Rachel Payne, Jessica Ralli To Pen SLJ Early Learning Column, “First Steps”

School Library Journal has relaunched “First Steps,” its early learning column, with two new co-authors.

School Library Journal has relaunched “First Steps,” its early learning column, with two new co-authors. Rachel G. Payne, coordinator, Early Childhood Services, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), and Jessica Ralli, Early Literacy Programs coordinator at BPL, will write the column, a bi-monthly feature, which appears in SLJ’s print magazine and online.  

In their debut post, Payne and Ralli tackle “Discussing Race with Young Kids.” Resources and links for further exploration are included in the online version of the column.

Future posts will address various topics in early learning, including the latest research and ideas toward best practice, from the unique perspective of two practitioners in the field. 

“Through our work at Brooklyn Public Library, we research, discuss, pilot and plan around exciting ideas in the world of early learning,” says Payne. “With ‘First Steps,’ we’d like to delve deeper into these ideas and share them through a library lens, offering relevant, usable ideas and research to support library professionals in their work with young children.” 

Our passions include play-based learning, early STEM, social justice and anti-racist education, and deepening parent and caregiver engagement. This column will be a mix of research and its practical applications and sharing the amazing work librarians are doing to better serve young child and their parents around the country and beyond.” 

Both Payne and Ralli have been contributors to SLJ. Most recently, Ralli wrote SLJ’s tech review this month. Payne co-wrote with Ralli "Beyond Bilingual: Making Storytime Inviting to All English Language Learners,"  among other feature stories.

The pair succeed Lisa G. Kropp, who penned her final “First Steps” column in December 2017. Kropp, who continues to write for SLJ, took over from Renea Arnold and Nell Coburn, the original authors of “First Steps,” which currently runs six times a year.

SLJ’s Sarah Bayliss will edit the column. 


About the columnists:

Jessica Ralli is the coordinator of early literacy programs at Brooklyn Public Library, where she develops and manages grant-funded programming for children 0–5. She received her M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, specializing in play-based, emergent, and integrated curriculum development for infants and toddlers. Ralli has written about early literacy for School Library Journal, Library Trends, and the BKLYN Kids Blog. She has presented on early literacy and play-based learning at the American Library Association (ALA) Conference, Young Child Expo, Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature, Urban Librarians Conference, and other professional forums. Email: JRalli@bklynlibrary.org.

Rachel G. Payne is the coordinator of Early Childhood Services at Brooklyn Public Library where she leads the BPL’s award-winning First Five Years Initiative. Previously, Payne ran the Early Childhood Resource and Information Center of The New York Public Library. She has written for School Library Journal, Library Trends, Kirkus, and The Horn Book blog “Calling Caldecott.” She served on the 2009 Caldecott Award Selection Committee and chaired the 2016 Committee. Payne has presented at the ALA Conference, Bank Street Infancy Institute, Young Child Expo, Public Library Association Conference, and other professional gatherings. She serves on the advisory boards of Reach Out and Read of Greater New York and the New York City Infant Toddler Technical Assistance Resource Center. Email: rpayne@bklynlibrary.org.

Author Image
Kathy Ishizuka

Kathy Ishizuka is editor in chief of School Library Journal.

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