Hello! I wanted to publish sort of an intro post to the top of the blog so that everyone knows how this is going to work! I will be (theoretically) posting about all of the programs I am responsible for at my library: two preschool story time programs, after school programs, and any additional programs. I also will be posting book reviews that will also be synced to my Goodreads and to my Twitter. I hope to sometimes post links to interesting articles about libraries also!
I am going to use a tagging system in order to keep things organized. Any post about story hour will be tagged #storyhour, any post about babes in storyland will be tagged #babesinstoryland, any after school program post will be tagged #afterschoolprogram, and any additional program will be tagged #additionalprogram, but the latter two will also have a tag for the specific name of the program. Once summer reading rolls around again I will use #summerreadingprogram for those posts. Book reviews will be tagged #bookreview with tags for the authors name, title, and gene if applicable. Any interesting articles/facts about libraries will be tagged #librarysnippet. Clicking the three dots in the top right corner will open a search bar! Hopefully this will keep everything organized!
I’m going to try to be as comprehensive as possible when talking about programs and hopefully anyone looking for ideas can use this blog as a resource. Feel free to contact me via the contact page if you have any questions or concerns!
With this new school year being very different from my previous years as a children’s librarian, I am going to put this blog on the backburner for awhile so I can focus on virtual programming, and keeping my students as safe as possible while they are in the library. I look forward to writing about in person programs when it is possible to do them safely again.
This is a list featuring picture books about Black characters, authors and anti-Black racism. To help them better understand the world, you should be reading books to your children featuring ALL kinds of protagonists (all races, genders, abilities, etc.) even if the book does not center around social justice (though many on this list do).
There are two types of books, “mirrors” and “windows.” In 1988, former teacher and co-founder of the National SEED (Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity) Project Emily Style wrote “Education needs to enable the student to look through window frames in order to see the realities of others and into mirrors in order to see her/his own reality reflected.” Mirrors are books that have protagonists who are the same race as your child, and windows are books that feature characters who are unlike your child, allowing them to learn about how other children live. If you are a White adult like I am, as a child you likely read books that were mirrors because the windows were few and far between when we were children. Publishing has a lot of work to do yet, but picture books are more diverse for your children than they were for us. Read them books with kids on the cover that don’t look like them. Expose them to other cultures and identities. Reading *only* mirror books can breed narrow-mindedness because the assumption is that those are the only kinds of stories out there. This can cause the reader to feel that their story is the norm, and not just one kind of story out of many.
This list is just a small percentage of the many books about/featuring Black people and children. If you think a book should be added to the list, let me know in the comments and I will check it out! I combed through many similar lists to curate this one and there is a 100% chance I missed a good book! I love learning about new great books and welcome any suggestions.
**In many of these examples, I have linked to Amazon for ease and because you can use the “look inside” feature to read a page or two, but please consider ordering these books from local Black-owned bookstores. Those of you who live in my community, Beyond Borders Bookstore would be a great place to order from. You can call (765)201- 0383, or email email@example.com to place your order. I know I will be.
“It’s a good book to read with a grownup. Because you’ll have lots to talk about afterward.” This book is exactly as advertised. It clearly explains and defines racism in a way that is easy for kids to understand. It is a serious book with no pictures, but the author plays with text size and color in a way that makes it engaging to look at. The message is the point and kids aren’t too young to understand it. It is currently on back order (as of 6/3/20) but in my opinion this is an essential staple book for your child’s diverse book collection.
“When will all children everywhere really have their rights respected?” This book focuses on rights. The right to have a family, food, shelter, and medicine. The right to be free from violence, protected by adults, and to never experience war. “I have exactly the same right to be respected whether I am Black or White, small or big, rich or poor, born here or somewhere else.” The first draft of this blurb was essentially a transcript of the book because every single page focuses on a different kind of rights a child has and they are all SO important. This book is about the Convention on the Rights of a Child, which the United States has notratified as of 2020.
The newest addition to Higginbotham’s “Ordinary Terrible Thing” series, this book focuses on police brutality, racism, and whiteness. “Whiteness” does NOT just mean being a White person. I did some research on this before adding it to this list. According to (gasp) Wikipedia, “whiteness” is defined as, “a socially constructed concept, identified as the normal and centric racial identity. As whiteness is the standard to which racial minorities are compared, whiteness is understood as the default standard.” I’ll let you do more research on whiteness on your own (preferably before you read this one), but this is a great book for opening up conversations with your children. It starts with a police officer shooting a man of color. Immediately the mother of our main character (both White) turns off the TV and tells her daughter she has nothing to worry about. “Our family is kind to everyone. We don’t see color,” mom says. After doing some historical research in the library on her own, the protagonist comes to different conclusions than her mother about the incident, and tells her so. It is a really well done book.
