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Do Unto Others…..

It’s great to start the day with a full stomach – cereal, toast and milk, or maybe eggs, bacon and juice – you’re ready to face the world! It helps you stay awake in class and feeds your brain so you can listen and learn. Maybe cookies or fruit will be waiting for you at the end of the day, to tide you over until dinner. And that helps you get a good night’s sleep to be ready for the next day.

But not everyone can expect a good breakfast and dinner. Sometimes parents don’t have a job, or their job doesn’t pay a lot of money, and with the costs of everything, like housing, gas, and food, going up all the time it can be very hard to keep a family well fed. It can happen to anyone.

And without enough of the right kind of healthful food, it can be hard to sleep, hard to stay awake in school, hard to learn.

But help is available, and that help can come from people like you and me! We can donate money; we can donate time by helping out at food banks; we can donate food by picking up a few extra cans or boxes the next time we go shopping. Donations of food can be dropped off many different places, including the Union City Library! Many grocery stores take donations of food and money.

And the Alameda County Community Food Bank makes donating VERY easy! Just click on this link to visit their Virtual Food Drive!

I hope your family doesn’t need to use this resource, but if you do it’s a good feeling to know help is available! And sharing just makes you feel good!


Light the Candle!

Hanukkah, or the Festival of Rededication, celebrates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after its defilement by the Syrian Greeks in 164 BCE. The eight-day festival of Hanukkah is also known as the Festival of Lights and takes place in December, at the time of year when the days are shortest in the northern hemisphere.

Beginning in 167 BCE, the Jews of Judea rose up in revolt against the oppression of King Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire. The military leader of the first phase of the revolt was Judah the Maccabee. In the autumn of 164, Judah and his followers were able to capture the Temple in Jerusalem, which had been turned into a pagan shrine. They cleansed it and rededicated it. This event was observed in an eight-day celebration, which was patterned on Sukkot, the autumn festival of huts. Much later rabbinic tradition ascribes the length of the festival to a miraculous small amount of oil that burned for eight days.

Much of the activity of Hanukkah takes place at home. Central to the holiday is the lighting of the hanukkiah, an eight-branched candelabrum to which one candle is added on each day of the holiday until it is ablaze with light on the eighth day. (The Hanukkiah is also referred to as a Hanukkah menorah). In commemoration of the legendary cruse of oil, it is traditional to eat foods fried in oil. The most familiar Hanukkah foods are the European (Ashkenazi) potato pancakes, or latkes, and the Israeli favorite, jelly donuts, or sufganiyot. The tradition developed in Europe to give small amounts of money as well as nuts and raisins to children at this time.  http://www.myjewishlearning.com/holidays/Jewish_Holidays/Hanukkah/Hanukkah_101.shtml

The first day of Hanukkah in 2014 is Wednesday, December 17. The first hanukkiah candle is lighted at sundown of the evening before. Find out more, and also find fun books to read, at the Library!

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric A. Kimmel

“This 25th anniversary edition of a now-classic tale relates how Hersehel outwits the goblins that haunt the old synagogue and prevent the village people from celebrating Hanukkah.”                 [J KIMMEL,E]

Hanukkah by Lisa M. Herrington

“Introduces the youngest readers to the traditions, festivities, and history of Hanukkah.”               [JE 296.435 HERRINGTON]

Hanukkah Bear by Eric A. Kimmel

“Bubba Brayna makes the best latkes in the village, but at ninety-seven, doesn’t hear or see very well—so when a bear arrives at her door, lured by the delicious scent, she invites him in to celebrate Hanukkah with her.”             [JPB KIMMEL,E]

Christmas and Hanukkah Origami by Ruth Owen

“Celebrate the holidays by making crafts the whole family will enjoy. This informative book shows readers how to use the traditional Japanese art of folding paper to make fun Christmas and Hanukkah decorations.”                [J736.982 OWEN]

Emanuel and the Hanukkah Rescue by Heidi Smith Hyde

“Angry that his father is afraid to kindle the Hanukkah lights, Emanuel stows away on a whaling ship, and when a storm overtakes the boat, it is his father’s change of heart and the family menorah that light the way home.”                    [JPB HYDE,H]

Hanukkah Haiku by Harriet Ziefert

“A traditionally Japanese poetic form [is] used to celebrate the eight nights of Hanukkah. There’s one haiku for each night, and stepped pages add one candle to the menorah every time the page is turned. The simple poetry is set off perfectly by Karla Gudeon’s vibrant, freewheeling artwork. Hanukkah Haiku is a jubilant, unforgettable journey through the eight nights of Hanukkah.”                    [JPB ZIEFERT,H]

Hanukkah Lights: Holiday Poetry selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins

“The traditions and spirit of the Festival of Lights are brought to life in these poems for beginning readers.

