Submitted by Lana Harman, Yolo County Public Library.
This year Yolo County Library will be celebrating Día de los Niños / Día de los Libros at two of its largest branches, the Stephens-Davis branch (service population – 65,000 people) and the Arthur F. Turner Community Library in West Sacramento (service population – 48,000 people). Yolo County, located in North Central California, is the definition of diversity: in addition to being both rural and urban, it is multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, and multi-cultural. Almost a third of Yolo County residents (32.1%) speak a language other than English at home. More than 20% were born outside of the United States. 26% are of Latino or Hispanic origin. Spanish is the main second language in rural areas but in big cities like Davis and West Sacramento there are large groups of Chinese (both Mandarin and Cantonese), Russian, Hmong, Farsi, Hindi, and Urdu speakers. Here in Yolo County we are truly the world and Día de los Niños / Día de los Libros, with its celebration of literacy in many languages, is a community building experience above all.
Both Yolo County Library’s Día celebrations are scheduled for Saturday, April 16th. The Stephens-Davis Branch Library will start the festivities at 10 in the morning and will pass the baton on to the Arthur F. Turner Community Library later in the day. The programs will be similar yet different. Both branches will have a presentation by the bilingual author of children’s books Jorge Argueta and a group art project facilitated by Maya Christina Gonzalez, a renowned illustrator of children’s books. Maya Christina visited the Arthur F. Turner Community Library last year for the 2010 Día celebration and presented part of her “Claiming Face” curriculum. Children’s books must reflect the diversity of their young readers – not just in subject but also in illustrations and Maya Christina’s curriculum reinforces this thought.
There will be dancers, of course! – it’s not a fiesta without music and dancing! Young dancers from the Chinese School of Davis will show traditional Chinese dances in Davis, and Folklorico Latino de Woodland will delight the visitors in West Sacramento. Face-painting, crafts, tortillas (made to order!) and story times will add to the festivities and are sure to be crowd-pleasers!
Building home libraries as a resource for family literacy is one of the goals of our Día celebrations and more than 400 books will be distributed to the children who attend the events. Public libraries are also an important resource for family literacy and we expect library card sign-ups to double or triple during the celebrations.
We couldn’t have prepared such a magnificent program alone. Our sincere thanks go out to the Mora Family for the Estela and Raúl Mora Award that we received last year for an outstanding Día celebration at the Arthur F. Turner Community Library. We are proud of the recognition and we hope to continue on this path of excellence for years to come. We are also thankful to our partners who helped us get ready for this year’s Día: First 5 Yolo, IMLS, Friends of the Stephens-Davis Library, Friends of the West Sacramento Library, the Rotary Club of West Sacramento, the California Gold chapter of REFORMA, and the Interact Club of the River City High School. Our volunteers are numerous and very enthusiastic. Our staff members have been working very hard to put together both events. Because of all the hard work by our partners, volunteers, and staff members, we can say with confidence, “It’s going to be a great Día!”