One of the biggest challenges that I hear when it comes to bilingual storytimes is “I don’t know a second language, so I can’t offer it at my library”. While it is harder to present a bilingual storytime when you’re not bilingual, it isn’t impossible. I often let monolingual colleagues know that there are several different ways to engage your bilingual patrons without having to learn a whole new language.
Sprinkle Some Spanish
One of the easier ways to engage your Spanish speaking audience is by sprinkling some Spanish words into your storytime. This could be as simple as reading a book that has a few Spanish words, interacting with the audience by asking “what is the Spanish word for…” or even using a CD with the Spanish version of one of your storytime songs. Most popular children songs are translated into Spanish and since the tune is the same, it will be easier to follow along even if you don’t know all the words. Even just saying “Hola” at the beginning of your hello song can be a welcomed addition.
Keep in mind that just because you sprinkle a few Spanish words here and there, that unless you are fluently bilingual or presenting with someone who is then you can’t really call it a bilingual storytime, but it is still a great opportunity to engage your Spanish speaking community.
Here are some sprinkle Spanish books that I would recommend. Most of these authors have several books that only have some Spanish. If you know of any others, please write them in the comments:
Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla
Niño Wrestles the World by Yuyi Morales —
Oh No, Gotta Go! by Susan Middleton Elya
Green is a Chili Pepper by Roseanne Greenfield Thong
How Do you Say? ¿Como Se Dice? by Angela Dominguez
Marta! Big & Small by Angela Dominguez
Get Some Help From Bilingual Staff or Volunteers
Bilingual paraprofessional and clerical staff can truly be a blessing. If possible, you can get a bilingual staff member to help you present the storytime with you. There a couple different formats that you can use if you have someone else helping you.
Another option is to recruit a bilingual volunteer. Many adults or even teens are more than happy to help conduct a bilingual storytime and it can often be a great opportunity to try and recruit some of the parents and caregivers who often bring their children to the library.