"Why is everything so Spanish in here?"

Anika Aldamuy Denise

...to celebrate Día, children! El día de los niños / El día de los libros is a nationwide celebration that “emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.” For the second year in a row, I visited the Connolly Branch of the Boston Public Library, in Jamaica Plain, to see one of children's librarian (and ALSC board member, and 2018 Newbery Committee member, and Latinx in Kid Lit co-founder) Sujei Lugo's Día events.

Anika Aldamuy Denise, author of Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, was there with a gaggle of kindergartners, many bilingual English/Spanish-speakers. She began by lighting a "story candle" (just like Pura!), and then read the book, pausing to ask questions ("who knows what folktales are?") and helping make connections with listeners' lives. There was a Q/A at the end ("Why did you write this book?" "Because I'm proud of the place my family is from — Puerto Rico, just like Pura!") At the end of the presentation was an extra-special treat: every child got a copy of the book (in English or Spanish), and Anika signed each and every one.

And the puppets! Sujei's parents, in Puerto Rico, made these puppets of el ratoncito Pérez y la cucarachita Martina — again, just like Pura! — for the classes (and one lucky Horn Book editor) to take home. How did you celebrate Día this year?

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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