Beyond Bilingual: Making Storytimes ELL-Friendly

Sponsored by Youth Services Section (YSS)

Wednesday, May 16
2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

There are over 200 languages spoken in New York State and libraries are seeing a growing number of immigrant families at their programs. What do you do when storytime leaders and storytime families don't speak the same language? Learn how Brooklyn Public Library has developed simple strategies and techniques to make storytimes for young children friendly to parents and children who are English Language Learners by creating visual schedules, incorporating simple props, using translated resources, using Plain Language, and more! Discover how to incorporate multilingual content into your programs even if you do not speak the language of your families. Hear about BPL’s lessons-learned about presenting storytimes in over ten languages throughout the borough.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn strategies to make user-friendly storytimes for English Language Learner families.
  2. Incorporate visual schedules, simple props, translated resources and Plain Language into storytimes.
  3. Discover how using multilingual content will enhance your programming.


Rachel Payne, Brooklyn Public Library
Rachel G. Payne is coordinator of early childhood services at Brooklyn Public Library, where she leads BPL’s award-winning First Five Years initiative. She is a contributor to Reading with Babies, Toddlers, and Twos(Sourcebooks, 2013) and Library Services Birth to Five (Facet, 2015). She has written for School Library Journal, Kirkus, and Library Trends. She chaired the 2016 Caldecott Committee and she has presented on early literacy at conferences nationwide.
Jessica Ralli, Brooklyn Public Library
Jessica Ralli is Coordinator of Early Literacy Programs at Brooklyn Public Library.  Jessica manages BPL’s Multilingual Storytime program, offered in 11 languages. She is currently on a mission to learn at least one song or rhyme in each of the 11 languages!
  Eva Raison, Brooklyn Public Library
Eva Raison is Interim Director of Outreach Services / Immigrant Services Coordinator at the Brooklyn Public Library