Monday, May 4, 2015

Rhymes Around the World: A Día Celebration

The village my library serves is remarkably diverse. It's been that way for decades, with large community initiatives like the Festival of Cultures and Coming Together in Skokie and Niles Township meant to celebrate and explore that diversity on a continual basis. In putting together my first Día program since coming to this library, I wanted to do my best to help the diversity of our community show through in a Día program. My attempt at this goal was Rhymes Around the World.

(photo by Skokie Public Library,
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Rhymes Around the World was a 30-minute storytime-style program that took place smack dab in the middle of the preschool area of the youth department. I intentionally opted to do the program in an open space (as opposed to in a program room) so that anyone who happened to be in the library on our program morning would be able to join in, even if just for a few minutes. As part of my planning process, I sent out a call to many of the library's contacts within cultural community groups in the village; these are groups the library has had working relationships with, and who are huge supporters of the library. The invitation: to share favorite nursery rhymes and/or songs with the program attendees, and in so doing help celebrate the culture of literacy and love for children that transcends languages and backgrounds.

During the actual program last Thursday, we had nearly 50 kids and caregivers participating throughout the program. Many of these caregivers said they came to the library for a play outing but were pleasantly surprised to be able to join in a program. (A handful said they particularly liked the out-in-the-open setting for the program, as it made them feel less self-conscious about kids whose attentions waver in enclosed settings.)

(photo by Skokie Public Library,
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

These ~50 folks enjoyed songs and rhymes in English, French, Spanish, and Urdu, with lots of caregivers chiming in to offer their children's own favorite rhymes and songs with the group. For a relatively informal event--people could come and go as they pleased--I was struck by the successful simplicity of it all: caregivers to passionate about teaching and celebrating their children; children captivated by rhymes they knew as well as rhymes the were hearing for the first time; and an overarching sense that our community shares a value for supporting young children that is not bounded by lines of culture or ethnicity.

(photo by Skokie Public Library,
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

I wrapped up the program with a resonating thought: that a community rich in cultural diversity can offer something truly great to all the children we serve when we share and celebrate our literary heritages.

I hope you had a successful Día celebration of your own!

(photo by Skokie Public Library,
CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

2 comments:

  1. I noticed that one of the parents had a piece of paper in the picture - did you have the people who shared the rhymes from around the world send them in ahead of time so you could make a rhyme-along sheet?

    Thanks!

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  2. I prepared a brief handout with an English, French, and Spanish rhyme, and the women who came to share a rhyme from our Ismaili Muslim community brought their own handout as well. I didn't coordinate rhyme sheets before the event, but it's something that I might consider for next time. However, I did like the informal aspect where any participant could share a rhyme with the group regardless of whether they had planned to ahead of time.

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