December 30, 2010

Wishing You a Happy & Healthy 2011

“Does it snow in Santa Fe?” people often ask in disbelief. Perhaps because they associate the desert with cactus, sand and intense heat, they forget that Santa Fe is in the Rockies at 7,000 feet. These photos are of the 8 inches of snow that recently brought snow’s hush here.

We’ve posted the new video from my fall visit at the National Book Festival and have created a section on Amazon though I always also encourage readers to patronize their local independent book store.

I hope you’ve been finding the Día Nuggets helpful. We’ll be adding Nuggets now through April 2011 on both the website and blog (with links to a downloadable packet of all Nuggets) and welcome your ideas for our second Díapalooza that will occur throughout April.

Like many of you, I’ve been trying to bring order to my desk as the year ends. Am I failing! The stack of papers keeps growing—and growing. I did manage to begin my holiday baking and made bizcochitos, New Mexico’s anise-flavored state cookie. Anyone else out there have a state cookie?

My warm thanks to each of you who has visited this blog in 2010 and a particular thanks to all who are planning 15th Anniversary April Día Celebrations in your community. My hope is that you feel welcome at my web homes, the site and blog, and that you find your visits helpful.

Wishing you holiday bookjoy!

December 23, 2010

Happy Holidays!

May these days be joyful for you and yours!

Good Día news ...
Early this week, ALSC announced 15 winners of El día de los niños/El día del los libros mini-grants.  Intended as an expansion of Día, the mini-grants have been awarded to libraries that demonstrated a need to better address the diverse backgrounds within their communities. The mini-grants are part of ALSC’s Everyone Reads @ your library grant, generously funded by the Dollar General Literacy Foundation.

It really makes me smile to think of those libraries putting these funds to good use. 

December 16, 2010

15 Día Nuggets: #4 Mora Award Winners & #5 Places to Celebrate Día

Today, we're posting two new Día Nuggets!  All available Nuggets are on Pat's website, and you can also download a Nugget packet.

If you visit this blog or my web site, you know that April 2011, we’re celebrating Día’s 15th Anniversary. My web team and I were so pleased at comments about our first Díapalooza last April that we’re having a second Díapalooza in 2011. To assist those of you planning Día celebrations at your schools, libraries, etc., we’re sharing 15 Día Nuggets, 15 lists of 15 items to assist you in your planning. During Díapalooza 2011, we’ll showcase the 15 Día Dynamos, 15 Mora Award winners and the 15 Día Nuggets, etc. Send us your I-días!

15 Día Nuggets for Día’s 15th Anniversary
Nugget #4 Mora Award Winners

1. 2010  The Arthur F. Turner Community Library, West Sacramento, CA
2. 2010  Pima County Public Library, Tucson, AZ
3. 2010  Santa Barbara Public Library System, Santa Barbara, CA
4. 2009  San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco, CA
5. 2009  Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, Topeka, KS
6. 2008  Riverside County Library System, Riverside, CA
7. 2008  Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC
8. 2007  Broward County Library, Fort Lauderdale, FL
9. 2006  Kenton County Public Library, Covington, KY
10. 2005  REFORMA de Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
11. 2004  Providence Public Library, Providence, RI
12. 2003  Corvallis-Benton County Public Library, Corvallis, OR
13. 2002  Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR
14. 2001  El Paso Public Library, El Paso, TX
15. 2000  Austin Public Library, Austin, TX

15 Día Nuggets for Día’s 15th Anniversary
Nugget #5 Places to Celebrate Día

1. Libraries
2. Schools
3. Homes
4. Universities
5. Community centers
6. Museums
7. Bookstores
8. Faith centers
9. Childcare centers
10. Parks
11. Homeless shelters, soup kitchens
12. Hospitals and clinics
13. TV and radio stations, the Web
14. Housing complexes
15. The White House, Governors’ Mansions, Legislatures

December 9, 2010

15 Dia Nuggets: #3 Literacy-focused Programming Día I-días for Educators at libraries, schools, and universities

If you visit this blog or my web site, you know that April 2011, we’re celebrating Día’s 15th Anniversary. My web team and I were so pleased at comments about our first Díapalooza last April that we’re having a second Díapalooza in 2011. To assist those of you planning Día celebrations at your schools, libraries, etc., we’re sharing 15 Día Nuggets, 15 lists of 15 items to assist you in your planning. This list is the third Día Nugget. We’ll post the Nuggets on this blog periodically and archive them on my site as we do the Día Dynamos. During Díapalooza 2011, we’ll showcase the 15 Día Dynamos, 15 Mora Award winners and the 15 Día Nuggets, etc. Send us your I-días!

Literacy-focused Programming Día I-días for Educators at libraries, schools, and universities
 1. Plan a reading carnival with book-focused games such as a book walk instead of a cakewalk, book bingo, and book cover matching.
2. Invite a professional storyteller to teach children how to tell their own stories.
3. Have children and families make and decorate their own books or journals.
4. Decorate school hallways with multicultural book covers, create special displays of bilingual and world language books from the school library’s collection, and ask classroom teachers to include read-alouds with multicultural themes in their classrooms.
5. Have a party to celebrate books. Children can exchange books as party gifts and play games about their favorite books.
6. Hold a book festival and parade and ask children to dress as characters from their favorite stories.
7. Plan bilingual/multilingual story hours featuring readers of various languages spoken in the community.
8. Include poetry in your celebration: invite a poetry slam champion to host a slam event or training; integrate a poetry reading with music; mount a photography and haiku exhibition; fly poetry kites.
9. Use technology: hold a book trailer video contest; schedule an author visit via Skype; plan an April geocaching event ( GPS treasure hunt) with book-related prizes.
10. Plan a creative presentation on Día as a kick-off for the 2011 summer reading theme “One World, Many Stories.”
11. Invite library users to “see the world through books.” Use a passport booklet that is stamped after visiting literacy stations throughout the library. Enter all completed passports in a drawing for free books.
12. Pair readers of different age levels for read-alouds: principals can read a favorite childhood book to elementary students; middle schoolers and teens can help with storytimes and schedule reading time at childcare centers.
13. Set up a photo contest with the theme of people reading.
14. Organize a book drive and deliver books during April as part of a Día celebration.
15. At middle schools, celebrate El día de los jovenes/El día de los libros, Young People's Day/Book Day, and have students plan and perform stories and original work at their own school or at an elementary school or library. Organize a Batchelder Awards (translated books first published in the US) book club.

