December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

Dear Blog Readers,

Hope you are enjoying happy and healthy holidays. We’ve had snow in Santa Fe, and it’s plenty cold, but the sky is blue and beautiful above the snow-covered hills. My son, husband, and I were talking about the gifts we’re grateful for last night, and certainly one of mine is the pleasure of bookjoy. Aren’t we lucky to be readers and to want to share that pleasure with family, friends, others? One of my favorite books this year was Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. What a journey into the diversity and yet the shared longings in the human heart.

What about you? What were some of your favorite books?

We welcome your comments and suggestions for sharing bookjoy in 2010. Wishing each of you good books, good health, good friends.


December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays!

Maybe you’ve sung it while caroling, or you’ve heard it in the car or at home, but chances are you’ve listened to the carol “A Partridge in a Pear Tree” this holiday season. Give yourself or a young one a holiday gift with Pat's new book A Piñata in a Pine Tree! This new rendition of the familiar carol, with brightly colored exquisite folk art by Margaly Morales, trades medieval English presents for traditional Latino gifts – burritos bailando (dancing donkeys), lunitas cantando (singing moons), and luminarias. And wait until you read the sweet surprise ending.

Merry Christmas to all!

December 18, 2009

Día in North Carolina

Our interview today is with Lori Special, Youth Services Consultant for the State Library of North Carolina. Lori is a fantastic Día supporter, and she incorporates information about Día into her regional workshops about summer reading and other topics.

1. Why are you offering sessions about Día and “best practices” during regional workshops throughout the state?
The Youth Services staff member in the public libraries in our state are very responsive to the needs of the members of their communities and want to provide the services and programs that their customers want and need. My job is to provide resources to help them do their jobs to the best of their abilities.The promotion of Día is a way for many of the YS staff members to consciously incorporate more non-dominant culture into their storytimes and other youth programming. Also, helping the YS staff have the language to speak to the adult members of their community about the purpose of Día as a day to focus on the literacy and developmental needs of children is also helpful in some areas where diversity is not the norm.

2. Tell us about how you’re linking Día to Summer Reading?
Our State Library provides “best practices” to the public libraries in our state, which are their own autonomous entities. I cannot mandate that they do any programs. However, I can have youth services staff from around the state that have successfully incorporated Día in their summer reading programming provide the know-how and information of how it was done in their libraries.

Librarianship is very local and I am encouraging each library to make their Day of the Child meet the needs of the users it serves and the other librarians who are in the trenches daily can provide the ideas, support, and validity that, I in my ivory tower cannot provide.

3. What is the response you’ve received from librarians?
Much of the need for information about Día has come from the YS staff themselves. They have been the driving force behind the need for information, so the response has been positive.

4. What are some of the concerns librarians have about planning Día celebrations?
Many of the concerns center around the belief that Día is only for Spanish-speaking customers and their families and the majority of the staff do not speak any Spanish and they don’t know how to reach members of the Spanish-speaking community. What we are attempting with the Summer Reading Program workshop sessions is to illustrate how non-Spanish speakers can make connections and work collaboratively with others in their communities to bring the spirit of Día to everyone in their communities. The spirit of Día can work in any community with any non-dominant culture. One of the YS staff members in Burke County, NC created a festival with the Hmong as the focal point, as they are a large minority group in her community. This is the type of program where the “spirit” of Día is in full force.

5. Can you give us 3 “best practices”?
-- Forge links with members of your community. Work with school, religious, and cultural liaisons to forge ties between the library staff and the particular group you are trying to reach.
-- Learn about the people, their culture, and even a few words of their language and ask them for their help. Show them respect for being the “experts” of their own lives. Food is a universal language that everyone wants to share and everyone loves to talk about themselves.
-- Be genuinely interested in the people. If you are doing Día or any programming just to get brownie points, it will fall flat. Everyone, especially children, will eventually see through a fake.
-- Plan activities, events you would enjoy participating in yourself. If you are having a good time, the feeling is infectious.

6. I always ask this question when interviewing someone for Pat. Will you tell us one of your favorite examples of bookjoy?
I love to have someone read to me. As a librarian and a mother, I do lots of reading to others. My husband even likes me to read to him. I think that’s why many librarians are so fond of audio books. It’s like getting a pedicure at a salon – you could do it yourself, but there is something so much more decedent about having someone else do it for you.

Thank you, Lori, for taking time to answer these questions.

