Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Social Justice and You

Social justice books that promote black stories.
Display created by Michelle Angell at Pierce County Library System

Happy New Year! Is one of your resolutions to incorporate social justice into your work? Or maybe you’re looking for new ideas. Don’t get hung up on doing something big, there are lots of small things you can do that are quietly powerful. Team up with your teen services staff for a super power up to your programming.

BIG Things

  • Conversations. If you have a panel of experts, choose a facilitator who knows the community.  It is less important for the facilitator to know the subject in this instance. If you have a panel of people who are telling their story, their truth, then someone who can relate to that truth is best as a facilitator. Be clear about the goal of the event, whether a panel, discussion, or film, while understanding it can evolve.  It’s helpful for the facilitators to have a clear goal. 
    (Carrie Bowman, Teen Services Librarian, King County Library System)
  • Early Response. Monthly program for 1st – 12th graders. Come make a difference by writing emails, postcards, and letters to government officials and organizations. The library will provide contact information and mailing material. You can offer your vision for a better world!
    (Bekka Martin, Children’s Librarian, King County Library System)
  • International Day of Tolerance. Invite your community to fold paper cranes on November 16, then place them on display by MLK day.
    (Deb Sand, Children’s Librarian, King County Library System)
    ALSC Children & Technology Power Up: set up a streaming event with a sister school or city.
  • Making the World More Beautiful: an Evening with Miss Rumphius. Read the book then have activities for kids that will improve their community.  Make friendship bracelets, fold a paper crane, write a thank-you note, make dog and cat toys for the local shelter. Have a big tree on the wall made out of paper, with cut-out leaves nearby.  Kids can write something they can do to make the world more beautiful and add it to the tree.
    (Amelia Lincoln Ecevedo, Children’s Librarian, King County Library System) 
  • Racial Equality Lens. Proactively examine all practices, policies, and behaviors to make sure they promote positive outcomes for all children. Encourage staff to apply to their programming choices and displays all year. Lead information training for Child Care providers, examine Storytime collections for culturally diverse books. Create an “Equity Moment” at monthly youth services meetings.
    (Susan Anderson-Newham, Pierce County Library System)
  • Tent City. Many homeless people won’t visit a nearby library, they know they stand out. Contact the local manager to set up visits at no drug/alcohol camps, expect more children to show up in the summer. Be open minded to what they need, don’t start pushing resources you assume they need, take time to build trust first.
    (Susy Gonzalez Pueschner, Outreach Services Specialist, King County Library System)

Small Things

  • Black Stories MatterCreate displays that aren’t in February!
    (Michelle Angell, Youth Services Librarian, Pierce County Library System)
  • Blog postsThink about how you can incorporate social justice books into topics you’re already writing about. May Bike Month and “I’m hungry!” are great examples.
    (Gerry Jones, Children’s Librarian, King County Library System)
  • Book discussions. Share books with social justice elements and lead book discussions.
     (Jenn Carter, Children’s Librarian, King County Library System)
  • Immigrant communities. Talk about American history, why we have specific holidays, voting, and elections during story time. Become a safe place for questions.
     (Jenn Carter, Children’s Librarian, King County Library System)
  • Personal goals. Include books that are inclusive, diverse and kind in story time.  Treat everyone with respect and kindness (in and out of the library).
    (Gerry Jones, Children’s Librarian, King County Library System)
  • Recognize that you aren’t perfect. You will make mistakes, but this is a learning process and you’re trying!
    (Destinee Sutton, Children’s Librarian, King County Library System)
  • Story time.
    • Use inclusive language (grown-ups and caregivers).
    • Books that feature diverse children.
    • Avoid sexist language and ideas.
    • Use different pronouns for repetitive songs and rhymes.
    • Think about how content is received by diverse families (This little piggy had tofu).
    • Embrace languages spoken by your families.
    • Keep learning.
    • Get out and provide story times in the community.
      (Destinee Sutton, Children’s Librarian, King County Library System)

Resources and Inspiration

So, what are you doing?


  1. Pingback: Libraries Resist: A Round-Up of Tolerance, Social Justice, & Resistance in US Libraries

  2. Biblio Phile

    These are excellent choices, I’ve made a few suggestions as well in case folks are interested:

  3. Pingback: Resource Roundup: Teaching and Curriculum Supports on Antibias and Social Justice | School Library Journal

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