The COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful and isolating for many people. Gatherings during the upcoming holidays can be an opportunity to reconnect with family and friends. This holiday season, consider how your holiday plans can be modified to reduce the spread of COVID-19 to keep your friends, families, and communities healthy and safe. Following are some safety considerations to keep in mind for small gatherings.
Considerations for Small Gatherings of Family and Friends
Celebrating virtually or with members of your own household (who are consistently taking measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19) poses the lowest risk for spread. Your household is anyone who currently lives and shares common spaces in your housing unit (such as your house or apartment). This can include family members, as well as roommates or people who are unrelated to you. People who do not currently live in your housing unit, such as college students who are returning home from school for the holidays, should be considered part of different households. In-person gatherings that bring together family members or friends from different households, including college students returning home, pose varying levels of risk.
Organizers and attendees of larger events should consider the risk of virus spread based on event size (number of attendees and other factors) and take steps to reduce the possibility of infection, as outlined in the Considerations for Events and Gatherings.
Holiday celebrations will likely need to be different this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Avoid activities that are higher risk for spread. Consider fun alternatives that pose lower risk of spreading COVID-19. The holidays are a time when many families travel long distances to celebrate together. Travel increases the chance of getting and spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. Staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others. If you must travel, be informed of the risks involved.
Lower risk activities
Moderate risk activities
Higher risk activities
Avoid these higher risk activities to help prevent the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19:
We hope you enjoy the holidays and take steps to protect yourself and your family from getting or spreading COVID-19 during small events & gatherings.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Updated Nov. 27, 2020
If you're looking for a relaxing and enjoyable pastime, try virtually watching animals frolic in their natural habitats. There are now live animal webcams in places all around the world, as well as several types of virtual experiences that allow you to interact with all kinds of creatures at zoos and aquariums. In addition, animal lovers can view a plethora of free, appealing animal videos anytime on YouTube. Viewing animals online is safe as well as entertaining, and also provides a window into different species and habitats that we would not be able to see otherwise.
Here, we have rounded up a selection of interesting animal cams, online videos, and live virtual animal experiences to allow you to find some joy watching adorable animals at play. Not all of the cams operate around the clock, so be sure to check the details. Also, while many of the experiences listed here are free, some of the virtual ones cost a fee and require registration.
Monterey Bay Aquarium live cams
This renowned aquarium in California has a number of web cams where visitors can experience the wonders of the ocean from the comfort of home. Each video stream is accompanied by soothing music, which can help you relax as you watch sea creatures glide and float through the water. Highlights include a sea otter cam and the coral reef cam. There is also a jellyfish cam, which is especially peaceful and soothing. Each of the live cameras operates on a different schedule.
Wolong Grove Panda Yard
The Wolong National Nature Reserve in central China protects giant pandas and encourages these endangered animals to breed. The live cam provides views into 11 different yards in the park, and you can watch adult and baby pandas as they play, eat bamboo, climb trees, and more. This cam is part of the explore.org network, which provides wilderness livestreams in locales all over the world.
The Hippo cam at San Diego Zoo
This large zoo in San Diego stepped up its online and virtual offerings during the pandemic. One of its newest additions is a hippo cam where viewers can watch these gentle giant bobs in the water and munch on grass. The zoo has a number of other animal cams, including an ape cam, where you can watch orangutans and siamangs, as well as a tiger cam and a giraffe cam.
Tembe Elephant Park
Tembe Elephant Park in South Africa is a remote park that is home to some of the largest elephants on the planet. A wide range of other animals, including lions, leopards, rhinos, buffalos, and an array of birds also live there. Many of these other animals can be seen from time to time on the live cam. This cam is also part of the explore.org network.
Audubon Bird Cams
Bird lovers will enjoy exploring the National Audubon Society's many live bird cams. These livestreams follow Atlantic puffins in Maine, osprey nests in Connecticut, and sandhill cranes in Nebraska, among others. Some of these cams are more active during certain seasons and migration periods.
Virtual Animal Experiences at the Houston Zoo
The Houston Zoo now offers visitors the chance to watch different animals through live virtual experiences. These 20-minute encounters cost between $50 and $100, and only a small number of people are able to join at one time, giving them an intimate feel. Participants watch animals as they get fed and go through training exercises, and listen to a zookeeper explain how to care for the animals. Among the animals available for these types of virtual experiences are flamingos, alligators, gorillas, lions, tigers and cheetahs.
