Vanessa Little

Lil’ Miss Story Hour, a local, literacy-based entertainment program led by educator Vanessa Little, is celebrating Black History Month with a special hybrid event on Saturday, Feb. 20. The second annual Black History Month Story Time will offer special guests, music, poetry and crafts along with the stories, and a small vendor market featuring local Black business owners.

“All attendees — virtual and in-person — can expect a celebration of Black pride and connecting with Black History through storytelling, poetry, singing, dancing and entrepreneurship,” says Little. “Lil’ Miss Story Hour will read a variety of picture books and sing songs that promote self-esteem and self-worth. Between each reading, there will be performances and presentations from local Black artists.”

Little, who also hosts virtual story hours from her home, has a passion for inclusive, representative literacy. She’s spent 30 years in education, teaching students from preschool to college, and volunteers with the Community Partnership for Child Development Head Start program and the African American Historical and Genealogical Society of Colorado Springs and serves on the marketing committee for the African American Youth Leadership Conference.

Little is also writing three children’s books of her own and a memoir. She teaches piano via her business Miss Vanessa’s Piano Studio — she taught herself to play piano at the age of 4 — and works as a substitute in Falcon School District 49.

This year’s event includes the books I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison, Black is a Rainbow Color by Angela Joy, All Because You Matter by Tami Charles and I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes.

“Lil’ Miss Story Hour believes very strongly that representation matters, especially in children’s literature and picture books and that children deserve to see themselves represented in media,” says Little. “The Black children of Colorado Springs should know that it is possible to access books with characters who look like them, and all children should see more stories featuring characters who look like their neighbors, classmates and friends.”

Little has another goal in mind in hosting her story hour — cultivating a new generation of writers and illustrators.

“The hope for showcasing diverse books like these is that as BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, people of color] children grow up, many will become authors, writing their own stories and the stories of people who look like them for the next generations to come.”

Little says Saturday’s story time welcomes all members of the community to spend an afternoon immersed in celebration of Black culture, history and heritage.

“The focus of this event is to showcase Black excellence not only to the young Black children in the Colorado Springs community but to all young children in this community. This event does so by lifting up Black authors, illustrators, and stories about Black characters and communities.”

In-person guests are required to wear masks at all time during the event. Virtual guests are asked to keep their microphones on mute.

 

1-3 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 20, African American Historical and Genealogical Society of Colorado Springs, 1620 W. Bijou St., $5 donation, lilmissstoryhour.com