6 SOCIAL JUSTICE AT STORYTIME Why push an “agenda” of social justice into young minds?, Storytime is a time for fun, not political issues in society, and on and on. But as we look at storytime for what it is and social justice topics for what they are, this is not only the perfect time to present topics of social justice, but the perfect place. This is storytime equity, and it ensures that children have the freedom and support to successfully form relationships and ideas about their environment by treating everyone justly. We will discuss storytime equity a little more in Chapter 6, where we talk about embracing our community. Social justice at storytime allows for titles and topics to be presented that can result in antibias and culturally sensitive learning. The stories and engagement speak to the ways in which people are both different and the same, which helps people appreciate individual and group identity. This is also why representation in picture books is important. Representation is who the story is about or who is telling the story. When children see char- acters in books that look like them or their friends or family, it engages them more. This is promoting social inclusion! In storytime, issues of fair- ness and unfairness are intentionally introduced to develop the skill to think critically and to take action. Children and their caregivers can learn about other children’s families and/or cultural identities and begin to take the perspective of and empathize with others from diverse backgrounds and cultures. For this reason, there is a need for diverse multicultural books and music and their use during storytime. Children begin to understand social and ethical norms for behavior, which is social awareness. Even more, they become socially conscious, because they begin to see how they are a part of society, therefore unifying them, which ultimately prompts collabo- ration, communication, and social responsibility. As we go further into the process of storytime, we will discuss how play and exploration are a part of this collaboration time and build positive interactions and social develop- ment, thus inspiring safe spaces (Positive Action Staff, 2020). Creating safe and/or brave spaces brings about a way to be inclusive of all groups of people living in the community. While we do address the point that embracing your community is a way to promote visibility in storytime, it is imperative to be able to empathize and dispel negative biases in order to include all members of the community. The more social justice topics are included in storytime, the more self- and social aware- ness is developed, which helps children to understand how they fit into the world as well as what they can contribute to the community, all while pro- cessing how to get what they need from the world around them. Some would call this “finding themselves.” Again, this is emotional intelligence,
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