Thursday, 21 September, 2017


Learning New Lessons@Your Library

Tracy Kampa, Children’s Library


Live and learn, right? I’ve never considered myself culturally insensitive; indeed, I really try to live my life with the belief that there is no right way, and, perhaps, others might have a better understanding than do I.  I have to admit, though, I never thought I would be tripped up by pirates.

I belong to a Facebook group for librarians titled “Storytime Underground.” (I know, the title is just a wee bit dark, and it feels a tad subversive. We children’s librarians are dangerous like that.) While mostly the content is filled with storytime ideas, requests for help, and calls to action, periodically there is a post that genuinely puzzles me:

“So, how is everybody handling the pirate thing?” Pirate thing? I wasn’t aware of a thing. Eye patch too tight? Parrot go mute?  “Arrr” not loud enough?  How could there be a pirate thing?

“I don’t think it’s worth celebrating. We’ve ditched the whole idea; some of our patrons are scared, and it hits too close to home for them.”  My confusion grew, until I did a little digging on my own. The pirates of whom the children are scared are not the pirates of Disney fame, nor are they the peg-legged villains of our books. No, these pirates are very real, and very 21st century. The librarians who brought up the pirate question were almost exclusively from big cities; particularly from libraries on the coasts. Libraries that have experience with refugee kids.

Right now there are children boarding boats to escape the horrors of their homes. They, of course, don’t want to leave, but when your home is blown away, your town is destroyed, and perhaps some members of your family simply don’t come home, what is the alternative? So they climb into overcrowded boats, their adults trying to comfort them. There is no guarantee that the boat will survive the journey, and there is no guarantee that all the refugees will survive the boat. The only solid knowledge is that they can’t stay where they were.

They shove off, with some boats being so overcrowded that they flip immediately, and everybody struggles back to shore. They shift people and try again. Those boats that are balanced well, and those boats that are sturdier, begin a voyage that might last days. The children sit, often protected in the center, and listen to the adults around them. There is relief when the boats are moving in the right direction, but then apprehension starts to creep into their voices. At first the children hear whispers, then stories, then facts. It is not long until the adults are talking openly about the dangers that might lie ahead. Storms could swamp them, the boat might simply sink, and, of course, there are pirates. It seems unlikely that pirates might attack a large rubber dinghy in the middle of the ocean, but they do, as these refugees are carrying everything they own. For most, that is little, for others that might be valuable family heirlooms. Sometimes, though, the pirates try to swamp the boat in an attempt to drown everyone on board; sometimes they kidnap people for ransom, or worse.

 Tuesday, September 19, people will celebrate “Talk Like A Pirate Day.”  “Arrr” will fill the air, and you might hear the thump of a false peg leg. There is nothing wrong with the fun and merriment.  Many schools and libraries, however, will not be participating, as the children are still afraid. Because of the pirate thing. Live and learn.



This Week at Your Library:

Monday, September 18: At 9:30 and 10:30 it’s Book Time! Join ECFE teachers in the Story Circle for books, songs, finger plays, flannel board stories, and all other sorts of fun! Then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and a time to play and visit.

Tuesday, September 19: At 3:30 join us for LEGO CLUB! Are you a kid who likes to build? Lego Club is open to everybody! Lego creations are displayed in the Children’s Library between programs.  We supply the Legos, you supply the imagination!

Thursday, September 21: At 6:00. Join presenter Vic Spadaccini for World War II Planes! At the beginning of WWII American flying machines were subpar and few in number. Improvements, new designs and massive production pushed U.S. aircraft to number one. Take a virtual tour of aircraft from the beginning of WWII through the war and introduction of the jet. Hear stories about planes, pilots, and tactics from this fascinating, fast-paced era of aviation history

Saturday, September 23: At 10:15 and 11:15 it’s time for Saturday Story Time! Join ECFE teachers in the Story Circle for books and songs, then move to the Community Room for a snack, a craft, and a time to play and visit. Families may earn one Baby Steps coupon for attending this Story Time.