Friday, May 12, 2017

Social Justice Storytimes in Real Time

Some of you may have seen the panel program I did at WAPL with Katherine from RLPL, Hollis from Ladysmith and Virginia from Rhinelander on the idea of libraries in the resistance.  My small piece was mostly about how Youth Services can demonstrate through displays and programming that libraries are for our most marginalized community members, as well as for classic "stakeholders" in the community.

I wanted to share our Reading Without Walls Storytime here in case anyone would like to adapt it for their own community.

I had a lot of interest from community members following the election for some kind of SJ programming--especially from our local SURJ (Standing Up for Racial Justice) group.  Because we plan so far in advance, it took a little while to go from idea to reality, as I wanted a series of storytimes, targeting older preschoolers to early gradeschoolers.

We set up for May and selected Wednesday afternoons at 5:30--late enough that caregivers would be finished with work, hopefully early enough to have dinner afterwards.

We are midway through the series and so far the response is underwhelming, honestly.  None of the excited SURJ families have attended.  Soccer started this month on Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-6 p.m. (I know, rookie mistake!)  And, those who have attended have been fairly young for the program.  As in, ages 1-6 instead of 4-8.

However!  Ever the professional librarian, I luckily have materials on each week's theme for any age, so I've been able to adjust down on the age level of my books.  Our extension activities have also been simplified on the fly.  Discussion has been limited, but encouraging with the few children in attendance seeming to grasp the ideas about bullying and fairness pretty well.  Sully felt the discussion on gender in preschool was "good" after we read Jacob's New Dress by Sarah and Ian Hoffman.  He said he wouldn't mind at all if a friend wanted to wear a dress.
This week, the local paper did a fabulous article on the program, so I'm hopeful that that might boost the response for the rest of the month.  We will see!  In the meantime, I wanted to share my structure with you all, because other than timing and event conflicts, I still think this is a program that could be really great for almost any library.

Each week I am reading 3-4 books (lately 2-3 due to the age of my crowd).  My full selection lists can be found here:
The themes we have developed for the five weeks are families, gender identity expression and roles, poverty and food scarcity, race and culture, and immigration and refugee experiences.
We are incorporating music, a discussion activity and a craft at the end as well.  Most of my extension activities can be found on pinterest here:

My layout went like this:
Week one

  • M&M icebreaker activity to get to know one another
  • The more we get together
  • Families, Families, Families by Suzanne and Max Lang
  • A Family is a Family by Sara O'Leary
  • We all sing in the same voice
  • One Family by George Shannon
  • Family accordion book craft
  • Family blocks found here:
Are you doing any programming like this?  Please share in the comments!  And of course, let me know if you want more specifics on any one theme or activity!

1 comment:

Kristine said...

I have quietly added at least one book with a diverse main character in my regular story times every week since the beginning of 2017.