Over the weekend, an opportunity popped up on Twitter. Mrs. Crook, elementary librarian in Gastonia NC, tweeted that she wanted to connect with some class in honor of El dia de los ninos. This day, celebrated on April 30, honors many cultures, children, and books. It’s a day to celebrate reading, celebrate our uniqueness, and celebrate the joy of reading in many languages. Mrs. Crook had many great ideas for celebrating the day.
We chose to celebrate with her by connecting 2 Kindergarten classes through Skype and doing a shared reading of Book Fiesta by Pat Mora. Before our Skype, I showed Mrs. Li’s Kindergarten class a Google map of the distance from Athens, GA to Gastonia, NC. We learned it was about 181 miles away and would take about 2 hours 50 minutes to drive there. In our connection, I read the English pages of the book, and one of Mrs. Crook’s students read the Spanish pages. It was so much fun to hear the pages spoken in 2 languages. Mrs. Crook had several students who spoke Spanish and many of them began sharing their words in a chorus of voices. Mrs. Li had 2 students who spoke Chinese. I was so happy when Mrs. Li stepped up to the camera and said hello in Chinese to all of Mrs. Crook’s students. She even taught them a few words and had them repeat them back. We said “adios” to one another and disconnected.
After our Skype, we talked about several other books in our library collection that are bilingual. We also listened to this Dia Day song.
Later in the day, Ms. Spurgeon’s 3rd grade class came to read the book Tomas and the Library Lady. This book had a wonderful connection with Ms. Spurgeon’s work this year with diverse literature and literature that raises discussions about poverty and still achieving your dreams. The book also connected with their discussions of Cesar Chavez and migrant workers. I have my own connection to the book because I am friends with Tomas Rivera’s daughter. As I read the story, I couldn’t help but think of Ileana on every page and how grateful I was to the library lady in Iowa that gave her dad access to books no matter what the circumstance. I was also grateful to Tomas Rivera for persevering to bring new stories to his family and becoming such a leader in education. This story gave many of our students a positive example of someone striving for their dreams in life no matter their background, living conditions, or social status. We read the book to celebrate Dia and to talk about the importance of summer reading, but I think we left the lesson with many more conversations flowing in our minds that could not have been predicted in advance.