Category Archives: Advocacy

Storytime for Social Justice check in

It’s time for a check in on our Storytime for Social Justice Blog Challenge! If you haven’t taken the challenge yet, don’t worry! This is an ongoing challenge and you can join in anytime.



In the meantime, here’s a look at what we’ve seen so far:


A social justice storytime outline.


Rosemary is ready to go.


Rebecca, who BTW is KILLING it with her Libraries are for Everyone images, resolves to be socially shiny. 


Our own Julie and Holly made lists of resolutions.


Did we miss your post? Send us a link! And if (when?) you join in, let us know by commenting here!


Announcing: a virtual Guerrilla Storytime for Social Justice

By now, I hope you have read our Storytime for Social Justice Kit and started thinking about the Social Justice Blog challenge. Today we are thrilled to announce our next virtual Guerrilla Storytime to go alone with our Social Justice Challenge. On Friday, January 6, we will be posting Guerrilla Storytime for Social Justice questions all day long on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #StorytimeJusticeWarrior.




Follow along, share your answers with our community, and learn a great new resource or tip to help you with your own Storytime for Social Justice challenge. Not sure what a question means or why it is an issue? Just ask!


After the event, we’ll be posting a roundup of all the questions here, so check back to make sure you don’t miss anything great!


Storytime for Social Justice Blog Challenge

You may recall our Resolve to Rock blog challenge from the last couple years in which we challenged librarians to blog about their professional goals for the new year.


This year, we have a new blog challenge for you: the Storytime for Social Justice Challenge.*


Image by the amazing Rebecca at Hafuboti

As youth librarians we have a lot of influence and a large captive audience of small children, and now more than ever it is vital that we do our part to make the world a better place. We offer services to make our communities — ALL members of our communities, from those we see to the marginalized faces that don’t use the library, — feel represented, welcomed, and appreciated.


Take a moment to think about what you can do to help teach empathy and inclusiveness in your programming, your displays, your space, your services. Check out Julie’s post for some inspiration and examples, take a look at our new Storytime for Social Justice  kit, and then tell us what YOU are committed to doing for your community!



Write a post on your own blog using this image**, share with the hashtag #StorytimeJusticeWarrior, and
post a link in the comments here.  If you don’t have a blog, we are happy to host guest posts! Get in touch via email at storytimeunderground (at) gmail (.) com and we will share your post on this site.


Once you’ve written a post and made a commitment to social justice, I encourage you to print it out and post it by your desk, or in your planner. Maybe make it the background on your computer. Whatever will help keep these ideas in the forefront of your mind. Because supporting Storytime for Social Justice is great, but only if you actually do it.


*Wondering why social justice belongs in Storytime Underground? Just a reminder that Storytime Underground is NOT neutral. We were built on social justice, and we continue to serve that purpose. If you don’t like it, you do not have to participate, but this is NOT and has never been a place for only storytime ideas.


** Our blog challenge image was lovingly created by Rebecca at Hafuboti. Thanks Rebecca!!

A Response

Hi, I’m Miss Julie and I do Storytimes.


Most people believe that I simply read books to children. Yes, that is one of the fantastic parts of my job, but I like to think that I am so much more. I see myself as an educator, an early literacy professional, a mentor, a friend, an entertainer, an activist, and part of a child’s inner circle.


I do what I do so that early literacy is brought into the home. I do what I do so that children can feel welcomed, safe, and understood. I do what I do so that children can become better acquainted with themselves and the world around them. I spread love. I bring down the house. I express and applaud individuality.


Now, more than ever, it is clear that our nation is divided. A rough estimate would tell me that over half of my Storytime families voted differently than I. I know that there are Storytime Ninjas out there who have different beliefs than I. Out in the world, this social division is ruled by hatred and disbelief. In Storytime, and in all parts of the library, we come together and accept our differences. As youth service providers, we can’t idly sit back and watch the world go by. Not now, not ever.


Yesterday, someone asked on Facebook “Can we keep Storytime Underground just about Storytime?” I understood the desire. We have definitely been bombarded with this election. The request was likely in response to a political article that we quickly deleted from our site. However, the answer to this request is no. We have never, and will never, be just about Storytime. At least not in the sense that you are asking.


Yes, Storytime Underground is shaker eggs, felt, and how to get caregivers to stop texting. These conversations are what brought me here two years ago looking for the basics. I wanted to be a Storytime librarian and didn’t really know where to start. Now, activism drives those basics. Storytime is social justice.


Right now, I am pleading with our community to pull yourselves up and make some changes. These small responses will help you feel more empowered and, more importantly, the children around you will notice.


  1. Make the majority of your face out shelving and displays feature minorities.
  2. Remove all ‘Books for Boys’ and ‘Books for Girls’ lists. Books are for people dammit.
  3. Offer boys books about princesses, bunnies, and ballet. Offer girls books about excavators, crime fighting, and dinosaurs.
  4. Add some positive affirmations to your Storytime routine. This idea came from Cynthia Dawn on the Facebook page. In her first ever Storytime, she had the kiddos shout out phrases like ‘I am smart!’ and ‘I am loved!’. (Cynthia, we see great things in your Storytime future.)
  5. Model descriptive affirmation language to caregivers. Instead of saying a baby is cute, say that they are strong, intelligent, or hilarious. Better yet, talk about what they are doing-‘Terry is such a strong climber today’ or ‘Lilah, I enjoy your laughter so much!’.
  6. Katie Salo suggested that you learn the name, and correct pronunciation, of your Storytime friends. Names are important and should be valued.
  7. Watch your gendered language! Make the speckled frog a female once or twice, use grown-ups instead of mommies, be proud of saying they instead of selecting a pronoun.
  8. Notice if the ‘extra’ parts of your library are inclusive. Angie Manfredi’s library had a stuffed library friend lose an arm. Instead of sewing it back on or discarding it, she proudly let it stand that way. Because, not everyone has the same body parts. Do your flyers, Facebook images, signage, and toys show a diverse world?
  9. Take some time to learn phrases in the languages of your community.
  10.  Add some, or a ton, of diverse books to your end of the year carts.


Social justice isn’t easy, but these are easy things you can do.


So, wake up.

We believe in you.

Advocacy Toolbox: We Need Diverse Books

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have already educated yourself on the grassroots organization We Need Diverse Books. Today, we add this glorious campaign to the toolbox.


Take them out for daily use.


Advocacy Toolbox with watermark (1)


It has been over two years since the first #weneeddiversebooks tweet devoured our emotions and took over our intellectual capabilities. While many were already aware of the lack of diversity in kidlit, so few of us knew what to do. This team has come a long way (two anthologies being published in the next two years) and they have created a wealth of resources along the way. Be sure to head to the site and take in as much as your eyeballs will allow.


For starters:


  • Be sure to check out WNDB’s Tumblr for the Summer Reading Series 2016. Get these diverse books in the hands of your users!
  • Visit the FAQ! It is dense with well collected material regarding diversity in children’s literature.
  • Peruse this list featuring diverse books for toddlers!
  • Read your way through each of the roundtable discussions. Become a champion for diversity.