Programming Ideas

Incorporating Intellectual Freedom and Information Literacy into Programming

Raising awareness of intellectual freedom and information literacy is important, and not just during Banned Books Week. The ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee is launching a series of blog posts with practical tips and samples of programming that incorporates these topics in a fun and engaging manner. Just like sneaking healthy food into a kid’s meal, these techniques will enrich the work you already do as a librarian without disrupting your programming routine. Our first blog post focuses on information literacy in storytimes for children ages 3 – 5.

Tip 1: Invite a co-storyteller to read a dual point of view story with you to model different points of view during storytime. Example: Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein.

Tip 2: Include a display of different versions of the same story and encourage families to compare and contrast the books when reading them at home.

Tip 3: Tell parents about ALSC’s Notable Children’s Digital Media and talk about trusted online sources.

Tip 4: Include some of the suggested books below in another storytime. For example, if you are doing a storytime about birds, read Mac Barnett’s Telephone or include it in your book display.

Tip 5: Address the grownups at storytime and share the definition of information literacy. Sometimes the best way to start a conversation is by defining the topic. (According to the American Library Association, “Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to ‘recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.'”)

Sample Programs  – Pick and choose the parts that work for you!

Graphic by Kimberly Hudson

THEME: Mixed Messages

Introduce the topic: Play a game of Telephone and talk about how the word or phrase changed from one person to the next.

Read: Telephone by Mac Barnett
Read: The Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone
Alternate Titles: Oink-a-Doodle-Moo by Jeff Czekaj; Elephant in the Dark by Mina Javaherbin


Books for Older Children: The Rumor by Anushka Ravishankar; The Blind Men and the Elephant by Karen Backstein

Extension Activity: Ask children to think about a cat or dog they’ve met and what they remember about the experience. Have them draw pictures of the animal and compare how different pictures emphasize different characteristics. Read They All Saw a Cat by Brenden Wenzel.


THEME: Don’t Believe Everything You Hear

Introduce the Topic: Start storytime with an announcement, “Everyone, the sky is falling! Oh, no! What should we do?” Brainstorm ideas with attendees and ask the kids if they believe you. Why or why not?

Read: Chicken Little by Rebecca Emberley
Read: The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee
Alternate Titles: Monkey: A Trickster Tale from India by Gerald McDermott; Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems (ask children if their parents would really let the pigeon drive the bus)

Books for Older Children: The Chinese Emperor’s New Clothes by Ying Compestine; Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens; Anansi and the Talking Melon by Eric Kimmel; Love and Roast Chicken: A Trickster Tale from the Andes Mountains by Barbara Knutson

Extension Activity: Select volunteers and act out See for Yourself (selection from Multicultural Stories to Tell Young Children by Judy Sierra and Robert Kaminski)


This post addresses the following ALSC Core Competency: Programming Skills

Our guest bloggers today are Meagan Albright and Ashley J. Brown, members of the ALSC IF Committee. Meagan is a Youth Services Librarian III at the Nova Southeastern University Alvin Sherman Library, Research and Information Technology Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL. You can reach her at Ashely is an Engagement and Outreach Librarian at Auburn Public Library. You can reach her at Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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