“Anthologist Lee Bennett Hopkins brings together today’s best children’s poets in this joyful collection of holiday verse. Melanie Hall’s lush, beautiful artwork accompanies these lovely poems.”                [ J811.54 HANUKKAH]




December is…..

December is a LOT of things! It is the beginning of winter, and the end of the year. Many, many holidays, observations, and commemorations take place in December. The weather is – usually – changing, and it’s – usually – time to bring out the warm sweaters, scarves and gloves, and – hopefully!!! – the umbrellas, raincoats and rain boots.

December is a month for family, food, and fun!

It’s great to GET things, but it can be even better to GIVE – to your family, your friends – and to people you have never met. You and your family can donate to a food bank; you can have fun picking out new clothes and toys for the U.S. Marine Corps TOYS FOR TOTS program. Have more time than money? Practice some holiday songs, then go visit a convalescent hospital and sing!

Be thankful for the things and people you have in your life.

Want to try your hand at making gifts this year? The Library can help!

Cool Knitting for Kids: A Fun and Creative Introduction to Fiber Art by Alex Kuskowski

“Provides step-by-step, illustrated instructions for knitting projects, including mitts, scarf, and bag.”   [J746.432 KUSKOWSKI]

Knits to Give: 30 Knitted Gifts Made With Love by Debbie Bliss

“Provides thirty patterns for both beginning and expert knitters to create hand-knitted gifts for a variety of occasions.”     [746.43204 BLISS]

Crafts for Styling Your Wardrobe by Susannah Blake

“A variety of crafts for kids to make their clothes their own. Includes upcycling old clothes and basic sewing stitches”                  [J646.2 BLAKE]

Earth-Friendly Wood Crafts in Five Easy Steps by Anna Llimos

“Provides step-by-step instructions on how to create fourteen simple crafts using wood and cork”                      [J684.08 LLIMOS PLOMER]

Gifts by Ruth Owen

“Readers learn to use recycled materials to make gifts for family, friends, and even their dog.
Contents: Giving green gifts — Juice Carton Bird Restaurant — Seed-Covered Napkin Rings — Newspaper Desk Organizer — Recycled Glass Vase — Make A Pet Place Mat — Recycled Plastic Holiday Door Wreath”                       [J745.5 OWEN]

Make Your Own Gifts, edited by Margaret Parrish

“Make Your Own Gifts has more than 50 fantastic projects to make great handmade gifts that will be more memorable than their store-bought counterparts. From photo frames to handmade soap, this fun guide to arts and crafts includes awesome gift ideas for all occasions. Simple step-by-step instructions alongside detailed photographs make these gifts easy and accessible for children to make. With projects that range from fun trinkets made with materials found around the house to tasty baked treats made from scratch, this entertaining gift guide also includes instructions on how to make unique wrapping paper and gift tags to make any handmade present priceless.”          [J745.5 MAKE]

Have a wonderful December!





December in Scandinavia


 In Scandinavian countries such as Sweden and Norway, December 13 is a special day of celebration known as St. Lucia’s Day. Originally a holiday recognizing a religious saint of the same name, today the holiday is also referred to as the Festival of Lights and marks the beginning of the winter holiday season.


St. Lucia’s Day falls on one of the darkest days of the year, and the holiday involves a festive parade of light, with young children wearing white gowns and crowns make of made of candles to light the way. As children grown older, one young person in particular is chosen to lead the parade, wearing a special crown.

Traditionally, the crowns were made of actual candles aflame, but contemporary celebrations use battery operated lights that look like candles. The holiday also includes a wonderful feast, where coffee and baked goods such as St. Lucia Buns (Lussekatt) are served to welcome guests.



St. Lucia Buns (Lussekatt)

 2 packages dry, active yeast

1/2 cup warm water (110–115 degrees)

2/3 cup lukewarm milk, scalded and cooled

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup butter, softened

2 eggs

1 teaspoon cardamom

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon crushed saffron threads

5–5 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1/2 cup raisins

For Glaze:

Butter, softened

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons sugar

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a large bowl. Stir in scalded milk, sugar, butter, 2 eggs, cardamom, salt, saffron, and 3 cups flour. (**NOTE: I used a blender to mix all of this, adding 1 1/2 cups flour at a time). Beat until smooth. Then, stir (by hand) enough of the remaining flour to make dough easy to handle.
  1. Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
  1. Place dough in a greased bowl, turn greased side up. Cover, let rise in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2–2 hours, or until doubled.
  1. Punch dough down; divide into 4 equal parts. Cut each part into 6 pieces. Shape each piece into a smooth rope, 10–12″ long. Shape each rope into an S-shape and coil the ends. Place on greased cookie sheets. Brush tops lightly with butter and place raisins in the middle of each coil. Let rise until doubled in size, about 35–40 minutes.
  1. Heat oven to 350. Mix 1 egg and 1 tablespoon water and brush buns with mixture. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 15–20 minutes.

