Next week, on April 30th, many families, schools, libraries and cultural centers across the country will be celebrating Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros. The idea for Día finds its beginning back in 1996, when Latina author and poet Pat Mora was introduced to the custom of celebrating El día del niño, or Day of the Child, on April 30th by a radio interviewer from Mexico. The Mexican holiday was a result of the 1925 “World Conference for the Well-being of Children” held in Geneva, Switzerland. Countries all over the world, like India, Turkey and Japan, adopted their own versions of Children’s Day.
Pat Mora became inspired to combine the holiday with literacy for children, and in 1997, Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros was born in the United States. Mora soon found support from librarians and educators across the country, and her vision took off.
As the founder, Mora’s says that Día (as it is simply known) should be celebrated every day, not just on the 30th. The goals of the holiday involve a daily commitment to honor children and childhood, promote literacy, honor home languages and cultures, involve parents as valued members of the literacy team, and to promote library collection development that reflects our plurality.
This year, Día is enjoying its first Blog Hop. The group Latinas for Latino Literature has engaged 20 Latino children’s authors, illustrators, and even a voice actor to share their own thoughts in support of Latino children’s literacy. They’ve been paired with 20 of the top Latina bloggers in the country who have graciously agreed to publish an article to show their own support of Latino children’s literacy. Every day for 20 days, one of their articles will be featured on a different Latina’s blog.
In addition, they have assembled a large collection of Latino children’s literature titles, many of which were donated by the authors or their publishers. This collection will be given away on April 30th, Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros to a school library or local library. Anyone can enter their library by leaving a comment on any (or all!) of the guest posts. The blog hop started on the 10th and will culminate on the 30th with the announcement of the giveaway winner. You can find the L4LL Día Blog Hop schedule here.
The official Día website is hosted by the American Library Association. There, you can find tons of resources for creating your own Día event, and a directory to find an event happening near you. Or you may prefer to download their free Día Family Book Club Toolkit to help you plan a club in your community. They also have a beautiful and free Día Poster you can download in English or Spanish.
To help get your child into the festive spirit of Día, consider picking up your copy of the bilingual picture book Book Fiesta! Written by Pat Mora and illustrated by Rafael López; the story is a visual feast joyfully depicting children from many different cultures as they enjoy reading a good book, and Mora’s lively account will quickly engage young readers.
But the simplest way to participate is to pick out a book, sit down with your child, and read it together. Every day. Because there’s no better way to develop your child’s literacy skills than by reading to them 20 minutes a day.
Happy Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros to you!
Monica Olivera Hazelton, NBC Latino contributor and the founder and publisher of MommyMaestra.com, a site for Latino families that homeschool, as well as families with children in a traditional school setting who want to take a more active role in their children’s education. She is the 2011 winner of the “Best Latina Education Blogger” award by LATISM.