on the topic of Thanksgiving.  One of the members of the Oyate Board of Directors has also co-authored an excellent lesson entitled “Deconstructing the Myths of ‘The First Thanksgiving.’”  This lesson involves debunking the myths of Thanksgiving, finding these myths in actual children’s books, supporting students to recognize bias, and to critically analyze different tellings of history.  You can find that lesson here.

In the book Beyond Heroes and Holidays, edited by Enid Lee, Deborah Menkart, and Margo Okazawa-Rey, there is an article called “A Native Perspective on Thanksgiving,” written by the Council on Interracial Books for Children.  This is a great resource because it teaches students about the often untold histories of the interactions between the European “Pilgrims” and the Wampanoag people.  This can be read with upper grade students.

In the book Rethinking Columbus, published by Rethinking Schools, there is a section called “Rethinking Thanksgiving.”  There is an article entitled, “Why I’m Not Thankful for Thanksgiving” by Michael Dorris, and an article entitled “Plagues and Pilgrims: The Truth about the First Thanksgiving” by James W. Loewen.  Also of interest is an excerpt from the afterword of Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children about showing thanks and gratitude for the natural world upon which humankind depends.   Additionally, this section includes a very useful and engaging list of suggested activities to be done in educational settings.

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