September 29, 2011

REFORMA in Denver

Luis Herrera, Ramiro Salazar, Pat Mora, Carmen Peña Abrego
I felt so fortunate attending REFORMA's fourth national conference, also its 40th Anniversary, two weeks ago. REFORMA was founded by Dr. Arnulfo D. Trejo in 1971. An ALA affiliate, REFORMA is the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking. As I said in my luncheon presentation, many groups talk about diversity, but REFORMA lives that commitment so though the focus is “Elevating Services to Latinos,” the members are, like our country, of varying ethnicities.

Dr. Arnulfo D. Trejo

On a personal note, it was so exciting for me to have my wonderful son-in-law, Dr. Roger Martinez, a historian, and my co-author, my older daughter Libby, at the lunch. The librarians were quick to take her photo which made me smile.

How energized I was by library students and experienced librarians so excited about Día. Dr. Jamie Naidoo, a professor at the University of Alabama, organized a Día Showcase and provided a helpful PowerPoint. He and I read Book Fiesta!, I spoke about Día’s history, Linda Mays, from ALSC shared information about the upcoming Día web site, and Beatriz Pascual, chair of the Mora Award, spoke about the award process. Energetic Jamie had organized a poster session and various Día librarians brought posters and information about their events. So inspiring!

Beatriz Pascual

Dr. Jamie Naidoo

Kathleen Barrett Dusenbery
In my remarks, I said that some people immediately “get Día.” They understand that linking all children to books, languages and culture is actually patriotic work since literacy is essential for a true democracy. So many committed librarians bring so much creativity and energy to their Día work. I smiled when one such librarian, Kathleen Barrett Dusenbery from Longmont Public Library in CO, later e-mailed and said , “I do get Día!”

I hope you “get Día” too. Culminating celebrations of the day-by-day commitment to link children and books will be celebrated next April, Día’s Sweet Sixteenth Anniversary. Be part of extending the Mother’s Day/Father’s Day tradition to Children. Join us in sharing bookjoy and annually celebrating Children’s Day/Book Day, El día de los niños/El día de los libros in many languages. We want Día celebrated in homes, libraries, schools, colleges/universities, museums, community centers, etc. For more information about Día including a planning booklet for your Día year, visit

September 8, 2011

Inspiring Sweden

As I mentioned in my September newsletter, last month I spent a week in the beautiful and proudly bilingual country of Sweden. Travel usually includes surprises, and this trip to Stockholm and Uppsala was no exception. At the Stockholm airport, I was pleasantly surprised by photographs of famous Swedish authors—including the children’s book author Astrid Lindgren. The time in Stockholm included a visit to Skansen, an open air museum and zoo. There, in the drizzle, I encountered the geese below as my husband Vern and I visited traditional homes and gardens and chatted with employees dressed in period costumes. Our hosts at each location cheerfully answered questions in Swedish or English giving us a sense of the families that had once lived in the wooden homes with sod roofs.

On the following day, we went back to the island of Djurgarden to visit Junibacken, a fairy tale house that honors the much-loved Astrid Lindgren, author of the Pippi Longstocking books. My youngest is a red-head, so years ago, I gave her some Pippi books. The building was full of children and parents enjoying rooms from Lindgren’s books. Lots of chaos! When Vern and I boarded the “story train,” considered the highlight of a visit, we were asked in what language we would like to hear the audio. No, the sets weren’t slick as U.S. theme parks can be, but I loved the way an entire building was dedicated to connecting children with books through fun, one of our Día goals.

Luckily for me, my husband’s conference hotel in Uppsala was right by Carl Linnaeus' garden.  Remember Linnaeus, the father of taxonomy? I vaguely remembered him, and since I love gardens, I became excited about a visit. What a day I had visiting the museum in what was once his home and wandering the garden rows reading the Latin names he had assigned and that I’ve been learning such as helianthus anus for the annual sunflower variety. What odd comfort to see the familiar Latin names used by gardeners and botanists all over the world. I bought books about Linnaeus whose life and journey now fascinate me. Bookjoy: through print being connected with those in the past whose passions affect our world.

September 1, 2011

Early Literacy Project

Sandra Lamm, Early Childhood Coordinator with the Library Department in Fort Worth, Texas, shared a project created by a family at one of the city's Early Childhod Resource Centers. Sandra wrote "Erica Rodrigues said that Let’s Eat! ¡A Comer! is the favorite book of her daughters, Julianna and Brianna, ages 2 and 3. Mrs. Rodrigues said they read the book over and over, and she said, 'What I like about this book is that to be happy you only need simple things.'

So for their project they covered a piece of Styrofoam with construction paper to make a table, and then replicated the food that the family shared in the book with items they found around the house. We took a couple of pictures – So creative!"

Sandra also wrote a description of her library's program. "Early Childhood Matters (EMC) is a program of the Fort Worth Library, launched in 2006 in response to the number of children entering kindergarten without the skills they needed to be successful in school. ECM is a neighborhood-based free program that helps parents and other caregivers of children from birth to age five learn how to prepare their children for kindergarten and beyond. Parenting sessions, resource materials, and high quality children’s books are offered in English and Spanish in six high-need neighborhoods in Fort Worth. The program is supported by the City of Fort Worth, a grant through the US Department of Health and Human Services, and collaboration with many community partners.

ECM focuses on early literacy and pre-reading skills. Pat Mora’s beautiful bi-lingual books capture the interest of adults and children alike, support early language and pre-reading development, and reflect family and cultural values. Our participants are delighted with them."