A New Día Dynamo

When I met Mark Smith at the Austin Public Library in 1997, he was Director of Communications at the Texas Library Association (TLA). Mark was organizing tapings for the PSA video for “Read for Your Life”, a TLA media campaign. I believe Jeanette Larson was there and Pat Smith, TLA’s dynamic Executive Director, who always supports me and Día. Mark has instinctively understood Día’s importance and potential and has articulated his commitment within ALA. In California, Mark has been a catalyst for Día’s growth state-wide, an administrator who invests in people and who works to connect America’s diverse children to literacy. Gracias, Mark!

I. When and how did you become interested in sharing bookjoy?
MS: I have been convinced that books and reading can change lives since I was a teenager. I loved reading when I was a child and my love of books has always been a sustaining part of my life. My work as a librarian has given me the perfect opportunity to work in a career where I can encourage and promote reading on a systemic level.

2. How did you first learn about Día and what has been your experience with Día?
MS: I first learned about Día when I worked for the Texas Library Association and met Pat Mora, Oralia Garza de Cortes and others who were using Día as a vehicle to encourage reading as well as a respect for multicultural expression in children’s books. In moving to California and working with libraries here, I was eager to try to promote Día in our communities and on a statewide basis. 2011 will mark the 8th annual Día celebration in the Riverside County System and we hold Día events in all 33 of our libraries here, organized by our very talented outreach coordinator, Arlene Cano. I have also worked with other librarians in California to try to promote a statewide Día celebration through the California State Library.

3. What are your hopes for Día 2011, Día’s15th Anniversary?
MS: I continue to hope that more and more libraries will participate in this important celebration. I hope that more states will become so-called “Día states” and I remain hopeful that the Association for Library Services to Children, the American Library Association and other library associations will recognize the huge potential of Día and actively promote and encourage Día celebrations in all libraries in the U.S.

4. What helpful tip(s) do you have for those organizing a Día event for the first time?
MS: Keep it focused on books and reading first and remember that a modest program is much better than no program at all.

5. What is your favorite example of Bookjoy as either a child or an adult?
MS: I will never forget the experience of seeing Pat Mora reading to a group of parents and children at our first annual Día event under a shady tree at our Coachella Library. While they were transfixed to have a real published author read to them, I clearly observed the full transformative power of Día.

6. What are you reading now?
MS: A Swedish mystery novel called Three Seconds, but in my defense, I just finished Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa.



This week, SLJ’s Curriculum Connections features many authors many authors, including myself, talking about a favorite children’s book about the black experience. We enjoy children’s books by African American authors and illustrators all year long. Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, etc. serve as opportunities to savor the work of those who weren’t always seen as creators of books for America’s children.


A New Día Dynamo — 1 Comment

  1. Great interview with Mark. As I recall, he asked me for suggestions for people to do the Read for Your Life posters and I knew you were in town. So glad you did it. The posters were VERY popular. I still have one on my wall!

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