Serious topic alert: teach your children not to touch Black children’s hair without permission. Many of us have 0 firsthand experience with how uncomfortable and disrespectful this is, but working in an elementary school this is something I see happening to Black girls AND boys. This is a great book to teach children about consent and about race. At times, it is a little silly. Aria goes to space AND to the bottom of the ocean trying to get away from people touching her hair. The author shares in the back that she wrote it based on her personal experiences with others touching her hair without permission, and how that makes her feel.
This is a children’s book about racial injustice and police brutality. There are not very many of these. This is a hard but necessary topic to discuss with your children. Both Emma and Josh’s parents talk to their children about this event in a way that is easy for them to understand and highlights social justice. After learning about the history of Black people in America, Emma learns about patterns and unfair treatment. After learning that police officers don’t often go to jail for police brutality, Josh learns to stick up for people in situations of injustice. When a new kid comes to school and their classmates aren’t nice to him, Emma and Josh both remember the lessons their parents taught them, break a pattern of exclusion, and stand up for their new friend. *It seems this book is out of print. If you are unable to find a place to purchase, please consider watching the video on YouTube to share this story with your children.*
This is a great story about inclusion and how it feels when you are the only one in the room that looks/talks/is a certain way. The book features several characters of many races, and talks about how it feels when a person is “othered” based on race, language/accent, socioeconomic status, food, and culture. Otheringandbelonging.org defines “othering” as “a set of dynamics, processes, and structures that engender marginality and persistent inequality across any of the full range of human differences based on group identities.” By listing many ways children exclude other children, a conversation can be started about kindness and acceptance. This book is beautiful and is sure to be remembered by your children when they are back at school, on the playground, or in any situation where they encounter injustice.
This is a wordless picture book. Personally I love wordless picture books because it makes the reader (in this case, your children) look closely at the illustrations to things like facial expression, body language and in this case, race. Because there are no words, children have to identify what is happening in the story through the illustrations, and I think this is a great book to have them comment on out loud. There’s a page where a White boy walks up to Vanessa and scrunches his face, points his finger at her, and then the background behind them turns red, signifying anger. You can see Vanessa’s face fall and her discomfort rise. The other little girl on the cover sees it too, and walks Vanessa to school the next morning. Many other children join them! Because there are no words, we don’t know what mean thing the boy said to Vanessa, only that it hurt her feelings and made her sad. This is a great example of how being kind to others can make all the difference and good practice in spotting hostility even when you can’t hear it.
This true story of Audrey Faye Hendricks being jailed as a child for marching in Birmingham, Alabama in May 1963 is a great way to talk to children about protests and Civil Rights. While it might be scary for some kids to see Audrey imprisoned for her participation, it is important for kids to know that they are not alone in wanting justice and equality for all people. This is a great history lesson about a lesser-known activist, and a seamless segue into talking about marching and protests today.
This board book publishes on 6/14/20, and therefore I was unable to read the whole thing before writing this list, but I felt it needed to be included. Amazon allows you to read 3 pages, and based on page 1 “Open your eyes to all skin colors. Antiracist baby learns all the colors, not because race is true. If you claim to be color-blind, you deny what’s right in front of you.” it will be a good read. Ibram X. Kendi has written books for adults titled How to be an Antiracist and Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. With children’s/teen author Jason Reynolds, Stamped from the Beginning was adapted for younger readers, titled Stamped: Racism, Antiracism and You. I am looking forward to the publication of Kendi’s first children’s book!
Web resources to help you talk to your children about race:
“This place feels like a real library!”- Second grader, upon seeing the new furniture/layout of the library for the first time.
27 years ago the children’s library got new furniture. Since then, students have checked out books at the circulation desk and used the tables and chairs hundreds of thousands of times (180 school days x 100 kids a day x 27 years = 486,000 times!) That is definitely a low estimate because it doesn’t even account for the summer, but that would take forever to figure. All this to say, by 2020 the library really needed new furniture and a general spruce up!
In January of last year (2019) the high school library got it’s spruce up. It was so well deserved! The teens have an area now that is just theirs, and our yearly attendance sky rocketed in 2019. The middle/high schoolers LOVE coming into the library now. It was truly an amazing transformation.
After their remodel was finalized, it was our turn. As someone who attended story hour when she was 4 years old, and sat at the very same tables where I was LEADING story hour as a 24 year old, I was SO thrilled to be a part of this remodel. I used this library as a student. My grandma worked here before I was born. The ties I have to this space run deep, and I will admit I was a little sad to see some of it go. But I knew that I was changing the space for the better and that it would be so much more functional for my students now, and students of the future. Here are some notable photos of the “before” space:
These photos were taken summer 2019, when we were doing out “Library Circus Extravaganza” summer reading program! But you can see how cluttered it is and how BULKY the wooden furniture was. It lived a good 27 years and was very reliable, it was just time for a change!