December 9, 2009

A New Día Champion

In March, to recognize her impressive work to promote Día throughout the state of NM, we highlighted Flo Trujillo of Farmington, New Mexico as our first Día champion featured on this blog. I have the good fortune to meet committed Día supporters all over the country. As the year ends, I’d like to recognize Ana Schmitt, who in typical Ana style, insisted that any recognition needed to go to their LIBROS staff at Multnomah County Library, winners of the 2002 Mora Award. Ana and her colleagues are full of Día ideas.
The LIBROS Workgroup

1. Tell us about the work that you and the rest of the LIBROS group do. How did LIBROS get its start? How many people are part of the LIBROS staff?
LIBROS is a systemwide initiative at Multnomah County Library that connects the Spanish-speaking community with library services. It makes services available within its libraries and in the surrounding community to a population that is underserved because of cultural and language differences. LIBROS got started backed by the Library Services and Construction Act (LSCA) grant; MCL hired a Spanish-outreach specialist to coordinate the program and to expand library services to Spanish-speaking Latino children and their families. A survey sent to community agencies, school programs, and members of the community identified information needs and obstacles to library use. Their findings showed, among other things, a lack of understanding by Latinos about the role of the library and its mission (public libraries were practically non-existent in most Latin American countries); lack of Spanish-language materials in the collection; lack of adequate programming for Spanish speakers; the existence of a transportation barrier which prevented access to the library; and the inability of library staff to communicate, verbally and culturally, with the Spanish-speaking patrons.

LIBROS began in 1998 and since then has been responsible for numerous changes to improve service to Multnomah County Library’s Latino community. During the first year of the LIBROS program, more programs for Spanish-speaking families were established, including bilingual storytimes at three of its branches; a collection of Spanish and bilingual books was created; and connections were made with other youth outreach programs for summer reading programs. In addition, library-card campaigns, library tours, parenting programs and presentations about the library were made available to agencies serving children and to local schools. Since it began we have increased the number of bilingual Spanish employees from one person to more than 30 employees in 11 of our 18 locations. The outreach staff makes contacts with the Latino community through our events and programs for adults and children both in the library and in the community. These include:

• Spanish and bilingual storytimes
• Computer classes in Spanish
• Intercambio language exchanges
• Regular music and craft programs in Spanish
• Parenting and literacy classes for adults and children
• Special events like Hispanic Heritage and Día de los Niños

Día Celebration at Multnomah County Library -- 2009
2. Please share your 2010 Día plans with us. Are you trying anything new?
For Día 2010 Multnomah County Library is planning 8 celebrations at multiple Spanish bilingual library locations. Each celebration will have 1 live performance as well as students' group performances from local schools. We will have 2-5 literacy activities and a few crafts at each celebration.

In an effort to continue to make Día more literacy oriented we are trying something new and different for 2010. We are planning to gather around a book character and listen to stories. We will have Latino leaders from the community read to the children. And we will be having 20 minute parents' workshops during Día. 1-2 workshops per location targeted to 0-6 years old, and another one to elementary school age children. For instance, we'll share and show the 6 Early Literacy skills and give parents resources to use at home like ideas to help their child get ready for school and a print out of CDs and children's books from the library collection.

Tips for Día First Timers

3. What advice do you have for libraries planning Dia events for the first-time?
o Plan well in advance; at least 6 months. It helps to have a planner with tasks, due dates and name of person responsible for each task.
o Make sure you have early literacy activities and performers that reflect the culture of the community.
o If your location is near schools (Head Starts or elementary), it might make sense to plan your celebration on a weekday. Talk with local teachers prior to see about possible weekday attendance.
o Promote your Día inside your library and out. Promote it during Storytimes and other events as well as through local schools, housing complexes, media, and in any other way possible.
o Get lots of help for the day of the event.
o Involve your community and include cultural components that draw the immigrant populations you want to reach.

Ways to involve the community include:
 Having volunteers to prepare for Día de los Niños activities and events as well as to help on the day of the event.
 Making Milagros, piñatas or other crafts to be displayed in the library is helpful in involving schools, children, and through them, families. Students' creations could be exhibited in the library before, during and after Día de los Niños. Families will come to the library to view them.
 Including local businesses strengthens community relationships and expands the resources available for Día de los Niños. Community businesses could donate raffle items, food, services and cash.
 Having service providers with resources and education to share. The neighborhood police chief could host a craft table, firemen could give tours of their truck and educate kids about fire safety, and health services providers could bring health games and information.
 Having after-school Ballet Folklórico classes perform is free and delightful for everyone.
 Since bilingual households are diverse, and there are many different communities with many different immigrant populations, it follows that the choice of performers or other cultural elements will be unique for each community.

Día 2009 at Multnomah County Library

4. What’s the best part of your work?
Helping patrons find the information and materials they need as well as providing programming and events which they enjoy and that promote literacy and welcome them to the community.

Seeing the joy on people's faces as they participate in programs and crafts at our events.
Introducing everything that is wonderful about the public library to folks who have not had access to a library before -- board books, information on school subjects, learning English materials, computers for job-hunting, typing up school reports, etc.

