Library celebrates diversity with multilingual videos for tots

  • Rhymes from around the world videos capture the joy of library story times.Emily Hernandez for Vernon Area Public Library

    Rhymes from around the world videos capture the joy of library story times.Emily Hernandez for Vernon Area Public Library

Rebecca Ferguson
Updated 7/3/2019 11:23 AM

Youth librarians at Vernon Area Public Library in Lincolnshire collaborated with community members to produce "Rhymes from Around the World," 38 brief storytime videos in a dozen languages including Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish. The new series is available free on the library's Vimeo channel at

The idea for the international rhymes series was born out of the growing diversity of the library's patrons. Serving a district roughly equivalent to that of nearby Adlai E. Stevenson High School, where 30 percent of the students are Asian and 8 percent are Hispanic, the library caters to the shifting demographics of Lincolnshire, Buffalo Grove and surrounding areas. Census tract estimates indicate that the number of non-native English speakers in the district is on the rise with just 69 percent of residents speaking only English. The other 31 percent include speakers of Russian, Spanish, Chinese (Mandarin), Korean, Polish and Hindi.


Each video is a minute or less in length and shows a library patron, sometimes including children, fluent in the language of the traditional rhyme. An English translation appears in the text on the Vimeo page. Most languages, including Russian, Arabic and Polish, feature in multiple videos. The series allows tots to hear a parent's or grandparent's native tongue, helping them connect with their family heritage, and exposes young children to simple phrases in unfamiliar languages, increasing awareness of other cultures.

Illustrated rhyme cards, available at library story times, accompany the video series. Those attending story time at the library receive a new card each month, allowing them to collect a set of 12. A carabiner hook is included so caregivers can keep the laminated cards handy in a diaper bag or stroller.

To ensure that the library serves all district residents, books, movies and periodicals are provided in many world languages, with Spanish, Russian, Chinese and Korean among the most sizable collections. The most recent addition for both adults and youth is Tamil, a language of India and Sri Lanka. Any patron with an Illinois public library card may borrow materials from Vernon Area Public Library, located at 300 Olde Half Day Road in Lincolnshire.

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