December 2, 2010

This Month's Día Dynamo is Joseph Rodriguez

R. Joseph Rodriguez &
nephew Pete Ezekiel Rodriguez
About twenty years ago, when I was still living in El Paso, I received a letter from a boy in Houston asking if I would be his “poet friend.” The boy, Joseph Rodriguez, now my cherished friend, included his photo. The first ten Día Dynamos are librarians, most working in public libraries. With Joseph, I introduce other equally committed dynamos who don’t spend their days with library patrons. Joseph’s doctorate is in education, and he works at the University of Texas at Austin on improving teaching effectiveness. In the years I’ve had the pleasure to know Joseph, he has been a creative advocate for diversity and for literacy, for bookjoy. His passion and planning consistently inspire me. Gracias, Joseph, for your commitment to Día.

1. When and how did you become interested in sharing bookjoy?
RJR: In 2001, a group of community organizers and I got together to advance family literacy and promote college readiness. We founded the East End Education Project in Houston, Texas. We established “Bookjoy in the East End,” an annual program to celebrate the power and joy of languages, books, and storytelling. We established partnerships with the Children’s Museum of Houston, Houston Chronicle, Houston Community College, HoustonPBS Channel 8, and Houston Public Library, among others.

2. How did you first learn about Día and what has been your experience with Día?
RJR: I learned about Día in 1996, and since then I have worked with literacy teams and volunteers to adopt and promote Día. I have seen Día grow in the lives of children and families in places where I have lived: Gambier, Ohio; Willimantic, Connecticut; Houston and Austin, Texas.

3. What are your hopes for Día 2011, Día’s 15th Anniversary?
RJR: I hope that more organizations and schools adopt and promote Día—even on a daily basis—and recognize how relevant multiple literacies are to create and interpret meaning across world languages and human cultures. Literacy has been my passport to discover worlds beyond my own, and I want to share this experience and Día with more generations of readers and thinkers.

4. What helpful tip(s) do you have for those organizing a Día event for the first time?
RJR: My recommendation would be to adopt the practice of collaboration with organizations and businesses committed to linking families and children to books and diverse languages. Our Día work in many towns and cities across the country has been strengthened with people who recognize the benefits of literacy and multilingualism in the lives of readers of all ages, colors, and abilities.

5. What is your favorite example of Bookjoy as either a child or an adult?
RJR: A few years ago, I explained to an editor at the Houston Chronicle how our family would sit together in our living room to work on puzzles and board games or we would find our favorite reading spot in our house, including the front patio and backyard. Literacy happened everywhere and even in public spaces: riding on Houston’s MTA buses to the supermercado or neighborhood library or even while eating a raspa at the park. Words and ideas were alive—then and now. I am fascinated at how interconnected the word libre is to libro.

6. What are you reading now?
RJR: Every day, I read and reread to shape my thinking and creativity.

I just finished reading Pat Mora’s letters to teachers in ZING! Seven Creativity Practices for Educators and Students (2010). As an educator, I am motivated to practice my personal creativity with my students.

I am enjoying Evidence (2009), a volume of poems by Mary Oliver.

A native of Wisconsin recommended Rascal (1963) by Sterling North, and I am learning about a young boy’s adventures and how animals can become our best friends.

Since I was a young boy, I have been interested in the Statue of Liberty, which was originally named “Liberty Enlightening the World.” (Isn’t that a great name for a statue that also describes the power of literacy?) At a school book fair in Creedmoor, Texas, I found Lady Liberty: A Biography (2008) written by Doreen Rappaport and illustrated by Matt Tavares. The words and art capture the detail and history of this gift to the U.S. from the French.

November 18, 2010

A Grand Autumn

What a glorious autumn in Santa Fe! Though soon all the gold leaves on the aspens and cottonwoods will fly away, they have been stunning and a grand source of energy. I’ve been traveling again: two wonderful Texas visits, to Brownsville and Fort Worth. At the former, I met many children, and wonderful librarians and community members very excited about growing Día in that region. In Fort Worth, I saw about a thousand students in two days from 250 kindergarteners—at once, and beautifully behaved; to a group of teens interested in creative writing. Again, I met more committed librarians. How they energize me and how grateful I am to them and to the wonderful teachers with whom they work. And speaking of teens, I was fortunate to be on a poetry panel at YALSA organized by poetry champion Dr. Sylvia Vardell. I so enjoyed meeting librarians who savor working with young adults. My final trips of 2010 are to the Savannah Book Festival and to NCTE in Orlando.

This fall season seemed a good time to post an essay on leadership (and geese) that I wrote years ago. Interesting that many of the ideas surfaced again in my newest book, ZING! Hope you enjoy the essay.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving that includes lots of laughter and becomes a wonderful and sustaining memory in your life. I’ll have two of my children and a dear son-in-law (I call him my son-in-spirit) here with me. I’m giddy with delight.

November 11, 2010

15 Día Nuggets: #2 Funders and Partners

If you visit this blog or my web site, you know that April 2011, we’re celebrating Día’s 15th Anniversary. My web team and I were so pleased at comments about our first Díapalooza last April that we’re having a second Díapalooza in 2011. To assist those of you planning Día celebrations at your schools, libraries, etc., we’re sharing 15 Día Nuggets, 15 lists of 15 items to assist you in your planning. This list is the second Día Nugget. We’ll post the Nuggets on this blog periodically and archive them on my site as we do the Día Dynamos. During Díapalooza, we’ll showcase the 15 Día Dynamos, 15 Mora Award winners and the 15 Día Nuggets, etc. Send us your I-días!

15 Día Nuggets for Día’s 15th Anniversary
#2 Possible Funders and Partners for Your Día Celebration

1. Foundations, corporations, banks
2. Local businesses and food stores
3. Media: newspapers, including those in languages other than English, TV and radio, especially public stations
4. Churches, synagogues, mosques, and other faith-based communities
5. Service organizations: Lions, Kiwanis, Rotary, United Way etc.
6. Book stores: independents and chains
7. Youth organizations: Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Boys/Girls Clubs, YMCA/YWCA, etc.
8. State and regional chapters of REFORMA, IRA, NAEYC, NCTE
9. Children’s museums, community, and cultural centers
10. Childcare centers, Head Start, Even Start, after school programs
11. Health centers/organizations, WIC, physicians, dentists
12. Departments of Parks and Recreation; Police and Fire Departments
13. Parent organizations, Library Friends groups
14. Professional and Amateur Sports teams
15. State and local governmental offices: Governor, Mayor, Children’s Services

Thanks for joining Día’s National Community & sharing bookjoy!
Good Luck! Pat Mora

Click here to download a pdf of available Día Nuggets.

November 4, 2010

Two Día News Flashes: Jeanette Larson Is a Día Dynamo and Exciting Día News from ALSC

How grateful I am to my friend Texas librarian Jeanette Larson who has been an active Día supporter from the beginning. The key word in that first sentence is “active.” Jeanette is a do-er. Long before I was that familiar with the Web, it was Jeanette who said, “We need to get Día on the Web, and we need a Día booklet.” What a gift to me and Día. As you’ll see in her answers, through the years, Jeanette has been helping Día grow, and now she has completed an ALA book, El día de los ninos/El día de los libros: Building a Culture of Literacy in Your Community Through Día. Gracias, Jeanette. (And don’t you love her Halloween answer below?)

1. When and how did you become interested in sharing bookjoy?
JL: My parents both were big readers and they shared bookjoy with all of us. I remember being about 6 or 7 years old and teaching my younger siblings to read. As I recall, or have been told, I did that primarily by sharing books and reading to them. We always received books as gifts.

2. How did you first learn about Día and what has been your experience with Día?
JL: It was very early in Pat's planning and promotion. I don't even remember how or where I met Pat but I was working at the Texas State Library when she was starting Día. Part of my work included helping libraries plan programs and services. Pat mentioned Día and her desire to encourage libraries to participate. We had just finished creating a resource guide for Read to Your Bunny, an early literacy project started by author/illustrator Rosemary Wells and I suggested to Pat that we create a similar manual for Día to help libraries get started. We gave that manual, which is still available at, to hundreds of libraries in Texas and also made it available to libraries in Florida and any other libraries that wanted it. I also worked with Austin Public Library on several of their celebrations and served on the Texas Library Association's committee to create the Día Toolkit. Even as a professor for Texas Woman's University I include Día in my classes and encourage students to create sample programs for libraries. My latest Día project is a book for ALA/ALSC that will be published in April 2011.

3.What are your hopes for Día 2011, Día’s 15th Anniversary?
JL: I really hope that like a Quinceañera, the 15th anniversary marks a "coming of age" for Día. It has flourished and has many friends and supporters but it can now mature and reach its full potential. I'd like to see more libraries, especially school libraries, celebrating bilingual literacy and my hope is that more languages can be encompassed in that celebration.

4. What helpful tip(s) do you have for those organizing a Día event for the first time?
JL: Start small and grow. Don't be afraid to ask for support and assistance. People are very willing to help. Read El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros: Building a Culture of Literacy in Your Community through Día (ALA, 2011) as it provides tons of information on organizing and expanding Día events.

5.What is your favorite example of Bookjoy as either a child or an adult?
JL: At Halloween I give out books along with the candy. It's wonderful to see the delight in a child's face when he or she gets to pick a book. Sometimes the kids are not even interested in the candy; they know that the book is the real treat!

6. What are you reading now?
JL: I am on a non-fiction award committee so I'm reading a lot for that. I usually read a least two books and listen to an audiobook at the same time so there are really too many titles to list. I just finished Border Crossing by Jessica Lee Anderson and The Cupcake Queen by Heather Hepler. I love mysteries so am reading Hit List: The Best of Latino Mystery edited by Sarah Cortez and Liz Martínez. For my book discussion group I'm reading The Birthing House by Christopher Ransom. Another type of bookjoy is the joy of discovering a book I might not have read without some encouragement.

Exciting Día News from ALSC!

Beginning Tuesday, November 2, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is pleased to accept applications for mini-grants intended to expand youth literacy programs to include and celebrate a variety of cultures in public libraries. Up to 15 mini-grants will be awarded: up to eight at $4,000 each; and up to seven at $6,000 each.

Intended as an expansion of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día), the mini-grants will be awarded to libraries that demonstrate a need to better address the diverse backgrounds within their communities.

The mini-grants are part of the Everyone Reads @ your library grant awarded to ALSC from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation. For more information, and the application form, go to The deadline for receipt of applications is November 29, 2010.

October 28, 2010

Honoring My Parents on El día de los muertos

El día de los muertos (Day of the Dead) is celebrated on Nov. 2. This Mexican custom of building altars to remember the dead has become a popular celebration at museums in the United States. It’s difficult to fully express my thanks to librarian Sandra Rosales who with staff from Lark Branch Library in McAllen, Texas, created an altar in honor of my parents Estela and Raúl Mora also known in El Paso as Stella and Roy. This altar at the Museum of South Texas in Edinburg displayed their favorite foods including pan dulce (yum!), Mexican sweet bread which we all loved/love. Gracias, gracias, Sandra.

Why did you decide to construct this altar in honor of my parents?
SR: I am the head of the children’s department at the Lark Branch Library in McAllen, Texas and I had just finished recommending your books to a teacher so you came to mind. You are obviously very much alive but I remembered attending a workshop where you spoke so lovingly of your parents. I never thought I would be able contact you much less have you approve the altar for your parents. It was a fantastic day for me and my staff when you so graciously approved. We began to make plans immediately.

Have you constructed such an altar before?
SR: This was the second time that we participated in the Museum of South Texas History’s annual Día de Los Muertos celebration. Last year, we constructed an altar for Roald Dahl. You can’t get anymore non-Hispanic than Roald Dahl but we had fun with it.

Why is constructing these altars an important tradition?
SR: Living in the Rio Grande Valley which is on the Texas Mexico border, I had always known of Día de Los Muertos. However, neither I or my staff had ever participated in the holiday. We learned so much of the traditions associated with altars such as it must contain 3 levels, a bowl of water and wash cloth need to be placed so the dead can clean up after their dusty travel and candles to light their way. I remember going home and asking my mother about my grandparents and sharing memories with my brothers and sisters.

