A day to promote kids' reading

Dia de los Niños/Dia de los Libros (also known simply as "Dia") is an annual, nationwide celebration of children, families and reading. Officially, Dia is April 30, but county libraries are celebrating throughout the week.

The bilingual celebration is an extension of Children's Day, which began in 1925 as a day to bring attention to the importance and well-being of children.

In 1996, nationally acclaimed children's book author Pat Mora proposed linking the celebration of children with literacy, and so Dia was founded to promote literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Marian Barker, youth services supervisor for Jackson County libraries, says the library programs will emphasize the importance of literacy in any language.

"The libraries are highlighting bilingual books," Barker said, "but our focus is literacy. We don't care what language our children are read to and read in, we just care that they read. Reading to children builds literacy, sets the foundation for learning in the future."

Barker went on to cite some scary statistics about the impact of poor literacy in young people. For example, some states reportedly project how many prison beds they will need in the future based on the number of kids currently in fourth-grade who can't read.

At the Ashland branch library, Dia events include a bilingual story time and a presentation of Ballet Folklorico, a traditional Mexican folk dance featuring amazing costumes. Ashland childrens' librarian Perii Hauschild-Owen says it has been especially fun in Ashland preparing for the Dia events.

"This day is following right on the heels of our Guanuajato visitors and it has been great because it has allowed us the opportunity to put lots of Spanish language books front and center," Hauschild-Owen said.

She added that Spanish is the most supported non-English language in public libraries.

"In Ashland, we have been working on developing our Spanish language collection and this is an opportunity to spotlight how that collection has grown."

Hauschild-Owen also said that while the celebration emphasizes Spanish language books and multiculturalism, the main goal is literacy.

"We want children to enjoy reading, we want parents to enjoy reading to their children," she said.

I can't say enough how much I adore our Jackson County libraries and librarians. They are passionate advocates for early literacy and education. It is never too early to prepare children for success as readers. Through its literacy programs and events like Dia, libraries are working with parents to help raise avid readers, who will grow up to raise avid readers of their own. Besides, a good time is a good time in any language, so vaya a la biblioteca to enjoy the events next week.

Upcoming Dia events

Bilingual story time with Anna Campuzano on Monday, April 27 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ashland branch library, and Saturday, April 25 at 1 p.m. at the Medford branch.

Ballet Folklorico on Wednesday, April 29 at 4:30 p.m. at the Ashland branch library, and Tuesday, April 28 at 5 p.m. at the Talent branch.

For more information call 774-6996 or visit www.jcls.org.

Tidings staff writer Vickie Aldous and Tidings correspondent Angela Howe-Decker alternate as author of the weekly column Quills & Queues.

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