Incorporating Intellectual Freedom and Information Literacy into Programming

Author photo: Meagan AlbrightAuthor photo: Ashley J. BrownMeagan Albright is a Youth Services Librarian III at the Nova Southeastern University Alvin Sherman Library, Research and Information Technology Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Ashley J. Brown is an Engagement and Outreach Librarian at Auburn (AL) Public Library. Both have served on the ALSC Intellectual Freedom Committee.

Raising awareness of intellectual freedom and information literacy is important, and not just during Banned Books Week. Just like sneaking healthy food into a kid’s meal, these techniques for incorporating these topics will enrich the work you already do as a librarian without disrupting your programming routine. (Note: see sidebar on the next page for ready-made program ideas).

Here are some tips for incorporating the topic during storytimes.

  • Invite a co-storyteller to read a dual point of view story with you to model different points of view during storytime. Example: Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein.
  • Include a display of different versions of the same story and encourage families to compare and contrast the books when reading them at home.
  • Tell parents about ALSC’s Notable Children’s Digital Media lists and talk about trusted online sources. www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/notalists/ncdm.
  • Include some of the suggested books below in another storytime. For example, if you are doing a storytime about birds, read Mac Barnett’s Telephone or include it in your book display.
  • Informally chat with parents and caregivers at the end of storytime about choosing books for and with their children. Not every book is for every reader or family, and that’s okay.
  • Pair fiction books with nonfiction books to offer a choice between reading for knowledge and reading for pleasure.
  • Allow children to choose a book that may, on its face, be considered too “difficult” for them to read. Use this opportunity to incorporate literacy by doing a picture walk, which encourages readers to use pictures as clues to understand the story. Begin with looking at the front cover and asking what they think the story will be about. As you flip through the pages, prompt a discussion by using guided questions like, “What is happening in this picture?” and “How do you think the character feels?” Allow children to use their imagination as they narrate the story.
  • Sometimes the best way to start a conversation is by defining the topic. Address the adults at storytime and share this definition from ALA: “Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information” (https://literacy.ala.org/information-literacy). &


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