What were some of the topics for the other altars in the exhibit?
SR: There were altars for novelists Octavio Paz and Frida Kahlo. I particularly enjoyed the altars done by family members. One celebrated a young man whose family donated his organs. The family placed organ donor cards on his altar. I saw an elderly widow and her granddaughters standing by the altar in honor of her husband.

What were the challenges of constructing this remembrance?
SR: We had to work hard in order to personalize it. My staff constructed a flower corona with a picture of your parents placed in the middle. We printed up pictures of your family since we knew that your parents would like to be surrounded by family. Once you told us your parents favorite foods, then we made sure that your parents would enjoy their meal on their celestial visit. One of my staff members designed two mini-calaveras representing your parents. She placed a multi colored tutu on your mom’s calavera in honor of the rainbow tulip. Your father’s calavera wore eyeglasses and a suit and tie.

It is our greatest hope that you and your family believe that we have brought honor to your parents.

Here's a photo of Sandra at a recent goodbye party as she moved from a branch to the main library at McAllen. " For my going away party, I told the children that, the whole time, Miss Sandra was really a princess. As a princess, I wore my gown and tiara. It was so cute, I sat in my plastic lawn chair throne and my story time children came up to me with flowers and presents. It was a lovely send off."

October 20, 2010

National Day on Writing

Today is the National Day On Writing. The iniatiative, sponsored by NCTE,  celebrates the importance of writing in our lives and draws attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in. What better day to feature Pat's recent book Zing! Seven Creativity Practices for Educators and Students. In addition to writing about creativity in the form of letters to teachers, Pat talks about her writing process and offers numerous writing prompts and explorations for educators.

Here's a writing prompt from page 96 in Zing! (Corwin, 2010):

" Write a letter to yourself from a place you've visited, focusing on what was different from your daily life and how you felt about that difference."

October 14, 2010

Creativity Interview: Sylvia Vardell

Although April is National Poetry Month, poetry lovers relish poetry throughout the year. A lovely woman who’s a poetry lover and an extremely effective poetry advocate is my friend Sylvia Vardell. Not only does she write inventive books with ideas for sharing poetry, she proposes sessions and conferences to build an audience for poetry. Sylvia is awesome!

SV: What a thrill to be invited to participate in this creativity focus. Thank you!

Am I correct that you invented a poetry tag on-line? How do you create such imaginative projects to excite others about poetry?
SV: Yes, the idea of “Poetry Tag” was mine. I enjoy approaching learning from a “game-like” point of view because I know that children learn from play and I see no reason to stop playing just because we grow up! I try to think of new ways to approach old things and keep it fun and participatory. That’s one of the things I love about poetry, in particular, it is naturally participatory.

Do you speak more than one language and if yes, has that affected your interest in words?
SV: Yes, my parents were German immigrants and my first language was German. We learned English together. I do think this has tuned my ear to be more aware of words and how they sound—which has translated into a real delight in the aural qualities of poetry.

What sessions are you chairing this fall that connect educators to poetry?
SV: I love doing conference presentations, particularly about poetry which lends itself to ORAL presentations, it is a great way to showcase poets (who are not always invited to the party), and injects some variety into the conference docket. I have three coming up in November. First, I’m sharing poetry selections from our university “Librarians’ Choices” project of best 100 books every year. That will be alongside two of my doctoral students and will be at a local conference of early childhood educators.

Then, I’ll be at the biennial YALSA (Young Adult Library Service Association) symposium in Albuquerque with a wonderful panel of poets that includes Jen Bryant, Ann Burg, Margarita Engle, Betsy Franco, Pat Mora (!), and April Halprin Wayland. We’re trying something different for this audience of teen services librarians—I’ve planned a series of “interview” questions that poets will answer (like “If you were to pair your poetry with music, what music would you choose?”) and then we’ll have time for a “Poetry Improv” exercise where the poets will share poems in response to prompts (i.e., “No one “gets” me” or “My current Facebook status”). It should be fun!

Finally, I have a session at NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) in Orlando along with two fellow poetry bloggers (Tricia Stohr-Hunt and Elaine Magliaro) and 4 poets: Lee Bennett Hopkins, Pat Mora (!), Jame Richards (her FIRST time!), and Marilyn Singer. We three bloggers will be featuring the poets on our blogs for 2 weeks before the conference, inviting reader participation. Then we’ll share the results as well as other strategies for using technology to connect kids with poets and poetry. Finally, we’ll share the conference highlights on our blogs afterward, as well. It’s a new model for conference presentations that I’m excited about and extends the conference for people who can’t be there.

I do think of myself as a creative person, although oddly enough I have no aspirations to write poetry myself. I see my writing ABOUT poetry and my teaching and presentations as legitimate creative acts, too. I like making things— books, blogs-- but to the outside world they may seem like practical products, rather than creative objects. Either way, I love doing it—and that’s the key, right?!


Sylvia is a Professor at Texas Woman's University, an author of professional books on poetry and children's literature, and co-editor of Bookbird, the journal of international children's literature. She blogs at Poetry for Children.

October 7, 2010

This Month's Día Dynamo is Lucia Gonzalez!

I feel so fortunate to be working on Día’s 15th Anniversary plans with my friend Lucia Gonzalez during her year as REFORMA’s President. As you’ll read in her interview, Lucia has been a Día champion for years. She’s not only a wonderful advocate but also a fine storyteller and author.

I. When and how did you become interested in sharing bookjoy?

LG: I have thoroughly enjoyed sharing bookjoy in all the story-hours, family programs, book-talks, and literacy programs I’ve presented in libraries everywhere throughout my career as children’s librarian. I was a children’s librarian at the Hispanic Branch Library of the Miami Dade Public Library System when I hosted my first Día de los niños celebration in 1998. Since then, I’ve never stopped celebrating Día or helping others celebrate Día and share bookjoy. I also share bookjoy through the books I write.

