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Bilingual Storytime At Your Biblioteca
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Bilingual Storytime At Your Biblioteca


This is the Power Point for a presentation I am doing at the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth in April 2010. The presentation is titled, "Bilingual Storytime at Your …

This is the Power Point for a presentation I am doing at the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth in April 2010. The presentation is titled, "Bilingual Storytime at Your Biblioteca: What, Why and How." This presentation is designed to provide library staff interested in developing a bilingual storytime program a framework for doing so. There is information for current bilingual storytime practitioners on how to enrich their programming using early literacy skill building techniques. Ideas on how non-bilingual library staff can make their programming more inclusive of the Latino community are also presented.

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  • Introduce myself and Village
  • Be friendly and welcoming (reference WJ survey), promote services and programs offsite where they areShow example of stereotypes in books; Elya and Paul examples of text with Spanish words – Dear Primo tooReference Kenton County librarians
  • Point A: statistics, though it will take time to develop an audience so know whether or not this will work for your communityPoint B: Does your organization have a diversity initiative? Get this added to the diversity planPoint C: Are you trying to reach out to Spanish-speakersPoint D: Is early-literacy a priority for your organization?
  • Remind group not to fall into sterotypes; then share details specifically about the community Village serves6 early literacy skills – vocabulary, letter knowledge, print awareness, phonological awareness, narrative skills, and print motivationImmigrant families care about their children’s education and want them to learn English and to fit in; they are afraid to interact with their child “too much” in SpanishSongs, talking, practicing shapes, making up silly rhymes, etc. Be sure to explain what you are doing and why throughout the program for parents in both languages, as well as having a handout.
  • You need your front lines staff to help promote your program – CML example and how VB staff help tooStaff who do not speak Spanish may look at Latinos as “your customers” and not offer the same level of service; may also be intimidated to work with non-English speakers or fear this program is going to require them to learn new skillsGive them a reason to care and they will be your best support!
  • These four things will help you attain success and overcome barriers and challenges.
  • Where can you go for this information? Local leaders, such as Hispanic/Latino organizations, local papers, local radio, churches, ESL teachers. You may have to be prepared to seek these people out. How much groundwork you need to lay depends largely on where your organization is currently in terms of providing service to the Latino community.
  • Point A: Cannot establish a successful program without administrative support. This can be the biggest challenge you may face.Point B: Don’t fear data! Look to community demographics for support. Hook into bigger projects both at the level of your organization and at the community level.Point C: Is serving the Latino community important to your Director? Anyone on your board? Be sure they know who you are and what you are doing.
  • Point A: Need to be able to articulate your points in terms of organizational values and vision, community data, anecdotal success. Know who responds to numbers, stories, etc.Point B: Involvemedia. Celebrate successes, even small ones. Point C: Be sure people know what you are doing and why it matters within the appropriate institutional framework. Reward others for helping.Point D: Dia de los ninos, Dia de los muertos, Hispanic Heritage monthPoint E: Is your website in Spanish? Do you have materials from Latin America? Do you have bilingual staff, particularly from the Latino community?Some of what you can/cannot change depends on where you are in the organization. This is why it is essential to gain administrative support and work with allies for your cause.
  • Establishing a new program is expensive and everyone is fighting for resources – be thrifty from the beginning, look for outside funding (and be prepared to spend it if you get it), and build on what you already have.
  • Controversial disclaimer.Point A: Target preschool age, with materials for babies and toddlers too. Explain that it is a family program at the outset.Blend lots of techniques into each program, so there are books and music in addition to flannels, puppets, drawing stories, creative dramatics and games.Keep program interactive so that it works for all ages. Continually tell families why we are doing what we are doing and how it reinforces specific skill development.
  • If serving a new immigrant community, cannot take it for granted they know the expectations of storytime. Also, your expectations may be different from expectations at other libraries, schools, etc. Show sample handouts
  • Demonstratefingerplay
  • Point A: Piñata publishers example. Point B: Example of poor girl that has to cut off braids. Point C: Isabel Schon center for evaluating books and translations. Point out that this happens a lot with rhyming books
  • Online patterns and recommended websites – how to find


