Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Happy El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros

Today is El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros also known as Children's Day/Book Day. For the annual April 30th celebration, both the Reading Rockets and Colorin Colorado Web sites are offering suggestions for library and classroom activities. The Association for Library Service to Children also lists Día events around the country. As the national home of Día, one of the things ALSC does is to provide a database where people can enter their Día events and/or see what else is going on near them and anywhere in the nation. It's wonderful to see everything that's going on, and to see how this initiative, originally conceived by Pat Mora, with REFORMA as a founding partner, has caught on and grown in the past 12 years.

In addition, Pat Mora, the Grande Dame of Día has established her own blog now-- ShareBookJoy-- which is a wonderful resource on Día and so much more. Pat is a gem and a giant, a force to be reckoned with, and an author, poet and advocate with a gift for storytelling AND empowerment. Be sure to check out her Web site, too.

In honor of Día, I would like to mention a new poetry collection just published by Bloomsbury: Come and Play, Children of Our World Having Fun. The poems are written by children under the guidance of their teacher, Ayana Lowe, in response to photographs that are provided by Magnum Photos, the “most highly celebrated photographic collective in the world.” The images of children come from around the world and from over the last 50 years. Thumbnails, captions, and maps in the backmatter let the reader know a bit more about each photograph. And the poems reflect the clever word coining and fresh abruptness of children’s language. Here’s one example:

A Tight Squeeze
(Accompanying a photo of a crowded beach scene in Wonsan City, North Korea, 1982)

Wet and happy.

The beach is hot.

I’ve saved you a spot.

From: Lowe, Ayana. Ed. 2008. Come and Play; Children of Our World Having Fun. NY: Bloomsbury.

Individual poets are not named, which gives the reader the impression of a collective voice of childhood speaking. (Their energetic signatures cover the end pages!) The oversized format juxtaposes a poem in a large colorful font on a black background on the left with a full-page black and white or color photograph on the right. Very dramatic and accessible. And I love the opening page featuring this quote from Poet Laureate Rita Dove:

“I think all of us have moments,
particularly in our childhood,

where we come alive,

maybe for the first time.

And we go back to those

moments and think,

This is when I became myself.’”

It begs for imitation—gathering photographs from family, magazines, or the Web to prompt children’s own writing, and then creating their own collective books of poetry and pictures.

Happy Día!

Picture credit: and Amazon.


Anonymous said...

I'm from Iran and I've been here for 6 years.In Iran I used to be a member in IBBY and I participated in their workshops for children's literature and I absulotly Loved it.I was wondering is there any IBBY in each state so I can get some information in person or I could go there and participate in their workshops?
what kind of activities do you offer to people with no background in literature?
I would be happy to hearing from you.
Leila Khaki

My email:

Sylvia Vardell said...

Glad to meet a fellow IBBY fan. Yes, there is a national section in the United States-- USBBY, the United States Board on Books for Young People. We don't have an organization in each state, however, but the USBBY is an excellent group to join and participate in. We publish a newsletter, lead a variety of award projects, and hold a bi-ennial conference. Check out our recently updated Web site for more info: