In the 18 years that I have worked on Día, I have met many inspiring educators at all levels. Occasionally, I meet such “sparklers” by phone. Debbie Kaczar is such a librarian. When I chatted with her and heard her dedication and her persistence to bring Día celebrations to her school and community, I asked her to write her story so that you, blog visitors, would be inspired too. We all become discouraged in trying to make all children valued in our communities and in motivating others to share bookjoy with community families. Thanks, Debbie, for your dedication and for inspiring me in 2014.
I was raised in the country in Northwest, Illinois. As a child, if you looked out the front and back windows of my home, all there was to see was corn. I expanded my world through reading. Books took me to places around the world and introduced me to many cultures, heroes and mentors. I read every biography in the young people’s department of my public library. The people I read about made me realize that I could do anything I put my mind to. I know the meaning of Bookjoy and now share this joy with students at two very different elementary schools in Illinois.
In addition to my passion for spreading Bookjoy, I am passionate about learning about other cultures. I celebrate diversity. My family has hosted students from Japan, Bolivia, Germany, France, Brazil, Thailand and Indonesia.
After twenty-five years in sales, I knew I wanted to pursue my library media specialist certification. While attending library school, I had to write a grant for a class. I contacted a local school district and was told that I could write a grant for Golfview Elementary in Carpentersville, IL. The student population is ninety-six percent Hispanic. I conducted extensive research on Spanish and bilingual books and resources for children. During my research, I learned about the Día initiative, Book Fiesta, and Pat Mora. Book Fiesta inspired me since it celebrated many of my loves: reading, cultures, and children. I wanted to bring this celebration to my area.
Fast forward one year, and I was hired at that very same school, and another school in the district, as the library media specialist. I immediately began plans to bring the first Día celebration to the district and was awarded a grant to bring an author or illustrator to one school.
At a district Foundation literacy meeting, I passionately spoke about Día and interested another school. I continue to speak about Día as often as possible and have interested other teachers. We have formed a committee to plan our celebration. My goal is eventually to bring Día celebrations to all twenty-six schools in the district and to work with the public libraries as well.
This year, in our inaugural Día celebration, we are bringing the illustrator of Book Fiesta, Rafael López, to share his presentation and beautiful illustrations that celebrate reading, children, and all cultures. Plans for the Día celebration include student writing and illustrating workshops, book talks, a book club, Drop Everything And Read Day, a week-long Buy One, Get One Free Book Sale, Dress As Your Favorite Book Character Day, VIP read alouds, Family Literacy Night, and of course, a Book Fiesta.
This is only the beginning. I plan to promote Día not only in my district, but across the state of Illinois, and hopefully, beyond. My background in sales and marketing, and my passion for Bookjoy, should help me to spread the word. My goal is to one day meet the person who inspired me, Pat Mora.