2.How did you first learn about Día and what has been your experience with Día?
LG: I heard about Día through my friend and colleague Oralia Garza de Cortes during the Annual Conference of ALA in 1997. I haven’t stopped celebrating since that year. It has been very gratifying to see Día grow to a national initiative supported by librarians across the nation. In 2003, while working as Youth Services Coordinator for Broward County Libraries, I was able to establish Día as a system-wide, month-long celebration that culminated with a Children’s Reading Festival at the Main Library and three other Regional libraries in the County. Since then, Broward County Libraries continue to celebrate Día each year. In 2007 our celebration was honored with the Mora Award. That year the event was supported with a mini-grant awarded by the Association of Library Services to Children (ALSC) and Target. Our library system gave away some 3,000 free books.

3.What are your hopes for Día 2011, Día’s 15th Anniversary?
LG: I am lucky to have the honor of serving as REFORMA President during a year of great celebrations when we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the founding of REFORMA. We will have a great Día celebratory program at ALA Annual in New Orleans in June 2011 and at the Fourth REFORMA National Conference (RNC IV) in Denver, Colorado, September 15-18.

4. What helpful tip(s) do you have for those organizing a Día event for the first time?
LG: Celebrating Día is a community event that requires reaching out to as many community groups as possible. A way to guarantee the involvement of parents is to invite the children to present. This can be coordinated with the support of local schools, or by organizing a talent show where children tell stories, do magic shows, dress up in their favorite book character costume, etc. If the children are directly engaged, the parent will come. The top administration of the library, city officials, and prominent members of the community also need to be engaged. Let them know what Día is about and they will support the organizer’s efforts.

Lucia Gonzalez telling stories
5.What is your favorite example of Bookjoy as either a child or an adult?
LG: As a child, I read to my best friend, mi amiguito Jose Manuel, from the only book I owned, a pop-up book Puss in Boots (El gato con botas). My friend was asthmatic and whenever he stayed sick in bed, I went to his house with my book to read it to him and enjoy the magical and luxurious illustrations. When I left Cuba, I gave the book to him to keep it until I came back. Many years passed before I returned to Cuba. We were 26 years old when we saw each other again. He went to see me as soon as he found out I was back and gave me a very special gift, our beautiful book. He kept it all those years, wrapped in cellophane paper, waiting for my return.

As an adult, my greatest bookjoy has been reading to my two children, Anna and Jose Antonio. We cherish all the moments we spent reading together. Now that they are grown, the characters from those stories are part of our lives, common friends.

6. What are you reading now?
LG: I am reading a very beautiful book, a fictional work, about the childhood years of my favorite poet, Pablo Neruda, written by Pam Muñoz Ryan. The dialog and the scenes are very poetic.  I am enjoying it thoroughly.

September 30, 2010

Pat’s September Travel: El Paso & DC

Much as I enjoy the quiet necessary for writing, I also cherish the energy from wonderful audiences of all ages. I’ve savored public speaking since I was a little girl as did my mom who was my first editor and my first speech coach. Lucky me.

This month I returned to my home city of El Paso, Texas, and visited its two higher ed institutions. Years ago I taught at both. I was also an administrator at UT El Paso where recently I had the pleasure of speaking to many future English educators. Some were studying ZING!, some DIZZY, and some were reading HOUSE OF HOUSES. Both of my degrees are from this institution, so you can imagine how gratifying it was to discuss my books, writing process and creativity with present-day students. I also received a Literary Legacy Award from the El Paso Community College and attended their literacy celebration. I thought children would enjoy seeing me with this clown.

How honored I was to speak for a third time at the National Book Festival in DC. Like any reader, I was thrilled to see and meet writers I so admire. Once the Library of Congress posts the video of my presentation, we’ll post it on my site. I’m grateful to the LOC staff for all their hard work. A special time was being interviewed at the media tent by some students from Virginia and Delaware. Aren’t students special?

September 23, 2010

Creativity Interview: Diane Stanley

What a pleasure to introduce my talented Santa Fe friend Diane Stanley who generously agreed to share her reflections on creativity.  Do visit her new website and do enjoy her new book Saving Sky.

An Introduction
DS: I’m an author and illustrator of children’s books. I’ve been exploring ideas in words and pictures for over thirty years. My newest book, a middle-grade novel called SAVING SKY, is my fifty-first. 

1. Do you think of yourself as creative?
DS: Yes and no. I’m very much the product of two quite different parents and those differences work in tandem in my personality.

My mother came from a long line of extremely creative people. They were always telling stories, making art, and doing craftsy things. Mostly they did these things for their own pleasure, but my mother was a professional writer and a veritable idea factory. After her death I remember going through the papers in her office, deciding what to keep and what to throw away. I found file after file of ideas for books, magazine articles, projects. Mostly they never got off the ground—she was probably too busy coming up with even more new ideas to put any of them into action. I draw from Mother’s line of creativity, but I’m not wildly inventive as she was. I have to work at it.

My father, on the other hand, was a math major, a navy pilot, a careful, precise, orderly person. Like him, I’m meticulous, methodical, and tidy.

Those two sides of my nature have proved to be a good mix—more creative than my father, more diligent than my mother, I combine inventiveness with craft. My orderly life enables me to act on ideas when they come to me.

2. How do you nurture your creativity?
DS: As I said earlier, I work at it. If I’m writing a novel, I spend a lot of time actively thinking about my characters, about what’s going to happen in the next chapter, about the overarching theme of the book. I think about these things as I lie in bed at night drifting off to sleep, or while I’m driving, or taking a shower.

I actively seek new ideas from the world around me—newspaper articles, radio interviews, personal stories can all spark something in my imagination. Anything that strikes me as interesting is run through a mental filter: can I use this in a book?

I do a lot of research, looking for rich and wonderful details that will make my settings and backgrounds more accurate and interesting. But I find inspiration there, too. A description I read of how very public death was in the Middle Ages, particularly for great personages, led to a chapter in THE SILVER BOWL: The king is brought into the great hall, carried in on a litter by his gentlemen. All the people “in his hand” have been called there, so that he can say his farewells to them, and acknowledge his heir, and say his last words to his lady wife, and urge his knights to swear an oath of peace. The image of that vast room, with tapestries hanging on the stone walls, a vaulted ceiling overhead, dimly lit by torches and candles, filled with anxious people, still rumpled from having been awakened in the night—all of that came to me from some fairly dry description of medieval customs.

