Dora the Explorer Supports Family Literacy During Día Celebration

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As the nation’s population continues to become more diverse, hundreds of libraries will showcase their multicultural programs and services this April 30th during the national El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day) celebration. This year marks the 12th anniversary of the observance, also known as Día, and libraries across the country will host Día celebrations with family programs including bilingual story hours, book giveaways, and other literacy events.

This year, through the generosity of Nickelodeon®, Dora the Explorer™ will support Día as its first ever spokescharacter. Dora can be found in libraries throughout the country posing for a special bilingual poster and bookmark that encourage children to “Celebrate Books!” (Celebremos los libros!).

“Día is an example of how libraries are places of opportunity,” said Jane B. Marino, president, Association of Library Service to Children (ALSC), sponsors of Día. “They are part of the American Dream, places that support family, education, self-help and lifelong learning.”

Most of today’s libraries provide a wide range of opportunities for people with diverse needs and interests. A national American Library Association (ALA) study found that the most popular and successful activities offered in libraries are English as Second Language classes, language-specific materials and collections, computer use and classes, and storytimes.

Spanish is, by far, the most supported non-English language in public libraries. Seventy-eight percent of libraries reported Spanish as the priority #1 language to which they develop services and programs. Asian languages ranked second in priority at 29 percent. Another 17.6 percent of libraries indicated Indo-European languages as a second priority. Through literacy events and programs like Día, libraries are working with parents and caregivers to raise avid readers. Current research on early literacy and brain development indicates that it is never too early to prepare children for success as readers.

El Paso Public Library in Texas, for example, will host its annual Día event. The event is extremely popular. Last year more than 35,000 people of all ages attended the event, and the library gave away more than 15,000 new children’s books. Libraries will host special bilingual story hour and author events. In California children’s author and Día founder Pat Mora, will participate in story hour event at Riverside County Library System, and Children’s Poet Laureate Jack Prelutsky will participate in a Día Children’s BookFest event at Broward County Library in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Día honors children, their languages and culture; encourages reading and literacy; and promotes library collections and programs that reflect the country’s changing populations. For multicultural book lists, Día brochures and tips on how to encourage children to read please visit the Día Web site at www.ala.org/dia.

Sponsored by the ALSC, a division of the ALA, Día celebrates the importance of advocating literacy for every child, regardless of linguistic and cultural background. It is a celebration of children, families, and reading and is held annually on April 30.

ALSC is the national center for Día. Through a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, ALSC is working with other national organizations, such as Día Founding Partner REFORMA: the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, to initiate communication and education efforts that promote Día to families across the United States.

Below is information taken from Providence Public Library's 2007 final report. Providence was one of the Super Sites for Día 2007, sponsored by Target.

Please summarize your programming efforts in a few sentences, characterizing your audience and scope of programming.

Providence Public Library’s Día celebration is not a one day event—we celebrate Día from January—April. The centerpiece of our activities is the Bilingual Young Authors Story Writing Contest/Pequeños Autores Bilingües. Children, ages 3 to 10, are invited to design and write original, illustrated bilingual books. The 3–5-year-old children participate in partnership with their parents and caregivers in our Family Story Writing Contest. In the spring, the Library offers a series of writing and illustration workshops for interested children, child care providers, and families.

Josefina Callender, a talented musician and storyteller with a mission to celebrate and share the Spanish language, performed an eclectic mix of books, songs and rhymes with children and adults throughout the month of April at seven library branches. Her performances coincided with regularly scheduled bilingual programs and provided an opportunity to welcome new families and child care providers to neighborhood library branches.

Our Día event, celebrated on Saturday, April 28th, began at Providence Children’s Museum. Josefina Callender performed, and families explored the hands-on exhibits. All children who submitted a book for the story writing contest were given 4 free passes to the Museum. The event continued at the Knight Memorial Library with lunch catered by a local taqueria, the Bilingual Young Author’s Story Writing Contest awards ceremony, a display of the contest books, cultural performances, mask-making and a free book distribution (Spanish-language & bilingual books). Individuals and community organizations representing different Spanish-speaking countries participated in a Latin American Cultural Exhibition.

Outreach Plan

Please describe your plan to ensure the audience for 2007 Día included representation from groups that do not usually use the library, or are considered underserved populations. What were your strategies to determine if your plan achieved its goals? What groups served as partners in your outreach plan? Did the plan achieve its goals? Why or why not?

Día and the Bilingual Young Authors Story Writing Contest were promoted in a number of ways, both through the Library and through our media and Event partners. The Library’s marketing department created numerous flyers advertising the writing contest, workshops and Día events, in addition to posting all information on our website. Library staff visited 13 schools, 4 community centers, 3 child care centers and 7 family child care providers to promote the writing contest and Día. Providence en Español newspaper, a wonderful media partner, published four articles (with photographs) about both Día and the story writing contest. Poder 1110, a local Spanish-language radio station, welcomed our bilingual outreach specialist to their studios to talk about the writing contest on air. Library staff (Bilingual Outreach Specialists and 7 bilingual AmeriCorps members) worked with children and families enrolled in our bilingual programs to mentor and encourage them to create books for the contest. Our seven Ready to Learn Providence AmeriCorps members, who visit close to fifty Spanish-speaking family child care providers in their homes on a regular basis, worked with the providers and children to create books. They also personally invited each child care provider to come and see Josefina Callender perform.

We feel that our outreach plan achieved its goals. New families attended the Día event, seven family child care providers participated in the Bilingual Young Authors Story Writing Contest (we have never received a book from a family child care provider before), a record number of books (88) were submitted for the contest, and for the first time we were able to provide a performer for seven of our branches. For this reason, a record number of people participated this year! We feel that the word about our story writing contest and event is spreading and that next year even more people will participate.

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