Recipe borrowed from Scholastic.com (http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top-teaching/2010/12/december-celebration-santa-lucia-day)


While enjoying your tasty St. Lucia’s Day treats, try reading some of these great books.


Hanna’s Christmas by Melissa Peterson ; illustrated by Melissa Iwai













Sweden : the culture by April Fast and Keltie Thomas

Call Number: J948.5 FAST












Celebrations by Anabel Kindersley ; photographed by Barnabas Kindersley

Call Number: J394.26 KINDERSLEY


Skating in a Winter Wonderland

This holiday season try taking the entire family out for a fun-filled day of ice skating around the Bay Area!

The folks over at BayAreaParent.com (http://bayareaparent.com/article/where-to-ice-skate-around-the-bay-area.html) have put together a great list of places to go this holiday season and skate. Check out their website for the entire list, but below you will find locations for Alameda and Contra Costa County.

come on down from aboveDO

Alameda County

 Little Ice Rink  – Get a jump on the winter season as Alameda’s outdoor ice rink returns. Nov. 8- Jan. 19. Mon.-Thu., 3-10pm; Fri.-Sun., 12-10pm. $15 ages 9 and up with skate rental, $10 bring your own; $10 ages 8 and under with skates, $6 bring your own. South Shore Center parking lot, Park Street and Otis Drive, Alameda. 510-629-1423. thelittleicerink.com.

Oakland Ice Center – Bring the family to practice skills on the ice at a public open skate, offered during multiple times daily throughout each month. Check website for times. $9.75 adults, $8.25 youth (12 and under); skate rental $4.25. 519 18th St. 510-268-9000. oaklandice.com/index2.html.

Dublin Iceland Open Skate – People of all ages and abilities hit the ice to learn to skate or practice their skills. Check website for times and dates. $7 adults, $6 ages 5-17, $4 ages 4 and under; skate rental $3. 7212 San Ramon Road. 925-829-4445. dubliniceland.com.

Sharks Ice at Fremont – Public skating sessions are scheduled daily. Visit from Nov. 22-Jan. 4 for Holiday Ice and skate to holiday music. $9.75 adults, $8.25 youth (12 and under); skate rental $4.25. 44388 Warm Springs Blvd., Fremont. 510-623-7200.



Contra Costa County

Walnut Creek on Ice – Glide across 8,000 square feet of ice in a charming winter wonderland scene. Nov. 7-Jan. 11. Check website for hours. $11 weekdays, $15 weekends. Civic Park, 1375 Civic Drive. iceskatewalnutcreek.

Brentwood Holiday on Ice – Have a blast at this season’s Holiday on Ice, open daily through Jan. 12:30-10:30pm. A two-hour skating session for all ages is $15 with skate rental, $10 without. Brentwood Holiday on Ice, 2485 Sand Creek Road. 925-513-1702. brentwoodholidayonice.com. 


 Once you have skated to your hearts content, head home for a cup of chocolate and a family storytime including these great books.

 A perfect day by Carin Berger

Call Number: JPB BERGER,C



Mice on ice by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley

Call Number: JE EMBERLEY,R


Frozen noses by Jan Carr ; illustrated by

Dorothy Donohue

Call Number: JPB CARR,J


Kid-Friendly Craft: Coasters

Whether you need a home-made accessory to help set your Thanksgiving table or want a fun activity for your kids to do, these coasters are easy to create and make wonderful gifts for the holiday season!



This craft offers a lot of room for you and your little one to get creative and gather whatever kind of materials you would like to decorate your coasters. Spend time brainstorming together about what you should use for your unique coasters!


  • Tissue paper cut into whatever shapes you would like (such as Fall leaves)
  • Family photos
  • Stickers
  • Art made by your child
  • Holiday themed art
  • Glitter
  • The list goes on!


