Oakland Public Schools are officially a week into summer break now, and if your household is like mine, you’re in the market for some inexpensive, kid-friendly entertainment. You probably already know about the library’s Discover & Go program, which lets you “check out” free or discounted passes to local museums and attractions with your library card. But I hadn’t really realized until I started this post just how many great options there are.
In this series of posts, we’ll highlight the participating institutions alphabetically, 12 at a time, and pair them up with a picture book from the Montclair collection to get the kids inspired for your visit or extend what you learned at the museum.
Today we tackle the first dozen, from the Asian Art Museum to the Contemporary Jewish Museum:
Asian Art Museum | www.asianart.org
What: 6000 years of Asian art and culture in downtown San Francisco.
Pair it with: The Great Wave: A Children’s Book Inspired by a Woodcut by Hokusai by Véronique Massenot (J PICBK MASSENOT). In this story, a Japanese couple adopts a boy found in a giant wave who does not grow, in a story inspired by Hokusai’s “The Great Wave Off Kanegawa” and featuring information on the artist and his work on the back lining papers.
Bay Area Discovery Museum | www.baykidsmuseum.org
What: Hands-on exhibits designed for kids from infants up to age 8, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito. The museum is celebrating a “Summer of Curiosity,” with special programs, extended hours and appearances by Curious George – see their website for details.
Pair it with: Curious George by H.A. Rey (J PICBK REY) (or one of his many sequels)
The Beat Museum | www.kerouac.com
What: Memorabilia, manuscripts and other materials related to the writers, artists and thinkers who congregated in 1950s San Francisco.
Pair it with: The group who gave us Naked Lunch and Howl might not be a natural fit for a children’s outing, but you could explore the jazz and poetry of North Beach with a book like Cats’ Night Out by Caroline Stutson (J PICBK STUTSON), which swings with the rhythm of the city as cats go out dancing, or Hip Cat by Jonathan London (J PICBK LONDON) (not at Montclair), in which Hip Cat travels to San Francisco to pursue his dream of becoming a jazz musician.
Believe it or not, there actually is a book for kids inspired by Kerouac’s On the Road: Hit the Road, Jack by Robert Burleigh, which features a scat-singing, bebopping jackrabbit traveling across the United States and is “written in the rhythm and spirit of Beat poetry,” according to the publisher. It’s not available in OPL, but you can request it free from a nearby library through Link+.
Bedford Gallery | bedfordgallery.org
What: Eclectic exhibits of historic, modern and contemporary artists in Walnut Creek.
Pair it with: The gallery’s next exhibit is Botanica: All Things Plant Life, July 12–September 6, 2015. Try reading a book with bold flower illustrations, like Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert (J PICBK EHLERT), or learning about one of the most famous painters of flowers in Through Georgia’s Eyes by Rachel Rodriguez (J BIO O’KEEFFE).
California Academy of Sciences | calacademy.org
What: Aquarium, rain forest and other earth and life sciences exhibits in Golden Gate Park.
Pair it with: The Academy’s current exhibit, Color of Life, explores the wonders of colors in nature. Read Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff (J PICBK WOLFF), in which a bear cub discovers blue birds, red strawberries, orange butterflies and other colorful things in nature.
California Historical Society | www.californiahistoricalsociety.org
What: Exhibits of California history and art near Yerba Buena Center.
Pair it with: Our California by Pam Muñoz Ryan (J 979.4 RYAN), which features poems and information about 14 important California locations, as well as background on the state flag, state bird and more, paired with Rafael Lopez’s vibrant illustrations.
Cartoon Art Museum | cartoonart.org
What: Exhibits celebrating cartoon and animation art, near Yerba Buena Center.
Pair it with: If you’re inspired to try your own cartooning, check out Heroes!: Draw Your Own Superheroes, Gadget Geeks & Other Do-Gooders by Jay Stephens (J 741.51 STEPHENS).
Or for older kids and teens, check out some of the Montclair Library’s extensive graphic novel collection, in the Young Adult section.
Charles M. Schulz Museum | schulzmuseum.org
What: This Santa Rosa museum houses the world’s largest collection of original Peanuts artwork.
Pair it with: Peanuts Treasury by Charles M. Schulz (J 741.5 SCHULZ)
Children’s Creativity Museum | creativity.org
What: An interactive art and technology museum for kids featuring hands-on exhibits, an animation lab, a music studio, a tech lab and more. Located in Yerba Buena Center.
Pair it with: The Dumpster Diver by Janet S. Wong (J PICBK WONG). This picture book about a man who transforms trash into imaginative new objects embraces the spirit of creativity, innovation and slightly wacky invention that kids are encouraged to explore at the CCM.
Children’s Museum of Sonoma County | www.cmosc.org
What: Hands-on exhibits focused on art, science and nature for kids age 10 and under, in Santa Rosa.
Pair it with: Check out the museum’s new Science & Imagination Gallery and then read Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty (J PICBK BEATY), about a young aspiring engineer who must conquer her fear of failure.
Chinese Historical Society of America Museum | chsa.org
What: This museum (located in a Julia Morgan-designed building in San Francisco’s Chinatown) preserves the social, cultural and political history and contributions of the Chinese in America.
Pair it with: Landed by Milly Lee (J PICBK LEE). After leaving his village in southeastern China, twelve-year-old Sun is held at Angel Island before being released to join his father, a merchant living in the area. [Older kids might enjoy the local angle in Good Fortune: My Journey to Gold Mountain by Li Keng Wong (J BIO WONG), which details the author’s journey from China and her life in Oakland’s Chinatown during the Great Depression.]
Contemporary Jewish Museum | www.thecjm.org
What: Wide-ranging exhibits about Jewish history, culture and art, near Yerba Buena Center.
Pair it with: The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco (J PICBK POLACCO), in which a homemade quilt ties together the lives of four generations of an immigrant Jewish family.
If you go before June 28th, book lovers will appreciate the exhibit “Bound to Be Held: A Book Show” by conceptual artist Josh Greene, which celebrates the relationship between reader and books with a display of books that are significant to readers both famous and not.
Stay tuned for our next post, covering outlets from CuriOdyssey to the Lindsay Wildlife Museum.
Photos: Fish racing at the Bay Area Discovery Museum by Andrew Fitzhugh; a path in the UC Berkeley Botanical Garden by rocor | via Flickr / Creative Commons