A place to share books, music, techniques, and all things related to bilingual storytime!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fiesta Babies Say Hello!

Two lovely new books came in to the library today that I have to share.  They each reinforce multiple early literacy skills, and could be used in bilingual storytime programs or by monolingual librarians striving to make their storytimes multiculturally inclusive.

Everyone loves a good party, including our youngest friends - and Fiesta Babies is just for them!  This title by Carmen Tafolla is the perfect length for a baby or toddler storytime.  The rhyming text encourages phonological awareness, while the Spanish words integrated into the text help develop vocabulary.  Additionally, there are many ways parents can act out the text in this story while reading it with their child, such as tipping upside down, putting on pretend coronas, and dancing.  This kind of interaction makes reading together fun and promotes print motivation.  Even little Fiesta Babies can have positive experiences enjoying books!

Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora teaches us a variety of ways to greet the folks in our neighborhood from different cultures.  I love this book!  I am a big fan of mixed-media illustrations, such as those Isadora uses to bring her neighborhood to life.  Carmelita and her mama start the day with breakfast, huevos con tocino, and then they are off to visit abuela.  They are a friendly pair, enjoying this morning stroll through the neighborhood.  They call out Buenos Días! at the bodega, Konichiwa! at the sushi restaurant, and Bonjour! at the pastisserie, as well as taking the time to stop and say hi with the neighbors they meet along the way.  In addition to being an obvious vocabulary reinforcing book, this is an excellent print awareness title too.  Words are incorporated throughout the pictures, just like we may see on buildings and signs in our own neighborhood.  I plan to share this title this week at storytime when our theme is "Our Neighborhood / Nuestro vecindario."  This would be a fun title for parents to share with their child before taking neighborhood walk together, practicing letter knowledge along the way by pointing out the letters they see and practicing their names and sounds.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

We are so proud of you Betty!

Village Branch manager Betty Abdmishani was recently selected as one of the 20 Women Leading Central Kentucky by Business Lexington! This distinction could not be any more well-deserved. Betty is a tireless advocate for the Latino community in Lexington and provides the model for exceptional customer service to ALL people who walk through our library's doors. She is also one of the most caring and compassionate people I have ever met - working with her is a joy. In addition to sharing Betty's many accomplishments, this article does a fantastic job at describing the service model that makes the Village Branch a truly unique and special library. Please take a minute to read the article!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Virginia Hamilton Conference Follow Up

What an honor it was to present last week at the 26th annual Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth at Kent State University!  The authors were moving, the artists fascinating, and the breakout sessions highly relevant to today's librarians and teachers serving increasingly diverse communities.  My greatest take-aways are from Laurie Halse Anderson to STOP being too nice and fight back when schools and governments slash library funding, and from Ken and Sylvia Marantz that the "picturebook" is its own art form and not merely a book of pictures (picture book).

I was thrilled to present my session on Bilingual Storytime to a group of interested individuals on Friday, including a group of international scholars from Egypt and Brazil.  You all asked some great questions!  A few of your questions have stayed in my mind, and so I am going to share them here over the next several days, along with more complete answers.

During the presentation, I commented that there are many reasons for establishing a bilingual storytime program, including to reach out to the Latino population in the community.  However, bilingual storytime should not be the first step in an organization's outreach effort.  If the Latino community is not using your library, the reason is not because you don't have a Spanish or bilingual storytime.  In response to this, I was asked: What are the first steps for a library wanting to reach out to the Latino community?  

In my opinion, the first step is to get outside of the library and get to know the community.  Find one key person who can help you connect with others; this first key person may not be Latino him/herself, but will be more deeply involved in working with the community.  Places to look are local Hispanic/Latino organizations, churches, ESL teachers, other agencies working with the Latino community, the local Spanish or bilingual newspaper and local businesses catering to Latinos.  Be prepared to ask these key folks what you want to know: why doesn't the Latino community currently use the library?  Then, be prepared to respond to what they share with you by making the changes you can to make your library and its services more accessible and relevant.  To accomplish this, you need buy in and support from the upper levels of administration and leadership in your organization, which can be tricky to gain.  Even well-meaning administrators may not have a clear understanding of how to serve the Latino community.  Find an ally with authority in your organization from the beginning, and bring them along with you as much as possible.  Try to encourage the people in charge at your organization to come with you, so they are part of meeting key leaders and hearing directly how the library can improve.  This will have more impact then your words alone.  Outreach needs differ depending on many variables, such as the experience of the community you are trying to reach, the perspectives and commitment of your administration to serving the community, the work your organization has already done to reach the community, and the staff, services and programs you have to offer.

There are many resources out there that can help you in your outreach process.  I recommend the following for getting started:

Crash Course in Serving Spanish Speakers by Salvador Avila.  There are many great book resources out there on library services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking, but I have found this to be the most straightforward, simple and practical for getting started.

Webjunction's Spanish Language Outreach Course.  Available to take online at your own pace for $20.  This course will provide an overview on what is means to do outreach to your Spanish-speaking community and provide a highly functional framework for doing so.  If you are reaching out to Latinos in your community and can encourage someone in your administration to take this course as well, it may help them to understand what you are doing and why.

"Latinos and Public Library Perceptions."  This study was conducted by Webjunction and the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute.  It is a major research project that surveyed over 2,000 Latinos from across the country on their library use and perceptions.  This is a very eye opening study, and it can reveal what are the most important factors your organization should focus on as you approach your outreach.

And of course, join REFORMA - the National Organization to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.  The listserv is active and the people involved do an excellent job at sharing resources and ideas.

Latinos are already the largest minority in the USA and the fastest growing.  Serving Latinos in no longer "optional" or "extra" for libraries - it is essential for remaining relevant to your community!  Those who do not start reaching out and cultivating staff who can effectively serve this community will find themselves in a situation of playing a lot of catch-up down the road.  Buena suerte as you initiate an outreach project and do the necessary work to make your organization inclusive in all ways of the Latinos and Spanish-speakers you serve.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Día 2010 is almost here - How will you spread Bookjoy?

April is here after a long winter.  Cherry blossoms and magnolias are sprouting bringing color back into the world.  The return of the birds and the budding trees fills me with joy.  It's so fitting, then, that April is the month when we celebrate Día de los niños/Día de los libros - Children's Day/Book Day.

This is my first year getting to plan a Día celebration, and I am so happy to be doing it here at the Village Branch library.  This is their fifth year celebrating the event, and in years past it has always drawn in a massive crowd of families from our local neighborhood and beyond in Lexington.  This year's event promises to be our biggest to date.  We are continuing the tradition of providing Latino crafts and a free book to each child who attends our program, as well as adding some new elements that will further encourage a love of reading and the library as a place to turn for information across the lifespan.  We will have ongoing programs and performances for children and families throughout the day, such as a special program for parents and babies, a bilingual storytime, African drumming and a very special payaso guest.  We are also hosting a Community Information Fair for the first time.  Local agencies, particularly those serving the Latino community in the Cardinal Valley neighborhood have been invited to attend.  Each agency will provide an activity or giveaway for children, while having the opportunity to reach a large group of families all in one location.  Funding for our program is generously provided by the Friends of the Lexington Public Library - we couldn't do it without them.  5/3 Bank is also a supporter of the program, dropping by to provide ice cream treats for the kids.

All families in Lexington are welcome to attend our Día 2010 program on Saturday, May 1, 12-4 PM. 

How are you spreading bookjoy at your library this month?  For great ideas and to connect with a larger community of folks planning Día events, be sure to check out the Bookjoy! blog.