2021 marks the 25th anniversary of El día de los niños/El día de los libros, Children’s Day/Book Day. Although a popular library holiday, I had never heard of it until a staff member brought it to my attention in 2019. If you’re like me and had never heard of this holiday before, here is a brief history:

Children’s Day is a commemorative holiday celebrated annually in honor of children. In 1925, International Children’s Day was first proclaimed in Geneva during the World Conference on Child Welfare. The date of observance varies by country, although Mexico and many other Latin American countries chose to celebrate it on April 30.

“Now wait, Brystan,” I hear you saying. “1925 to 2021 is not 25 years.” You’re right. There’s more.

In 1996, while being interviewed, author and poet Pat Mora learned about the Mexican version of the holiday. Realizing the United States didn’t have anything similar, she proposed linking Children’s Day with literacy and bilingualism – creating a brand-new holiday. With assistance from the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking (REFORMA), the first celebration occurred. 

The American Library Association formalized its support for this holiday in 2001. By 2004 El día de los niños/El día de los libros had become a tradition in many schools and libraries (except JCLS, but I’m getting to that.)

In 2019 we put together an activity packet for folks to pick up (like a Take & Make before we had a name for it) and had big plans to make up for the lack of celebrating in 2020 and then…well, you know.

So, while we have to postpone our celebration to 2022, I think you’ll see that JCLS extends the goals of the holiday beyond a single April 30 observance and commits to them daily:

  • honoring children and childhood
  • promoting literacy
  • honoring home languages and cultures – thus promoting bilingual and multilingual literacy
  • involving parents as a valued member of a child’s literacy team; and
  • promoting library collection development that reflects our plurality.

But who doesn’t love a good celebration? Here are some ways you can celebrate the 25th anniversary of El día de los niños/El día de los libros.

  • Attend a virtual celebration 
  • Take a COVID safe trip to a playground and let your child (or inner child) let loose!
  • Cook a meal together as a family and/or
  • Check out all the fantastic youth and family programming that JCLS has to offer!
  • Check out our Celebrate Día booklist here and choose a book to read aloud to the children in your life: