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For years librarians have sought out bilingual books–books that included both English and another language. We continue to do so and, in fact, several recent posts on listservs have asked for potential sources for these bilingual books. They are seen as important tools in the development of literacy and are aides in learning a second language. Reading skills transfer across languages and if you can read in one language you can read in another as you learn another language. What I’m finding interesting now is the increasing availability of polyglot, or trilingual, books. Yes, we’ve had a few books in the past that include rhymes, phrases, or songs in multiple languages, but each entry has usually been in English and one other language. I’m curious whether the increase in polyglot books is a trend that will continue and I’m also interested in how the books are being used in storytimes and with young children.
The Little Pim book series by Julia Pinsleur Levine recently released several board books with different sections of the text in English, Spanish, and French so that the child being read to can learn words in all three languages. Little Pim, the trademark panda, is featured in stories that showcase colors, feelings, animals, and numbers. Each page has some task for him, such as finding the red item or identifying the happy face, and pull tabs or flaps that reveal the answer or the correct item.
Another concept book, Counting With Cats Who Dream by Cara Armstrong was originally going to be published only in English and French. The story features short vignettes about different cats, where they live, and what they dream about as the reader counts cats from one to ten. I was asked to read an advance copy of the book and comment on it. Part of my feedback was that the book would be even more useful for a bilingual/multicultural storytime if it were also available in Spanish. Sometimes publishers do listen and the story is now to be released in the three languages.
So how are librarians using books with multiple languages? Do they work for storytimes? Are parents who want their child to be able to speak more than one –or even two– languages finding them? What other languages will we start to see mixed in with English and Spanish? Are young children learning to count cats in multiple languages? What other titles are out there? Please share your experiences.
There has been a lot of conversation on listservs and social media recently about using music in programming, especially bilingual or multicultural programming. Music plays a big role in early literacy and language development and studies have shown that music activates a number of parts of the brain. It’s easier to learn some things when they are set to music–many of us learned the alphabet singing The Alphabet Song and to this day I sometimes find myself singing it when I need to remember whether Q comes before or after R.
While most of us recognize the importance of including music in our programs and storytimes, finding appropriate songs and music in other languages can be a real challenge. Some libraries bring in performers as part of their programming for El día de los niños/El día de los libros or another special event but of course that may be affordable only once or twice a year. To include music in everyday programs and storytimes librarians usually will have to do it themselves. There are not many songbooks available that include songs from other cultures and in languages other than English but there are a few. It’s a little easier to find books with songs in Spanish, like De Colores and Other Latin American Folksongs for Children by Jose-Luis Orozco or The Bilingual Book of Rhymes, Songs, Stories, and Fingerplays: Over 450 Spanish/English Selections by Pam Schiller. For other languages try Skip Across the Ocean: Nursery Rhymes from Around the World collected by Floella Benjamin. In spite of the title, the book includes some songs and lullabies in English and the original languages. Unfortunately there is no music provided so librarians still have to find another source to get the melody.
Websites like Songs for Teaching provide a nice selection of songs in French, German, Spanish, and Chinese as well as songs from around the world (in the multicultural and diversity section) like Hello ‘Round the World, that teaches singers how to say hello in languages ranging from Hawaiian to Finnish and more. You can view the lyrics and listen to a clip of music or purchase downloads or printed material. Mama Lisa’s Worldis the mother lode for international music. Lyrics are provided in English and the original language and many songs have MP3 files or sheet music. Songs are available from every continent (except Antarctica). Even if you don’t speak the language, you may be able to learn the words through practice and add to your bilingual programming.
Burnaby Public Library in British Columbia, Canada has started collecting songs and
rhymes in many languages as part of their project, Embracing Diversity: Sharing
Our Songs and Rhymes. This project includes videos created by native speakers of songs and rhymes in 15 languages. Often the singer or singers (which sometimes includes children) are in traditional or ceremonial dress so showing the videos during a program can provide a more authentic experience. The lyrics and other printed material and links to additional resources are included along with the video. The site is growing and the library is inviting people to add to the collection by creating their own videos so the selection and languages will continue to grow. (Instructions for submitting a video are available at http://www.bpl.bc.ca/kids/embracing-diversity/add-your-own-video.)
If you know of other resources please share them. We can all help keep music — and languages –alive!
One of the most energetic celebrations of El día de los niños/El día de los libros has to be the celebration hosted by the Farmington (NM) Public Library. Since 1997 this library has celebrated bilingual literacy. The Farmington Public Library does many things that other libraries do, like bilingual book readings and author programs. For several years they have also hosted a tailgate party in the library’s parking lot as part of a day-long celebration with vendors and partner organizations. Community groups and organizations are able to distribute information about their programs for youth while also offering educational activities, games, and crafts for families. I love the idea of a tailgate party because it takes any mess out of the library while still keeping the celebration at the library. It’s also a great way to handle limited meeting room space and supplements what staff can do by having partner organizations provide activities and games. Check out the library’s website for a diagram showing how the parking lot was organized and photographs from past tailgate parties.
Not every library will be able to pull off a big event like this but Farmington includes some other activities in their programming that is easily emulated elsewhere. For example, the April 30th celebration of El da de los niños/El día de los libros also serves as the kick-off for summer reading registrations. One of my favorite ideas is the poetry garden. Children and teens are encouraged to write their own bilingual poetry or copy a favorite poem onto a paper flower. The flowers are then shared in the Poetry Garden/Poesia Jardín. Children are encouraged to bring a book wrapped as a gift. In a literary version of musical chairs, books are handed around until the music stops. Each participant then leaves for the day with a new book. Donations ensure that every child has a book.
Located in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, it is natural that Farmington’s celebration would include the Navajo language (Ałchíní Baa Hózhóogo Bee E’e'aah Naaltsoos Wólta’ Bee E’e'aah is Dia in Navajo). Although you may not have Navajo speakers in your community, you can share this beautiful language and culture through books like The Navajo Year, Walk Through Many Seasons by Nancy Bo Flood. The text includes many words in Navajo with pronunciation assistance provided in the back matter and the book is beautifully illustrated by Navajo artist Billy Whitethorne. Salina Bookshelf, Inc. is the publisher of this and many other culturally authentic books, a number of them with accompanying CDs with both English and Navajo narration. There are other books that feature Navajo stories but Salina Bookshelf is the only bilingual English-Navajo publisher so check out their other titles.
Don’t forget that you can get ideas from other Día celebrations, register and share your own
My family moved a lot and we moved right before my 16th birthday so I don’t recall ever having a sweet sixteen party. We had just moved a few weeks before my birthday and I didn’t know many people. Maybe that explains why I’m so excited about the 16th birthday of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day). I was there as this Día child was born and have been a loving aunt all of these years. What makes this birthday so sweet? So many exciting things are happening for the 16th birthday and Día has so many friends at the party!
Recently Pat Mora, Día’s founder, invited authors and illustrators to become Día Ambassadors. Check out the fabulous list at http://www.patmora.com/dia/dia_ambassadors.htm for some of the wonderful people who are adding their voices, in many languages, to Día. Books by people like George Ancona (¡Ole! flamenco), Jacqueline Jules (Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off),
and Uma Krishnaswami (Chachaji’s Cup) provide fabulous books to use during Dia programming throughout the year. Throughout April to celebrate Día, these ambassadors will be blogging, tweeting, speaking, presenting, reading, and talking about Dia! Many will be reading their stories as part of the 2011 Díapalooza (a month of Día posts) on Pat Mora’s blog, Bookjoy. These readings can be shared with children at your library. The first, by Margarita Engle reading from The Wild Book, can be viewed now with more to come throughout the month.
The Día Every Day concept is kicking into high gear with more and more schools and libraries including bilingual literacy into everyday, ongoing programs, storytimes, and displays. More school libraries are celebrating Día this year and have registered their programs on the ALSC map. (There is still time to add your celebration to the map!) ALSC has also released the newly updated Día brochure, and it is available in Spanish and Chinese versions. The Día booklist includes a wide range of great books, with some suggestions for books that are bilingual in a variety of languages. The celebration of languages is growing…and that is very sweet!
In one week, on April 30th, libraries all over the country will be participating in El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), the annual celebration of children, books, and culture.
This year, over 400 libraries will be celebrating across the country. Here at the ALSC office, we’ve heard from a lot of libraries that are doing some fun things. Here are a few examples below:
On Saturday, April 28, the Harrington Library of the Plano (Texas) Public Library System will be hosting an event with crafts, stories and an “Manana Iguana” puppet show!
On Tuesday, April 24, the Buckhead Branch of the Atlanta Fulton (Ga.) Public Library System will be be hosting even featuring Pura Belpré award-winning books, books authored by Pura Belpré, and a display about her life and career.
On Tuesday, May 6, the Brentwood (N.Y.) Public Library will be celebrating their 6th Día celebration with a storyteller/singer who will present “stories and songs of Latin America.”
On Monday, April 30, the Buhl (Idaho) Public Library’s afterschool elementary-age book club will host as many as 6 countries featuring books, posters, foods, and a talk about their country.
These are just a few of the great examples of celebrations around the country. Are you hosting an event at your library? What kinds of things are you doing? We’d love to hear from you. Have fun in your 2012 Día event. Thanks for participating!
For one month, ALSC will post a new idea for youth librarians celebrating Día at their libraries. The ideas will be posted to Día’s official Facebook page. Sharing your own Día ideas on the page is highly encouraged!
By all accounts celebrations of El día de los niños/El día de los libros were fabulous this year. In spite of budget cutbacks and lower staffing levels, as many or more libraries celebrated bilingual reading this year as celebrated last year! But whether you hosted a Día event or not, don’t rest now.
To get a sense of what went on this year and begin to prepare for the upcoming year, visit Pat Mora’s website and click on the short video to hear directly from Día’s founder about the 15th Anniversary activities. In her presentation, Mora reminds us that through Día we are trying to link all children to books, language, and culture. She mentions that we may have originally thought of Día as being a one day celebration, primarily to encourage bilingualism in English and Spanish. However, through various Día activities and programs we hope to encourage children to hear and read many languages and discover that all languages are beautiful. A new Día booklist, helps librarians find exciting books like A Place Where Sunflowers Grow/Sabaku ni saita himawariby Amy Lee-Tai (English/Japanese) or Line and Circle/lakeer aur goleby Radhika Menon (English/Hindi) that can be incorporated into world language storytimes. The downloadable brochure includes space for libraries to personalize the booklist before printing.
While it is wonderful to hear about all of the great programs from this year, it’s also time to begin thinking about the Día activities and programs you can do in your library throughout the year. As you begin to plan, add two continuing education opportunities to your ALA Annual Conference schedule. On
Saturday, June 25 from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. ALSC will sponsor Beyond Fiestas, Calaveras and Quinceañeras. This program (MCC-Rm 274) will be highly interactive and help librarians add contemporary Latino themes to programs throughout the year
through high-quality literature. One of the speakers will be noted author René Colato Laínez.
Immediately following that program, from 10:30 to noon (MARCC-RIver Bend BR), join Pat Mora, Oralia Garza de Cortes, Jeanette Larson, and others for Many Children, Many Cultures, Many Books, a 15th anniversary celebration of Día. In addition to sharing new Día resources, attendees will discover multicultural programming techniques for year round Día celebrations. You could even be a part of this program! Amy Holcomb, ALSC Public Awareness Committee 2011 Program Organizer, is looking for people to share table top presentations that are representative of the multicultural programming in your library that supports Día’s mission. According to Holcomb, program attendees will have time to visit the tables before and after the main speakers. If you are interested in being part of this
This webinar, presented live on Friday, April 1, was taught by Beatriz Pascual Wallace, children’s librarian at the Seattle Public Library.
For those who were not able to attend the live webinar, this is an opportunity to learn more about El día de los niños/El día de los libros. This archived webinar prepares librarians for the 2012 celebration with the history of Día, program ideas and information on resources available to librarians.
This hour-long webinar is archived at the ALSC Online Education website. The cost of the archived session is $25 for both members and non-members. Once purchased, the webinar can be watched an interminable amount of times.
Descriptions of other ALSC online courses and webinars are available at www.ala.org/alsced. For more information, contact ALSC Program Officer Jenny Najduch at email@example.com or (800) 545-2433 ext. 4026.
One of the best opportunities for professional development comes at conference. I admit that after 35 years working in libraries–and attending at least that many ALA annual and midwinter conferences–I don’t attend many of the programs. Been there, done that. However it was inspiring and informative to participate in the celebration program for 15 years of El día de los niños/El día de los libros. This celebration of bilingual literacy, born in 1996 when author/advocate Pat Mora was inspired by a traditional Mexican celebration of children, Día’s mission is to spread “bookjoy” every day by linking children from all cultures with books, and celebrating together on and around April 30.
Cynthia Richey, ALSC Past-President, welcomed everyone to the program and talked about the place Día has in ALSC. REFORMA President, Lucia Gonzalez, gave an inspiring overview of the birthing of Día and the maturation of this Latino “child” that was now celebrating her Quinceañera (15th birthday). Pat Mora talked about all the libraries that she has visited and the work that librarians have done to support bilingual reading and literacy. I gave a brief overview of the work that various states like Texas, California, and Florida have done to support Día and talked about the future. One major goal for the future is to include more languages. While many libraries focus on Spanish, the majority non-English language spoken in our communities, the goal of Día is to support all cultures and all languages. Communities across our nation have people speaking every language from Chinese to Urdu and we can celebrate the beauty of those mother tongues. Oralia Garza de Cortés finished the presentations with inspiring words about the importance of bilingual literacy and the role librarians play in helping all children feel welcome in the library and in a community of literacy. Oralia also reminded us to submit the wonderful programs our libraries are doing for the 2011 Mora Award.
After the presentations we enjoyed some music, visited tables to view information from libraries that had won Dollar General 2011 Everyone Reads @ your library Mini Grants, the Mora Award, or were willing to share their successful programs. Table talks are especially exciting because they offer professional development to the participants but also to the sponsoring staff. The participating libraries were:
For the past month I’ve been working with Linda Mays to update and relaunch the ALSC website for El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), also known as Día. Día is an enhancement of Children’s Day, a day designed to bring attention to the importance and well-being of children. Author Pat Mora added Book Day, linking the celebration of childhood and children with literacy and bilingual reading. On April 30, 2011, many libraries celebrated Día’s Quinceañera, its 15th birthday. That special birthday marks a transition from childhood and is a signal of maturity. In preparation for the new website, I spent time looking at the many ways libraries of all types have celebrated Día. The wonderful mix of ideas and the wealth of talent showed me that we really are entering the young adult years of Día. Programs have grown from simple bilingual storytimes to elaborate on-going programs that include support from community partners. In many communities, the library’s Día celebration has become a major event for families.
The new website will launch on Monday, November 14th. The site will include a resource guide and a program model for school libraries. It will also feature best practices from many libraries, highlighting the fabulous programs and services that have celebrated Día. If your library is not one of those selected, don’t despair; there were so many great ideas from which to select! Review the ideas submitted by your colleagues. Use these ideas as you plan your own Día celebration for 2012. You are also encouraged to register your program and receive free stickers and Día buttons. In 2011 more than 300 libraries registered through ALSC; let’s make 2012 an even bigger celebration!
There were many great and creative programs, but one of my favorites among those submitted is Souptelling, a program developed by Longmont Public Library, Longmont, CO with funds from a Dollar General Literacy Foundation mini-grant. Located about 30 miles west of Denver, Longmont celebrates diversity and community. Families pre-registered for the Día Souptelling program, a series of programs that focused on one region of the world each month. Prior to the first session, registered families went to a local ceramics studio to make their own soup bowls (pictured left). At each session, a local catering company served soup from the featured region. After families enjoyed their soup, they learned a little about the region and listened to a storyteller who shared stories from one of the region’s cultures. The program included greetings shared in different languages and music to enhance both language literacy and geographical literacy. At the last of the six sessions, families were encouraged to bring soup that reflected the cuisine of their own heritage and were invited to share family stories, pictures, and artifacts. The mix of cultures, food, and stories was a perfect lead in to the library’s 2011 summer reading program, One World, Many Stories. Delicious!
When we talk about winter holiday celebrations we usually think about Christmas and Hanukkah and maybe Kwanzaa. Often library programs and storytimes center on one or more of these festivities. Libraries that support El día de los niños/El día de los libros might want to add another celebration that is becoming popular in school and public libraries.
Las Posadas (December 16-24), celebrated throughout Latin America and in the Phillipines, re-enacts Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for shelter. Both a religious and a cultural event, community celebrations usually include a procession, followed by music and food.
In the library, share books like The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie DePaola, Uno, Dos, Tres, Posada! by Virginia Kroll, or The Gift of the Poinsettia: El regalo de la flor de nochebuena by Pat Mora. Serve Mexican pastries and hot chocolate and provide materials for a simple craft, such as making mock luminaries (also called farolitos) with paper bags and inexpensive mock tea lights. Sometimes a piñata will be available; a star shaped piñata is appropriate and generally easy to find. Instead of having children hit the piñata with a stick, use a pull-string piñata or, alternatively, keep the piñata for decoration only and provide a small zip-lock bag of treats for each child. Fill the bags with stickers, wrapped candies, and small toys.
Las Posadas is a great way to expand holiday programming and invite families to find their way to the library.
Children’s Day/Book Day. For those of us serving children in libraries, that’s every day. We know first-hand the power of the right book at the right time in the hands of a child. We know that reading changes lives. We just need to keep reminding everyone else!
Luckily, we have Día to help us. El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) is one of those robust, flexible campaigns that provides resources without prescribing activities. I first learned about Día shortly after ALSC became the home for Día in 2007. I had begun service on theALSCBoard and was asked to be the Board liaison to the committee developing Día.
It was – and is – an exciting project to learn about. Día grew out of Children’s Day, a concept instituted throughout the world in 1925 with the goal of bringing attention to the importance and well-being of children. Author Pat Mora revived the concept in the U.S., and carried it a crucial step further, linking children’s well-being to books and literacy.
While it is commonly referred to by its Spanish name, our Children’s Day/Book Day is a celebration emphasizing the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Do you have a strong Russian community in your city? Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day with a Russian flair. (There’s a Día booklist in Russian – and booklists in 8 other languages too.) How about Vietnamese, Afghan, or French culture? TheALSC Día site has resources. Although April 30 is the day many celebrations happen, Children’s Day/Book Day can happen on any day or on multiple days, at any time of year.
I’ve always maintained that we do storytimes on themes primarily because it makes our planning easier. El día de los niños/El día de los libros is a perfect opporunity to plan a community celebration of reading with a theme – and resources – already in place. Why not use it? And be part of persuading the world of what we know to our core – that books and reading change children’s lives.
The Latinos are the fastest growing minority population in the United States. Dr. Jamie Campbell Naidoo predicts that within 20 to 30 years, they are going to be the majority. In this 24-minute podcast, ALSC member Dr. Naidoo discusses
what led him to research and teach diversity and outreach
the importance of intercultural literature and self-identification
¡Imagínense!, a multifaceted program combining current research and practice to assist librarians, teachers, and other educators in meeting the literacy needs of Latino children and adolescents. The Imaginense Libros blog is http://imaginenselibros.blogspot.com/.
Dr. Jamie C. Naidoo, University of Alabama - SLIS, Founder and Director of ¡Imagínense Libros!
Below is an edited transcript of the podcast:
ALSC Blog: Hello and welcome to episode 9 of the ALSC Blog Podcast. My name is Teresa Walls. I am the manager of the ALSC Blog. In today’s podcast, member Jamie Campbell Naidoo kindly spoke with me regarding library service to Latino children as well as the upcoming 2nd annual celebration of Latino Children’s literature to be held April 24 and 25, 2009, at the University of South Carolina in partnership with the University of Alabama. I will let Mr. Naidoo introduce himself.
Jamie Naidoo: My name is Jamie Naidoo. I am a assistant professor at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and I’m in the School of Library and Information Studies there. I’ve been there since August. Prior to that, I was at the University of South Carolina’ s library school. In both places, I teach diversity in library and children’s library services and young adult library services. I’ve been an elementary school librarian before and also a children’s librarian in a public library.
ALSC Blog: Let’s talk a little bit about library service to Latino children. What has led you to this particular interest?
Jamie Naidoo: It started when I was an elementary school librarian in a suburb of the Birmingham area of Alabama. The school I worked at was preK through 2. The first year I was there we had very few Latino children. I’d say maybe 20 or less. Then three years later, we had gone from the 20 to over 150, almost 160, 170. We had this huge increase all of sudden of Latino children and it was interesting to see the shift in dynamics within the school.
Most teachers didn’t speak Spanish. The current ESL [English as a Second Language] teacher didn’t speak Spanish. And nobody really knew how to educate these children since they didn’t speak English and most teachers didn’t speak Spanish. And, so they hired an ESL teacher who spoke Spanish and got two ESL aides who spoke Spanish and then another part-time ESL teacher who spoke Spanish. They started vamping up their ESL education program. I took the opportunity then to start working with the ESL teacher to help her plan programs. She wasn’t very well versed in children’s literature, so I would give her books and stuff. I remember the day I gave her a book by Gary Soto, a picture book by Gary Soto, and she came back later that day and was very excited because her Latino boys were finally connecting with a book. They were recognizing the culture that was in the book. She was excited that they were making connections with a book, which they hadn’t before.
While I was at the school, I heard a lot of negative comments about Latinos. You know, things such as “Why do they speak Mexican? Why don’t they speak English?” I had teachers who would say things like, “I can’t pronounce the name Jorge so I’ll call him George just because I can’t pronounce that name.” And, I think it was just a lot of general misunderstanding of the Latino population.
So, I realized that there needed to be a lot more education to the educators, that there is diversity in the population. And that you shouldn’t see these children as a burden but you should really be reaching out to them. I was thinking that I could not imagine leaving my country and going somewhere else where I didn’t know the language and sending my children to a school where they didn’t know the language and I didn’t know the language and hoping that they thrive and survive.
The majority of the children we had were from Mexico. The more I worked with them, I could see that the families were very motivated and very dedicated. They were the ones who would show up for parent/teacher conferences and always wanted to help in their child’s education, they just didn’t know how. And, I remember at about that time I was reading a book called, Dirty Girls Social Club which is by Alisa Valdes-Rodriquez. It’s basically like a Latino Sex in the City. I was reading that book which is a conglamoration of about five Latino women, but they were from different cultural backgrounds. One was Puerto Rican, one was Cuban, one was Mexican, one was from the Caribbean. It really hit home that wow! there is all this diversity And, here I am, someone who is interested in helping these children and I don’t really stop and think about the diversity, and I bet most other people don’t stop and think about the diversity within the Latino populations.
The more I thought about that, I was wanting to start working on my PhD, so I thought I’d focus my PhD with school library service to Latino population. But the more I thought about it, I realized that our concept of other cultures or of things that are different really begins well before we get into school. Through picture books that we read or that parents read to us, we start forming our understanding of different cultures and different things. So, I decided I should probably be focusing on picture books before I really started focusing on library service in schools, and then looking at library services in public libraries as well. All that to say, that’s why I started looking at picture books before I started looking at library services.
Currently, the majority Latino population are Mexican but that is followed by quickly by a large percentage of Puerto Ricans and Cubans and Dominicans. And it kind of goes on down from there.
When I was in South Carolina before. it was kind of a competition between South Carolina and North Carolina about who had the fastest growing Latino population because the Latino South which is Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and the Carolinas, and Tennessee, has the fastest growing Latino population. A lot are migrating from the West or emigrating in, and going to live in the South, so that’s where a high population is, in the southern states.
The term multicultural is becoming more passé. Multicultural is meaning all these different cultures. Intercultural is trying to make connections among all these many cultures, not seeing them as different separate things but really drawing connections between the cultures which is really very important, that you need to understand other cultures. And, so if you are focusing on different cultures separately but you don’t ever really talk about the importance of learning about cultures beyond your own then you aren’t making any progress. That’s the term also used more often now in children’s literature, talking about diverse populations, intercultural is being used more because it talks not just about multicultural literature here in the United States but international children’s literature from other countries too. So you are talking about cultures in the United States and in countries around the world.
ALSC Blog: O.K., then that helps also, instead of separating things out, instead of saying today’s storytime we are going to focus on this culture, to look at having services that incorporate cultures and how they are connected in one storytime perhaps, not making it…. I don’t know if I’m making sense.
Jamie Naidoo: You are making perfect sense. When I go around doing workshops and things like that, I say we shouldn’t just, during Hispanic Heritage Month, read a couple books about Mexico or about the Latino culture, have a big fiesta, break a piñata, have a couple tacos and then never talk about the Latino culture again until the following year. Too often as educators and librarians, we focus on Black History Month or Asian Heritage Month or Hispanic Heritage Month, and we separate things out into neat little boxes instead of incorporating different cultures into everyday things that we do. These children are here with us every single day not just during Black History Month, not just during Asian Heritage Month or Hispanic Heritage Month.
Self-identification is very important for children because if as a child you grow up and you never see your culture represented in the books you read or the books that librarians and teachers share with you, then you may start thinking that your culture is not important, either it’s not important enough to write about in books or it’s not important for educators to share with you. The same is true then too if your culture is represented but it is negatively represented or there is misinformation about your culture in books that teachers and librarians share then you may feel lessened or you may have a conflict in yourself. I mean, if you know that all people who are Latino aren’t from Mexico but your teacher or librarian insists that when sharing stories about Latinos that they’re always from Mexico and let’s have a taco, and you realize, “Yeah, I’m a Latino, but I’m not from Mexico and I eat things besides tacos,” you might feel a little conflict between who you really are and who librarians and teachers say you are. It’s really important that children see accurate portrayals of their culture in books that they read.
A lot of the research that I do and have started doing has been with books that have won the Belpré Award and the Americas Award which are two awards for Latino children’s literature because for a long time there weren’t books about Latinos and then the ones that did come out had stereotypes, so the Americas Award was created and the Belpré Award was created to celebrate books about the Latino cultures. Librarians assume that they are all great and wonderful. They use them without really stopping to think what’s really the content because sometimes librarians and teachers figure if something won an award it has to be a great and wonderful book. I mean, there are books that sometimes in the past may have won the Caldecott that might have been about the Latino culture but wasn’t necessarily a good positive representation of the culture. At the same time, if teachers only shared the Americas books or only shared the Belpré books, they may only represent to their children portions of the Latino culture, not the full gamut of the diversity within the Latino cultures.
ALSC Blog: I’m thinking about just introducing the books, like someone being afraid, “Oh, I don’t know if this book is an accurate portrayal.” And, at the same time, especially with talking about self-identification, a chance to talk with the children about “What do you do in your family?” or to give them a chance to talk about their experiences. Because, like you said, even within how a culture is represented in a picture book might not be necessarily how your family is, because even if you are part of that culture, your family may have its own individual nuances to it.
Jamie Naidoo: Exactly, like I’ve said before in different talks that I give, in the United States we like to compartmentalize things too much. We have the label “Asian,” the label “Latino” or “Hispanic,” the label “African American,” and we expect people to fit in nice little boxes, and they don’t. Just because you are reading a book about Latinos doesn’t mean that represents all Latinos, or a book about African-Americans represents all African Americans. So, yeah, when you’re reading a book it definitely opens an opportunity, and even if you are reading a book about families, because maybe the children don’t have a mom or dad, or they live with an extended family. So definitely, read a book and talk about the differences that children have in their own lives and how that one book can’t represent the whole culture.
ALSC Blog: Let’s talk a little bit about outreach from public libraries and school media centers. In your work are you looking at that portion of it or at this point are you mostly focusing on the literature?
Jamie Naidoo: I think you can’t focus on either one or the other. It all goes hand in hand. When I was in South Carolina, I did a study on how libraries were serving Latino children in South Carolina and just looking at their collections and programs that they offered and things like that. And then, when I was in South Carolina, I went around and talked to school librarians and children librarians about creating programs and services to the Latino community, and how you can create these programs when you don’t speak Spanish when maybe all the Latinos in your community do speak Spanish. I talk about mainly if you don’t speak Spanish and you want to reach out to your community through your school library or your public library, one of the best places to go first is to your Latino community. If you are intimidated by going to parents of Latino children that you know then look for Hispanic leaders in the community, maybe educators themselves or business owners who may have a key lead-in to the Latino community. If they can’t help you, they may know somebody who can help you reach out and plan your programs in the community or get Latinos to come to your library to partake of some of the outreach and services that you offer.
The Día program is a great way for both school libraries and public libraries to celebrate the Latino culture and reach out to the Latino community. Pat Mora started the idea of Día in the United States. ALSC has readily adopted that along with REFORMA, and now every year on April 30th, libraries around the country are celebrating Latino literature, Latino families, and Latino literacy. That’s a great way to start reaching out the Latino community, but it doesn’t have to be just April 30th. You could have Día activities throughout the whole year, but that’s one quick and easy way to think about reaching out the Latino community. There’s tons of free information online about creating Día programs. Like I said that information translates to the whole year, so teachers and librarians should not use the excuse that “That’s just something else I have to plan for and I don’t have time for that.” Well, O.K., sure, maybe you’re not creative and you don’t have time to plan programs, or extra programs as you might see it. Well, there are plenty of things to be found online that have been tried and tested. Use those instead. Take a Dia activity and include it in your weekly storytime and when you talk about other cultures.
We mentioned this earlier that sometimes libraries tend to focus on cultures on specific times of year or just on celebrations. And that’s not necessarily a negative thing, it can be a positive, especially when it comes to celebrations. You can have a Day of the Dead storytime or party and read some stories about Day of the Dead. Have children talk about some of their relatives who have passed on or have some family members come in and talk about what Day of the Dead is and create displays and things like that. One of the libraries that was in South Carolina that I worked with had a Latino parent group of mothers that were like an advisory board for the children’s department. They helped the children’s department create programs and build collections that would reach out to the Latino community. I think that was very, very important in the success of that library reaching the Latino community.
It’s very important to know about the Latino culture. Something I also tell librarians is to learn, to know just some of the things that identify the Latino culture, like they like to do things as a family, as a group, so if you plan a program it’s important to plan family programs not age specific programs. If the whole family can participate, you are more likely to have more participation. I tell my classes when I teach diversity, you can have the wonderful collections, you can plan all these wonderful programs and services, but if nobody comes, then was it successful? Why did you do all that if nobody comes? You really want to market your program and think about your community and know what your community make-up is and plan programs and services for Latinos that mirror those.
ALSC Blog: You started the Latino Children’s Literature Conference with Dr. Juila Lopez-Robertson, an education professor at the University of South Carolina’s College of Education. You had your first conference last year. What’s in store with that for the future?
Jamie Naidoo: The conference this year is April 24 and 25. We have Sonia Nieto who is a Puerto Rican children’s literature and multicultural education scholar as our academic keynote. Then we have Lulu Delacre and Lucia Gonzalez and Maya Christina Gonzalez as our authors who are coming this year. Each year we have at least two Latina or Latino authors or illustrators for children. We would like to add more each year, so this year we have three. We have some local authors who come as well. There’s storytelling and there’s breakout sessions related to library services to Latinos and then also keeping the education standpoint with educating Latinos in the classroom. We always have a component that is community outreach related to Dia. This year Lulu is doing a Dia program at one of the local schools, and we’ll be giving out free copies of one of her books.
Last year and this year it was in South Carolina, in Columbia, South Carolina. But now since I moved to University of Alabama, we didn’t want to end the conference so we decided that we would keep the conference in the South, but not just South Carolina. We’ll keep it going back and forth between South Carolina and Alabama. The third annual one will be in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, next year. Then the fourth one will go back to South Carolina, which we see as being a good thing because the Latino South incorporates, we almost have Alabama and South Carolina being on the edges, on each edge, boxing in the Latino South so it allows educators from each side of that to attend the conference that maybe they wouldn’t be able to attend at a distance especially with a lot of funding being cut for travel.
But, it’s a great and wonderful event and it is a national conference. We hope to continue to grow it each year.
ALSC Blog: You’ve just started a blog?
Jamie Naidoo: Yes. There’s a Latino literacy iniaitive called ¡Imaginense! Libros which means Just Imagine Books. It will eventually be a really dynamic website. I’ve been putting it off, putting it off, thinking once I get the time and get a webmaster then I’ll start creating this dynamic website which is going to be a virtual evaluation collection of Latino children’s books. I will have an advisory board of Latino children’s literature scholars from all across the United States. That they, along with me, will read the books and write evaluations of them. We’ll evaluate the Spanish. It will be one-stop place to go for, as a librarian, when you are thinking about purchasing books about the Latino culture in Spanish, you’ll be able to go to this website, search it, read our reviews, and know whether or not this is a good book.
So, this was going to be a dynamic website, but then I realize that I don’t need to wait until I get the website up. I went ahead and created a blogspot for it. I have some ideas up there now. Especially with Criticas ending, there is definitely a need for reviews of books about Latinos, especially children’s books.
ALSC Blog: We’ll include the URL to your blog in the transcript of this podcast. [The URL is http://imaginenselibros.blogspot.com/] Let’s go ahead and end our conversation. Do you mind sharing some final words with us?
Jamie Naidoo: I think it’s really important that people start really thinking about library service to Latinos. They are the fastest growing population in the United States. Even if you aren’t serving Latinos in your library now, you will be soon. When I do my workshops and presentations, I say you just can’t say that I don’t have any Latinos in my community now, so I don’t have to worry about it. You need to have those books in your library to teach others about the culture and foster cultural understanding. It’s important to incorporate those into the programs you have now. And be ready for when you do have a large Latino population in your community because if you don’t have Latinos now, you will. Jump on the opportunity now as opposed to waiting.
Hello everyone!I was thrilled to listen to the interview with Dr. Jaime Campbell Naidoo on the work that he is doing to reach out to Latino children, and inspired to take advantage of Teresa Wells’ gracious invitation to participate in this forum to let you know about my own outreach efforts in this area.
I know many of you, but please allow me to introduce myself to those of you who don’t know me: I have over 10 years of experience in Latino publishing, most recently as Executive Editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, where I managed the children’s division of the Latino imprint, Rayo. Prior to that, I was Children’s Reviews Editor at Críticas magazine, published by School Library Journal. I’ve worked for a number of publishers, both on a full time basis and as a freelance consultant, on English and Spanish language books.
After leaving Harper, I decided that I would take all of the knowledge I have gathered during my career in Latino publishing and share it with others interested in Latino authors and books. This led me to launch VOCES (http://adrianadominguez.blogspot.com/); a blog that focuses on providing readers with what I call “an insider’s perspective” of the Latino book market. The blog breaks news on the market, highlights Latino books and authors that deserve notice, and provides relevant information on issues that affect Latinos—for instance, I recently posted some clips from ABC’s “We the People” series, which explored the demographic growth of Latinos in the US, and its impact on the country’s culture, and future. ALSC members will be interested to know that my latest post is about El día de los niños/El día de los libros! I have worked very closely with ALSC to promote Dia in the past, and I plan on continuing to do so via this new medium. I recently added a calendar of book-related events from all across the country, such as readings, workshops, and conferences that I encourage you to explore as well. I would love it if you would submit your own events so that I may list them in the calendar.
I want to share this blog with you because through my work with ALA, ALSC, and REFORMA, I have become fully aware of the extents that librarians will go to in order to keep informed about books for the sake of their patrons! I hope that this blog provides you with some of the information that you thirst for, in particular as it relates to the Latino market, since that is a sometimes a challenging area to learn more about. So, please subscribe and support this blog and what it tries to do. And provide feedback—I am always looking for ways to make it more useful to readers. This blog’s goal is to become the place where Latino authors and books are the #1 priority. We need such a place, particularly during these tough times, that have been particular hard on the Latino publishing industry. Thank you in advance for your support; I look forward to seeing you there!
The American Library Associaiton’s Public Information Office (PIO) has a great new podcast about the upcoming El día de los niños/El día de los libros on their blog, Visibility @ your library (http://www.pio.ala.org/visibility/?p=577).
The podcast features Linda Mays, ALSC program officer, who discusses Día as an “opportunity to bring attention to the importance and well-being of children as well as their languages and culture.” Held annually each April 30, Día is a national celebration that brings together children, books, languages and cultures, while emphasizing the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
Registration is now open for the 3rd Annual National Latino Children’s Literature Conference which will be held April 23 and 24, 2010 at The University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama. For more information, visit the conference website: http://www.latinochildlitconf.org. The Conference is sponsored by the School of Library & Information Studies and the Office of the Provost and the Division of Academic Affairs at the University of Alabama.
The conference was created to promote high-quality children’s literature about the Latino cultures and to offer a forum for librarians, educators, researchers, and students to openly discuss strategies for meeting the informational, educational, and literacy needs of Latino children and their families.
Early-Bird Registration (on or before April 15) for the 2 day event is $105. After April 15, the registration fee is $120. More registration information is available at the conference website.
Do you serve multicultural populations in your library? Are you meeting the needs of these populations? Would you like more resources to assist you?
We need to hear from you! The Association for Library Service to Children is currently assessing how we can best help you and your colleagues provide enhanced library service to your multicultural populations. We ask you to take a few short minutes to complete a survey designed to collect current information about the challenges you face, the tools you need and how we can help.
It’s quick and easy. Simply click on the link below to get started. The survey has about 15 questions and will take just 5-10 minutes of your time. We ask that you complete the survey by Friday, March 12.
El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day), known as Día, is a celebration EVERY DAY of children, families, and reading that culminates every year on April 30. The celebration emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
Día is an enhancement of Children’s Day, which began in 1925. Children’s Day was designated 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 childhood and children with literacy to found El día de los niños/El día de los libros. Visit her Book Joy blog at http://sharebookjoy.blogspot.com/ for more information and ideas.
Or, How I Learned to Embrace the Mess and Had a Ton of Fun.
At the ILF Children’s and Young People’s Division conference I attended a few weeks ago, I went to a session by Vicki Parker from the Westfield Washington Public Library. She talked about ways to use art (not crafts!) in programming with young children. I have to admit that I have been squeamish about using messy supplies in our children’s programs, but Vicki convinced me that it’s worth it to embrace the mess in order to encourage creativity.
So, last week we had a piñata-making program for our homeschoolers! Yes, it was messy. But it was also cheap, easy, and really, really fun. And you can do it, too!! Here’s how:
First, you’ll want to know how to make a piñata. The How to Make a Piñata video from About.com will show you the basics. There are several variations on these steps, all of which are easy to find by Googling.
I wanted to teach families how they could create their own piñatas at home, so in the program, we practiced making and working with paper-mâché. I also wanted them to be able to decorate and take home a piñata. Since piñatas need to dry between layers and they need at least three layers of paper-mâché, I pre-made about 20 piñatas so that after the kids were done putting a layer of paper-mâché on their balloon, I could switch them out and they could have a dry piñata to decorate.
I won’t lie: this was a lot of prep work. BUT if you can enlist the help of a few friends or a group of eager teen volunteers, you can get it done pretty quickly. It’s not hard, but you do need to plan ahead because it could take at least a day or two for all the layers of the piñata to dry. For the piñatas I pre-made, I only did two layers of paper-mâché, which is a flimsier piñata than I would normally make, but it was good enough for them to have the experience of decorating it. After the program, they’ll know how to make their own at home, so they can make a more sturdy piñata if they want to.
To set up the room, I had pre-cut paper strips (you can use old newspapers, magazines, or catalogs. If you get as many Oriental Trading catalogs each month as we do, you’ll have pleeenty of material to use). I set out balloons in bowls and I pre-measured the flour and water into more bowls. Of course, I had a book display with Pura Belpré Award books and books about piñatas and Latino history and crafts.
I started off the program by sharing some information about piñatas. (Did you know that piñatas may have originated in China?!) Then I had kids mix up the paper-mâché paste (using spoons or their hands), dip paper strips in the mix, and put it on their balloons (which are sitting in plastic bowls). I explained that they needed to cover the whole balloon except for a spot at the top.
You know what? The kids totally surprised me by how well they were able to do this. Even the little ones had no problem doing it (with mom or dad helping, of course). Their first layers actually turned out really nicely. (One of my staff members saw the piñatas later and asked me, “Where are the ones the kids made?” She couldn’t believe that they had turned out so well!)
Once their balloons were covered, we switched the wet piñata
El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Día) celebrates its 15th anniversary this year and you’re encouraged to get in the spirit!
Día, sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), emphasizes the importance of advocating literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds. This is the 15th anniversary of the event, originally proposed by children’s author, Pat Mora. Libraries around the country recognize Día as a great opportunity to bring children together
Plans for the actual anniversary date—April 30, 2011—include a special presentation by Pat Mora at a library to be identified soon. The Día anniversary also will be celebrated at the ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans on June 25th beginning at 10:30 a.m.
A great way to commemorate this occasion is by ordering your copy of El día de los niños/El día de los libros: Building a Culture of Literacy in Your Community Through Día by Jeanette Larsen. This book will be available in early April from the ALA Store, but pre-orders are currently being accepted.
This year, Día encourages libraries to shape their programming around the new slogan, “Many Children, Many Cultures, Many Books!”
If your library has been doing neat things for El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros, consider applying for the Mora Award. The Estela and Raúl Mora Award was established by author and poet Pat Mora and her siblings in honor of their parents and to promote El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros (Children’s Day, Book Day), also known as Día. Culminating celebrations of this year-long initiative that links all children to books, languages, and cultures are traditionally held on or near April 30. This year marks the 15th anniversary of Día.
Libraries and schools that host Día programs during spring 2011 are encouraged to submit an application by August 15, 2011. The award will be presented at the American Library Association’s 2012 Midwinter meeting to the most exemplary program celebrating El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros. The Mora Award consists of a $1,000 stipend and a commemorative plaque. Members of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-speaking, serve as judges for the Award