3. What are your challenges in your creativity practices?
DS: My greatest challenge is carving out the time for deep concentration. It’s not that I procrastinate or have trouble finding motivation. I feel drawn to my office and my work. Often I go in and sit down at my computer in the morning—just for a little while—and at ten or eleven I’m still there, in my robe and slippers, working. If I wake early, 5:30 or 6:00, I don’t continue to lie there, hoping to drift off again. I get up and savor some quiet writing time while the sky slowly brightens.

But there are all these other things that tend to get in the way.

My mental image of a normal day, my intention, is to be at my desk, showered and dressed, by 8:30 or 9:00. I work, stopping only for a quick lunch, pretty much all day. At 5:30 or 6:00 I’m finished for the day and go into the kitchen to start dinner. This “normal day” rarely happens, of course. There are the dental appointments, haircuts, grocery store runs. There’s the email and the phone calls.

Writers also have to promote their books—visiting schools, giving interviews, writing articles, posting on social media, filling out questionnaires for the marketing department, updating web sites, blogging. All those things are work-related, but they aren’t the real work itself.

These distractions chop up the day, interrupting the flow of ideas and concentration. I am hardly alone in this. I suspect all authors and artists struggle with it. If they’re wise, they probably ignore the emails, let the answering machine take the call, put a sign on the door saying not to interrupt unless bombs are falling or blood is flowing. I’ve never been able to do that.

4. Do you have a space that helps you be more creative?
DS: Yes. My beautiful office, with windows overlooking my garden, a wooded hillside filled with piñon and ponderosa pines, and beyond that, in the far distance, the Sandia Mountains. My children are grown, so when my husband leaves for work it’s quiet and peaceful in the house. My room is all set up as a refuge for me, with a comfortable chair, a nice big computer screen, art and books all around me. I sit in there with endless cups of tea, soaking in the silence, thinking and writing.

"Just one of many scenes around Santa Fe that feed my spirit.  Living in a beautiful place, feeling close to nature, enriches my creativity, too."
5. In what ways does creativity shape your work and your life?
DS: It’s essential to my life. There have been times when I’ve wished I had more time for my other interests—hiking, traveling, skiing, gardening, reading—and looked around at my friends, many of whom are retired, and wondered . . . But I know I could never retire. I could no more stop creating than I could give up eating and sleeping. It’s part of who I am. It’s possible that if I’d started down a different path in my life, never becoming a published author, never forming the habit of daily creative work, I wouldn’t have missed it. I’d have found outlets for my creativity through other things, as my aunt and grandmother did. But once the natural impulse to create becomes your profession, something you sit down and actively do every day, there’s no turning back. It becomes like a seed that is planted and nurtured, fed and watered and given a sunny spot in the garden: it will grow and grow; winter might knock it back, but in the spring fresh green shoots will start pushing up under the snow. Creativity is for life.

September 20, 2010

15 Día Nuggets: #1 A Día Checklist

If you visit this blog or my web site, you know that April 2011, we’re celebrating Día’s 15th Anniversary. My web team and I were so pleased at comments about our first Díapalooza last April that we’re having a second Díapalooza in 2011. To assist those of you planning Día celebrations at your schools, libraries, etc., we’ve created a Planning Checklist that we hope will be useful whether this is your first or tenth celebration. This list is the first Día Nugget, 15 lists of 15 ideas. We’ll post the Nuggets on this blog periodically and archive them on my site as we do the Día Dynamos. During Díapalooza, we’ll showcase the 15 Día Dynamos, 15 Mora Award winners and the 15 Día Nuggets, etc. Send us your I-días!

Thanks for joining Día’s National Community & sharing bookjoy!
¨      1. September-November  Form diverse partnerships.  Create a Día committee that includes librarians, teachers, parents, local literacy programs, non-profits, and funders.  Also, consider faith communities, university students, media contacts, summer reading club coordinators, bookstores, etc. 
¨      2. Clarify goals and plan your Día event(s) with your committee.  Select dates(s) and form sub-committees such as fundraising, activities/speakers/programs, media & publicity, volunteers, etc.  Design many creative literacy-related activities.
¨      3. Establish your budget, contact possible funders and partners and begin to plan your fundraising events.   Research available grants and file applications.
¨      4. Review your book collections and evaluate for diversity.  Compile a wish list and order what you can.  Explore options for book donations.
¨      5. Finalize locations and reserve rooms.
¨      6. January-March  Finalize program, speakers, performers, class performances, and special guests such as local officials and celebrities.  Prepare speaker/author contracts and make travel arrangements.
¨      7.Outline the publicity and media campaign including available social media outlets, PSAs, etc.   Remember to post your Día events at
¨      8. Order promotional items, books for giveaways, and craft supplies.   Also, order food and refreshments.
¨      9. Confirm attendance by leaders of the site for the celebration—building directors, principals, etc.  Since a Día goal is to connect with new and familiar families, it’s important for leaders to show their commitment by greeting attendees.  Include a Summer Reading Coordinator to explain when, how and why to sign up. Remind all speakers to multi-generational audiences to be brief.
¨      10. Recruit and train volunteers.  Design evaluations if desired.
¨      11. April 1. Decorate library and other venues for April celebrations. Construct signage, multi-language if appropriate. Design and create book displays.
¨      12. Enjoy your program(s) and document the event(s).
¨      13. Remind attendees that Día is a yearlong family literacy initiative (día por día/day by day) with annual, culminating family celebrations in April.
¨      14. Thank your partners and hold a de-briefing session.
¨      15. Volunteer to present Día programs and share successful ideas locally, regionally, and nationally.

Before beginning your Día planning, familiarize yourself with the many planning materials and resource information on the following websites:
Pat Mora’s site --
ALSC/Día site --
Texas Día site --
California Día site --
You can also attend regional Día training if provided or organize a training session with the state library youth services coordinator.

Click here to download a pdf of the Día checklist.

September 9, 2010

National Book Festival

The 10th annual National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, will be held on Saturday, Sept. 25, 2010, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Pat is one of over seventy featured authors at this celebration of  the joy of reading for all ages. Listen to a podcast Matt Raymond from the Library of Congress talking with Pat about her childhood reading, writing process and a new book she's writing with her daughter.

September 2, 2010

This Month's Día Dynamo!

I have good memories of visiting NC schools in 2004 thanks to the Novello Book Festival sponsored by the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. When I returned to Novello in 2007, I had the pleasure of meeting gracious Meryle Leonard. Meryle quickly took an interest in Día and has been a champion ready to strengthen the celebration in Charlotte and also ready to share her ideas and commitment locally and in her region. Thanks, Meryle!

Meryle Leonard, Outreach Manager
I. When and how did you become interested in sharing bookjoy?
My interest in bookjoy began when I received an invitation to view the site from Pat Mora. I found it a wonderful resource to get information, resources and activities to celebrate Dia all year long.

2. How did you first learn about Día and what has been your experience with Día? When I returned to work at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library almost four years ago, I learned about the wonderful Dia celebration the library had been hosting for the past six years. I was lucky enough to be in the department that hosted the Dia activities. My goal was to bring in an author for the event to connect the literacy aspect of Dia with the celebration. Lulu Delacre, Yuyi Morales, Arthur Dorres and Keizo Kasza enhanced our celebration with school visits and parent/teacher workshops.

3. What are your hopes for Día 2011, Día’s 15th Anniversary? Like most library systems, we are facing financial challenges. With that said, I hope that we can continue our Dia celebration, with limited resources and continue to expand our celebration to all children and all cultures. Dia for our library system means, “Diversity in Action!”

Día 2010

Día 2010
4. What helpful tip(s) do you have for those organizing a Día event for the first time? Start planning for your April Dia celebration in September and collaborate with other community agencies to expand resources and reach all populations in your community.

5. What is your favorite example of Bookjoy as either a child or an adult?
As a child, I enjoyed listening to my mother read fairytales to my older brother and me. She read the classic versions, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. I enjoyed the suspense and I enjoyed being frightened. Most of all, I loved the happily ever after endings. My mother died when I was six, but I still have the fairytale book she read from and I share this “bookjoy” with my children. I still cannot read The Little Match Girl, without crying.

6. What are you reading now? I just finished reading, “More Church Folk” by Michele Andrea Bowen. The author is visiting our library next week and I cannot wait to participate in the book discussion.

August 26, 2010

Landscape Inspires Color and More

What an amazing sight this week: the full moon. Like gazing at the wide Southwest desert landscape, the full moon reminds me how small we humans and our endless squabbles are on this earth.

My web team and I have been making some changes to the look of this blog lately. I chose some colors that say Santa Fe to me: clay shade of adobe, the word meaning brick in Arabic, turquoise often mined in New Mexico, popular in jewelry here, and hints of green, seldom the dominant color in the desert.

Each month, under the cover of ZING!, my new book on creativity, I’ll post a quote from the book. I certainly had some wonderful teachers in my home city of El Paso. Did you also have some memorable educators? I went to Catholic schools from kindergarten until I graduated from high school. In those days, the Sisters of Loretto still wore long, black habits. I remember my kindergarten teacher, Sister Margaret Ann who loved licorice as do I. To discourage her from eating it, Sister’s mother told her that it was made by cooking all kinds of candies together into a black goo. Licorice: yum! Sweet memories: yum.

August 19, 2010

Pat Talks about Bilingual and Multicultural Publishing

In 2009, Pat was interviewed for a planned update of the Texas Library Association (TLA) Día site. As part of the interview, Pat was asked the question: What is your hope for the growth of bilingual and multicultural books for children and teens?

"I’m a bit uncomfortable with the word “multicultural” which is usually used to mean work by non-Anglo authors. All books are cultural in that they are written by a particular person who is part of a culture, a way of seeing the world. I’ve been having the same problem with the word “mainstream.” What does that really mean? Given our national plurality, the true mainstream is diverse. So what are most of the books published and reviewed and honored? A protected stream? To change metaphors, America’s authentic chorus is diverse. Why all those voices are not fairly represented in the award system and published is a fascinating question.

I can feel mighty discouraged when I read the statistics that document the growth of diversity in the student population and the lack of growth in the diversity of the authors who are published for children and young adults. I’ve written about this topic for years and stressed the importance of diversifying the editorial and marketing staffs, particularly at major publishing houses, and the need for teachers and librarians to be vocal and effective advocates for the books their students deserve, books that reflect the students’ lives and stories. Though educators say they like and need bilingual books, publishers often say that the books don’t really sell. I begin with two assumptions. Publishing is a business. If an editor publishes books that don’t sell, that editor is in trouble. Since most people are people of good will, I’ve often suggested that conference panels with editors and librarians/teachers exploring this challenge could be helpful.

In the last year, I’ve become more aware that bilingual books can be intimidating to monolingual librarians and teachers. An interesting challenge for TLA, given its commitment to Día and family literacy, is how to assist librarians to develop strategies for using bilingual books with all students."

Read the full interview about Día, programming for teens, and reading here.

August 12, 2010

This Month's Día Dynamo!

This month Pat honors librarian Elva Garza for her faithful support of Día since its beginnings. Elva has advocated for Día on local, state and national levels, has planned celebrations, and has participated in conference programs that educate others and extend Día's reach.

1. Tell us about your path to librarianship and your work in libraries.

"I had never thought about being a librarian until I got a job my sophomore year of college as a work-study student in the reference department at Southwest Texas State University. I was amazed at how the librarians could find the answer to any questions that came across the reference desk and I wanted to be able to do that. I went off to library school at the University of North Texas with every intention of being an academic librarian but got my first job working for San Antonio Public as a reference librarian. After 5 years, I came to work for the Austin Public Library as a Branch Manager and I am currently working as a Regional Branch Manager overseeing five branches."

"In Austin, I have always worked in communities where visiting a library for enjoyment is not necessarily something families do, so it has been my job and the staff I work with to introduce families to what libraries have to offer them. Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros celebration has been one of the programs we have used to do this."

2. What to you is the biggest reward of being involved with Día?
"I think my biggest reward from being involved with Día has been the friendships and partnerships that I have seen develop over the years. These partnerships have brought new learning opportunities for the families we serve all year round. One of these programs has been the Family Learning Nights held in schools throughout Austin. Several of our Día partners get together to provide literacy based activities for families learning math, reading, or science skills. Families receive free books along with library cards."

3. What ideas do you have for Día 2011 and what are your hopes for the 15th Anniversary celebration?
"From [a small event in a church] we have grown to a citywide event where we had as many as 6,000 attend one year. We are just beginning the planning for this year’s Día celebration. We are talking about a month long celebration with events going on in our schools and libraries."

