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Bilingual storytime engages young readers
A Korean-English storytime for preschool kids was hosted at Richmond Hill’s public library on Ford Avenue, led by regional librarian Hyunjin “Jin” Han.
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Statesboro Regional Services Librarian Hyunjin “Jin” Han introducing herself at the Korean-English bilingual storytime for young children hosted at Richmond Hill-Bryan County on March 20. Photos by Andrea Gutierrez.
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Statesboro Regional Services Librarian Hyunjin “Jin” Han reads the Korean translation of “Green,” a children’s book written by Laura Veccaro Seeger, to children at Richmond Hill-Bryan County Library on March 20.

Owing to St. Patrick’s Day festivities in neighboring Savannah, Bryan County has seen plenty of green in the month of March.

But at Richmond Hill-Bryan County’s library, kids and their parents were thinking about the color green in a new way and in a new language, with Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s award-winning picture book “Green” being read out to them on Wednesday in both English and Korean.  

But first things first, a quick introduction is needed:

“Can you say “hello” in Korean with me?,” Ms. Jin asked the smiling, spirited kids in the library meeting room, a group ranging from newborns to preschoolers.     

Hyunjin Han–also known as Ms. Jin to most, including the younger library patrons–is a Regional Services Librarian with the Statesboro Regional Public Libraries (SRPL). 

A children’s librarian by trade, she received her Masters’ in Library Science from Emporia State University in 2016 and worked in West Palm Beach, Florida for seven years before relocating to Statesboro last August. As part of her work, she visits and assists other libraries within SRPL’s five-county reach–which includes the Pembroke and Richmond Hill libraries in Bryan County. 

Han says that bilingual storytimes are a new way that she helps libraries in the Statesboro Regional network feel supported. 

“Because I speak Korean as a native language, I like to have some Korean-related programs like [this] storytime. This is my first Korean-English storytime in Richmond Hill, and I’m very excited,” Han said. 

Jin Han’s love and passion for children’s literature is evident by how she animates the crowd; with a bit of call-and-response, the babies and toddlers in the library room coo excitedly with each new word and letter on the page. And of course–there’s no children’s storytime without some sing-a-longs and dance breaks.

“Sometimes I cannot believe I’m just doing something I really love and I get paid for it,” Han said.  

Belle Ranisate, assistant manager at the Richmond Hill-Bryan County Library, notes that with Bryan’s County growing Korean population, local libraries can serve as a welcoming space for new residents of all ages and backgrounds. 

“The libraries are becoming more like community centers,” Ranisate said.

“And [so] it’s just really important that we have programs that meet the needs of our community,” Ranisate said. 

Richmond Hill-Bryan County’s library recently completed its renovation last November, and it is set to have an official ribbon cutting ceremony on April 10, during National Library Week.

Ranisate says that with the growth in Bryan County, the library is sure to grow alongside it. And while libraries are known to be quiet places, Ranisate wants all who visit the library to feel heard and represented–not silenced and ignored.

“Myself and especially Samantha [Samantha Moose, manager at Richmond Hill-Bryan County Library], we really want everyone’s voice to be heard in the library,” Ranisate said. 

“{Moose] says, ‘I want everyone to come into the library and find a book for themselves, find themselves in a book–whether it’s a children’s book or a young adult book or an adult book.’”

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Families and children start to fill up the room in one of Richmond Hill-Bryan County’s meeting rooms for the Korean-English storytime event on March 20.
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