East Flatbush library to host kids storytime in Haitian Creole

Brooklyn Public Library’s East Flatbush branch will be hosting its weekend storytime event in Haitian Creole on April 28. Every weekend the library offers a story time session for children and their families, but this time around the reading will be in the French-based creole language. The program switch, spearheaded by the branch’s young adult librarian Jessica Spears — is a chance to invite residents to experience one of the neighborhood’s commonly-spoken languages in children’s literature, and test out its reception, said a branch librarian.

“She thought it would be a cool idea to have a story time in Creole because this area is very West Indian and particularly Haitian, so this is one opportunity to see how people how receive it,” said Larissa Larrier.

At the event, children will be read books written in English and French in Haitian Creole, and even get to participate in Haitian sing-a-longs and traditional dancing, according to Larrier.

The event is one of the library’s ways of performing outreach, being a source of information, and keeping up with the cultures of their frequent patrons.

“This program is important for the most part because as a library we are the hub for everything and we want to be able to identify what is going on, and what languages and cultures are dominant in our community,” said Larrier. “And we want to support that by creating programs and services related to those cultures.”

Larrier says the story time not only exposes people of various backgrounds to an aspect of Haitian culture, it will also welcome the area’s existing Haitian community to seek out the library more, and become interested in other programs it offers.

“We’ve observed that a lot of people don’t get to have the full library experience because they don’t speak English and it’s not their native language, and they are very timid to approach or even come into the library,” she said. “But we want to get the ball rolling and be more welcoming, and hope that if they hear their native language in the library, they may be interested in our English as a second language classes.”

“Kreyol Storytime” at East Flatbush Branch [9612 Church Ave. between E. 96th Street and Rockaway Parkway in East Flatbush, (718) 922-0927, www.bklynlibrary.org]. April 28, 11:30 am–noon. Free.

Reach reporter Alexandra Simon at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at asimo[email protected]local.com.

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