Starting a Spanish Language Storytime

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Photo by Mykaul

Photo by Mykaul

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?

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