Penguins at the Shedd Aquarium
Penguin lovers can register for a 45-minute small group virtual experience with these unusual birds. For a fee of about $50, you will get to virtually see the aquarium’s penguins up close, learn about their anatomy and grooming, and go behind the scenes of their home at the aquarium, which is located in Chicago, IL. You can also ask the zoo staff any questions you have about penguins.
Virtual Wild Encounters at the Bronx Zoo
The Bronx Zoo has started offering virtual encounters with its animals for a fee. These 15-minute sessions take place on Zoom for, and participants can view different zoo animals up close, and learn about how to take care of them. The virtual encounters are available with many interesting and unusual creatures, including porcupines, a warthog, a camel, and an armadillo.
Baby Animal Videos at the Smithsonian's National Zoo
The Smithsonian's National Zoo has an array of free animal videos available for on-demand viewing on its YouTube channel. Highlights here include a playlist of baby animal videos, where you can tune in to watch short, adorable videos of the zoo’s panda cubs, baby gorillas, cheetah cubs, a newborn gazelle, and even naked mole-rat pups. One of our favorite baby animal videos shows a kiwi chick emerging from its shell.
Source: Melanie Kletter curated this list for Library Journal. It appeared Nov 13, 2020
November is Native American Heritage Month, or as it is also referred to, American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month. This month is a time to celebrate and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. This month is also a good time to educate the general public about tribes and raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced. This includes both historically and in the present. So let's celebrate Native American heritage by reading Indigenous authors all month long. Here’s a list of books by Indigenous authors to get you started.
American Sunrise by Joy Harjo
In her latest collection, Joy Harjo returns to the Southeast where her ancestors, the Mvskoke people, were forcibly removed under the Indian Removal Act of 1830 to west of the Mississippi. The book opens with a map, one of many trails of tears. Harjo is extremely skilled at using short, deceptively simple lines and stanzas to create imagery that swells with emotion. As Harjo explores the grief and mourning of this forced exile, she also tells a story of erasure and survival, of personal and intergenerational loss, and of a new beginning.
Hope Matters by Lee Maracle, Columpa Bobb, and Tania Carter
This book is a collaboration between a celebrated poet, novelist, nonfiction writer and editor. This mix makes for a poetry collection that's a pleasure to read. Joyful and sad, charting colonial and familial beginnings, it sings with hope and reconciliation in its verse. Hope Matters is a welcome addition to Native American literature.
Eyes Bottle Dark With A Mouthful of Flowers by Jake Skeets
This debut collection from Skeets (Diné) is remarkable in every way. The photograph on the cover is an image of the author's uncle, who was killed not long after it was taken. Eyes Bottle Dark With a Mouthful of Flowers is brimming with poetic imagery and gripping prose. In content and in form, Skeets brings both queer and Indigenous ways of thinking and being to living. This book shines and glitters on every page. It marks the emergence of a major new poetic voice in Native American literature.
The Beadworkers by Beth Piatote
This debut collection of contemporary writing from writer and scholar Dr. Beth Piatote (Colville Confederated Tribes) ranges in form from short stories to poetry to plays. Some of the stories even include historical fiction narratives. No matter what form Piatote takes in her storytelling, the fiction here is gripping and totally readable. The stories here are wide-ranging, but include many perspectives of Indigenous people in North America.
Living on the Borderlines by Melissa Michal
Melissa Michal’s debut short story collection centers on people of Seneca descent. The stories and characters here differ widely and as the title implies, they dance along the borderlines of a colonialist and racist society. The familial relationships in these stories are strong and touching. Melissa Michal has created potent stories with disturbing and beautiful elements both. All of the characters here are full of depth and are complex. This book is one of the more underrated short story collections of the year.
Black Indian by Shonda Buchanan
Shonda Buchanan dives deep into her identity and inheritance with this shining memoir. The author was raised as a black girl, but told stories of her multiracial heritage throughout her childhood. This book shows readers how her life experience informed her sense of self. Told in stunning and poetic prose her story takes readers across landscapes and cultural sagas. The result is both a poignant personal narrative and a broader cultural one. Buchanan has truly gifted us with this beautiful and totally engrossing memoir that touches on the meanings of family, legacy, and self-identity.
