Saturday, August 03, 2013

Body-Positive Self-Esteem Storytime

This is a very quick blog post started by a conversation on Twitter. MagpieLibrarian (aka Ingrid) whom I've never met, but I saw once at ALA and was too shy to say hi, put up a very cool body-positive display in her tween/teen area. You can read all about it here. Also apparently, I am the only person who is hyphenating body positive so I'll stop that.

Then I mentioned that I used to do body positive/self-esteem storytimes as part of my regular rotation of storytimes. There's a million studies out there about negative self-esteem, especially in girls, and how young it starts. We've all seen the articles about the sexualization of Strawberry Shortcake and even My Little Pony. If the marketers are starting that early, anyone who wants to be on the other side of this fight should too. Lest the parents believe I'm pushing an agenda, I call it "I Like Me" storytime.

I first got the idea for this story from Nancy Carlson's classic book I Like Me where a vivacious pig lists all the things she likes about herself including her round little tummy. She lists all the great stuff she can do, including ride her bike fast, how she keeps trying after she makes a mistake, and the ways she takes care of herself. But my favorite page is where the pig in her pajamas (admittedly a retro baby doll pajama set but not at all a sexualized look) greets herself every morning with "Hi, good-looking!" It usually makes all the moms laugh, but that is in the tone of voice you read, I camp it up.

There are a whole host of great books available for preschoolers to do a storytime. Many of them are short enough that it is possible (I've done it) to use as a lapsit/toddler program. I'm publishing my list from the last time I did this storytime in 2011. And even then I remember not putting all the books in the packet. Clearly we read 3-4 books at storytime, but we made packets for the entire system that had more books so each librarian could choose their favorites.

While I try to keep up with children's literature, I've fallen a bit behind on picture books since I'm now a branch manager. Please comment on if you know any more.

Possible Picture Books to use:
Incredible Me by Kathi Appelt
I Like Myself! by Karen Beaumont
Nobody Laughs at a Lion by Paul Bright
I Like Me by Nancy Carlson
I'm Gonna Like Me by Jamie Lee Curtis
Alfred's Nose by Vivienne Flescher
Dog Eared by Amanda Harvey
Happy to Be Nappy by Bell Hooks
Leo the Late Bloomer by Robert Kraus
Good Thing You're Not an Octopus by Julie Markes
I'm A Pig by Sarah Weeks
Unlovable by Dan Yaccarino

Flannel board/told stories:
I like to do one flannel or magnet board story at each storytime. It's fun, breaks the rhythm, and helps kids who learn differently. The Ugly Duckling is a really good choice out there. If you're in one of those libraries that has a huge filing cabinet full of flannel boards (man I love those things), odds are better than even that you have one for The Ugly Duckling already.

If you don't, you can make one. I promise. I'm not that artistic (I'm crafty but I can't draw) and I've done it. Or you can cheat and do a magnet board. We had a two sided board with flannel on one side and magnetized white board on the other. Go to the craft store, buy the magnets that come in strips and are sticky on one side. Start googling around for duckling and baby swan (cygnet) templates. (I recommend adding the words "coloring page" to your search.) Print them out the appropriate size. Color in brightly with markers (pinch yourself because you're getting paid to color). Laminate them; if you don't have access to a laminating machine I don't know how you can call yourself a youth services librarian; I laminated everything in sight in my YS days. Attach magnets. Take dry erase markers and draw a lake and some weeds and a nest and some eggs. Voila! Storytelling stage set!

Any body song will work here as well any of those rhymes where you "clap your hands, stamp your feet, turn around, take a seat". I'll list a few to get you started.
Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes
The Hokey-Pokey (under no circumstances should you ever in your life turn down an opportunity to do the Hokey-Pokey).
Do Your Ears Hang Low?
If You're Happy and You Know It
Shake Your Sillies Out (Raffi)

Here's one of my favorite body movement rhymes (no tune). Make the actions match the words:

Hands on Shoulders
Hands on shoulders
Hands on knees
Hands behind you, if you please
Touch your elbows
Then your nose
Touch your hair
Now touch your toes.
Raise hands up high
Wave hello
Stretch your arms (arms to the side)
And watch you grow
Then bring hands down
Touch the floor
Now clap your hands,
And one song I wrote (use however you want, just give me, Elizabeth Moreau Nicolai, credit if print)
I Like Me
(to the tune of "Three Blind Mice")
I Like Me (point to self)
I Like Me
So Very Much (hug ones self)
So Very Much
I can jump up high and touch the sky (jump up with arms pointing up)
I can jump up high and touch the sky
I Like Me
I Like Me
Following verses, all the same except third stanza which you substitute for other actions. Here are two of my favorites.
I can run faster than a tiger (jog in place)
I can dance and do the twist (dance, twist)
Clearly you need to have outlines of body shapes (the generic could be a girl or boy one) and let the kids color themselves. For more fun, have random shapes of random colors of paper and they can glue them on for clothes. I used to save all my random scraps of paper for this and making monsters. Recycling! Go fancy with yarn to glue on for hair and googly eyes or eye stickers. Best storytime ever: a little girl glued on purple hair because someday she would have purple hair but mommy wouldn't let her now. I hope she got it.
There you go, a super fun, easy storytime to promote body positive thinking! Happy Reading!


Anonymous said...

I love this! I'm definitely going to try out this theme as well and use some of your suggestions. Thanks for the great post!

rachel said...

I love this theme! Adding it to my fall schedule.

Helen said...

Love this post - check out 'Painted Faces' by E.T. Concha, it's another good one about self-love.

Lois Burgess said...

Thanks Elizabeth for this wonderful post! I have wanted to do a self esteem preschool story time for awhile--great timing! Another book that I love, but haven't used with children yet is:

I haven't used the OK book with children yet, but am really looking forward to now.

Thanks again,