Día turns 20

April 30 is a special day on the calendar of librarians, teachers, and literacy advocates across the U.S. This is the day that we have traditionally observed El día de los niños, El día de los libros, Day of the child, Day of the book. And this year’s observance of “Día” is especially important as this is the 20th anniversary of this national celebration of the power of books and reading to change young lives, with special emphasis on multicultural children and families and the materials that mirror their experience.

The children’s author Pat Mora first began promoting Día on April 30, 1996, because she correctly observed that no other day existed on the calendar on which to celebrate children and reading. In the 20 years since, with the support of a wide array of literacy, library, and education groups nationally, and through Ms. Mora’s passionate dedication to this cause, Día is now celebrated in thousands of libraries and schools across the U.S. The celebration now stretches throughout April and into May and, indeed, Ms. Mora stresses that “every day is book day.”

This year in Texas, in observance of 20th anniversary of Día, the Texas Center for the Book at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission launched our own Texas-based “Lone Star Día” celebration, urging libraries and schools across the state to take the opportunity to hold events specifically tailored to the children of the many and varied cultures that now define the State of Texas. We hosted an appearance by Ms. Mora in Austin in February to kick off our celebration, we designed and distributed to every public library branch in Texas posters with artwork from Ms. Mora’s book “Book Fiesta!” by artist Rafael López, and we promoted the importance of Día with librarians across the state. And currently on the front of our building we are proudly waving a banner with our Lone Star Día poster design.

We hope that our efforts will prove to have renewed excitement among Texas libraries to redouble their efforts to bring literacy services–or in the more colorful words of Pat Mora–“Book Joy” to the children and families of their communities. As Pat reminds us, building literacy is important, even patriotic work, and we are uniquely positioned to make a difference in the lives of these children.

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