Libraries to celebrate children, books

It’s called El Día de los Niños/El Día de los Libros (Day of the Child/Day of the Book), but even though it has Hispanic roots, everyone is welcome to the free event.

Various Las Vegas-Clark County Library District branches plan programs celebrating the culture from which Las Vegas gets its name. For more information, visit lvccld.org or call 702-507-6294.

Much of the programming is aimed at children, as los niños means “the children,” but parents will probably learn a thing or two as well.

“The Dia program is actually something done nationally in libraries,” said Mary Nelson-Brown, youth services coordinator for the library district. “It’s to celebrate the commitment to linking children to books and language and cultures. We participated in it several years back but hadn’t done it in a while due to staff changes. … I made a commitment to bringing it back and make sure it’s a focus of our library programming because of the population that we serve. We have such a diverse community in Las Vegas, and I think it’s important for them to recognize all the important resources the library has. Even though the title is in Spanish, it really is a celebration of all cultures. Reading and libraries and books all go hand-in-hand with children of all backgrounds.”

Any youth programming takes the parents into consideration. In fact, most children’s programming at the libraries has an ulterior motive –– getting parents to read more to their children and learning how to choose developmentally appropriate books that their children will like.

“We want programs that are fun and engaging, but we also want something that kind of ties back to our collection and the resources that the library has,” Nelson-Brown said. “The programs, in a big way, are like a hook to get people in.”

Much of the Dia programming is geared toward those 12 or younger. For different age groups there are different goals. Preschoolers are introduced to concepts that set them up for success in school, with the ultimate goal of reading dependently. The idea is to make them lifelong readers.

Library branches are given leeway to participate as they see fit. Dia websites provide suggestions for programming. Nelson-Brown also sent things for consideration. Some branches are doing story time for toddlers as part of what they offer. Crafts are also part of some branch offerings.

“These types of programs are just fun,” said Catie Howe, department head of the district’s Young People’s Library. “If it’s a puppet show like North Las Vegas is doing … kids love those. If it’s story time, we just do a little more emphasis on the Spanish culture.”

Howe said sometimes it’s the parents who don’t understand English very well, and they benefit from being exposed to the language in this way.

Although the name is Hispanic, the Spanish language will play only a small part of the programming. Nelson-Brown said story time might include a book that has Spanish words in it but that everything will be conducted in English.

“It’s definitely not just for Spanish speakers,” she said. “The idea, again, is just to get children excited about books and the different cultures that are all around them. … It’s important for children to know that the world is made up of all different people. And those are people you’ll come into contact with for the rest of your life. And the more exposure you have to the worlds and different experiences, the richer you are for that.”

The Dia festival downtown is planned from noon to 4 p.m. April 27 at the Las Vegas Library, 833 Las Vegas Blvd. North (across from Cashman Field). Expect games, balloon animals, a puppet show, hugs from the library’s mascot, arts and crafts, activities and free books. The giveaway is done to help children establish an at-home library, another goal of the library district.

“The more books there are in the home, the more opportunity there is for engaging the child with a book,” Nelson-Brown said.

The festival is likely to have partners such as Vegas PBS and Spread the Word Nevada. About 500 people are expected to attend.

Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at jhogan@viewnews.com or 702-387-2949.

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