  • 1. Bilingual Storytime at Your Biblioteca: What, Why and How
    Katie Cunningham, Children’s Librarian
    Lexington Public Library, Village Branch
    Lexington, KY
  • 2. Cuentosbilingües en la biblioteca de village
    Miss Katie reads Perdido y encontradoby Oliver Jeffers to local children enjoying a bilingual storytime about friendship at the Village Branch Library.
    February 10, 2010
  • 3. Today we will cover…
    What is bilingual storytime, and who can do it?
    Why should my library/school offer bilingual programming?
    How do I plan and implement a bilingual storytime program?
    Resources and questions
  • 4. Why are you here today?
  • 5. What is Bilingual Storytime
    …and who can do it?
  • 6. Bilingual Storytime Is:
    A standing storytime program that uses various elements such as books, music, fingerplays, flannelboards and other storytelling techniques to equally promote and encourage the development of early literacy skills and inspire a love of reading in both English and Spanish
    From “Bilingual Storytime: What, Why and How” chapter by Katie Cunningham in Celebrating Cuentos: Promoting Latino Children’s Literature and Literacy in Classrooms & Libraries, edited by Dr. Jaime Naidoo. To be published Fall 2010.
  • 7. What if I’m not Bilingual?
    Incorporate books by Latino authors/illustrators
    Incorporate books that positively feature Latino characters
    Choose books that have some Spanish words in the text
    Choose bilingual books and read the English, while pointing out that Spanish text is also included
    Use Spanish and/or bilingual movement songs, rhymes and fingerplays
    Tandem programming with community volunteers
  • 8. Why Should I Offer Bilingual Storytime at my School/Library
    …and how do I convince my boss?
  • 9. Benefits of Bilingual Storytime
    Casts a wider net than monolingual storytime; will appeal to those already speaking Spanish and those who want to expose their children to other languages
    Opportunity for social interaction among diverse groups of children
    Opportunity to visibly welcome your Spanish-speaking community, and to showcase Spanish materials, programs and services
    Model early literacy skill building techniques in two languages
  • 10. Literacy Needs of Latino Children
    There is no one picture of the “Latino” child!
    Every Child Ready to Read / Cadaniñolistopara leer
    Reinforce to parents importance of speaking/reading with children in their native language
    Alternative early literacy skill building techniques for low-literacy parents
  • 11. Challenges to Bilingual Storytime
    Staff Buy-In
    Anti-Immigrant Sentiment
  • 12. My Advice?
    Know Your Community!
    Know Your Administration!
    Be An Advocate!
    Don’t Reinvent the Wheel!
  • 13. Thinking about your community
    Who are the Latinos in our community?
    Where are they coming from and why?
    How long have they been here?
    Where do they live?
    How do they exchange information?
    What organizations are helping the Latino community?
    Do the Latinos in our community use the library?
    If no, what barriers are preventing this?
  • 14. Thinking about your administration
    What are the mission, vision, values and strategic goals of your organization?
    How does bilingual storytime align with each of these?
    What is the goal of bilingual storytime and how will you measure its success?
    Outreach? Kindergarten readiness? Inclusive programming?
    Who are your advocacy allies? Who are roadblocks?
    Know what motivates them!
    How can you maximize/minimize their impact?
  • 15. Be an Advocate!
    Always remember, Advocacy Is Not Whining!
    Sell your story
    Invite others to observe or participate in your program
    Turn cultural celebrations into large scale events that the whole library/school can be part of
    Encourage holistic inclusivity of the Latino community in all things your organization does
  • 16. Do Not Reinvent the Wheel!
    Collection – bilingual titles are more bang for your buck than translations
    What does your organization already have that you can modify?
    Drawing stories
    Storytime kits/plans
    What have other bilingual storytime practitioners already done that you can do too?
  • 17. ¡EstoyLista! I’m Ready! So Now What Do I Do?
    Choosing books and planning bilingual storytimes
  • 18. My Approach
    Family storytime format
    Early literacy development
    Math/science skill inclusion
    Books by Latino authors/illustrators
    Traditional folklore and nursery rhymes
    Repetitive and cumulative tales to reinforce specific Spanish vocabulary
    Simple movement songs with motions in the lyrics
  • 19. Matemáticas in bilingual Storytime
    We graphed our amigos during our friendship storytime to explain math concepts such as counting and comparing in a visual way.
  • 20. Common Outline
    Typically a 30 minute program
    Welcome – take time to explain rules and to point out early literacy skills
    Opening Song
    First Book
    Storytelling: Flannelboard, Drawing Story, Creative Dramatic or other technique
    Second Book
    Movement Song
    Third Book
    Closing Song
  • 21. Sample: Snow/Nieve
    Opening Song: “Hola amigo”
    Fingerplay: Five Little Snowman / Habíancincomuñecos de nieve
    Froggy se visteby Jonathan London
    Retell using flannelboard to reinforce clothing vocabulary
    Movement song: “Los niñoscuandobailan”
    Phonological awareness and vocabulary
    El día de nieveby Ezra Jack Keats
    Reinforces narrative skills
    “Disappearing Snowman” cut-and-tell
    Closing Song: “Adiós amigos”
  • 22. What to avoid
    Overly wordy bilingual books
    Books that reinforce stereotypes
    Translated books with awkward word flow
    Books you don’t like
  • 23. Flannelboards
    Folktales and cumulative stories
    The Bossy Gallito
    La Hormiguita
    Stories that reinforce vocabulary
    Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
    Picky Paul
    Eight Animals
    Dog’s Colorful Day
  • 24. Final Thoughts
    Did we cover everything?
  • 25. Final Thoughts
    Available resource lists
    Establishing a Collection to Support Bilingual Storytime: Recommended Books and Music
    Recommended Online and Print Resources
    Taking Storytime Home / Cuentos en casa
    Bilingual Family Storytime Sample Plans:
    Birds / Pájaros
    Friendship / La amistad