Once you have decided upon a decorative element (that will fit on a 4”x 4” space) gather the following supplies:

  • 4”x 4” ceramic tiles (these can be purchased for less than a doller each from stores such as Home Depot or Lowes)
  • Mod Podge in any finish you like
  • Mod Podge Clear Acrylic Sealer
  • A Sponge brush (enough for each crafter)
  • Small felt floor protectors (the kind that you would put under the legs of chairs to protect your chairs)
  • Newsprint
  • Enough decorations for however many tiles you purchase.

coaster 2


  1. Make sure your ceramic tiles are cleaned of any dirt or grit, and dried completely.
  2. Using your sponge brush, sponge Mod Podge onto the back of what you are putting on your coaster. For example, spread it on the back of a family photo, OR put an entire coat of Mod Podge on the tile and sprinkle your glitter all over it.
  3. Let the Mod Podge dry completely.
  4. Once you have made sure your decoration is secure on the tile, use your sponge brush put a coat of Mod Podge over the entire tile.
  5. Let that dry as well, and try a couple more layers of Mod Podge to help create a even surface for drinks to rest on.
  6. Once your final layer of Mod Podge is dry, place the tiles on your newsprint (in a well ventiliated area) and spray them thoroughly with the clear acrylic sealer.
  7. Once that is dry, attach a felt floor protector to each corner or your tiles and let dry for 48hrs before using or wrapping as gifts.

Adapted from the following sources:

Gifts for Kids to Make by Cheryl Owen (Call Number: J745.5 OWEN)

Darkroom and Dearly Blog: http://www.darkroomanddearly.com/2012/04/diy-homemade-polaroid-coasters.html

Inner Child Fun Blog: http://innerchildfun.com/2012/09/kid-made-fall-leaf-coasters.html


This craft offers quite a bit of downtime waiting for Mod Podge layers to dry, but rather than watching the proverbial paint dry try reading some of these great holiday titles together to help the time pass.

Jacket de paola

My first Thanksgiving by Tomie dePaola

Call Number: JPB DE PAOLA,T

Jacket bear

Bear says thanks by Karma Wilson ; illustrations by Jane Chapman

Call Number: JPB WILSON,K

Jacket Pie

I know an old lady who swallowed a pie by Alison Jackson ; pictures by Judith Byron Schachner

Call Number: JPB JACKSON,A

November in Japan


Every day there are holidays all around the world that most Americans have never heard of.  This week, Japan celebrated Culture Day (or bunkano-hi) on Monday, November 3rd.  Culture Day is a national holiday in Japan (everyone gets the day off!).  On Culture Day, the Japanese celebrate their culture of course; arts & academic particularly.   Parades and art exhibitions are very common on Culture Day & awards are often given to students and artists.


Japan also celebrates Thanksgiving, but with a different twist.  November 23rd is Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan.  It’s similar to our Labor Day, celebrating labor and production and giving thanks to all those involved.  Originally it was used as a way to give thanks for the harvest, but post war changed the holiday to celebrate production and human rights.  Many children create artwork thanking local emergency workers.  Some cities have festivals and displays of vegetables celebrating the harvest are not uncommon.





Cucumber Sushi Rolls

1 cup sushi-style rice to 2 cups of water

1 ½ tablespoons sugar

2 English or European cucumbers

2 raw carrots

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

3 tablespoon water

2 large sheets of dried nori (seaweed)

Sweet ginger, sliced

Soy sauce

  1. Under adult supervision, cook the rice according to package directions and let it cool. Add the sugar.
  2. Under adult supervision, peel cucumbers and carrots; cut them into thin strips 4 inches long.
  3. Mix rice vinegar with water.
  4. Place one nori sheet, shiny side down, on a bamboo mat. Moisten your hands with the vinegar-and-water mixture and spread rice evenly, ¼ inch thick, over nori sheet, leaving an inch at each end.
  5. Lay several slices of cucumbers and carrots on the rice.
  6. Carefully roll up the bamboo mat.
  7. Unroll the mat gently and allow the roll to sit 5 minutes or more.
  8. Under adult supervision, carefully cut the roll in 2-inch –long pieces.
  9. Serve with slices of sweet ginger and bowls of soy sauce for dipping.

You can try adding or substituting avocado, cooked shrimp or tofu.

Borrowed from Recipe and Craft Guide to Japan by Juliet Haines Mofford (see below for more information)


Click on the links to go right to our catalog and request the book.

the culture

Japan. The culture by Bobbie Kalman


Jacket (1)

Japanese celebrations:  cherry blossoms, lanterns & stars!  by Betty Reynolds  http://encore.aclibrary.org/iii/encore/record/C__Rb1794181__Sjapanese%20celebrations__P0%2C1__Orightresult__X5?lang=eng&suite=def

Cultural traditions

Cultural traditions in Japan by Lynn Peppas   http://encore.aclibrary.org/iii/encore/record/C__Rb1985852__SHolidays%20–%20Japan%20–%20Juvenile%20literature__Orightresult__X3?lang=eng&suite=def


Recipe and Craft Guide to Japan by Juliet Haines Mofford



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