This week we mark an important milestone in efforts to encourage young people to read. April 30 is the 25th anniversary of Children’s Day, Book Day (in Spanish, El día de los niños, el día de los libros), an annual celebration of the power of books and reading to shape the lives of children of all cultures and backgrounds. But this day is more than an annual observation, it is a year-long commitment to encouraging literacy and a lifelong love of books and reading for children of all backgrounds. As we say, “every day is book day.”
At the Texas State Library and Archives Commission, through our Lone Star Día program, a project of the Texas Center for the Book, we encourage libraries to celebrate Children’s Day, Book Day with local celebrations of this important national program.
This celebration is the brainchild of Pat Mora, the noted author of dozens of books for children, young adults, and adults, who in 1996 proposed the idea of a day to celebrate literacy for children of all cultures, based on the Mexican tradition of El día del niño, celebrated every year on April 30. Over the last quarter century, with Pat’s dedication and motivation and support from organizations such as REFORMA and the Association for Library Services for Children of the American Library Association, Día (as the observance is informally known) has grown to be observed by thousands of libraries and schools in communities large and small across the U.S.
Why is this important? There is much research supporting the fact that early literacy has many well-proven advantages for the child, the family, and society. Children who enter school reading or ready to read are more successful in school and later life. Studies by the National Endowment for the Arts and other researchers have found that readers tend to be more engaged participants in democratic institutions like voting, volunteerism, and community service. And it is important for children of differing cultures to experience books that are both mirrors of their own experience and windows into the experiences of other people.
For years Pat Mora has talked about “Bookjoy,” a term that needs no explanation for anyone who has found in books a launching pad to a world of discovery, reflection, learning, and shared experience. Each year, Children’s Day, Book Day helps many thousands of children across the United States come into contact with the world of books and reading that has the potential to change their lives. You can find many great resources on our Lone Star Día page (such as this Día Resource Guide) and on Pat Mora’s website for how you can plan Children’s Day, Book Day celebrations in your library.
There is nothing more satisfying than reading a book with a child. I hope for this year’s Children’s Day, Book Day, Lone Star Día you are able to do that either in your personal life or via your library work. And thank you to the many librarians who nurture Bookjoy every day.
Links in this article:
Texas Center for the Book Lone Star Día page: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/lonestardia
Pat Mora’s website: https://www.patmora.com/#
More about REFORMA: http://www.ala.org/aboutala/affiliates/affiliates/reforma
More about ALSC: http://www.ala.org/alsc/
CDBD resources on Pat’s website: https://www.patmora.com/dia-resources-to-share/
Día Resource Guide: http://dia.ala.org/sites/default/files/resources/DiaResourceGuide.pdf
Example of research regarding the impact of the arts, including reading and library use on student achievement: https://www.arts.gov/impact/research/publications/arts-and-achievement-risk-youth-findings-four-longitudinal-studies