Greetings from Cincinnati, Ohio. The Américas Award ceremony on October 4 in DC was a lovely event. I’m particularly grateful to Julie Kline from CLASP at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the award coordinator, as well as to the award committee and the Library of Congress. It was wonderful to listen to YUM’s illustrator, Rafael Lopez, speak. The children with me in the photo above are Talbot de St. Aubin and Andy Kline (the boy.)
After a day of enjoying DC museums, I then flew to Flint, Michigan where I was royally treated by Janet Trosino and the rest of the staff at the Flint Public Library. Some of the middle and high school teachers asked their students who wanted to attend my presentation to write a page about their interest. The library had sent copies of my books to these schools and to the elementary schools that also attended a presentation. What a pleasure to be with students who were prepared, well-behaved and interested. My deep thanks to Flint teachers and librarians.
In front of a home on Paxton Avenue here in Cincinnati, I saw this cute Halloween scene today, a circle of little ghosts holding hands. It made me think of one of my fall books, Join Hands. I smiled at a recent review that said that another of my fall books, Abuelos, though set in December, lends itself to sharing at this Halloween season because of the costumes and suspense.
It’s natural to have book giveaways at your Día and Bookjoy celebrations. First Book , a 2008 Día partner, can help provide books at other times of the year too, as the organization is doing for the South Carolina Department of Education, by supplying 300,000 new, free children’s books for the 2008 Back to School Book Donation. There are certain eligibility requirements; an entity must: (1) serve children where at least 50% are from low-income households, (2) be a Title I or Title I-eligible school, or (3) be a military family support program. FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE GO TO http://www.ed.gov/about/inits/ed/bookcampaign/.
Last week on ALSC-L, librarians were posting ideas about Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s satisfying reading the various posts that encourage taking advantage of the resources available for Día de los Ninos/Día de los Libros when looking for programming ideas or relevant bibliographies because it reinforces that Día is not a one-day event. Día is our opportunity to link all children to books, languages and cultures every day — let’s celebrate Día all year long!
Here are some links to check out: Texas Library Association — http://www.texasdia.org/ ALSC list “Growing Up Latino in the USA” http://www.ala.org/ala/alsc/alscresources/booklists/GrowingUpLatino.cfm Jamie Naidoo’s webjunction powerpoint and resources related to planning services and selecting materials for and about Latino Youth. Available at: http://www.webjunction.org/home/articles/content/455411
For many, September now means Hispanic Heritage Month which begins tomorrow and is celebrated from September 15 – October 15. It’s easy to forget that in September 1968, Congress authorized President Lyndon B. Johnson to proclaim the first National Hispanic Heritage Week, an observance that was expanded in 1988 to a month-long celebration. Why begin a celebration mid-month? President Johnson was from Texas and grateful to the Mexican-American population that had supported him, and Mexico celebrates its independence from Spain on September 16. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Chile also celebrate their independence between Sept. 15 – Oct. 15.
Too often, as we know, celebrations = commercialization so companies use the events to sell their products. Educational publishers can do this too, and I know people can feel cynical about this. Latinos constitute 14% of the U.S. population. Of course, I wish that their voices and contributions were appropriately represented in our history, publishing, universities, sciences, and government, but we have a long way to go. In spite of our national rhetoric (and rhetoric is in season this fall), many in our communities still doubt the full worth of their fellow Latino community members. I see and hear this as I listen and observe Latino children, graduate students and professionals not to mention those Latinos daily facing the challenges of limited economic resources.
Do I wish we didn’t need celebrations like Hispanic Heritage Month and El /El dia de los libros, Children’s Day/Book Day, that Latinos and Asian, Black, Native and Arab Americans were fully incorporated into our national fabric? Sure, but in 2008 I still think we need to make special efforts to promote pride in home languages and cultures. ¡Qué vivan las culturas! May cultures thrive! Let’s share and enjoy books by Latinos during Hispanic Heritage Month and all year long.