Building Community, One Crayon at a Time

“Build a Better World” was the summer reading theme for local libraries in Mankato this year, and the North Mankato Taylor Library brought the theme to life for children by inviting a different organization to the library each week. When they invited MCC Refugee Services Mankato to be a featured organization, we were excited to participate and asked if we could also lead the children’s story time that week. The library staff was thrilled!

We made sure to invite recent Tapestry Session families with young children to the event as a way to introduce them to the library, and were pleased that 3 Somali families were able to attend with their kids, along with 8 other community members from the general public. We also included our summer intern, Lula Dayib, as an interpreter.

For the story time session, Nancy Altmann read This is Me: A Story of Who We Are and Where We Came From (Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell) and The Crayon Box That Talked (Shane Derolf and Michael Letzig). Following the stories, Nancy led a crayon activity for the young children. Each child received a paper crayon box and four paper crayons they could color to represent themselves. After coloring, each child was instructed to keep one of their own crayons and exchange the others with other children. With the exchange completed, each child again had a full box of crayons that represented the diversity of their community. The message on the outside of their crayon boxes included a quote from The Crayon Box That Talked: “We are a box of crayons, each one of us unique, but when we get together, the picture is complete.”

None of the three Somali refugee families that attended the story time event had ever been to the library, and all of them learned how to sign up for library cards and access the library. The Taylor Library is also excited to host similar events in the future since they have been actively seeking more opportunities to connect with newly arrived refugees in the area.


If you’d like to read either of the books we shared with young readers in your life, we encourage you check out your local library or find them online!



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