In 1996, award-winning children’s author Pat Mora launched a community-based, family literacy initiative with the help of REFORMA: the National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, called El día de los niños, El día de los libros/Children’s Day, Book Day. “Día” as it’s now known, is a daily commitment to link all children to books, languages and cultures, day by day, día por día. Día is now housed at the Association for Library Services to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association. Every year, across the country, libraries, schools, community organizations and others plan book fiestas that culminate with April Día celebrations to unite communities.
Here’s what Mora told Mamiverse about what the celebration means to her, and what she hopes it means to children and families everywhere.
Mamiverse: What inspired you to create Día?
Mora: When in 1996, I learned about the Mexican tradition of annually celebrating El día del niño on April 30, I thought: what fun and how important it could be for those of us who love children and books to work together to create a new annual tradition, what we now call Día. Annually, we celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Nuestros niños want their day too, a special day. Día has grown to be a daily commitment to link all children to books, languages and cultures.
Mamiverse: What do you hope Día will accomplish?
Mora: Holidays and national celebrations are reminders to us that celebrations unite. Wanting to share what I call bookjoy, I believed that we need an annual occasion to celebrate children; and for local and national communities to convey in creative ways: we think our kids are wonderful. Hooray for our kids and their potential! I also know the wonder and power of books. Not being an active reader will limit a child’s educational success; being a reader transforms and enriches a life.
Mamiverse: How can our mamis become involved in Día?
Become a daily Día Ambassador. Be an enthusiastic advocate for children and literacy. Excite your family, friends and colleagues about valuing all children and ensuring that the children in their lives enjoy books daily.
Share bookjoy by being a reader leader. Model reading and encourage all the adults in your children’s lives to also model the pleasure of the reading habit.
Be a Día Ambassador in your community. Determine if schools, libraries, colleges and youth-serving organizations plan annual April Día celebrations on or near April 30. Motivate them to initiate or grow their commitment and to start their planning early. Be the Día spark.
Promote Día through your networks and social media. Be part of making El día de los niños, el día de los libros/Children’s Day, Book Day an annual national tradition.
Support Día. Día needs you and your talents. Support Día financially and/or by donating your time and skills and encourage businesses, publishers and politicians to join the Día effort.
Mamiverse: What are you hopes for Día’s future?
Mora: My main hope is that Children’s Day, Book Day becomes an annual April national tradition, that just as we celebrate Mother’s Day in May and Father’s Day in June, we’ll celebrate Children’s Day, Book Day in April. Inspiring all who value children and reading to work together is a goal that requires our combined energy and creativity. In creative ways, we can promote Día as a daily commitment, day by day, día por día.
Mamiverse: Do you have any tips for parents on how to instill a love of books and reading in their children?
Mora: Since Día is a daily commitment to link all children to books, I’ve created some literacy tips for families to share bookjoy. A PDF of this poster is available for download or printing. (Editor’s note: If you haven’t done so yet, why not also take the Mamiverse Pledge to show just how important reading is to your family?)
Mamiverse: Finally, what is your favorite children’s book?
Mora: I was so lucky to have a wonderful mami who was a great reader. I think in multiples and seldom think of topics as singular. I don’t have a favorite color or food, for example. I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series and Nancy Drew books.
Thank you Pat, for working to ensure that all children experience “bookjoy”! For more information on Pat and Día, visit Pat’s blog, which is currently hosting its 4th annual Diapalooza. And don’t forget to share bookjoy with your children daily. A love of books is one of the biggest gifts you can give to them!