Blogger Early Childhood Programs and Services committee

Focusing on Pronouns @ Baby Storytime

Hello! My name is Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez and I use she/her pronouns. I’m a children’s librarian for Washington County Library at the Park Grove Library in Cottage Grove, MN. This is my first ALSC blog post and I’m excited to share how I address pronouns at baby storytime!

Baby storytimes are the ideal place to foster conversations with grown-ups so they are more likely to talk with their babies (or toddlers) about the same content at home. Pronouns are often an important part of someone’s identity. Therefore, I find it important to talk about pronouns at storytimes regularly and focus on them specifically a few times a year. 

For baby storytime, I like to use The Pronoun Book and integrate the three most oftenly used pronouns in the songs and rhymes. 

These pronouns include: 

  • They/Them/Theirs
  • She/Her/Hers
  • He/Him/His

The main rhyme I like to pair with this text is Little Mousie Brown. I encourage grown-ups to use the family members their child is close to and focus on the types of trees they come in contact with the most. Here’s the version I use:

Little Mousie Brown (ASL mouse, brown)
Little Mousie Brown (ASL mouse, brown)
Climbed up the great big ____________________ tree (type of tree) and couldn’t get back down. (ASL climb)
So she/he/they called to her/his/their _______________(family member). “________________(family member), ___________________(family member)!” (yelling motion)
But________________(family member) was not around (shoulder shrug and look around)
So she/he/they curled into a little ball and rolled themselves back down. (Bring arms slowly in to form a ball and roll fits over one another)
Yes she/he/they curled into a little ball and rolled themselves back down. (Bring arms slowly in to form a ball and roll fits over one another)

Example: 

Little Mousie Brown, Little Mousie Brown
Climbed up the great big pine tree and couldn’t get back down. 
So she called to her uncle. 
“Uncle, uncle!”
But uncle was not around so she curled into a little ball and rolled herself back down. 
Yes, she curled into a little ball and rolled herself back down. 

For anyone new I meet, I do my best to refer to them by their name until they tell me what pronouns they use. Focusing specifically on pronouns is one way I make the space more welcoming for queer families (and all people).

For a little background, the children that attend baby storytime at my location range from birth-3. I like to focus on developmental ages rather than chronological ages of children. If baby storytime is someone’s jam – then by all means, join us! Finding joy in literacy and connecting with others are my goals for this program; therefore, no specific age limits are enforced.

Along with a verbal literacy tip, I’ve started recommending podcasts or specific podcast episodes at storytime. Some grown-ups have come to really appreciate this aspect of our time together. Baby storytimes are especially good places for grown-ups to socialize and share knowledge. I believe this is one small way to show this is a literacy-focused space for everyone (not just the babies). 

I’ve included a plan for a baby storytime focused on pronouns. You’ll notice a few other ways pronouns are used by the song/rhyme choices. I always include photographs of the creators alongside the book cover in order to showcase them and assist children in seeing windows and mirrors.

Not sure the tune of a song? Reach out, I’m happy to assist!

Today’s blog post was written by Katelyn Martens-Rodriguez, Youth Services Librarian at Washington County Library (Minnesota), on behalf of the ALSC Early Childhood Programs and Services Committee. She can be reached at katelyn.martens-rodriguez@co.washington.mn.us. This post addresses competency III. Programming Skills

One comment

  1. Judy Ehrenstein

    Awesome post, Katelyn! Lots of good things to consider and integrate into my storytimes.

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