We worked with Demco and I had an absolutely amazing consultant named Shawna. She walked me through the process and listened to exactly what I needed out of the space before sending her ideas to the designer. This was in August. I knew I was going to have to wait until January or February and I honestly couldn’t wait.
Demco had really great blueprints for me, and even a digital rendering that allowed me to see the WHOLE thing in 3D! I was blown away by the level of detail.
I was asked to send in pictures of the space, a blueprint, and ended up having to take a couple of measurements on my own to make sense of some things. Except for discussing changes/colors and approving everything, that was all I needed to do until move-in day. Shawna was really careful about listening to the things we needed before she came up with some options. We talked through different tables and chairs, a wrap around circulation desk, and some new shelving. We had some other options but I needed to stay within budget and she was very gracious about removing things that we didn’t want/need.
We closed for a full week in early February so we could get all the old furniture removed (HUGE shoutout to the maintenance staff at Eastern Schools!), have the carpets cleaned, spruce up with some new colors of paint, and get the new furniture moved in. It was a really fun and some somewhat stressful week.
Here are some photos of the middle stage of painting!
Once painting was done we moved everything off of the carpet (even stuff that was staying!) so that the carpet cleaners could come. It was the perfect time to have them do the cleaning! Almost every inch of the carpet got cleaned.
This whole time, we had black bulletin board paper up over the doors and windows so the remodel was a TOTAL surprise to the students when it was all the way done! They were SO surprised. Clearly it was a way different look, judging by the opening quote of this blog post. Kids truly say the darndest things.
On move in day we hit a couple of snags but overall things went really well! Our maintenance staff was able to fix some things for me so that everything fit in perfectly. They are really THE BEST. The team from Demco delivered and put together all the new furniture, and were great and professional. I highly recommend them!
Here are some after photos of the space:
And a couple of side by sides of the sections I am most proud of! Slide to see the “before” on the left and the “after on the right!
Overall this was a super successful project!! I am thrilled that my students have a new, more functional, less cluttered space to utilize as their school library, and that all our patrons have an updated space. Hopefully this stuff will last awhile (but 27 years is a long time). Thanks again to Demco for such a great reno!
EDIT to add: January 2021
It took almost a year because of COVID, but I finally got out students’ artwork hung up on our big blue wall!! Thanks to all the students who helped us make the library beautiful!
I’ve done farm story times before but I think this is my favorite one! The combination of books and craft was perfect and the kids had a really good time!
The three books we read were:
Farmer Duck by Martin Waddell
Barnyard Boogie by Tim McCanna
The Cow Said Neigh! by Rory Fleek
Farmer Duck came out in 1991, and I have a distinct memory of reading it as a kid. Over and over the farmer says “How goes the work duck?” and I remember my mom saying that to me as a kid when I was cleaning my room of doing my homework. The nostalgia was strong with this one! The kids liked it a lot which was a win because sometimes reading older books is a miss with such a young audience. Barnyard Boogie was SO much fun! There were a lot of instrument sounds and the kids had fun making them with me. The Cow Said Neigh is a modern classic as far as I am concerned. I love reading this one to kids! It is all mixed up so when the cow says neigh they all go “what??? no that’s not what cows say! They say moo!” and it never gets old. There are a lot of fun animal sounds in this one and they have to tell me what sounds the animals really do make so it is a good practice!
Our craft today was so fun. I’ve seen lots of marble painting crafts on Pinterest, so I kind of made this up (though I’m sure I’m not the first to do this). Essentially what you do is put a piece of paper in a plastic container and tape it down. Then you put dollops of paint on the paper, and put marbles into the plastic container. Then you let the kids tilt the container to roll the marbles through the paint and create paint streaks on the paper.
I decided this was the perfect format for a pig painting craft! I printed a cute pig on cardstock, taped it to containers, and we put brown paint on them as mud.
The most important lesson of this activity was to NOT touch the marble. They were immediately covered in paint. We washed our hands before our snack anyway but I really didn’t want them to have super messy hands.
It was SO fun! The kids did such a good job rolling the marbles through the paint. It’s a lesson in hand eye coordination too so that was an added bonus! When we were finished with the pigs, we did a short tracing activity before we had our snacks. Here are the finished products!
