By Hayley Crandall
Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W. Brown Deer Rd., is hosting monthly virtual bilingual story times. Children will learn about refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants through activities and stories.
Screened every second Wednesday of the month, “HOME: Story Time” features books centered around victims of displacement and their stories.
The books are aimed at children ages 4 to 8.
This is a very specific genre the group strived to feature and it took the time to compile the stories, Community Engagement Specialist Kim Khaira explained.
“There are books written about refugees and their stories but not necessarily written or illustrated by them,” Khaira said. “So, that it was very intentional that we decided to go about it that way.”
Activities are included as a way to help children engage even more with the story, Khaira said. Past activities have included a DIY mini-book and art creation with nature.
Handouts are available for download under the event page.
“The art activities tie directly back into the story,” Khaira said. “We understand that different books cater to different age groups but at least with the art activity, it creates a way that any age group can learn from.”
Community collaborators have played a key role in the production of the story times, she explained. They have worked to develop the book list, find readers for the story times and worked as supportive guides with the content. Current collaborators include the Milwaukee Public Library, the Islamic Resource Center, Hanan Refugee Relief Group and Alliance Française de Milwaukee.
“Our intention is to work directly with people who are affected or who are closely tied with these stories,” Khaira said.
The event works as a way to start a conversation with children about displacement. While Khaira recognizes this seems like a heavy topic, children may already be aware of what’s going on in the world and can experience displacement themselves.
“Some may say that it’s quite a heavy topic to discuss with children, but we know that there are children who face displacement as well,” Khaira said. “These books are written directly by refugees, a lot of them of their own childhood stories. This is a way of sharing and discussing big ideas with young children.”
Parents are also welcome to view the story times. Khaira thinks they not only teach adults something new but it opens new ways for them to discuss displacement with their children.
“Anyone can learn from these stories,” Khaira said. “Whether it’s a way to enjoy these stories and enjoy the activities or a way of learning something that perhaps you may not learn from a writer that’s not a refugee. I think that’s something any age group can learn from. Parents sitting down with their kids, it’s a good way of learning how to talk to children about these issues.”
The virtual story time is an extension of Lynden Sculpture Garden’s HOME campaign which works to build a space of leading and of celebrating refugees in Milwaukee through art and programs.
HOME started in 2019 on World Refugee Day with a community-directed festival, Khaira explained, and saw over a thousand attendees. The organization wanted to continue with events this year via a virtual format given the state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Story time has been successful so far, Khaira said, adding that the group has plans to continue it beyond the original end date of Dec. 9. The next story time airs Wednesday, Nov. 11 at 10:30 a.m. Screened videos for the event along with the paired activities can be found at https://www.home-at-lynden.org/home-story-time.
Lynden Sculpture Garden has reopened and offers a socially distanced outdoor walking option, Khaira said. Admission is currently free and operating hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day except Thursdays.