By Hayley Crandall
Kids Impact Community (KIC) is hosting two virtual story times centered around understanding racial justice and how children and their families can work to take action in the community.
The events are part of KIC’s Martin Luther, Jr. Day, celebration. “Social Justice Story Time: Racial Justice and Taking Action” features children’s book readings, kid-friendly discussions and a related art activity, the organization’s website outlined.
The story times and discussions aim to open a window of understanding for families and empower children, Lynn Raines explained.
Raines is the co-founder and executive director of KIC.
“It’s one very small step,” Raines said. “But if that story time is one step toward making a change in their lives forever, that would be amazing.”
The art activity helps children express a commitment to helping their community through drawing, Raines explained. The goal is to collect completed canvases for a traveling art exhibit that will be displayed in the city.
“We’re hoping to just put it in places throughout the city that people might walk and see that yes, collectively, we have a very large group of children who are committed with their families to making a difference towards social justice,” Raines said.
The story times are led by kindergarten teacher Rona Wolfe. Wolfe has been holding various other virtual story times since last spring as a way to keep these important conversations with children going. She follows an anti-bias, inclusive approach when it comes to education, aiming to focus on real representation and new lenses for topics.
With KIC, Wolfe worked to select books that not only cover the history of racial justice but also discuss them in a modern light.
“Sometimes when we read books to kids about Martin Luther King or things that have happened in history, children get the idea that racism is something that happened in the past and people like Martin Luther King worked to solve that,” Wolfe said. “While we want to talk about history, because it is important, we want to also talk about what’s happening right now and then how to empower children.”
Wolfe goes into the discussion portion with a plethora of goals. She strives for social and emotional learning, listening to one another’s stories, valuing different ideas and beginning to look at one’s identity, just to name a few.
Wolfe hopes this discussion is able to take away any sort of shame or hesitance with bringing up these topics with children.
“When we don’t talk about big ideas with little kids, I fear the result is that there’s a shame to it,” Wolfe said. “I would really like to take away that shame and say, ‘There’s no reason why we shouldn’t be talking about this.’ Look where shame has gotten us. Look where fear and shame and hate has gotten us. Let’s start early and let’s try to remove those things.”
She believes everyone, including adults, can benefit from listening to the readings and discussion.
“The hope is grown-ups are listening because, in an hour, I’m not going to hit all the answers,” Wolfe said. “You should be able to go back to with your grown-ups and continue thinking about this and struggling with it and beginning the process. This should begin a process for families.”
Registration is free and the events are conducted over Zoom video calls. The art portion is optional, and kits can be picked up at one of the open locations which are shared with participants upon registration, according to the event page.
Story time is scheduled for 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 19 and Wednesday, Jan. 20.
More information on registration and other KIC events can be found at its website, http://kicmke.org/.