In my quest to find springy story hour themes without doing a giant overarching “spring” theme, I decided on frogs! This one was a really simple storytime, but we had a lot of fun! I read three really good frog stories and it was funny because they all involved a pig too! I didn’t even plan it, but my show and tell kiddo brought a stuffed pig as their favorite toy too so it was a perfect addition to the frog theme.
The three books we read were:
I Don’t Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty
Ribbit! by Rodrigo Folgueira
I’m a Frog! by Mo Willems
I loved them all and the kids did too! I Don’t Want to be a Frog and I’m a Frog! are both about being yourself and Ribbit! is about being nice to those who are different than you. We talked a lot about how the frogs weren’t nice to the pig and why that might be, and why we should always be nice to everyone, and that differences are good. It was a good story time!
Our craft was a frog face craft, with a 3-D curly tongue. It was really simple but really fun!
The frog is essentially 5 circles, the face, the white of the eyes and the pupils. We started by cutting out all of those circles!
Next was the really fun part. Rolling the tongues! I gave each kiddo the strip of red paper, and a wooden pencil that hadn’t been sharpened yet (just as a precaution). I showed them how to roll the paper up in the pencil to make it all curly. They loved it!
After that, we glued the face onto a piece of blue paper, and put the eyes on accordingly. Last but not least we drew on a nose and a mouth with crayons.
Here are the finished products!
It was a really fun theme! I will definitely do more frog story hours in the future. 🙂
I don’t know what started it, but I always do a crayon story time in February. It just seems like a good time! The last three years I have done crayons and the kiddos really enjoy it. There are some really clever crayon books out there for kids too so it’s really fun for them to enjoy the stories.
The three books I read were:
The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew DayWalt
The Crayon Box That Talked by Shane DeRolf
A Day With No Crayons by Elizabeth Rusch
These are all wonderful books and the kids loved them. We talked a lot about colors, and about coloring on the walls and how that is NOT a good idea. They all seemed to understand! Fingers crossed!
I kept the craft a little more lowkey this time, and we did a paper craft about their favorite colors. I asked the caregivers ahead of time to ask their kiddos what their favorite colors are and report back to me.
I found the craft on this blog where it links to the crayon pattern download. I printed the crayon pattern on each kiddos favorite color so I knew I had exactly the right colors for the number of kiddos I have attending.
We started by cutting out the crayon. Cutting practice is BIG with this age, and I usually try to look for things with straight lines to start, and make sure they aren’t tiny little things for them to cut. This crayon outline was the prefect choice!
Next we cut out the eyes and glued them on. I let the kiddos make the mouth with crayons and we were done! They all identified their favorite color and we wrote it on the crayon’s little hat.
I did one more activity before we finished up. I have also been trying to work with there guys a lot on name spelling. I found the PERFECT crayon name spelling activity. It can be purchased here for $3.50. This template allowed me to put the names of my kiddos inside an image of a crayon, so I could just print them and cut the letters apart.
Each kiddo got their name puzzle printed out on their favorite color, so it matched their favorite color crayon craft. I asked them to put their puzzle together before we had our snack.
Here are the finished products and their name puzzles in a bag to take home. We received a donation of 90 boxes of 4 crayons a year or so ago ad we have been slowly giving them away since then. Today seemed like a perfect time to give some more out! Can’t wait until next February when we do crayons again!
I’ve been wanting to do a pizza theme for awhile, but the fall/winter is hard because there are so many holidays and weather topics to cover during that time. Since it is February now (but before Valentine’s Day) I decided now would be the perfect time to do a pizza theme!
I was SO hungry by the time we were finished with this one! Unfortunately pizza wasn’t what I planned for lunch, because now it is all I am thinking about. A couple of the caregivers told me the same thing after the program.
We read 3 super fun pizza books:
The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Struggs
Pete’s A Pizza by William Steig
Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin
I had actually never read any of these books before! I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were. We have a small selection of pizza books but it was a good selection apparently! They were all fun and funny and mentioned some important aspects of making pizza. I would read any of them again!
We did a pretty simple pizza craft, but it reinforced coloring, cutting and gluing, so it was definitely a worthwhile one.
The kiddos got a paper plate and we handed out brown and red markers. The crinkly part of the plate was the pizza crust, so they colored that brown. The circle in the middle was the sauce, so they colored that red.
After they had finished coloring, we gave them each 4 pepperoni to cut out. Some of their pepperoni’s were circles and some were not but it was obvious what it was!
Finally, it was time to glue on the cheese and pepperoni. I sorted out yellow tissue paper and they used that as cheese, and then glued their pepperoni on top.
Here are the finished products!
I had never done a pizza story time before but the kiddos really enjoyed it so I will probably do another in a couple years when these guys age out. It was a fun time!