Bury My Heart at Chuck E. Cheese’s by Tiffany Midge
In this collection of short essays, the author uses humor to examine identity, feminism, privilege, and politics. All of this is done through her stories that span the personal (losing her mother) to the seemingly inane (the existence of pumpkin spice everything). The essays here mark a good balance between insight and an intuitive sense of humor. This book is full of writing that'll make you laugh, think, and feel deeply, no matter what your identity is.
Mamaskatch by Darrel J. McLeod
This book is a true story narrated in the first person by the author. It's told from his perspective, but includes many other characters. The narrative begins with a story of his mother and her escape from a Canadian residential school. The author writes about Catholicism throughout, first finding meaning in it, then rejecting it as white washing. He grows from a curious, loyal, and happy child and his life starts and stops in cycles. He writes touchingly about how whiteness and Catholicism negatively changed how gender nonconforming, trans, and sexually fluid people are viewed. Also, how they're treated in Indigenous communities, even within modern times.
Shapes of Native Nonfiction, edited by Elissa Washuta & Theresa Warburton
This collection of essays from established and new contemporary Indigenous writers simply sparkles. It includes pieces from well-known writers such as Terese Marie Mailhot, Tiffany Midge (whose Bury My Heart at Chuck E Cheese’s is on this list), Eden Robinson, Alicia Elliott, Laura Da´, Ernestine Hayes, and Deborah A. Miranda. This book is a must for fans of Indigenous authors. The editors named the four sections of the book after basket weaving craft: technique, coiling, plaiting and twining. This is a unique way to use literary pieces to form an experimental, innovative, lyrical and world-building narrative. In these pages, we witness storytelling as a way of developing new roads in Native nonfiction writing.
As Long as Grass Grows: The Indigenous Fight for Environmental Justice, From Colonization to Standing Rock by Dina Gilio-Whitaker
Dina Gilio-Whitaker is the co-author of this book along with Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz. In this short but dense story, Gilio-Whitaker brings her vast knowledge and experience to the page. The book opens with a detailed account of Standing Rock and moves outward, highlighting the ways in which western colonial expansion, the Industrial Revolution and the mainstream EJ movement continue to exclude, marginalize and harm First Nations people. Making connections between Indigenous health, sacred sites, and the leadership of Indigenous women, Gilio-Whitaker makes a complete and compelling argument to open the doors for indigenous people in the EJ movement.
Legacy: Trauma, Story, and Indigenous Healing by Suzanne Methot
Suzanne Methot (Nehiyawak) is the author of this beautifully written book that highlights healing from intergenerational trauma. Indigenous communities have higher rates of depression, addiction, and other chronic illnesses than other North Americans. The first sentence of the book reads, “Indigenous people do funerals really, really well.” Methot discusses damaging, toxic patterns of behavior, thought, and physical illness as a direct result of unresolved grief and loss. She points out the importance of storytelling in healing from trauma. These twisting stories have a transformational and emotional narrative that can facilitate healing. In clear and driven prose, the author has written a book that is both easy to follow and crucial to read.
An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, adapted by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz’s An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States won the 2015 American Book Award. It remains a pillar text in telling the true indigenous history - without whitewashing. It's been recently adapted for YA and middle grade readers by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza. This adaptation is a wonderful approach to writing history in a way that is accessible to young readers. It opens with a straightforward explanation about bias to Indigenous languages. It also uses images to great effect, from maps to photographs of Indigenous art and Indigenous resistance and activism. The book as a whole illustrates the history of colonialism and Indigenous communities, including mentioning that the democracy within Indigenous communities inspired key parts of the US Constitution. It includes “Did You Know” boxes and exercise questions. Overall, it reads like a very accessible textbook and a strong introduction to Indigenous history of North America for young readers.
Every year on November 11, our country has been honoring United States veterans. This annual day of observance may leave children wondering why they don't have school, or why mom or dad has the day off from work. This list of picture books is a great opportunity to share why we observe Veterans Day with the kids in your life.
The Poppy Lady, by Barbara Walsh, illustrated by Layne Johnson
This picture book follows Moina Belle Michael, a schoolteacher from Georgia who was determined to find a way to honor and remember soldiers. Moina wanted to make the poppy a symbol of remembrance. Her determination paid off and the poppy is now a familiar symbol of Veterans Day. After reading this book, your child will be spotting red poppies everywhere they go.
