This year, Storytime Underground is issuing a new blog challenge: Storytime for Social Justice. We are asking youth services librarians to use their storytime power for social justice, to take a long hard look at their programs, displays, and services, to make sure we are fighting every day for empathy, inclusiveness, and social justice, and be a #StorytimeJusticeWarrior.
Here is what I promise to do as a Storytime Justice Warrior:
Use at least one book featuring and/or written by people of color (or other marginalized, underrepresented characters) in every single program. I’ve actually been trying to do this for a few months, and it isn’t always easy. Sometimes I don’t make it, but then I push even harder to make sure my next program uses only books with/by POC. Also, representation is way more important than some cutesy theme, so get over that excuse. But also, check out Everyday Diversity which includes themes with book suggestions.
Book talk and recommend more diverse books with POC and #ownvoices books. This means reading more diverse books too. If you aren’t reading diversely, then go read this post.
Make my storytimes and other programs more inclusive by using language to offer alternate activities (“If you are able, lift your baby in the air. This can also be a snuggle song!” and “If you want to, let’s jump for this verse.”), asking parents to correct me if I mispronounce their child’s name, being intentional about the songs and activities I choose (we no longer clap our crazies out in my library!), and always listening to people telling me new ways to be inclusive.
Seek out new favorite standby songs and flannel boards that include diversity. Got a suggestion? Please share!
Continue to feature displays highlighting diverse books.
Follow more blogs about diverse books and by librarians and authors of color, and follow more librarians and authors of color on Twitter.
This is just a start! As I continue to learn and challenge myself, I will continue to add to this list.
A couple weeks ago during our library staff meeting time, we had a maker program for staff. Whenever there’s a 5th week we do something fun/professional development-y, and I suggested that we pull out all our maker stations and let the staff explore. Here’s why:
This Family Fun Night was held at a local elementary school for the Head Start class. This year they have a high number of Hispanic kids and I love doing bilingual storytime with this group.
The Head Start Family Fun Nights always start with a free dinner, and families that need transportation are bussed to the school. Rather than just a storytime, the teacher wanted something for this event that would really encourage parent/child playing and interactions as well as literacy. Some of her kids never play (or read) with their parents, and she wanted to provide an opportunity for play and learning for both parents and kids. So I came up with a super easy and fun Not a Box program!
One of our local elementary schools is working on an initiative against poverty, and this winter they contacted me to see if there was a way to highlight the resources that the public library offers. I was thrilled with the idea, and we came up with a Public Library Party, held here at the library, that the whole school was invited to!
About a year and a half ago, when I was still pretty new at the library and just starting my bilingual storytimes, I was prepping an activity at the desk after school for that evening’s program. One of our regular kids, then a 4th grader, came in and asked what I was doing. I told her, and she said, “Cool! Can I help?”
I said yes immediately. I was a little behind, and I still needed to eat dinner and set up the room. I needed the help, and she sometimes hung out and got bored, so I figured this was a win-win situation. I handed over the scissors and explained what we were doing. She went to work.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about why I want to offer bilingual storytime. Why is it important? Why do I think it is something my community needs, even if they don’t necessarily know it? Well, I’m here to tell you why. Continue reading Why bilingual storytime?→