Tag Archives: diversity

Literacy Fast Fact – Mirrors and Windows

Recently all of the Joint Chiefs had the opportunity to present on various topics at the Nevada Library Association Conference. We also had the distinct pleasure of attending a presentation on diverse library collections presented by Angie Manfredi. In her presentation, she talked about the origin of the idea that children need to both read about worlds different from their own (“windows”) and read about experiences like theirs and children like them (“mirrors”). I admit I didn’t know that the idea was first explored by  Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop in her paper “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors” and was originally published in 1990. Thank you, Angie, for giving credit where credit is most certainly due!




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.

Hispanic Heritage Month Music & Movement – with Melissa!

Today’s guest post is from Melissa who is sharing her Music & Movement program from Hispanic Heritage Month. Even though that month has passed we believe it is important to celebrate diversity all year round! Thanks, for sharing your program, Melissa!


To celebrate and engage our patrons with Hispanic Heritage Month 2015, we planned a week of special programs in the Los Alamos County Library System. We added two afternoon read-ins and used our weekly story times and music and movement (M&M) programs to showcase Hispanic authors and performers. Here’s the M&M program and some of my thoughts behind my choices.

We started with “Hola” from the album Salsa Tots by the group Salsa Babies featuring Ricky Franco. We all learned the word “hola” before I started the song, then I sang along as I guided the group through waving hello, clapping, stamping, drumming on tummies, waving hands, etc. This song is mostly in English and talks about saying hello, making friends and introducing ourselves.


Because this program was mostly new songs, I stopped in between each one and previewed the next activity. For “The Numbers Song” by A.J. Jenkins from KidsTV123, we slowly counted to ten and back down in English, then repeated that in Spanish. The song is perfectly written to echo each line. It’s simple and clear and most importantly, easy to sing while jumping, dancing, and directing a crowd!


We used scarves for our next song, “De Colores.” I used a slower version with children singing. Before starting the music, I talked a bit about the story of the song- the colors of nature, all the birds singing, how colors make us feel happy inside. Our actions included waving in front of our tummies, waving up high, spinning in circles with scarves flying, and rolling our hands to entwine the scarves. The chorus of “De Colores”—“Y por eso los grandes amores, De muchos colores me gustan a mi”—is excellent for reaching up high and “painting a rainbow across the sky!” For the second verse, I had everyone get down close to the floor with their rainbow scarves and pretend to scatter feed to all the roosters, hens and chicks.   


Get on Your Feet” by Gloria Estefan was my pick for parachute and ball time. “Get on Your Feet” has long been a staple of mine for instrument time because the lyrics exhort the crowd to “get up and make it happen”.  It was perfect for this program because Estefan is a major Latina artist and there are perfect tempo and lyric breaks for my typical parachute play process. Instead of focusing on kids doing the activities themselves, we’ve had great success using the parachute with little ones by engaging their adults to manipulate the parachute while the kids have the fun of being under it, playing with the balls and jumping up and down. We do slow and fast waves, pop the parachute high in the air and lower it all the way down while everyone gets “pequeño” underneath, then count “uno, dos, tres” for a high pop that reveals delighted, squealing children. I used the words “salto” and “baile” quite often and we all jumped and danced happily.


As we put away the parachute and balls, I began talking about our next song, “Saco una Manito.” I went through the whole song in English first, talking the actions rather than singing them. Saco una manito means I have a little hand, so I first showed the group one hand, then showed how the hand dances, then how it closes, then opens, then runs away behind your back. We repeated the actions with the other hand, then with both hands together. I chose a version sung by Adriana because she goes through the song three times, getting faster each time.


Besitos y Abrazos” is another song from the album Salsa Tots. I talked about the Spanish words for kiss and hug and showed them how we would do the kiss action (kiss one hand and throw kiss, change to the other hand and repeat) and how we would hug ourselves or someone we love for the hug action. For the English verses we rolled our hands and danced as salsa-like as we could manage. During my third presentation I had enough older kids engaged to the point where we could “salsa” in a circle while rolling our hands, then blow kisses and give hugs on the chorus.


We passed out bells for our next song, “Tingalayo.” I used a charmingly bouncy version from the album Canciones in Español by Sara Quintanar. Her Facebook page is Music with Sara.


Since this program included lots of new things, I wanted to be sure to include some old familiars. Everyone loves “Cabeza, Hombros, Rodillas, Pies” (head, shoulders, knees, and toes)! I chose a version by Jam with Jamie from Youtube because Jamie goes over the vocabulary, then sings the song three times, getting faster each time. I also went over the vocabulary before starting the music. The kids loved this and even the littlest can participate, with caregivers pointing to heads, knees and toes, etc.


Free instrument time came next. We made tons of noise and played and danced to “Conga” by Gloria Estefan. This was a familiar song for our patrons as I’ve been using it for years.


