This text is excerpted from Bringing “Bookjoy” and Cultural Awareness to Children Nationwide (The Council Chronicle, March 2016), by Lorna Collier.
Children’s Day—El día de los niños—has long been celebrated in Hispanic culture on April 30 as a way to honor children. But what if the day could also be a celebration of books, reading, and literacy?
That’s the inspiration behind “Día” (El día de los niños/El día de los libros, or Children’s Day/Book Day), a program created 20 years ago by author and educator Pat Mora. In her vision for Día, not only are children celebrated (usually on or near April 30), but so is “bookjoy”—a term Mora coined to refer to the love of reading.
“Día has excited thousands of children and families about the pleasure and fun of reading and enjoying books together,” says Mora, who would like to see Children’s Day/Book Day become a national holiday alongside Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.
Over the past 20 years, Día’s mission has grown. Today, says Mora, it celebrates cultural diversity as well—the many home languages and cultures children grow up with. This shift in focus is “essential” in order to “creatively serve and motivate our highly diverse students,” she says.
Last year, 501 registered Día programs took place in 37 states plus the District of Columbia, most run by public libraries (453), as well as school libraries (22) and other organizations. Spanish is by far the most prevalent language featured (353 programs), though other languages include Mandarin (32), French (30), Japanese (25), and Arabic (23).
Mora’s goals for Día include broadening its scope from a single day of celebration to a year-round effort aimed at fostering literacy and enhancing awareness of cultural diversity. For example, Día encourages libraries—public and school—to diversify their collections.
Another goal: for parents of all languages “to share bookjoy with their children.”
Mora has partnered Día with American Library Association organizations such as REFORMA (which promotes library services to Latinos and Spanish-speaking populations) and the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC). First Book, which helps provide books to needy children, is a new partner. NCTE is an official supporter of Dia, and includes among its position statements an NCTE resolution (http://www.ncte.org/positions/statements/eldíadelosniñoslibro), which includes aims such as helping raise public awareness of Día, reaffirming family literacy and the value of home languages, and promoting multilingual programs that offer young people and families a voice. Other organizations, including local and state groups like the Texas Library Assocation, have worked with Día as well.
- Children’s Days, Book Days: Planning for a Día Year
- In a series of videos provided by WETV’s ¡Colorín Colorado!, Mora talks about Día.
- Read Pat Mora’s Tips for Creating a Bookjoy Family.
- Are you a Día advocate or do you aspire to be one? See this mini-poster.
- The Día Family Book Club National Curriculum— lesson plans for ages 4–8 and 8–12 offered by the Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC).
- Classroom activities from ReadWriteThink.org.
- Tune into the ReadWriteThink.org podcast “Latino Literature for Teens.”
- Visit Arizona State University’s Vimeo channel for Día and listen to Tracey Flores’s moving story: “I will not speak Spanish on the playground/No hablaré Español en el patio.”
So what does Día look like in action?