Children’s Hanukkah Craft and Story Time

YS December 2014 130In my quest to support diversity at our branch, I did something we’ve never done before: a Hanukkah Craft and Story Time. After all, if we offer a Christmas Craft & Story Time, we should do one for Hanukkah too!

Supplies:

  • Popsicle sticks
  • Washable markers
  • Stickers
  • Adhesive jewels, stickers, etc.

I started off by asking the kids what they knew about Hanukkah (since we had some curious, non-Jewish kids in the group). This gave me a chance to gauge their understanding and introduce them to the basics (Menorahs, the Maccabees, Latkes, etc.) Then I let the kiddos choose which story they wanted to read. This year, they decided on Hoppy Hanukkah by Linda Glaser.

This image was borrowed from Amazon.com

This image was borrowed from Amazon.com

Afterwards, I turned the kids loose to make our craft: Star of David ornaments that they could hang around their homes or on their tree (for interfaith families).

YS December 2014 119

YS December 2014 115

Next year, I think I’d like to go even bigger: bring in some gelt, bake some latkes, etc. Otherwise, it was a successful program and everyone had a great time.

YS December 2014 128

Drive-in-Movie: Polar Express

Movies are always a big hit at the library but, sometimes, you need to do something different to break up your routine. This month, we decided to host a “Drive-in-Movie” where our kids could decorate a sleigh to sit in while they watched Polar Express.

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To make the sleighs, we used old cardboard boxes left over from our quarterly FOL book sale. Our teen volunteers used box cutters to create “curvy” shapes and presto! Insta-sleigh.¬†To keep this activity organized, we assembled all the pieces “buffet” style. That way, each child could gather his or her supplies and take their sleigh away to work on it.

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The kids had an absolutely fantastic time. There was glitter, tape, and wrapping paper everywhere! But the mess was half the fun. ūüôā Once the sleighs were built, our kids picked a cozy spot to sit and snuggled up with some popcorn to watch the movie.

In total, we had 25 kids and 12 parents at this event – not too bad for a Wednesday afternoon! We’ll be bringing this one back next year.

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Teen Holiday Display: Tradition Tree

For my December Teen Display, I wanted to do something inclusive and festive. So I decided to create a “Tradition Tree” and put it up in the Teen Section. I created book ornaments using our Ellison Die Cut Machine. I also hung Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa banners in the windows, along with correlating fiction titles. Then I invited our teens to write down their favorite holiday traditions and place them on our tree.

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So far, this has been a really great passive program. In the first two days alone, ten teenagers have hung ornaments on our tree! I like this display because it celebrates the diversity of our traditions, rather than a generic “happy holidays.” Individually unique, together complete. ūüôā Here’s to the holidays!

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We Need Diverse Books: The YA Holiday Edition

IMG_2895I was one of those kids who got bullied/excluded when I was little, which means, as an adult, I have a minor obsession with making sure everyone feels included.

So I was determined this holiday season to incorporate not just Christmas books but Hanukkah and Kwanzaa titles into my book display.

Surely, I thought, there would be a bevy of titles I could incorporate. After all, we have an unholy amount of picture books on the subject. There just had to be titles for teens as well, right?

Wrong.

After countless hours of searching the Internet, pestering Facebook friends, authors, and so on, I realized that there’s next to nothing available for non-Christian teens during the holidays.

It was baffling. I mean, it’s 2014 for goodness’ sake. But after sifting through dozens of (admittedly lovely) holiday titles, I only found two¬†non-Christmas titles for teens: one for Hanukkah and one for Kwanzaa. I ended up having to add two middle grade titles – The Latke Who Couldn’t Stop Screaming and Feast of Lights –¬†to my display¬†just to balance things out.

Now I get it. We all have cultural biases. But we need to work to overcome those biases so no one is left out. Teens, just like children, need to see themselves and their traditions represented in the books they read. And diversity in books isn’t just something¬†for our little ones: our middle and high schoolers need it as well.

So to all my author friends: Gimme some YA Hanukkah and Kwanzaa books. Stat.

For everyone else, here are the two diverse YA holiday titles I ended up going with:

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My True Love Gave to Me: 12 Holiday Stories

A beautiful, well thought out, much-needed addition to the YA holiday marketplace.¬†As the publisher states, “Whether you celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa, there’s something here for everyone.”

 

 

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Listen for the Fig Tree by Sharon Belle Mathis

An older yet moving YA novel about a blind sixteen year-old, Muffin Johnson, who struggles with an alcoholic mother. Muffin is trying to find light in her dark world and Kwanzaa plays a role in that quest.

 

Any diverse YA holiday titles I’ve missed? Help a librarian out. Post them in the comments section below. Thanks and Happy Chrismakwanzikkah!