Local libraries team up to host children's 'Día' and expose kids to books, languages & cultures

CINCINNATI - ¡Bienvenido a la biblioteca! The phrase means, "Welcome to the library!" in Spanish. It's what you might hear when you stop by the Bond Hill library of t on April 27, for the seventh annual El Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros (Children's Day/Book Day)."

Called "Día" for short, the free event is a collaboration between the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County and the Kenton County Public Library. Día events will take place around the country.

"We live in an extremely diverse community, whether we realize it or recognize it or even want it," said Lise Tewes, Children's Services coordinator at the Erlanger Branch of the Kenton County Public Library. "Diversity is here to stay. We can embrace it with events like 'Día,' which stands for Diversity in Action."

Celebrating kids, cultures

The multicultural fiesta, where books become the bridges for children and their families, celebrates literacy across different cultures and backgrounds. In years past, organizers have welcomed between 300-500 children and their parents to join in the celebration of diversity.

"[It's] a wonderful opportunity to engage new audiences with the library and begin building relationships with them as regular users of our services," said Diane Smiley, Youth Services & Programming Coordinator for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County. "We enjoy welcoming kids and families into our facilities for this type of cross-generational event." 

Día at the Bond Hill Library will include activities in French and Spanish, as well as African drumming and Indian dance. 

Día's opening chapter

Pat Mora, a bilingual author of children's books and poetry, sparked the idea behind Día in 1996. She took the Mexican El Día de los Ninos and combined it with a celebration of books, Tewes explained. Librarians in the southwest started celebrating El Día de los Ninos/El Día de los Libros.

The idea spread far and wide, and in 2004 Kenton County Public Library hosted a small celebration in Covington, Ky. With a similar interest in the event, the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, joined in the festivities. And in 2006, the partnership between both sides of the Ohio River began.

"Any event that promotes reading and literacy, brings families together for fun, and encourages an appreciation for other cultures is a positive event for our city," said Smiley about holding this year's El Día de los Ninos in Cincinnati.

The day's events will include:

  • hands-on activities and crafts for kids
  • multilingual story time
  • performances of dance and music from other cultures
  • meet and greet opportunities with library mascots and children's literature characters
  • a free book for every child (while supplies last).

An educated society

El Día de los Ninos, Tewes explained "highlights the importance of children, the importance of reading, and the importance of reading in your home language to your children."

"Often parents who do not speak English well can't read English at all, so they are not able to read to their children in English," she said. "We want to encourage reading in whatever language is comfortable and accessible for the parent. It doesn't matter what language you are using to read to your child, the important thing is that you read to your child."

An educated population, Tewes said, begins with parents reading to babies, toddlers and preschoolers.

El Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros rotates across the Ohio River each year.

If you go:

  • The free festivities will take place at the Bond Hill Branch Library: 1740 Langdon Farm Road, Cincinnati
  • Saturday, April 27, from 1-4 p.m.
  • You don't need a library card to attend
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