One of the best opportunities for professional development comes at conference. I admit that after 35 years working in libraries–and attending at least that many ALA annual and midwinter conferences–I don’t attend many of the programs. Been there, done that. However it was inspiring and informative to participate in the celebration program for 15 years of El día de los niños/El día de los libros. This celebration of bilingual literacy, born in 1996 when author/advocate Pat Mora was inspired by a traditional Mexican celebration of children, Día’s mission is to spread “bookjoy” every day by linking children from all cultures with books, and celebrating together on and around April 30.
Cynthia Richey, ALSC Past-President, welcomed everyone to the program and talked about the place Día has in ALSC. REFORMA President, Lucia Gonzalez, gave an inspiring overview of the birthing of Día and the maturation of this Latino “child” that was now celebrating her Quinceañera (15th birthday). Pat Mora talked about all the libraries that she has visited and the work that librarians have done to support bilingual reading and literacy. I gave a brief overview of the work that various states like Texas, California, and Florida have done to support Día and talked about the future. One major goal for the future is to include more languages. While many libraries focus on Spanish, the majority non-English language spoken in our communities, the goal of Día is to support all cultures and all languages. Communities across our nation have people speaking every language from Chinese to Urdu and we can celebrate the beauty of those mother tongues. Oralia Garza de Cortés finished the presentations with inspiring words about the importance of bilingual literacy and the role librarians play in helping all children feel welcome in the library and in a community of literacy. Oralia also reminded us to submit the wonderful programs our libraries are doing for the 2011 Mora Award.
After the presentations we enjoyed some music, visited tables to view information from libraries that had won Dollar General 2011 Everyone Reads @ your library Mini Grants, the Mora Award, or were willing to share their successful programs. Table talks are especially exciting because they offer professional development to the participants but also to the sponsoring staff. The participating libraries were:
Yolo County Library, Woodland, California (Mora Award)
Pima County Library, Tucson, Arizona (Mora Award)
Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Arlington Heights, Illinois
Nacogdoches Public Library, Nacogdoches, Texas (Dollar General)
Fremont Public Library, Mundelein, Illinois (Dollar General)
Then we all enjoyed cake and received a complimentary copy of Book Fiesta! by Pat Morafrom publisher HarperCollins. After all professional development should be fun and this was a celebration!