Let’s Talk About Race in Storytimes (Paperback)

Let’s Talk About Race in Storytimes By Jessica Anne Bratt Cover Image
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Foreword by Kirby McCurtis

With the help of this book’s adaptable storytime activities, tools for self-reflection, and discussion starters, children’s librarians will learn how to put anti-racism work into their professional practice while fostering an environment that celebrates all identities.

As the weekly lists of best-sellers demonstrate, many people want to engage with racial issues. But when it comes to talking about race, they often don’t know how or are hesitant to take the first steps. This includes children's librarians, who are taking seriously our profession’s calls for diversity, equity, and inclusion. They already know that popular storytimes can be an effective way to increase community representation and belonging at the library. Incorporating race into storytimes is an ideal way to foster inclusion by normalizing conversations about these issues. This book will help public and school librarians face their own biases, showing them how to have honest discussions with children, their caregivers, and storytime attendees, as well as their colleagues. In this book, you will discover

  • several ready-to-use library storytimes that incorporate racial themes, complete with sample activities and booklists;
  • an anti-oppression framework, based on the author’s own real-world practice, that is customizable for different settings and situations;
  • concrete suggestions for overcoming fears and awkwardness when it comes to talking about race, with advice on practicing new language, making space to connect around appropriate cultural books for read alouds, and evaluating books for storytime;
  • interactive self-reflecting worksheets which explore planning picture book introductions and songs for inclusive storytimes, providing age-appropriate glimpses into history, and suggested affirmations in describing skin tone, hair, and language;
  • advocacy talking points centered on social justice that will encourage discussion with co-workers and other library staff; and
  • guidance on community engagement, relationship building, and intentionally trying to diversify your world in order to truly become an anti-bias practitioner.

About the Author

Jessica Anne Bratt is the Director of Community Engagement and Outreach at the Grand Rapids Public Library. She was named a Library Journal Mover & Shaker in 2016. She leads facilitations around how to have productive conversations about race in storytime. While she could tell you all the ways she is involved in Libraryland—she will tell you that the coolest millennial thing for her was when MTV reached out for an interview. She was recently featured on the national radio program The Takeaway with Tanzina Vega. When not on the local news trying to convince the world to give libraries a try, she is experiencing her newest adventure: motherhood. Or reading fan fiction.

Praise For…

"This book is a great guide for any librarian who is looking to create more diverse and inclusive storytimes at their libraries but don’t know where to start. While other guides of this kind might have got bogged down in teaching the reader everything that they need to know about E/D/I work, Bratt keeps this text laser focused on the practical application of celebrating difference and making race explicit when working with pre-readers and their caregivers ... I highly encourage anyone who leads storytimes at their library to consider adding this (quick) read to their upcoming professional development plans."
— Intellectual Freedom Blog

"At turns moving and instructive, this is a powerful examination of how to integrate anti-racist ideas and conversations into the most foundational of library services: storytime. Bratt’s personal experiences and recent events that inspired the Black Lives Matter movement provide a backdrop. She takes time to outline the ways in which equity, diversity, and inclusion can give value to a storytime ... Throughout, Bratt provides texts, thorough reference lists, and myriad resources for librarians and educators seeking to not only provide more inclusion in their work but to encourage parents to do the same at home. This text will be incredibly useful for children’s librarians, teachers, and parents looking to provide a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive education for the children they serve."
— Booklist

"Balanced with research and rationale that supports why talking about race with young children is important, Bratt provides practical, easy-to-implement methods to get any storyteller started ... Drawing from her own research in antibias early education practices, Bratt’s book is about so much more than storytimes: the chapters build upon each other, leading readers through understanding racial differences and systemic racism’s negative impacts on nondominant groups, examining the negative impact on a pervasive dominant culture in library spaces, and moving beyond allyhood and becoming changemakers."
— School Library Journal (starred review)

Product Details
ISBN: 9780838937891
ISBN-10: 0838937896
Publisher: ALA Editions
Publication Date: January 17th, 2022
Pages: 112
Language: English