I meet wonderful people not only in person as I travel around the country, but also through correspondence. One woman I’ve met through snail mail is Gabriela Ruiz Monsalvo. Some years back, Gaby wrote me from Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, to say how excited she was about the concept of El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book Day. Originally from Mexico, Gaby was familiar with school celebrations in Mexico of El día del niño on April 30th. She liked linking the celebration of children, Kids’ Day, to a celebration of connecting all children to books, languages and cultures. Like many others, year after year, she worked where she and her family live to promote and support Día celebrations. Gaby cheerfully brought Día to the Pine Bluffs daycare center, Head Start Program, the elementary school and the county library. Year after year, Gaby sent me photos of the celebrations in Pine Bluffs. This January, Gaby mailed me a big surprise. Gaby had written her own Día book! What an idea to share. The title of her book , is, “. . . and when is Children’s Day? . . . y ¿cuándo es el Día de los Niños?” The book, assembled in a notebook, is illustrated with wonderful photos of Gaby’s cute children, their friends and of the Pine Bluffs 2007 Día celebration at the high school that included dancers and children in costumes. Gaby’s book even includes a U.S. map that shows which states celebrate Día. Gaby thanks many who helped her at the end of her fine book, and I thank her for all her hard work and for my present. I asked Gaby if I could share her good bookjoy sharing idea, and she graciously agreed.
Día Idea: Children or families can create their own Día book using photographs, drawings, paintings, etc.
I always stress that Día is a daily commitment to link children and books and can be celebrated at home, school, the public library, etc. Across the country, annual culminating celebrations are held April 30th or a convenient date for your own community. Día creates community partnerships; Día strengthens communities.
This past February, I had the opportunity to return to the beautiful Northwest, specifically, to Lacey, Washington. Was I impressed by their community-wide literacy celebration! Here’s how they describe it: Lacey Loves to Read (LLTR) is a successful “one city, one author” community partnership that began in 2004 with award-winning Hispanic author Gary Soto. Three key community partners — the City of Lacey, Lacey Timberland Library and the North Thurston Public Schools — collaborate on marketing, fundraising and event planning. It is a year-round planning process that culminates with the author visit in late February. Leading up to that, the community is encouraged to read selected works by one author and discuss them with fellow students, colleagues, family and friends. School and community librarians are active in promoting this event, along with various business sponsors and the media. Events include a student bookmark contest each fall, which gets people excited and familiar with the author. One year we had more than 1,600 entries! February events include community access nights at school libraries, a poetry/book reading of the author’s work at a local coffee shop, student workshops with the author, an educator’s coffee with the author and a community reception and VIP dinner with the author. Each year we estimate this program touches more than 10,000 people on a lean budget of about $32,000 (both cash and in-kind sponsorships). This does not include the countless hours of staff time dedicated to this event. Efforts have paid off in kudos from every author that has visited, including Soto, Jane Yolen, Walter Dean Myers, Naomi Shihab Nye and in 2008 — Pat Mora! We focus on authors who will appeal to readers of all ages. Consequently, these are also often authors of diversity! For more information visit our website.
Several publishers are supporting Dia in different ways through resources and promotions. Their efforts help broaden the awareness of Dia, not only as a day of festivity but as a year long celebration of bookjoy. A poster featuring the cover of the Spanish language edition of Kevin Henkes’ Lilly’s Big Day (El gran día de Lily) was available from HarperCollins/Rayo. Peachtree Publishers passed out Dia posters at conferences. Random House has produced a resource guide packed with activities, program ideas, and reproducible bookmarks. Simon and Schuster offers complementary Dora the Explorer postcards. Posters have been passed out from Starbright Books. Tricycle Press has a colorful poster featuring What Can You Do With a Rebozo? posted by lc for Pat Mora
Book Clubs have become so popular. Anyone know why? And how do people find a book club to join? These gatherings are certainly one way that adults and teens share bookjoy. When visiting the wonderful Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County last October, I asked Tony Tallent, their Director of Youth & Outreach Services, “What about family picture book clubs?” Even in the adult population, there are adults struggling to improve their reading skills, and picture books can be so welcoming to a whole family.
I remember the reading specialist I met years ago in Maryland. She didn’t speak Spanish, but she wanted to reach out to Spanish-speaking families. She’d bring families together at a library in the evening and share picture books with them. She told me that as the children translated for their parents, the parents began to add comments and tell stories and thoroughly enjoy the books. That generous reading specialist was sure sharing bookjoy and were the families grateful.
Tony Tallent, always a doer, is trying family picture book clubs at Charlotte libraries. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have such clubs in many languages?