I was one of the librarians at the Urban Librarians Unite Protest Storytime yesterday, at the New York City Keeping Families Together protest. Our reasoning: we can’t read to the kids who are separated from their families, but we sure as heck can read books on empathy, diversity, and refugees/immigrants/migrants to the many, many families that participated in the protest. Books we read included Faith Ringgold’s We Came to America, Justin Roberts’ The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade, Rachel Isadora’s Say Hello, Anne Sibley O’Brien’s I’m New Here, and Humans of New York Brandon Stanton’s Little Humans.
Reading Faith Ringgold’s We Came to America
We held the first storytime at Foley Square, gathering spot for the protest. As the crowd started moving, we packed up and headed to Brooklyn, settling in for the rally at Cadman Plaza and holding another storytime. Parents sat down with their kids in the shade, listened to stories and songs, and thanked us for the break.
As Lauren said, “When kids don’t have access to a normal life, even storytime is a radical act.” We were reading books to children that empower them and remind them that immigrants are what America’s built on, and to always be welcoming and share with others. You know, the kind of stuff you’re supposed to learn from adults.
We even garnered a mention in School Library Journal, which is amazing. When you’re standing with Christian and Lauren, you realize the immensity of a situation; I’m flattered, thrilled, and blown away to call them my colleagues, and to have been invited to be part of this event.