Some of my best childhood memories revolve around my Grandma Juanita’s stories of her childhood. From tales of picking cotton – a story that taught me grown-ups always know when you’re lying – to a yarn about being chased by a bull, Grandma Juanita told the best stories. She also instilled in me a deep and lasting love of oral storytelling. It wasn’t until attaining my MLS that I’d come to realize the literacy benefits of such storytelling. While little formal research has been done into the effect of oral storytelling on early literacy acquisition, anecdotal evidence supports the theory that storytelling (as distinguished from story reading): teaches social and emotional skills; builds vocabulary; helps children become better listeners and readers; reinforces the importance of imagination and creativity; and promotes cultural awareness and expression, among other things.
I don’t know about you all, but I often struggle with the question of how to provide engaging, educational, original programming to the kids at my library. After all, most of our popular programs (whether STEAM or storytime) happen at least once a week for an entire year. While I’ve tackled this topic in previous posts, the issue of innovation becomes an especially universal problem when handling Summer Reading: How do you keep things fresh for the regulars you get year after year, while still providing quality programs and services everyone can enjoy?
Some experts believe New York City is home to as many as 800 languages, making it the most linguistically diverse city in the world. But whether you work at a small rural library or in the middle of a bustling city like New York, at least some of your patrons speak another language – maybe even exclusively.
Have you been considering offering sensory storytimes at your library or doing outreach to a school serving children with developmental delays? Maybe the reason you’ve hesitated is because you feel unprepared. I get it: Sensory storytime can seem intimidating, with its own particular structure and style. But this is an incredibly important area of service for any library to undertake, reaching children who often otherwise feel unwelcome in a storytime space.
Some of you may remember my first post for ALSC, published just a few months ago, entitled An Old-School Spin on STEAM Programming. It’s focus was an at-that-time recent program a colleague and I had run at 53rd Street, where school-age children were presented with a series of Choose Your Own Adventure-style challenges. Each week followed a different theme (pirates, space, etc.), and participants were asked to complete a series of STEAM projects, from pattern matching to coding, to aid them in their quests. A dear friend of mine (who is one of the best librarians I know) took this concept to the next level by creating a Super Mario-themed adventure that far surpassed the original programming. (No, I’m not putting myself down. Her programming is just so beyond what I could have created, it’s unbelievable.) To get an idea of how this program came together, I sent some interview…
Those of you familiar with my ALSC posts will recognize a definite trend, but in case you’re late to the party or somehow stumbled here by mistake and have decided to stick around awhile, I’ll catch you up: I’m passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusivity – especially when it comes to children’s literature. So once a month, an author/illustrator who shares that passion stops by my library to booktalk diverse reads they love. This year, I’ve posted lists from Melissa Iwai and Isabel Roxas, and I’ve heard from a lot of you who are interested in seeing more.
As children’s librarians, we’re constantly asking ourselves what’s best for the young patrons we serve day-to-day. After all, though we’re not their primary caregivers, we carry some responsibility for their growth and development. Some things are easy: No, you can’t have ten pieces of candy – your mom/uncle/grandma will kill me; yes, we can absolutely read Mr. Tiger Goes Wild again – it’s my favorite, too. But when the question of technology comes up, things can get a little… heated.
Midway through day two of #alaac18, and I just left the most energizing program I’ve been to in awhile. Author Renée Watson joined library professionals Allie Jane Bruce (children’s librarian, Bank Street College), Kirby McCurtis (administrator, Multnomah County Library System), and Meredith Steiner (children’s librarian, San Francisco Public Library) for a panel discussion dealing with how we talk to kids about tough topics like race, gender, and inequality – and how we can educate caregivers so they’re prepared for these discussions, too.