St. Louis County Library, Mo.
St. Louis County Library (SLCL) was inspired by a new non-profit called We Stories. We Stories offers a literature-based program to help parents initiate discussions with their children about race and racism. The library wants to use its reach to provide resources to all residents.
Research of family habits indicates that the vast majority of white families rarely, if ever, talk about race at home. By age five, children see race as a major point of difference or distinction, even when it is not discussed. However, even slightly more exposure to other racial groups, even through children’s books, helps to counteract bias and discrimination. St. Louis is unusual in that the area has separated itself into regions, remaining socially and economically segregated long after racist laws were erased from the books. White flight has been a reality that makes for limited mixing of races.
The concept of We Stories is to use the power of children’s literature to create conversation and change. The We Stories collection consists of "core" titles that directly address a monthly theme and "companion" titles that build on the theme. The library supports this initiative by offering multiple copies of all of the titles in the collection. We will also offer kits related to the selected titles that include a book, discussion questions and an activity for caregivers and children to work on together. These resources are available to all patrons for use both at home and in the classroom.
Increasing the number and locations of the We Stories titles has greatly increased the number of families able to take part in the program and increased the number of diverse titles available to the community-at-large. Since beginning the partnership in January 2016, We Stories books have circulated over 1,200 times. We have added multiple copies of 64 titles at present. In July we began offering kits which will contain books, toys and worksheets to engage children and families in the We Stories project.