CHICAGO – For 20 years, libraries have been connecting children and literacy through Día, a national program that embraces and celebrates diverse books, languages and cultures. Experts say children must have access to and awareness of books that reflect their culture and language. The library is the only venue charged with providing these resources for free of charge.
On April 30 hundreds of libraries throughout the country will honor the 20th anniversary of Día by hosting multicultural events for children and families, including bilingual story hours, book giveaways and other literacy programming. For example the Athens Regional Library System in Georgia will hold performances by professionally trained storytellers who tell tales from traditional African American folklore. The Sioux Center Public Library in Iowa will present a puppet show featuring stories from Latin America as well as offer educational activities and cultural crafts. These and other events across the country are searchable by location and language in the National Día Program Registry.
A recent report by Pew Research Center shows that Hispanics and African Americans are more likely to say that libraries impact their lives and communities more than other Americans. They also say libraries have special roles and should embrace new purposes. Through programs such as Día, libraries are providing more opportunities for community engagement and deliver new services that connect closely with patrons’ needs.
“Libraries are critical to family literacy and multicultural awareness,” said Andrew Medlar, president of the Association for Library Service to Children. “Día reflects a library’s commitment to include and celebrate a variety of cultures every day, recognizing diversity as a powerful tool for strengthening families and communities.”
At libraries nationwide children’s materials are some of the most popular. Libraries lent more than 835 million children’s books and materials, according to the latest figures available. This is a 10-year increase of 22.7 percent. Studies show that children who are read to in the home and who use the library perform better in school and are more likely to continue to use the library as a source of lifetime learning.
To promote the vital role libraries play in literacy for children from all backgrounds, Día founder and children’s book author Pat Mora, Medlar and other library leaders will meet with Congressional members, in Washington, D.C. on April 27 ahead of Día’s anniversary. The visit to Capitol Hill will include a story time with Mora, Medlar and Congressional members reading books to local children. Library leaders are also encouraging community members throughout the country to make visits to their elected officials to advocate for diverse and multicultural children’s books and resources.
Also known as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), Día is a commitment by libraries to link children and their families to diverse books, languages and cultures all year long, culminating annually on April 30.
The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, is the national home for Día and the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA) is a founding partner of the initiative. Día is an enhancement of Children’s Day, which started in 1925 and was designated as a day to bring attention to the importance and well-being of children. In 1996, nationally acclaimed children’s book author Pat Mora proposed linking the celebration of childhood and children with literacy to found Día.
Through a grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, the Association for Library Service to Children continues to increase public awareness of the initiative in libraries throughout the country.
The Association for Library Service to Children is the world's largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. ALSC's network includes more than 4,000 children's and youth librarians, children's literature experts, publishers, education and library school faculty members, and other adults dedicated to creating a better future for children through libraries.
Established in 1971 as an affiliate of the American Library Association (ALA), REFORMA, has actively sought to promote the development of library collections to include Spanish-language and Latino oriented materials; the recruitment of more bilingual and bicultural library professionals and support staff; the development of library services and programs that meet the needs of the Latino community; the establishment of a national information and support network among individuals who share their goals; the education of the U.S. Latino population in regards to availability and types of library services; and lobbying efforts to preserve existing library resource centers serving the interests of Latinos.
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