My girl is finally at an age (2.6) where she can manage to sit still long enough to be read a book. I was always jealous of moms who could sit with their baby or toddler and go through a book without having it fly across the room or be torn, chewed on or otherwise destroyed. We couldn´t even really enjoy storytime at our local libraries because there was just no sitting still for Camila. Running, screaming, snacks in the air is not what storytime is about.
Now that we´re ready to join the storytiming crowd, I´m trying to find a bilingual, English/Spanish, one at our libraries and it´s not an easy task. So, I´ve decided to take matters into my own hands, my own very full hands, and start my own. I mean, if I dish the advice I have to be accountable for it as well, right?
So, this is me telling you that you will all now hold me accountable for this goal of starting a Spanish-language storytime in one of my local libraries. Not only will you help me stay true to my goal, but maybe you´ll also be inspired by the process and want to start your own, or maybe you´ve already been there, done that and can dish out some much-needed advice to the rest of us.
This is my to-do list to start a Spanish-language storytime:
#1. Choose and contact a public library or major bookstore
Yes, major bookstores also have designated areas for storytimes and most of them will be thrilled to help you organize a storytime in Spanish. For them it means that you will help them bring in more people that could potentially buy their Spanish catalouge. For you, it means a nice and recognizable place to gather your friends and meet new ones.
We strongly suggest contacting your public library and talking to the events coordinator. They will be happy to help you figure out a good day and time when their space is available. They might even be able to help you find a storyteller, or they might have a bilingual librarian in staff. Another plus is that they usually have a much larger inventory of Spanish-language books and media than the bookstores do.
#2. Choose a Storyteller
I know I can´t organize, bring my girl and do the reading myself. She´s just not that ready to share me with the world, yet. So, I´ve been talking to friends and trying to find the right person to lead the storytime. Ideally, I want to find someone who has experience with children and who can also incorporate a bit of música en español into the mix to make it a livelier event.
#3. Pick a theme
This is not absolutely necessary, but I think it makes it more fun for the kids if there´s a theme for every storytime. This will depend on it´s recurrence (weekly, bi-weekly, monthly) and can easily be adapted to that month´s festivities. You can also choose to focus on a different Spanish-speaking country or their cultural traditions. In La Tiendita you can find plenty of titles to serve you as inspiration.
#4. Spread the word
A big part of our job as storytime organizers is to promote it and bring in a good crowd to make our hosts happy. Both your library and the bookstore usually have a mailing list and a calendar of events through which the storytime will be promoted. Work with them to create a well-written and attractive bilingual flyer or note which includes all the details. You can also send this to your friends and local online groups you belong to.
Now that I´m clear on what I need to do, there´s no excuse for my procrastination. I´ve already talked to several moms who are very, very interested and I know one of the libraries is on board. I´m glad I wrote it down and shared it with you because now it seems much less daunting of a task!
We know reading in the minority language and immersing our kids in it through fun and meaningful activities are one of the most effective ways to raise bilinguals. A public bilingual storytime is an enriching activity that should be part of every child´s life. I´m making sure my girl gets hers.
Do you have any suggestions to help me reach my goal?
You know, that is a great idea! I also have trouble finding a Spansih story time in my area…I don’t know why I never thought of organizing one myself. I mean, I started a Spanish class for preschoolers with my local mom’s club (and it has been a great success), why not start a Spanish Story time in the area? (Like I need to add more to my schedule? But for my nenes, soy capaz de cualquier cosa!)
Thanks for the idea.
.-= Lisa Renata´s last blog ..snow :: nieve =-.
Let me know if you do and we can motivate each other to keep it going. I’ll update as soon as we have it set up.
I faced the same problem when my oldest son was about that age and I wanted to take him to storytime like all the other moms but refused to go to an English one because I knew Spanish was going to be an uphill battle for us. So, I went to the library and with one of my good friends (and fellow Spanish speaker/mom) started one. My son was pretty mellow and it was doable for me to have him along and lead at the same time. I’d be happy to share more info if you want feedback. Best of luck!
Thanks for sharing that, Maria. How often did you have it? Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly?
How did you choose the books to read?
