Since 1925 Mexican children and families have celebrated April 30 El dia de los Ninos as The Day of the Child. For over a decade the day has taken on a international flavor and a bookish tone as El dia de los Ninos and El dia de los Libros have merged and grown in popularity in schools, libraries and other settings on both sides of the border.
More then a decade ago Pat Mora, an enterprising Texas author of children’s books, conceived the idea of merging Le dia de los Ninos with El dia de los Libros, the Day of the Book. Her vision was that promoting the joy of reading went hand in hand with supporting the well-being of children. She suggested the idea to Latino faculty and staff at the University of Arizona who grabbed the idea and spread the word. Today, Dia celebrates children, books, Latino culture and Spanish-language children’s books wherever children and books come together, in schools, libraries, bookstores and other gathering places for young readers and their families.
With the support of library colleagues, especially members of the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking (REFORMA) Dia got underway in 1997 in Santa Fe, El Paso, and Tucson. For more information on the early history of Dia click here.
Today Dia is housed at the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association.
For individuals or organizations thinking about sponsoring a Day of the Child/Day of the Book, the resources are rich. Rose Zertuche Trevino, youth services coordinator of the Houston Public Library, offers ideas for book displays, activities and programs, and a range of multicultural activities. She includes a link to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission website, an amazing guide – including links – to music, books, ideas, art projects, even downloadable Dia bookmarks, information on the art of Mexican cut paper and much more.
Simply titled Dia! another rich resource is a guide prepared by the Association for Library Service to Children. Subtitled Diversity in Action/Diversidad en Accion, the bilingual guide includes helpful hints for parents on reading and working with libraries along with a robust list of Spanish, English and bilingual books for children. Dia! also has an extensive list of websites that offer ideas for celebrating the theme “Many Children, Many Cultures, Many Books” as well as resources for bi-lingual learning.
April 30 just a month away – There’s still time to build on the El Dia des ninos tradition by creating a celebration of children, books and reading. The resources are readily accessible and the observance can be a powerful – not to mention fun – learning experience for all!