In talking with parents at the Village Branch of the Lexington (Kentucky) Public Library, children’s librarian Amy Olson found that many English-speaking parents wanted their children to learn Spanish and many Spanish-speaking parents wanted their children to learn English. Since Olson’s background was in music, it seemed natural to her to start a music-based program for youngsters at the library.
“There have been multiple studies to look at the rate of literacy and how it is improved. And one of the ways is through music,” Olson explains.
The Bilingual Boogie Bees program brings parents and children together to have fun learning songs in both English and Spanish. “I try to find songs that are culturally relevant—that the parents know or have heard or the children know or have heard,” Olson says.
The result has been positively received on many levels in this diverse neighborhood. Parents and children alike have found enjoyable ways to interact and learn, and Olson finds interesting ways to incorporate information about music basics. The program has exposed families to one another’s cultures as well as to what they all share in common as parents and children. And parents gain ideas for activities they can do at home. As Olson sums it up, “The whole goal is to make it fun and entertaining and to help parents come up with songs and ideas on their own.”