I had it once per week, about 45 min- 1 hour per week. I would read three stories, sing three songs (which I tried to either tie in to what we were reading and/or have lots of movement or actions so the kids could follow along), and play a couple easy games. Once I saw what my audience was going to be on an average day I tried to have a mix of one very easy book at the beginning ( for the little ones) and then the last two got a little more complex. I tried to have at least one that was fun/funny, and one that went over some basic concepts such as colors, numbers, sizes, and one that was just a greast story. Hope that helps!
Hehehe! I had to laugh when I started reading your post because my daughter’s name is also Camilla and we also CANNOT sit through a book in english (with my husband) or spanish (with me) Great suggestions and thanks for the article!
So you also have an extremely high energy Camila in your life? We’re hermanas now!! LOL!
I talked to my local librarians a while back to ask about volunteering to do a bilingual story time and they told me that I could volunteer but to do the reading I actually had to be a librarian. Apparently it takes alot of skill to read a book to 2 year olds. I got discouraged and didn’t try anywhere again but your right, other places like coffee houses have story times and I should try there.
I participated as a storyteller when I worked in Miami. We did a storytelling festival once a year, put on by teachers, and organized by the school librarian. Thousands of kids were bussed in to view the performances. We performed 4-5 per day fo one week after the state-wide assessments. Every year there was a different theme and the stories were told in Spanish, English, and one we did Bilingually. That one was called The Bilingual Wedding about a vegetable garden wedding. When I moved to Chicago I would travel back to Florida because these storytelling festivals were so much fun. If I get a chance I’ll post a clip onto utube so you can see. The years I participated I contributed songs, sign language, and dances to the performances. I’ll post so you can see. If I was going to offer read-aloud sessions in the library/or bookstores I would still include (thematic stories) and include songs that go with the themes, sing/sign, and a little movement.
Cuidado Ana… that is how my business got started!! Just kidding! What a wonderful idea and I am positive you will get TONS of interest! Everyone loves free events, so once you get a location, post some flyers in local mom hangouts and mom forums, and you will have a huge following in no time! Sounds like you are right on track with picking themes and making it interactive. There are so many rich stories that can be integrated with music, movement, hands on activities ( little ones LOVE feltboard activities), etc. Let me know if you need any thematic ideas. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you!
So… Tell us about your progress this far. It’s only been a month, but are there any updates?
This is embarrassing, but NO! No progress yet. Still in my to-do list, and still so ready to attack it. But, the list of excuses is longer: new house, work, etc…
Thanks for asking me and keeping me honest because this is something I really, really want to do.
Can you believe there is no Spanish storytime in New York City either? I mean, you would think with all the hispanics here you would have at least 1 branch offering some Spanish program but no. And I believe you do have to be a librarian to conduct the storytime so I will have to ask around to see if they will start one. It is still puzzling to me, though, as it shows me not too many people in my area (of mostly hispanics) are interested. Most people I know would rather leave their children’s education to preschools and schools.
I AM SO GLAD TO HEAR THAT THERE IS SO MUCH INTEREST FOR SPANISH STORY TIMES.
I AM AN EDUCATOR THAT HAVE CLASSES IN SPANISH IN NJ FOR LITTLE KIDS AND HAD ALSO PROVIDE MY SERVICES AS A STORY TELLER AND DONE EVENTS LIKE CINCO DE MAYO OR STORY TIMES WITH DANCE AND MUSIC AT LIBRARIES AND BOOKK STORES .
RIGHT NOW I AM AT THE ” MONTCLAIR MUSEUM OF ART” THEY HAVE ME DOING SPANISH STORY TIME AND IS SO MUCH FUN.
WE HAVE A NICE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE ATTENDING, BUT I HOPE TO SEE MORE LITTLE FACES AT THE MUSEUM AND/OR MY CLASSES
Please feel free to share all your contact info and information on your classes via our forums so it can be easily be found by local NJ area readers. I´m sure many will be thrilled to find you!
.-= Ana Lilian´s last blog ..Your Story: A Generation of Bilingual Homeschoolers =-.
I am organizing our first bilingual storytime at a library in 3 weeks. My city wanted us to pay! We went to a neighboring city instead! Any ideas on a welcome song with names?
Inspiring! I am leading my first bilingual story time next Monday for Birth to Three. It took a lot of calling around before any library accepted my offer. I’ve passed along the word to my playgroup…so we’ll see about the turnout. Hopefully my 10 month old will be okay sharing Mami.