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.
The current favorite storytime song at my library is Bubble, Bubble, Pop! I don’t know if it’s the bubbles or the pop or maybe just my fabulous singing voice (ha!), but they LOVE this one. We do it all the time, and I have a whole bag of felt fish to go along with. So clearly, I decided that we needed to be singing this great song in Spanish too.
Part of my re-vamped bilingual storytime plan included monthly visits to read bilingual stories at one of our elementary schools. This school has the highest number of Hispanic kids and ELL families, and the school librarian agreed to let me come read to every single K, 1, and 2 class during library time the last week of each month. I love reading to older kids, and I was super excited to share stories in Spanish, highlight Hispanic authors and illustrators, and make some more connections with the kids.
I figured I could probably bank on at least one kid in each class knowing who I am, and fortunately I was right (although some just remembered me as “the lady who wore the costume“). Most classes had at least one kid who knew a little Spanish, and my favorite part was watching their eyes light up when I spoke to them in Spanish and seeing the pride on their faces as they told me that they/their dad/grandma/mom/uncle speaks Spanish too!
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!
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom is one of my storytime favorites. I swear, this song is preschooler crack. They ALWAYS request it before I even say what song we’re going to do. We go to the moon, we go to the stars, we go to Mars or Saturn, sometimes we go super fast and we always go back to earth really quietly so we can read another story.
This year, I’ve been adding in more Spanish to my outreach storytimes, and recently a kid asked for Zoom Zoom Zoom in Spanish! I couldn’t find a Spanish version anywhere, so I created my own. Here you go!
Zoom, Zoom, Zoom: Vamos a la luna
Zoom, zoom, zoom Vamos a la luna. Zoom, zoom, zoom Vamos a la luna.
Si quieres viajar conmigo Súbete al cohete
Zoom, zoom, zoom Vamos a la luna. En 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ¡Despegar!