Chocolate Storytime is from 4 pm to 5 pm on the last Friday of every month at La Pintoresca Branch Library. It’s a great time for kids of all ages to come and listen to stories, do crafts, sing songs, do movement activities, and have a chocolate treat afterwards. Chocolate Storytime features books with African and African American characters and/or cultural themes, all with the goal of promoting diverse literature and bringing more families into the library’s doors. It also supports language acquisition, literacy development, and cooperative team building skills.
This storytime is designed as a fun and informative way to experience African and African American culture at the library. Open to all families, this special hour may feature dynamic storytellers from the community from time to time and will provide a unique flavor that reflects the experiences, language, culture and traditions of African and African American people.
Chocolate Storytime is for all families who want to experience and foster the appreciation of cultural diversity within the African American community.
With the initial goal of exposing her daughter to more images that mirrored her own, Ayesha Randall began a journey of collecting books that featured African American characters and intentionally creating a diverse play space for her daughter. While having these representations reflected in her home environment were merely satisfactory, she found that it was critical for her daughter to also see these images integrated throughout her community–as a normal part of it. So in 2014, she partnered up with her home library, La Pintoresca Branch, to offer “Chocolate Storytime,” a time of reading books that feature African and African American characters and/or cultural themes. Ayesha says that it is a regular story time hour filled with stories, crafts, and chocolate treats. Periodically, Chocolate Storytime welcomes senior residents, community members, special guests, and local celebrities to read stories to the children.
Ayesha asserts that, although uncomplicated in its mission, Chocolate Storytime births wonderfully positive byproducts. First, it serves as a platform to normalize the appearance of African American characters and culture in children’s picture books and literature. Secondly, it helps to celebrate the beauty and goodness of blackness that have historically been hidden under more pervasive antithetical descriptors as witnessed in the results of the 1940s Kenneth and Mamie Clark doll tests during the Brown vs. Board of Education case. Thirdly, it helps to counteract overt and implicit stereotyping through literary influences from as far back as the colonial New England Primer to the McGuffey Readers (which sold more than 100 million copies between 1836 and 1906) and then to Scott Foresman’s Dick and Jane basal readers, and the resulting inferiority and superiority complexes that have been embedded into the American psyche, as documented in the first pages of Toni Morrison’s “The Bluest Eye.” And lastly, this story time highlights many of the notable authors and illustrators who write about and create African American storybook themes, experiences and characters.
A community college instructor, grassroots organizer, community advocate and educational consultant passionate about creating affirming environments for African-American children, Dr. Ayesha Randall lives in Pasadena, California with her husband, Louis; daughter, Alicia; and their mischievous dog, Icee. In her spare time, she finds pleasure in creating stuff and experiences, spending time with family, shopping at thrift stores and garage sales, participating in LA’s art and culture scene, being in diverse spaces and environments, listening to stories, volunteering in the community, talking and listening to different folks, eating and cooking good food, and enjoying the outdoors with her daughter and Girl Scout troop.