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New Americans Toolkit: Intentional Programming

Kids playing with play dough on the floor

The Library Service to Underserved Children and Their Caregivers committee have created a vibrant, dynamic toolkit for working with new Americans. We have released this toolkit in three parts, Professional and Community Resources, Recommended Read-alouds, and this final installment focused on Intentional Programming. 

The focus of this toolkit is on serving children and their caregivers who are new to America. There are approximately 44 million people living in America who were born in different countries. People identifying as new Americans may fall into many categories, some of which may be: refugee, asylum seekers, migrants, or immigrants. As our understanding of different needs increases, libraries are recognizing an important role in supporting new American communities. These supports may include specialized resources, adapted programming, and community partnerships to support children and their caregivers. 

Toolkit Preview

What you will find in this new release:

  • Materials for the Children’s Room including posters and toys to welcome all who come through the door. 
  • Resources to truly evaluate current programming practices, unlearn problematic elements if needed, and learn new, intentional ways to incorporate multicultural elements into programming. 
  • Recommended Apps for New Americans to utilize during integration. 

Featured Resources

When planning a program, it is best to do so with careful thought and intentionality. In Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors by Rudine Sims Bishop, Bishop writes about the importance of positive representation in children’s literature and how stereotypes can harm underrepresented groups. In order to create an inclusive and welcoming space for all patrons, we must always be thinking about how our choices will impact everyone.  

Research Titles with Social Justice Books 

Planning a storytime takes much more time than just grabbing a book off of a shelf because the cover looks fun. It means taking the time to read each book beforehand (sometimes multiple times) to check for harmful stereotypes, and checking the illustrations as well as the stories. Research includes checking book reviews and other resources to see if there is anything that could have been missed due to unconscious biases. 

Incorporate Multilingual Songs into Storytime with StoryBlocks 

A good way to start thinking about inclusivity is to brainstorm ways to encourage engagement and interactivity during programs. In storytimes, you can choose songs that can be sung in multiple languages. Welcome and Goodbye songs are easily translated with the help of your community. Try politely asking your patrons if they have recommendations for languages they would like to see reflected in storytimes. This way, they can choose to disclose their own languages or not. If they are comfortable, you can also invite the child or caregiver to sing a verse in multiple languages.

There are great resources online for planning multilingual storytimes. For example, StoryBlocks features songs, rhymes, and fingerplays in English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Amharic, Arabic, French, Italian, Russian, and American Sign Language.  The videos also feature early learning tips for children and caregivers.

We hope these resources help you evaluate current methods and how to create more inclusive spaces for everyone in our communities. 

Take a moment to visit the LSUCTC Toolkit for all our recommended resources!

We would love to connect with you! Please email us with your recommendations, favorite resources, and inspiring community outreach endeavors:  We would love to add your recommendations to our Toolkits. If you are willing to share your successful programming ideas and experiences, we would love to highlight those as well.

Erika Miller is a Children’s Services Librarian at the Lake City branch of the Seattle Public Library, and a 2020 ALSC Equity Fellow.  She is passionate about helping others and learning how to create positive changes for the kids in her community.

Melody Leung is a Youth Services Librarian at the Everett Public Library. She is driven by culturally diverse programming, outreach, and empowering youth. All opinions shared are her own. 

Georgette Spratling is the Youth Services Librarian at the North Miami Public Library in North Miami, Fl. She is a mother of 2 daughters, an HBCU Alum (Florida A & M University), and a lover of all things science fiction and fantasy.  When she is not helping teens in the library to become a better version of themselves, you can find her traveling the globe and making memories with her friends and family. 

Featured image credit: “Kids Playing” by Shardayyy Photography is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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