Sunday, November 27, 2016

Mindfully Thankful and not Thanksgiving

How We Said Thank You
 Family Story Time @ Thanksgiving Time

Thanksgiving story time has presented a problem for me for all 28 years in children's library services. I have been blessed with supervisors who recognize the changing world and the often narrow path we walk in the children's departments of public libraries.  Mind you we walk these paths with open arms.  

The majority of time our fall story time session ends 2 weeks prior to Thanksgiving.  This purposeful pause in programming allows approximately 29 holidays to pass before we resume programming in mid January.  It's a long break but we do offer a variety of specials throughout this time. Think: Family Game Day, Lego Play, Pop-Up Art, Yoga for Two, Calm Coloring...these specials "mix it up" for families and staff.  It's a nice change of pace and no focus on any holiday.


Working in a richly diverse community with more than 60 languages spoken in our neighborhood I do not ever wish to make a family or a child unwelcome or uncomfortable in the library.  This is their library.  
This year our library system has been playing with the Children's schedule - with all good intentions.  We are trying to find the right recipe for children and family programming for three different buildings, three different communities  And we'll get there. But in the mean time...Monday night's Prime Time with Piper met on Nov 21 and I did not do a Thanksgiving story.  Nope.  Turkey craft?  Never.  This book? No.

The majority of parents attending are foreign born.  Their beautiful children are first generation Americans.  Our relationship is built on trust.  They trust their preschoolers with my silliness, my off-key singing and my book selections. I trust they will do the good work of reading, singing and playing until I see them again. Our early literacy program is not the place for a lesson on America's treatment of indigenous people.  It is also not the place for me to mislead these families with a tale of  the 1621 first Thanksgiving, Myles Standish, the pilgrims and the Wampanoags.  My respect for First/Native Nations and for the library families will not allow me to do that.  No way.  

So what did we do?  We learned to say Thank You in sign language.  Here's a link.  We learned to make the heart shape with our hands.  We read a book about caring for our family. We shared a story of filling our heart with happiness and being ever-so-grateful for that happiness. We danced to a hip-hop version of If You're Happy and You Know It.  

And then we moved to the craft table and mindfully created collage hearts with torn pieces of origami paper.  As I glued my pieces I voiced: I am thankful for my family, my library friends, good books, good food, ice cream, my Piper dog, the beach, the warm sun.  Yep.  That worked for me.  Beautiful hearts, beautiful children and multi-lingual parents silently signed thank you.  And they all had hugs for Piper!  

This post, How I Learned to Savor Thanksgiving by Meteor Blade, has helped me both understand the history and maintain my love of family/food gatherings each fall. 
I like having deep conversations on ideas often held in conflict.  Children's books place me there.  Loving a story that has horrible reviews or not liking a book that everyone loves, problematic characters bring about amazing conversations.  Talk to me - we'll both learn.  But Thanksgiving with three year olds - I will trust their parents to tell them what they wish.  Older children, proper books and we can talk truth.  

P.S.(Piper Script) Hopefully next year we won't have a program on top of Thanksgiving.  

Thanks for reading.  We love your comments 
~ Jane and Piper


1 comment:

  1. Beautiful hearts and beautiful people, this is our community. Love it :)


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