Alma Ramos-McDermott is our 14th Día Dynamo, the first who is a school librarian. It’s exciting to honor a school librarian who’s active in the American Association of School Librarians, (AASL) who has experienced the value of sharing Día, and who is leading the way to connect other school librarians with this family literacy initiative. I met Alma at a YALSA conference in New Mexico last year and was so impressed at her commitment to share bookjoy with all students. As she and I discussed, when working with Middle School students, some Día advocates say: El día de los jovenes y libros, Day of Young People and Books. Some middle schools create Día literacy activities for themselves and some promote literacy at a neighboring elementary school. I hope that we’ll hear from many fine school librarians who like Alma want to incorporate Día’s goals of linking all children to book, languages and cultures into their planning and to start an annual tradition of planning a culminating celebration with parents on or near April 30th. Gracias, Alma, for enriching Día’s work with your enthusiasm.
I. When and how did you become interested in sharing bookjoy?
AR: I was always a loner because my family moved at least twice/year, which made me the “new kid on the block” for my entire K-12 school experience. When I received my first public library card at age 11, a new world opened up for me. I experienced true bookjoy, as books became the friends I didn’t have and the one constant in my life. As a school librarian I love sharing bookjoy with students, watching books and children connect.
2.How did you first learn about Día and what has been your experience with Día?
AR: I first learned about Día 2 years ago. I have a student population made up of non-Hispanics, and wanted them to be aware of the availability of Latino literature, as well as learn about the Latino culture, using literature to bridge that gap. I have enjoyed teaching students about the importance of literacy through Día activities, and the students/teachers have enjoyed learning/participating in Día
3.What are your hopes for Día 2011, Día’s 15th Anniversary?
AR: I am hoping Día 2011 will be the beginning of great collaboration between school librarians in the United States. As a teacher and school librarian, I see the literacy gap that exists in many schools and know that participating in Día can help bridge that gap. A Quinceañera is a “coming of age” time, and I feel it’s time for Día to “come of age” with school librarians.
4. What helpful tip(s) do you have for those organizing a Día event for the first time?
AR: Tip number one is don’t worry if you can’t speak Spanish. Día is not just for Hispanics – it’s a Literacy Bridging event. Tip #2 would be to think of a way to bring literacy to your school or public library. Tip #3 is to just go out there and do it! Día events can range from the extremely elaborate, which involve hundreds, to something as simple as sharing puppet stories to a small group of children. Your only limitation is you, so “go for it!”
5.What is your favorite example of Bookjoy as either a child or an adult?
AR: My favorite example happened last year when I connected an 8th grade reluctant reader with a book. Previous to that, she’d only read Manga. That book about someone who liked Manga led to another book. Over the summer, she became a reader. In September, I met up with her in the hallway, during passing time, and gave her part two of a book she’d just finished reading. She jumped up in the air – in front of her classmates, and shouted “Yes! That’s just what I like to hear!” To that, I respond “Me too!”
6. What are you reading now?
AR: I just finished reading Three Black Swans by Caroline B. Cooney, and am starting Sweet Treats & Secret Crushes by Lisa Greenwald. Two days ago I read Starlighter by Bryan Davis and two days before that I read A Million Miles from Boston by Karen Day. With a personal stack of 250 ARC’s and 44 bound books waiting to be read, I’ll be reading something else by the time you read this. Suffice to say I’m never without a tween/YA book in my hand.
Visit Alma’s blog (http://yourschoollibrary.wordpress.com/) about her Middle School Library Teacher position at Pollard Middle School in Needham, MA.
“Books and Authors: Talking with Pat Mora” is a feature interview by Jeanette Larson in the January 2011 issue of Book Links and available online. Pat talks about her work, bookjoy, and Día’s fifteenth birthday.