Meinders Community Library Receives Bilingual Storytime Grant
On March 1, the well-known version of the Tuesday story hour at the Meinders Community Library will resume. At 10:30 a.m., preschoolers are invited along with their caregivers to a 30-minute storytime session with children’s librarian Emily Blaeser. After receiving a $5,000 grant from the Southwest Initiative Foundation and $1,500 from Friends of the Pipestone Area Library, Meinders staff decided to launch an eight-week program on March 29 in which the Storytime will evolve into something Library Director Jody Wacker said. has been in the works for four years: Bilingual Storytime.
The idea, Wacker said, came from a conversation between herself and her longtime friend Laurie Fruechte, a language pathologist at Pipestone Area Schools (PAS).
“We were talking once about how we’re not using the skills that people have when they come to us,” Wacker said. “We have these beautiful children who are multilingual, they come to us speaking Spanish. We insist that they communicate in English, and we have to do it in a certain way because you cannot go to school without learning the language spoken at your school.
These children, Wacker said, are natural translators, most of them already translating for other PAS students who speak Spanish as their first language.
“We tell these kids, you have to speak English (at school) because we don’t understand you and we inhibit that natural bilingualism that kids in this situation have,” she said. “And then when they get to high school, we tell all of our kids that now you have to learn a second language. Here we have these kids who are ready-made translators already, and there are jobs everywhere for that.
Wacker’s goal is to show bilingual children in PAS and Pipestone County the amazing gift they already have, which they can share with the people around them, using their natural skills for the eight-week bilingual storytime program.
The programs will have a similar format to classic story time, but children will be read by two bilingual seniors at PAS alongside Blaeser, giving Spanish-speaking children the opportunity to hear the story in their native language and encouraging also young Anglophones. to learn a second language.
The books, Wacker said, will be printed in English and Spanish and will be available to the public for checkout. The bilingual portion of story time will begin at 9:30 a.m. and at 10 a.m. parents are invited to meet in a separate space to talk about topics important to parents, such as community resources, child development and other important questions for navigating life as a parent.
Translation services will be provided to help Spanish-speaking and English-speaking caregivers break down communication barriers, which Wacker says is the goal of the program. At 10:30 a.m., the traditional story time will resume. The whole program, Wacker said, is a chance for community members from diverse backgrounds to feel comfortable and get to know each other while breaking through communication barriers.
“It’s an opportunity to learn and experiment,” Wacker said. “Now is the time to get comfortable. To soften this language barrier is very important to me, so that people can see people. All members of the community, we are in the same boat, raising our children together.