Drop-In Social Justice Storytime


The Union for Academic Student Employees at the University of Washington (UAW 4121) invited iYouth to participate in its January 20 Community Day of Action and Resistance. We hoped to provide a peaceful space for parents and children to explore their political voices, facilitated by stories and crafts. Although no children attended this event held in UW’s beautiful wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ / Intellectual House, we were able to have several fruitful conversations with parents about the use of books to introduce their young children to issues of inequality, race, and migration.

Having developed a template for a Drop-In Social Justice Storytime, iYouth will be able to easily replicate this program in the future.

We developed a (non-exhaustive) list of fabulous American social justice-themed picture books for children ages 2-middle school and displayed them for children and parents to peruse. We were prepared to hold impromptu one-on-one storytimes as appropriate.


We also prepared two crafts for children: a larger mural-style banner for free expression (not pictured), and intention statement Chinese-style drums. One side of the drums bore the words: “I am powerful because,” allowing children to fill-in their own statements. We hoped that this would lead to conversations about the importance of children’s voices in political, social, and family environments, as well as creating a safe space for children to voice their fears and concerns about the recent political activity in the United States.


To make the drums, decorate the “table side” of two paper plates and tape a popsicle stick to the bottom of one plate like the tail of a Q. Staple the two plates together and punch two holes through the margins of the plate. If the popsicle stick is at 6 o’clock, the holes should be at 9 and 3 o’clock. String a bead through about six inches of yarn and loop it through the hole. Tie it off and repeat on the other side. Here’s a link to a video showing a real Chinese drum in action.

Below is a list of the books which we were able to borrow from the Sno-Isle, Seattle Public, and UW Library Systems. Many thanks to Elizabeth Myers for compiling the list of titles!

Two White Rabbits Jairo Buitrago

Smoky Night Eve Bunting

Miss Rumphius Barbara Cooney

Last Stop On Market Street Matt de la Peña

Grace For President Kelly S. DiPucchio

We March Shane W. Evans

I am Jazz Jessica Herthel

A Sweet Smell of Roses Angela Johnson

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark Debbie Levy

Let’s Talk About Race Julius Lester

Frog and Toad are Friends Arnold Lobel

Brave girl: Clara and the Shirtwaist Makers’ Strike of 1909 Michelle Markel

A is for Activist Innosanto Nagara

The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth, and Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

Heather Has Two Mommies Lesléa Newman

Of Thee I Sing Barack Obama

A Family is a Family is a Family Sarah O’Leary

Sit In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down Andrea Davis Pinkney

And Tango Makes Three Justin Richardson

When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson Pam Munoz Ryan

Rad American Women Kate Schatz

Be a Changemaker: How to Start Something that Matters Laurie Thompson

Separate is Never Equal Duncan Tonatiuh

Yoko Rosemary Wells

Yoko’s Paper Cranes Rosemary Wells

Yoko Writes Her Name Rosemary Wells

Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 Jonah Winter

Ellie Newell is a first-year ambassador to iYouth and an MLIS candidate. 

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