23 April 2012

El Dia de Los Libros

In 1925, The World Conference for the Well Being of Children in Geneva, Switzerland proclaimed June 1 to be International Children's Day. This holiday, first observed in Turkey, features speeches on children's rights and well being, children's television programs, school celebrations, family gatherings, and special events. It wasn't until the mid-1950s, however, that the holiday began to be celebrated in countries all over the world.

First proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1954, Universal Children's Day was established to encourage all countries to institute a day - with the recommendation to observe on November 20. The UN encouraged all participating countries to promote mutual exchange and understanding among children, as well as initiate action to benefit the welfare of the world's children. It was also chosen as the day to celebrate childhood. In Mexico, the day is also known "El Día del Niño" and is celebrated on April 30.

Pat Mora, a Texas native and nationally recognized author of children’s books, first heard of this Mexican tradition during a 1996 interview for a public radio program. She felt that literacy was an important element of children's well being and it should be part of El Día del Niño. Mora suggested the idea to Latino faculty and staff at the University of Arizona, who then contacted the local chapter of REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish speaking community. REFORMA became a founding supporter of this initiative.

On April 30, 1997, the governor of New Mexico and the mayor of Santa Fe issued proclamations marking the event and reiterating the founding principles. Since then, the new version of this holiday has been adopted throughout the United States. El Día de Los Niños/El Día de Los Libros (Children's Day/Book Day), is a celebration of children, families, and reading that emphasizes the importance of literacy for children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

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