The Wall, by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ronald Himler
This picture book is about a young boy who travels to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall with his father, in search of his grandfather’s name. As the boy looks for the name, he encounters a wheelchair-bound veteran visiting the wall too. The boy’s curiosity is overshadowed by his dad’s somber reason for visiting. Reading this book together, you can explore the historical significance of the Vietnam War and pay tribute to its veterans.
America’s White Table, by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by Mike Benny
This picture book helps to explore the significance of military service from the perspective of a family. When service members have fallen, are missing, or are held captive in the line of duty, a white table is set up in remembrance. Every item placed on the table is a symbol for understanding and appreciating the service these men and women have provided for the United States. This book offers a great way to explain to children the importance of remembering those who have died in service, and the sacrifices they have made for their country.
Tuesday Tucks Me In: The Loyal Bond Between a Soldier and His Service Dog, by Luis Carlos Montalvan and Bret Witter, photographs by Dan Dion
This story is about a service dog by the name of Tuesday who helps a veteran suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Based on a true story and told through the eyes of Tuesday, this picture book helps children understand the true day to day life of a returning veteran. The adorable pictures of Tuesday will be sure to please, while also providing an example of how service dogs can help veterans.
Why Do We Celebrate Veterans Day, by Grace Houser
With this informative picture book children will discover the history of Veterans Day complete with facts and definitions. What better way to honor those who have served than by teaching children about the sacrifices they made for their country?
H is for Honor, by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Victor Juhasz
This alphabet picture book delves into everything military—from history, to the meaning of ranks and divisions, to what it is like to be a military child. Navy SEALS, Green Berets, and Army Rangers are written about in more detail, and pictures reveal what life on base is really like. Your child will discover the meaning of patriotism and have an opportunity to discuss courage and commitment. After reading this book, your little one may be interested in sending off a care package to a soldier overseas.
Hero Dad and Hero Mom, by Melinda Hardin ; illustrations by Bryan Langdo
These two picture books tell the story of a boy who compares his father, a U.S. soldier, to a superhero. However, these superhero soldiers can be moms too. These books are presented as a pair to highlight the fact that moms can be soldiers too. Kids will be able to recognize that military families come in many different forms.
Rags: Hero Dog of WWII, by Margot Theis Raven, illustrated by Petra Brown
This true story shows us how canines have been used as soldiers of war since World War I. Found on the streets of Paris by Private James Donovan, Rags was brought back to base and put to work. He learned to help clear trenches, deliver messages, and even salute! The muted illustrations show the dark time of war, but spare the reader from grim details. Dog lovers will enjoy learning about this furry war veteran and the capacity of one dog to be loyal to a country, as well as to the solder who took him in.
America The Beautiful, by Katharine Lee Bates ; illustrated by Chris Gall
This book features four verses of the classic nineteenth-century poem. Written from his unique perspective as the great, great grandnephew of “America the Beautiful” writer, Katharine Lee Bates, Chris Gall transforms this beloved patriotic song into monumental works of art–from purple mountain majesties to gleaming alabaster cities.
F is for Flag, by Wendy Cheyette Lewison ; illustrated by Barbara Duke
F Is for Flag shows children in simple terms how one flag can mean many things: a symbol of unity, a sign of welcome, and a reminder that-in good times and in bad-everyone in our country is part of one great big family.
Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, November 1. As you prepare to set your clocks back one hour, remember to check the batteries in your carbon monoxide (CO) detector. If you don’t have a battery-powered or battery back-up CO alarm, now is a great time to buy one. More than 400 people die each year in the United States from unintentional, non-fire related CO poisoning.
CO is found in fumes produced by furnaces, vehicles, generators, stoves, lanterns, gas ranges, or burning charcoal or wood. CO from these sources can build up in enclosed or partially enclosed spaces. People and animals in these spaces can be poisoned and can die from breathing CO.
When power outages occur during emergencies such as severe winter storms, the use of alternative sources of power for heating or cooking can cause CO to build up in a home, garage, or camper and to poison the people and animals inside.
You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure
CO poisoning is entirely preventable. You can protect yourself and your family by learning the symptoms of CO poisoning and acting wisely during a power outage.