Dia de los Ninos: Dia de los Libros: Diversity In Action
By Joe Olvera ©, 2013
Gianna Garcia already loves books, and she’s only two-years old. Of course, Gianna can’t read yet, but, she’ll hold one of her grandpa’s books and turn the pages as if she’s really reading. She’ll even mouth some words to herself and outloud, pretending that she’s reading to her grandfather. She’s already looking forward to “Dia,” as it’s become known. This year’s celebration that features literacy and cultural attainment will be Sunday, April 28 in Washington Park. Last year’s celebration attracted more than 25,000 visitors, and this year’s promises to be no different.
Renowned poet and author of children’s books, Pat Mora, an El Pasoan who has won numerous awards for her writing, is credited with beginning Dia in El Paso, a trend that spread throughout Texas and across the United States. She followed the Mexican tradition of Dia de los Ninos, and expanded it to include a day that would help her celebrate her love of books and to share it with America. The Mexican tradition evolved into what became the first “World Conference for the Well-Being of Children,” held in Geneva, Switzerland in August 1925. Several countries then passed the “Geneva Declaration Protecting Children.”
“As a mom I knew that children often ask, ‘Why do we have a Mother’s Day and a father’s Day, but not a Children’s Day?’ Mora said in her website, Bookjoy. “As a reader I wanted to foster bookjoy. Aha. I said, what if we link a celebration of children with literacy, an issue central to the well-being of children. That day, Latino faculty and staff at the University of Arizona enthusiastically supported the concept of annual Dia celebrations,” Mora said. Librarians and book lovers in schools across the country loved the idea. On April 30, 1997, the first annual Dia celebrations were held in cities including Tucson, El Paso, and Austin. Since then, Dia celebrations have increased like wild fire.
With the slogan that: Literacy strengthens democracy, the goals of this observance from its inception have a included a daily commitment to:
*honor children and childhood;
*promote literacy, the importance of linking all children to books, languages and cultures;
*honor home languages and cultures, and thus promoting bilingual and multilingual literacy in this multicultural nation and global understanding through reading,.
*involve parents as valued members of the literacy team’
So, if you’re a mom or a dad, or a grandmom and a granddad, come help us celebrate this day that’s so important for the development of children. The book fair at the park features games, face painting, treats, and, of course, free books – 3 used ones and 1 new. Who could say no to that?