5. How do you share book joy?
We love books and enjoy sharing that joy for books and libraries through fun storytimes and encouraging kids to read whatever they're interested in. Día is a wonderful way to reach out to the community, make families feel welcome and enjoy all the library has to offer while they connect with the community.

Pat gives a Dia Angel to the Dia Champions and other Dia supporters.

December 4, 2009

Mora Award Winner, San Francisco PL, Pt. 2

We're continuing our interview with Barbara VanderBorght at the San Francisco PL, one of the winners of the 2009 Mora Award.

4. Tell us about some of your plans to celebrate Día in April 2010.
This coming year, for the first time, all of the Día events, including the big citywide celebration on the last Sunday in April, will be held at the Library. We are very excited about this opportunity to welcome many of our Dolores Park Día participants to the Main Library. Unlike many Día celebrations, the one in S.F. was not begun as a library event. Members of the library staff have become more involved over the years and we are pleased to be able to offer our site during the renovation of the Park where it has been traditionally held. We will also have programs in our branches during the month leading up to the big Día.

5. What advice would you give to a library planning a Día event for the first time?
Do some research. Determine who the target audience is and who your community partners might be. See if there is anything similar going on in your community already. Take a look at other Día celebrations around the country.

6. Please share 3 Día suggestions. (These can be ideas you’ve implemented, ideas you’ve heard about and like, or pie-in-the-sky wishes.)
We have found it is important to continue to bring in new community partners over the years, especially those who are interested in working on the steering committee responsible for putting on the event, and are bilingual with ties to the Latino and other diverse communities. We have also found that in addition to all the volunteer hours each of us put in, it is necessary to fund a part time paid position to act as a coordinator.
If you are having a large event with lots of activities, set aside a quiet space for babies and toddlers (and their families) where they can enjoy having stories read to them, or just hang out for awhile.
Seek out local authors/illustrators and performing groups that include children, especially those from different ethnic communities. Include as many bilingual books as possible for give-aways. Also, we designed magnets with a Día graphic and a few tips for families to help with the development of early literacy skills, as give-aways. They were available in English or Spanish.

December 3, 2009

Interviews with the 2009 Mora Award Winners

Today, we're sharing the first part of an interview with Barbara VanderBorght, Children's Programing Specialist at the San Francisco Public Library. The library was one of two winners of the 2009 Mora Award, which recognized their exemplary programing for El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children's Day/Book Day.

1. How did you feel when you heard you were one of the 2009 winners?
I was, of course, quite thrilled to hear that we had won the award. I am one of a small group of people from various organizations who work very hard to put on San Francisco’s Día event each year, and we were all very ecstatic. This year, 2009 was our 10th Anniversary, which made it all the more special.

2. Tell us why you applied for the Mora Award.
Most importantly, we wanted our Día to be recognized nationally for the collaborative efforts involved in bringing books to children, families together, and offering a special afternoon of multicultural activities and community building in San Francisco. The visibility and stature of the Mora Award is important because of its association with Pat Mora and REFORMA — the creators of Día, and getting the grant is like a stamp of approval for our event. There are hundreds of Día events all over the country, and being recognized by the Mora Award is a great honor. Also, since our event would not be possible without contributed funds, the monetary award is a big help.

3. Please share what you plan to do with the monetary award.
There are so many areas in which the monetary award can be helpful. We have to fundraise every year to pull together the money to put on our event. We will mostly likely put the money toward buying books to give away to the children, paying performers who appear at the event or possibly, for print materials.

Check in tomorrow for the remainder of the interview with Barbara VanderBorght. These interviews will also be posted on Pat's web site.

December 1, 2009

Bravo to the Chicago Public Library!

How fortunate I felt to participate in CPL's annual book festival Book-A-Mania. Kudos to Bernadette Nowakowski who began the event for families fifteen years ago in 1994. Bernie said the celebration has grown in wondrous ways thanks to a dedicated and enthusiastic staff, city support, volunteers and the assistance of diverse funders including Target. This year’s art was based on Book Fiesta illustrated by the talented Rafael López. As children participated in all kinds of activities, they were earning a free book. I enjoyed chatting with volunteers including high school students in a service learning project and some employees of Kraft Foods. I chatted with Sonia Ocasio Bowman, librarian at Morton West High School in Berwyn, IL, who is working with community agencies to plan a Día event for her community. I’m always thrilled to see high schools participating in Día. I met student teachers Gissel Escobedo and Arlen Hernandez who are going to promote Día in Cicero, and I chatted with Kimberly-Celeste Boyd who’s going to promote Día in the Chicago Public Schools.
I left Book-A-Mania inspired by a library system committed to sharing bookjoy, to serving diverse families in creative ways.