Fraser Valley Regional Library staff (from left) Janet Woyke, Katie Burns and Julie Penner dance in the rainbow crosswalk at the University of the Fraser Valley on June 26, 2020. They have put together a special story time video in celebration of Fraser Valley Pride week (July 10 to 18). (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Chilliwack librarians bring colourful story time to young kids for pride week

The pride story time video will feature a children’s book reading about diversity

The Fraser Valley Regional Library (FVRL) has been bringing virtual story times to Chilliwack for the past few months, but an upcoming one will be a lot more colourful than all the others.

In celebration of Fraser Valley Pride week (July 10 to 18) Chilliwack librarians Julie Penner and Janet Woyke have put together a pride story time and craft video.

“The library is a place of promoting diversity and inclusion of all people,” Penner said.

This isn’t the first video they’ve worked on together where Penner reads stories and Woyke teaches a craft or activity.

For the special pride video, Penner will be reading from the book What makes us unique: Our first talk about diversity. It’s a Canadian children’s picture book by Dr. Jillian Roberts.

“It’s actually very beautiful. It talks about all the different people in the world and how we all need love and we all need kindness,” Penner said. “It’s just such a nice message overall.”

The story is geared towards preschoolers, but elementary kids can also learn from it, she added.

When the story is finished, Woyke will show kids how to make rainbow-coloured friendship bracelets.

She will describe how to make three different styles of bracelets using a forward knot, a half-hitch knot and a simple braid for younger kids.

They filmed the video in the rainbow crosswalk at the University of the Fraser Valley on June 26. When Penner and Woyke reached out to UFV, not only were they happy to let the two onto university property, but they also blocked the road and provided security.

“We’re really thankful to UFV,” Penner said.

The pride story time comes on the heels of their ‘Explorytime’ project.

Penner describes Explorytime as “story times on the go” and it is part of the FVRL’s Summer Reading Club program.

READ MORE: Summer Reading Club still a go, just different says Chilliwack librarian

The first Explorytime was a fairy-themed video where Penner and Woyke got dressed up in woodland fairy costumes to read a story and show kids how to make a magic wand, fairy crown and fairy dolls.

It was filmed in the River’s Edge Fairy Village near the Vedder River and released on June 25 on the Chilliwack, Sardis and Yarrow FRVL Facebook pages as well as on the FVRL YouTube channel.

Future Explorytimes include bird-watching at the Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve and “sky-watchers” filmed at the Dark Sky Park (McDonald Park) in Abbotsford.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, FVRL has been offering virtual story times, baby times, podcasts and how-to videos for teens and adults.

Although the pride story time is not an official Explorytime video, it’s in the same style where kids get a story plus a craft in the seven-minute long video.

It’s also a great way for kids to learn about diversity, something that is near to Penner’s heart.

Her interest in the LGBTQ community came a number of years ago when she did a research project while studying at the University of the Fraser Valley around 2008. Her project was on LGBTQ elders living in seniors homes and the abuse they had suffered.

“I cried so many times. I could not believe the abuse that was happening to these older people,” she recalled.

Now she and Woyke are teaching kids at a young age about the importance of acceptance and kindness.

“It’s one of my core beliefs that all people should be free to be themselves and to love whomever they choose,” Penner said.

The pride story time video will be released on Tuesday, July 14 at 10:30 a.m. You can find it on the FVRL’s main Facebook page; the Facebook pages of the Chilliwack, Sardis and Yarrow libraries; and the FVRL YouTube channel.

RELATED: Successful pride event the first of its kind for Chilliwack (Aug. 27, 2019)


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Julie Penner of the Fraser Valley Regional Library will be reading from the book ‘What makes us unique: Our first talk about diversity’ during a special pride story time video in celebration of Fraser Valley Pride week (July 10 to 18). Photo taken on June 26, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

Janet Woyke will be showing kids how to make friendship bracelets such as these during the Fraser Valley Regional Library’s pride story time video. Photo taken on June 26, 2020. (Jenna Hauck/ The Progress)

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