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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: inclusive programming, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. A Special Needs Summer?

Families that include those with special needs can sometimes struggle with finding inclusive programming. Librarians often feel pressure to provide programming exclusively for special populations. But that’s not necessarily the case. Just having an open and welcoming atmosphere can be all that it takes to make your current programs accessible for everyone.  Are you doing what you can to offer programs for all children? Don’t know where to start?

As a programmer, ask yourself the following questions:

The location of the program-

Are the rooms bright and cheerful without being overwhelming with too many sights and sounds? A calm environment is important for children with sensory issues.

Is light distributed evenly? This is important for children with low vision.

Is the room accessible and clutter free, with clear pathways? Most mobility equipment requires a four to five foot turning radius.

Are there a variety of seating options? Large bolsters and pillows may be arranged to give children more stability and motor control and to ensure their comfort and security.

Staff to participant ratio-

Are all children receiving individual attention? Speaking with children at eye level is an important engagement tool.

Do adults call children by name? Identifying each child makes for a more inclusive environment. You can praise positive behavior when you can call each child by name.

Are there sufficient personnel to respond in the event of emergencies? Having another staff person in the room can help mitigate any immediate problem with minimal disruption to the program.

Are you using parents as partners? Parents can be your best tool! They know their children best. And after all, they are here to make positive memories as a family. Allow them to be a part of your program.

The program activities-

Do you have a variety of developmental activities taking place? Every child works and participates at a different pace. Make sure there are tools and activities for different ages and developmental abilities. This can be as simple as crayons of various sizes, precut craft items, and larger pieces of paper.

Is the information presented in multiple formats? Pictures can provide context about the program and its goals. A soft bell can be an audio clue that something is about to happen in your program.

Just being mindful of the needs of your families can start the conversation about inclusion. Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of “special needs programming” these small steps will get you on the road to providing a welcoming atmosphere for all your families.

For more tips check out these resources:



Lesley Mason is the Youth Services Manager at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, the DC Public Library’s central branch. She is currently the chair of the ALCS’s Library Service to Special Population Children and Their Caregivers Committee. She earned her Master’s Degree in Library Science from Clarion University. She specializes in Early Literacy and can be reached at [email protected]

The post A Special Needs Summer? appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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2. Code for Parents

Latinos in STEM

Photo by Sylvia Aguinaga

Why code

I’m Mexican-American and grew up with very traditional, hard-working parents who constantly reminded me of the importance of creating a stable future for my family and myself. As an ALSC Special Populations Committee member, my job is to make sure programming remains inclusive—reaching all children and informing all parents, including the Spanish-speaking.

In order for Spanish-speaking parents to support and encourage their child to learn to code, they must first understand the importance of code in today’s world. That is why it is critical to provide approachable Spanish-language resources and craft a clear message.

In the advertising world, they say a good ad communicates one benefit of the product. As copywriter Luke Sullivan puts it, Jeep = rugged, Porsche = fast, “and Volvos, they’re…what? If you said ‘safe,’ you’ve given the same answer I’ve received from literally every other person I’ve ever asked. Ever.”

What can we say about code?

It’s an intimidating question: code is so many things; in our daily lives, code is seemingly behind everything. That’s why it’s so important to teach kids – and it’s also why it’s so difficult to explain to their parents.

There’s one benefit of learning code that can stand out to our audience, parents who care deeply about their children’s future.

Code is money.

More than 1.7 million programmer-specific job opportunities will be available in 2022, with average salaries over $83,000. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) jobs are the fastest growing in the U.S. with 71% of these jobs involving computers.

Promising children an opportunity to learn code could be the most effective way to promise them a future. Once we communicate this clearly to parents, they will be interested. They’ve always wanted a future for their children.

As children’s librarians, this has been our goal all along too. Literacy = opportunity.

What you can do

If you slam a kid in a chair and make them stare at a wall of code – a black screen filled with ///{“symbols”;} and cryptic jargon – they’ll likely react like any of us: “what?”

Fortunately, there are tons of great resources for bringing digital literacy to children.

My favorite is Scratch. Scratch is a free programming language for kids (ages 8 and up) that lets you create games, music, and animations. It is visual-based. Kids drag and drop different elements, and link them together like Legos.

Essentially, introductory languages like Scratch get children thinking in a code mindset. Not only working logically, but playfully – learning to tinker, examine, explore.

The past few months I’ve partnered with Joanna Fabicon, a Children’s Librarian at Los Angeles Public Library, to help develop Coder Time (see resources linked below!). Coder Time is a weekly coding club launching this month at the Central Library and in after-school programs at elementary schools across L.A. Our goal is to inspire kids to do meaningful things with computers.

Each “chapter” of the Coder Time curriculum is paired with books that will encourage kids to explore their library and discover content that will in turn inspire them to make something they will love.

Another big goal of Coder Time is to empower librarians to facilitate their own coding workshops by using librarian-gathered and curated content. Coder Time materials are licensed under a Creative Commons license that lets you tweak and adapt content to your own community.

To truly bring digital literacy to children, we need library-created content and programs. Often, librarians outsource coding workshops to experts. Though well-intentioned and certainly helpful, these workshops don’t do enough to serve our public. Like reading, coding is a practice, a way of being in the world. Coding programs need to be a regular, fully integrated part of the library – not something tacked on just to cover the bases.

For this to happen, librarians need to be comfortable with and familiar with code. But as programs like Scratch show, this is no obstacle. You don’t have to be an expert. You just have to—as you ask of your young patrons—be willing to learn.

Beyond $

Like reading, the benefits of coding are deeper than money. Coding gives children a creative way of looking at the world. It empowers them to make, rather than passively consume. It encourages them to work together.

With a clear message, our voice can be heard by parents. In turn, all children can make their voices heard with technology.


Code for Parents (Spanish)

Code for Parents (English)

Coder Time Zine (English)

Sylvia Aguiñaga, LSSPCC Committee Member

The post Code for Parents appeared first on ALSC Blog.

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