One of the most energetic celebrations of El día de los niños/El día de los libros has to be the celebration hosted by the Farmington (NM) Public Library. Since 1997 this library has celebrated bilingual literacy. The Farmington Public Library does many things that other libraries do, like bilingual book readings and author programs. For several years they have also hosted a tailgate party in the library’s parking lot as part of a day-long celebration with vendors and partner organizations. Community groups and organizations are able to distribute information about their programs for youth while also offering educational activities, games, and crafts for families. I love the idea of a tailgate party because it takes any mess out of the library while still keeping the celebration at the library. It’s also a great way to handle limited meeting room space and supplements what staff can do by having partner organizations provide activities and games. Check out the library’s website for a diagram showing how the parking lot was organized and photographs from past tailgate parties.
Not every library will be able to pull off a big event like this but Farmington includes some other activities in their programming that is easily emulated elsewhere. For example, the April 30th celebration of El da de los niños/El día de los libros also serves as the kick-off for summer reading registrations. One of my favorite ideas is the poetry garden. Children and teens are encouraged to write their own bilingual poetry or copy a favorite poem onto a paper flower. The flowers are then shared in the Poetry Garden/Poesia Jardín. Children are encouraged to bring a book wrapped as a gift. In a literary version of musical chairs, books are handed around until the music stops. Each participant then leaves for the day with a new book. Donations ensure that every child has a book.
Located in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, it is natural that Farmington’s celebration would include the Navajo language (AÅ‚chíní Baa Hí³zhí³ogo Bee E’e’aah Naaltsoos Wí³lta’ Bee E’e’aah is Dia in Navajo). Although you may not have Navajo speakers in your community, you can share this beautiful language and culture through books like The Navajo Year, Walk Through Many Seasons by Nancy Bo Flood. The text includes many words in Navajo with pronunciation assistance provided in the back matter and the book is beautifully illustrated by Navajo artist Billy Whitethorne. Salina Bookshelf, Inc. is the publisher of this and many other culturally authentic books, a number of them with accompanying CDs with both English and Navajo narration. There are other books that feature Navajo stories but Salina Bookshelf is the only bilingual English-Navajo publisher so check out their other titles.
Don’t forget that you can get ideas from other Día celebrations, register and share your own ideas, and find resources to support your program on April 30 and throughout the year at the Día website.