International Children’s Book Day

Since 1967, International Children’s Book Day has been celebrated on or around Hans Christian Andersen’s birthday, April 2, to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books.

Each year a different National Section of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) has the opportunity to be the sponsor of International Children’s Book Day. It decides upon a theme and invites a prominent author from the host country to write a message to the children of the world and a well-known illustrator to design a poster. These materials are used in different ways to promote books and reading.

The theme for 2012 is Mexico.

The best and fastest way to develop young children into intelligent human beings is by teaching them to read. If they are too young to read, spend time reading stories to them. Its a great and memorable bonding time for you and your child. Instilling a love of reading promotes a lifetime of learning and enjoyment.

Libraries celebrate International Children’s Book Day with storytelling hours and other events for young children. You can celebrate by giving a new book to each of your kids.

Below is a list of some of my favorite children’s books with Mexican themes. Look for them at your local library or click on the link to purchase at Amazon. These books are must- haves for families living in the Southwestern states. They also come in handy for National Hispanic Heritage Month which is observed from September 15 to October 15 every year.

Off We Go to Mexico – This picture book follows a family as they swim in the ocean, trek to native villages, traverse canyons, climb pyramids, admire monarch butterflies, and celebrate Independence Day in Mexico. Along the way, readers can learn Spanish phrases and discover Mexican culture. This colorful armchair travel book for kids includes a map and appendixes.

P is for Pinata: A Mexico Alphabet – This book is an introduction to the land, culture, and history of Mexico according to letters of the alphabet. Each entry is accompanied by a short rhyme for younger children and a vertical sidebar of information for older readers. This makes it perfect for homeschool families with children of different ages.

My Mexico / México Mío – Discover the sights, sounds, colors, and scents of Mexico brought to life in this picture book that features a collection of poems about everyday life in Mexico, written in both English and Spanish, with soft watercolor illustrations. Great for bilingual classes and households.

The Eagle and the Rainbow: Timeless Tales from Mexico – This collection of Mexican folktales retells selected legends from the indigenous tribes of Mexico, with boldly colored illustrations by Caldecott award-winning Tomie dePaola. At the end of each tale is an overview of the tribe’s cultural identity, history, geographic location, and current population as well as their customs and beliefs.

The Day It Snowed Tortillas: A Classic from the American Southwest – Joe Hayes is one of America’s premier storytellers. He grew up in a small town in southern Arizona where he learned Spanish from his classmates. As he got older, Joe began gathering old stories from the Southwest. Joe has earned a distinctive role as a bilingual storyteller. In this book, the master storyteller relates ten Spanish folktales that have been told since the Spanish first came to the New World. The classic tales range from funny to scary, and many of the stories have lessons within them. They are printed in both English and Spanish, ideal for bilingual studies!

Salsa Stories – A collection of stories within the story of a family’s traditional New Year’s Day celebration in which the guests relate their tales of growing up in various Latin American countries – Cuba, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Peru, and Argentina. The seven heartwarming, humorous, and fascinating stories follow a calendar of Latin American holidays – the procession for the Lord of Miracles, a special birthday, the Night of San Juan, and Palm Sunday among others. The characters tell of universal problems such as sibling rivalry, telling the truth, etc., in stories that transcend geography and ethnicity. And the common theme through all these stories is food! Scrumptious tortillas, coconut sherbet, chiles rellenos, arroz con pollo, codfish stew, nougat candy, and more. The author includes a glossary and recipes for the dishes mentioned.

Book Fiesta! – Children’s Day/Book Day is a celebration of children, families, and reading that culminates annually on April 30, the same date as Mexico’s Day of the Child. This book about Children’s Day/Book Day was enthusiastically penned by Pat Mora, the founder of the holiday and an award-winning children’s author. Written in both English and Spanish, the text shows children reading in a variety of places, going to the library, listening to stories, and generally enjoying books – what the author calls “bookjoy.” A letter from the author and suggestions for celebrating Children’s Day/Book Day are included.

For additional suggestions, check out this list:

Powerful Hispanic and Latin-American Images Revealed in Picture Books – This list was compiled by educators Kay E. Vandergrift and Denise Agosto, who state: “With lovely illustrations and delightful texts, the following picture books feature positive portrayals of Hispanic and Latin American children. Strong images of these many cultures can make Hispanic and Latin American audiences feel admired and respected, while teaching non-Hispanic and non-Latin American audiences to appreciate these communities. Most importantly, these positive images can serve to remind us all of the universality of human life.” Many of these children’s picture books are award winners, and if the book has received Pura Belpré or Américas honors, that is noted. (The Pura Belpre award honors authors and illustrators of Hispanic heritage. The Americas Award honors engaging and authentic representations of Latin American and Hispanic life experiences.)

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