Thinkfinity highlights bilingual resources offered by libraries during Día

Contact: Mark Gould
Director
Public Information OfficeÂ
312-280-5042
mgould@ala.org

NEWS
For Immediate Release
April 21, 2009

CHICAGO - As the nation’s population grows increasingly  diverse, hundreds of libraries will showcase their multicultural programs and services on Thursday, April 30 during national El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day).

This year marks the 13th anniversary of the observance, also known as Día, with libraries  hosting Día celebrations with family programs, including bilingual story hours, book giveaways and other literacy events.

To learn more about Dia, visit Thinkfinity.org/@yourlibrary, a collection of resources featuring librarian specific content from ALA. Thinkfinity.org is the Verizon Foundation’s comprehensive program and online portal to 55,000 standards-based, grade-specific, K-12 lesson plans and other educational resources provided in partnership with many of the nation’s leading educational and literacy organizations.  Content for Thinkfinity.org is provided through a partnership between the Verizon Foundation and 11 of the nation’s leading organizations in the fields of education and literacy

According to the 2000 Census, nearly one in five U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home. Of the 47 million residents who speak another language at home, 28 percent speak Spanish.  Spanish is, by far, the most supported non-English language in public libraries. Seventy-eight percent of libraries reported Spanish as the priority number-one-priority language for which they develop services and programs.

Libraries are changing and dynamic places that provide endless educational opportunities. Historically libraries have served as our nation’s great equalizers of knowledge. In today’s increasingly diverse and complex information environment, their multilingual resources are needed more than ever. Many offer multilingual library collections, and programs for Hispanic and other multicultural youth and adults continue to increase every year.

Through literacy events and programs like Día, libraries are working with parents and caregivers to raise avid readers.  Current research on early literacy and brain development indicates that it is never too early to prepare children for success as readers; and that avid readers are led by the reading habits of their parents.

“In a world where knowledge is power, libraries make everyone more powerful,” said Pat Scales, president, Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), the organization that serves as the national home for Día.  “Numerous studies reveal that access to books and other reading materials, and the amount of time children spend reading for pleasure, are linked with gains in reading achievement.  Libraries provide free access to books and information that celebrate all linguistic and cultural backgrounds, and we want parents to know that taking their children to the library is one of the most important things they can do for their child.”

Celebrations can be found from coast to coast. More than 25 branches of the Riverside County (Calif.) Library System will offer a variety of bilingual programming for children and adults, including author appearances, story times, crafts, games and music.  At the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, Ga., a day-long celebration is planned for families with children ages 1 through 12.  It will feature English/Spanish story times and singing with a bilingual storyteller, as well as crafts with an international flavor.

Día brings communities together. For example, in El Paso, Texas, the library sponsors an annual citywide event that takes place in a local park. Thousands participate in dozens of family-friendly activities and enjoy live entertainment, free books and goodie bags. Hundreds of local children also march in a special Día parade.  

Sponsored by the ALSC, a division of the ALA, Día celebrates the importance of advocating literacy for every child, regardless of linguistic and cultural background. It is a celebration of children, families and reading and is held annually on April 30. Día promotes library collections and programs that reflect the country’s changing populations.

ALSC is the national home for Día and works with Día Founder, Pat Mora, national organizations, such as Día Founding Partner REFORMA, to initiate communication and education efforts that promote Día to families across the United States.  REFORMA is the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking.