Thursday, April 30, 2009

World Poetry for El día de los niños

I love that National Poetry Month ends on the celebration of El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children's Day/Book Day). Also known simply as Día, it’s all about advocating literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds, culminating every year on April 30.

Poet and writer Pat Mora has authored a brand new picture book commemorating Día: Fiesta!: Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Rayo, 2009). Booklist reviewer Andrew Medlar wrote, “How very appropriate that the first trade book about Children’s Day/Book Day should be enthusiastically penned by the founder of this holiday, celebrated annually since 1996 on April 30, the same date as Mexico’s Day of the Child. This call to arms for connecting kids and books exhorts everyone to read and have fun in whatever language and locale they choose.”

Backmatter includes ideas and suggestions for celebrating Día in your community. Plus, you’ll find tips at Pat's Web site, at ALSC headquarters and at the Texas Library Association web site.

And if you’re looking for poetry to celebrate world cultures, I’d like to make a plug for a book I mentioned earlier this month (a 2009 White Ravens list book), and just got my hands on (thank you, Dani). Yes, it comes from New Zealand, but it makes a completely unique contribution and is worth the hunt. It’s My Village; Rhymes from Around the World collected by Danielle Wright (Wellington, NZ: Gecko Press, 2008).

Not only does Wright include simple folk rhymes from a variety of countries (New Zealand, China, Australia, Norway, Ireland, Tonga, Jamaica, Japan, Zimbabwe, Fiji, Indonesia, Denmark, Iran, Germany, Samoa, Switzerland, Russia, Brazil, France, Holland, Iceland, and India), but she includes the poem in three versions (when applicable): in the original language and the native alphabet, the transliterated version in the Roman alphabet of English, and also in English. That’s a grand slam!

Here’s one fun example from RUSSIA:

Hush You Mice
from Russia

Hush you mice! a cat is near us,
He can see us, he can hear us.
--What if he is on a diet?—
Even then you should be quiet!

Wright, Danielle (Ed). 2008. My Village; Rhymes from Around the World. Wellington, NZ: Gecko Press, p. 40-41.

Plus, the English versions are quite charming and musical, don’t you think? That’s not an easy feat when translating multiple languages, as well as in conveying the terse verse of nursery rhymes. Impressive! The illustrations by Mique Moriuchi add so much appeal (see a sample on the Web site) with colorful tissue paper collages.

GOOD NEWS: if you just cannot get your own copy of this book, Wright keeps a rich Web site with an extensive collection of “International Nursery Rhymes” organized in general by the continents: Europe, Asia, the Americas, the Pacific and Africa. Lots of good stuff here, too. Happy Día!

Image credits:;

Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2009. All rights reserved.

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