10 SOCIAL JUSTICE AT STORYTIME groups. This commitment would afford people the opportunity to experi- ence life with dignity and respect, to have hope, and to see themselves as able to excel in anything they set their minds to. As the work of social jus- tice continues, it is embedded in everything we do today. Including social justice themes during storytime involves taking the existing best practices for presenting storytimes that youth librarians and early literacy educators are experienced in and shifting them to a social justice perspective. By making social justice a part of their storytimes, professionals can introduce children and caregivers to topical subjects in a way that is age appropriate, while promoting the ideas of equity, diver- sity, and inclusion. Earlier studies suggest that infusing social justice in such settings exposes people to broader concepts of community. Further- more, by “regularly revisiting social justice issues as they exist and emerge,” children and their caregivers will stay connected to these com- munity concepts (Christman, 2010). In addition to staying connected to communities by embedding social justice topics into early literacy cur- riculum and storytime, it is equally important to be intentional about cre- ating opportunities for children to positively express themselves and cooperate with others through engagement and play as part of the exten- sion segment of storytime. In the next few sections, we will discuss what including social justice themes in early literacy does to help foster per- sonal and social development while at the same time promoting unity and community empowerment. FOSTER POSITIVE PERSONAL AND SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT Now that we have been introduced to what social justice is, some reasons it should be embedded in early learning and storytime, and how that can be done, we will unpack some of these layers to further demonstrate why it is important to embed social justice themes into children’s programs such as storytime. Social justice can be viewed as an ingredient that guides indi- viduals to develop positive interactions and experiences with one another in a group or organization. It creates positive self- and social awareness, which is believed to lead to good social development. Social development is that process by which individuals learn to interact with others around them. It generally takes place in childhood by introduction to The Six Pillars of Character® (CHARACTER COUNTS!®, 1992), which are: Trustworthiness Respect
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