Pam from An Unconventional Librarian wears a lot of hats; Mother, Librarian, Life of the Party. I’m so grateful that the amazing Pammy Pam was able to celebrate The Week of the Young Child with me, and share how she first started celebrating her young children through their mutual love of stories!
I have two kids. Number One Son is almost 20 and Pumpkin is 15. It’s hard to believe they are as old as they are because it seemed like just last week they were toddlers. You can imagine that I’ve always read to my kids; books have been an integral part of their upbringing. Even as a young mother, I knew it was important for my children to have role models of the same color in the books we read together. In the 90’s, I tried African folk stories. The kids couldn’t relate, although #1 found the word Zimbabwe really funny.
Still lacking African American role models in children’s literature, I turned to books with animals. Animals appeal to everyone, and while some adults don’t like the idea, children relate to animals. One such book is part of the Little Critter series: Just Go To Bed, by Mercer Mayer. Both of my children could relate to Little Critter because they often drug out their bedtime routines.
Another favorite book we shared together was a book I adored as a child: Free to Be You and Me. When you read it today, the book’s ideals of tolerance and pluralism are dated, but my children still loved many of the same short stories I enjoyed. As an added bonus, I purchased a DVD and we all sang along to “Mommies are People” sung by Marlo Thomas and Harry Belafonte and “When I Grow Up” sung by Roberta Flack and a very young Michael Jackson. I was thrilled that we could enjoy these resources together, even if it did seem odd that the short stories told boys it was OK to play with dolls which the kids thought was a “no brainer”.
Another resource the kids and I shared together was African American learning cards. Each card contains a photo and bio of famous African Americans.
There’s Alex Haley, Wilma Rudolph, Martin Luther King Jr, and Barbara Jordan to name a few. Do you see that woman pictured in the top row, middle? That’s Shirley Chisholm, the politician. I told Pumpkin that it was her grandmother, aka Grandma Sharon, because their initials were exactly the same. And since Pumpkin was just learning her letters, she believed me.
I also told Pumpkin that chocolate chip cookies were liver and onion cookies. And that my stepmother, Grandma Helen, was a leprechaun. So…celebrate your young child; whatever you like, they’ll prolly like it to!
Pam has a Masters in Library and Information Science and is certified as a Library Media Specialist (K-12) and in Elementary Education (K-6). She has experience as an educator, researching, designing, and implementing curriculum materials. She is active in many online forums including Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and LinkedIn. She loves books, social media, and can almost always be found with a book, a cup of coffee and her iPhone. She can be reached at [email protected] or through her book review blog An Unconventional Librarian