Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Before I Explode: Story Time Is About The Unknown

There's an earnest discussion of holiday story times going on at the Storytime Underground Facebook page right now, and I am hearing the usual "Oh, we don't want to offend anybody, so we don't do Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza, we just do winter themes," or some such.

Bad enough. But then you get the dear, sweet librarian who chimes in:
" ... since I do storytime in a place where snow is not really a part of the kids winter experience, I generally stay away from snow stories in the winter."


This is the biggest piece of mishegosse (nonsense to those of you who don't know Yiddish) I have heard in many a year. And I've been a children's librarian for <ulp> 30 years.

It is exactly the opposite of what any children's librarian should be doing!

What is the point of story time, of reading to kids, if not to open up a wider world to them?

I get a constant stream of parents wanting books on moving, on new babies, on going to the doctor or the dentist. Books help children prepare for new experiences.

If I followed this lady's reasoning I would never read about anything at story time but a 4 season climate, since that's what we have here, never do farm books since we are in the city, and pretty much never do anything but books about rich little white kids living in a rich Mid-Atlantic town, with hot and cold running nannies.

Books teach children about places they will never see, cultures they will never experience.
They teach diversity. They teach that despite the fact that we live in many different ways, have different beliefs, different foods, different colors of skin and hair, we all live on one planet.

They teach tolerance. 

They teach that the unknown can be known--and celebrated in all its rich diversity.

 I am so, SO going to do Chanukkah and Christmas, in secular ways. Chinese New Year. Mardi Gras.
If someone wants story times on Eid, or Kwanzaa or Diwali, I'll figure them out. 

I'll read books about deserts. Books about mountains. Books about lions and tigers--and bears.
Books about snow--and if it doesn't snow, we'll make pretend snowmen and throw yarn snow balls!

I am going to bring the world to the kids who come to my story times.

And all I can do is shake my head at "Harvest Festivals" instead of Halloween, the nearly universal kid holiday, people who flee from secular holiday trimmings like Santa Claus, and these sad, sad, CLUELESS people who don't get that most of these holidays come from even older holidays, and are a vital part of the human experience.

It's pathetic. It's sad.
Above all, it's stupid.


  1. I have appreciated your last couple of blog posts in response to Storytime Underground discussions. It's encouraging to know common sense lives on in at least some corners of the story time world!

  2. Thanks, Katie--I was beginning to think it was just me :D
    I did comment--though not on the snow thing--earlier this evening, and now I think I will quietly ignore the page for a few days. Better for my blood pressure, probably!

  3. I appreciate your point about opening up a wider world to kids through books.


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