4. What are you reading now?
"I am currently reading The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. I have a ten-year-old buddy and this was his pick. He is a reluctant reader so when ever he asks me to read something with him I jump up and read."

5. What is your favorite example of Bookjoy either as a child or as adult?
"I was never a big reader as a kid; it was not until in college when I first discovered books written by Latino authors that I felt an excitement in reading. When I first read books by Tomás Rivera, Rudolfo Anaya, and Gabriel García Márquez, I was recognizing my family’s stories. These were the stories I heard from my grandfather and father -- the stories of the curandera, of living in a migrant camp and working in the fields, of brothers going off to war."

August 5, 2010

Children as Creators

What are you reading these days? I’ve been savoring some mighty special books made for me by the third graders at Hoffer Elementary School in Banning, California. Last March, I had the honor and pleasure of speaking at the Charlotte S. Huck Literature Festival in Redlands. It felt grand to leave cold Santa Fe and thaw out in sunny California. The organizing committee was warm and welcoming, my fellow speakers interesting and informative, and my sweet “angel” for the weekend, student Sarah Fiske-Phillips cheerfully escorted me to each event.

A highlight of my visit was meeting with those third graders though. Not only were they attentive and enthusiastic, they brought me gifts! In honor of my first children’s book, A Birthday Basket for Tía, they presented me with a large book they’d made titled, “An Author Basket for Pat Mora.” How I enjoy turning the pages and seeing the writing, art work and photos the students created after reading some of my books.

These talented students also made character sketch posters, a book of “thanks” inspired by Gracias~Thanks that includes statements and drawings, and a book about why libraries are important inspired by Tomás and the Library Lady. The children also presented me with a basket that day that included chocolates because I’d written Yum! ¡MmMm! ¡Qué Rico!, a lovely tea towel on which a mom had cross-stitched lovely poinsettias because I’d written The Gift of the Poinsettia: El regalo de la flor de nochebuena, and, one of my weaknesses pan dulce, Mexican sweet bread, made by a mom that morning because I’d written, The Bakery Lady/La señora de la panadería.

The children and teachers had decorated the room with their work including a bulletin board of “scary masks” inspired by reading Abuelos. The children said I could use the masks on “any kids you might know.” You can imagine how overwhelmed I felt at all the hard work that had been done by the students and their two wonderful teachers. I was also so impressed at the critical thinking the teachers had prompted in their students.

After their presentation, I asked the children how they thought I felt.

“Amazed?” they asked.


I laughed and said, “Teary,” which is the way I’ve felt as I typed this memory. I also received illustrated thank-you notes after our time together. As I say in my new book, Zing! Seven Creativity Practices for Educators and Students, teachers are treasures. My deep gracias~thanks to Ms.Gretchen Pelle and Ms. Kelly Mineo for reminding me how outstanding teachers enrich the lives of their students and for showering me with gifts and happy memories.

July 29, 2010

A New Día Dynamo

When my web team and I honored what we first called Día Champions in March 2009, we wanted to recognize a woman who embraced spreading the Día concept throughout her state. Flo Trujillo is still cheerfully busy with that work in New Mexico. Today we honor Día’s madrina, godmother in Spanish, a person traditionally chosen because of her commitment to the well-being of a child. In 1996, minutes after I was first zapped by the Día idea, the Tucson Reforma Chapter quickly volunteered to help. Soon after, my friend and literacy advocacy colleague, the respected Oralia Garza de Córtes, committed to connecting the Día concept to Reforma nationally. Reforma, of course, became the first organization to partner with me in growing Día. Gracias, gracias, Oralia, for your commitment to Día nationally and internationally.

I. Tell us about your path to librarianship and work in youth services.
“…[I]t was not until I became a mom that I fell in love with the fairy tales and the picture books that I read to my children when they were very young. … [A]t the newly reconstructed Carnegie Branch in Houston, [I met] Louise Yarain Zwick [who] had just returned to the states after spending some time in El Salvador. She was the one librarian who influenced me, mentored me and passed on her love of children’s literature and children’s librarianship. She truly understood how important it was for children to have a librarian who looked liked them and who understood their culture and spoke their language. She also imparted her vast knowledge of the classics of Spanish children’s literature. …It was Louise who encouraged me go to library school … My first job as a professional was as a children’s librarian at the Terrazas Branch of the Austin Public Library, actively promoting Spanish and bilingual storytimes, programs and services for the neighborhood children and their families.”

2. How long have you been a member of REFORMA, and why did you become a member?
“I joined REFORMA over twenty years ago, at the same time that I joined the ALA, ALSC, and EMIERT. I was a graduate student attending my first library conference. Louise had organized a program on Spanish Children’s Literature through EMIERT and invited me to participate. It was there that I met Sandra Ríos Balderrama … We became fast friends and true collaborators, working on REFORMA’s behalf to establish the children’s section of REFORMA.”

3. What ideas do you have for Día 2011 and what are your hopes for the 15th Anniversary celebration?
“2010 has been a banner year for promoting Día at the international level. … We hope to continue building Día at both the international and national levels. … As an organization we [REFORMA] will be enthusiastically promoting Día and the Pura Belpre Awards’ fifteenth anniversaries by encouraging Quinceañera celebrations throughout the community. At ALA annual in 2011, REFORMA and ALSC will debut Día and the Belpre’s Quince (fifteenth) birthday celebrations in New Orleans.”

4. What are you reading now?
“I just finished reading Mr. Mendoza’s Paintbrush, a graphic novel by Alberto Urrea (Cinco Puntos, 2011). The illustrations are stunning, and the story is brilliant. It has stayed with me still. I’m also reading Urrea’s Into the Beautiful North. I am thoroughly enjoying Grace Lin’s Where the Mountain Meets the Moon (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2009), a wonderful magical fairytale in novel form.”

5. What is your favorite example of Bookjoy either as a child or an adult?
“Years, back, I found my eight year old son quietly searching through the hall closet. I asked if I could help, but he was deep in thought. As I observed him, I realized that he was looking for a magic path much like the children he was reading about in the C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.(1950).That was a ‘bookjoy’ moment I will long cherish.”

This is an edited version of the full interview which you'll find on the Día Dynamos page of Pat's website,