When it was time to say adios I used two favorite goodbye songs. “Adios Amigos” from the TV show Dos Y Dos and a song called “Adios Amigos,” from the Elementary Spanish Chatbook by Julie Jahde Posposhil. This song is set to the tune of “Skip to My Lou” and in my head I call it “hasta luego, CHACHACHA.”


I’ve always used music from all over the world in M&M to add excitement and inclusiveness to our library programs. These Hispanic Heritage themed M&M programs were a piece of a larger initiative to expand our programming offerings and create themed and specialty programs in more areas each year. Using music, which is readily accessible no matter the language, we’re able to be inclusive, engaging and educational.



Melissa Mackey, Los Alamos County Library System, Los Alamos NM, paraprofessional with 25 years of adult and child literacy and music programming experience, 12 with Los Alamos County.

The Coolest Things I Saw on the Internet This Week

I’m skipping the preamble this month and getting right to it: check out these cool (and thought-provoking) things:


Deb Reese has this important post about what Meg Rosoff said this week about diverse books. She also includes links to responses by others. Here’s also a post by the original blogger, Edi Campbell, to whom Rosoff said these things, in her own words. READ THIS.


Related, Roxanne Feldman took a look at her own progression in judging “diversity books.” Lots of food for thought here.


Interested in learning about 1000 Books Before Kindergarten? I know I sure am! Our friend Marge is giving a FREE webinar next week to help you learn what you need to know!


Marge also posted an homage to small libraries and the people that work in them as well as the recent ARSL conference.


One of my most favorite librarians in the entire world (and monthly lunch date – lucky me!) Mel posted this extremely useful roundup of research around Print Awareness and how we can be mindful of encouraging it in storytime.


Miss Meg made the CUTEST. FELT. VEGGIES. EVER. Like, EVER. I am totally stealing her designs and making my own. The song is awesome too.


Miss Meg, and our own Joint Chief Holly, also started Maker Monday. If you’re interested in all-things-maker-related (for kids of all ages), head on over and check it out!


Betsy Bird (Fuse #8) has started writing about finding children’s literature in unexpected places. This is so fun and now I want to read all these books! Where have you found references to children’s lit?


Are you being a media mentor to your families? Perhaps you can recommend some of these autumn-appropriate apps and websites. Maybe at your leaf-rubbing program? While singing one of Jbrary’s favorite fall songs?


Ask a Storytime Ninja: Gender Neutrality

Welcome to the final installment of April’s Ask a Storytime Ninja. Thank you to our featured Ninjas for taking on these great questions. Just a reminder, if you would like to be a Featured Ninja, helping out your colleagues by answering their questions and offering advice, you can! We have openings! Go here and sign up now.  If you don’t want to answer questions but instead have a question to ask, submit it here. You can even earn badges for asking and answering questions!


The Question: 


I am a big proponent for gender neutrality and am curious if you actively do anything to support this in your library and/or Storytime. More specifically:
How do you let a parent know that their son can and should check out a princess book if he is drawn to it? Are there books you steer away from because they propel gender stereotypes? How do you encourage coworkers to expand their reader’s advisory skills past the stage of ‘truck books for little boys’?


The Answers:


From Ingrid


I am a big proponent for gender neutrality and am curious if you actively do anything to support this in your library and/or Storytime.


More specifically:
How do you let a parent know that their son can and should check out a princess book if he is drawn to it? Are there books you steer away from because they propel gender stereotypes? How do you encourage coworkers to expand their reader’s advisory skills past the stage of ‘truck books for little boys’?

This is tricky, but an important topic! First, thanks for caring about it enough to ask about it.
If a parent is dead set on not letting their son take out a princess book, there isn’t much we can do about it. There are no magic words that will suddenly change a parent’s mind. No one wants to be told that they’re doing a bad parenting job, but I do try and help a kid out in situations like this. Something like, “Oh, it looks like your child picked up one of my favorite titles! He has good taste!” or something like that. That’s the most you can do without seeming like a jerk. Support the child, don’t make the parent feel bad.

I don’t think of it as avoiding certain titles, but rather, I do love to display books that are a bit more progressive as far as gender is concerned. Get ’em off the shelves and into the light where kids can pick them up and take a look at them! The Rainbow List is a great place to start. Current picture book favorites are Not Every Princess by Jeffrey Bone, This Day in June by Gayle Pitman, I am Jazz by Jazz Jennings, Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen, and Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino. 


We all have so much gender nonsense ingrained into our brains from an early age and some of it can be very harmful if we keep perpetrating certain stereotypes. When it comes to staff, training is essential. Maybe have a book club where you all read Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein? 


All of this is a process and it takes time. Thanks for making your library a little more LBGTQ friendly.


From Mel


If I were running a training, I might try an exercise where we start with a big pile of heavily gendered books/topics (Fancy Nancy, truck books, etc) and work to group them in unconventional ways (Don’t Let the Pigeon and Fancy Nancy are both about characters who LOVE to TALK!) or by doing book talks that frame a minor thread as the selling point (so, like showing someone Crews’ Train and saying, “Hey look, this is an awesome book about colors!”)