Celebrating DÃa del NiÃ±o and Promoting Child Literacy in Native Communities
Native American children represent the future generations that will carry out the traditions and customs of their tribes. As we approach the international “Dia del Niño” (“Day of the Child”) holiday on April 30, we wanted to share the history of this celebration and more on how PWNA supports literacy for children in reservation communities.
“Dia del Niño” originated in Mexico in the early 1920’s and is now observed across Latin America and other countries in the world, including the U.S. The day recognizes the importance of children in society and promotes their well-being. Today, many organizations make use of this holiday to promote child language and literacy, including the American Library Association and the Association for Library Services to Children.
This day in time promotes the importance of reading by linking children to books, languages, and cultures in the home and at school. Unfortunately, many Native American children struggle with reading and according to the National Center for Education Statistics, American Indian and Alaska Native students score lower in reading than non-Native students in grade school due to education system issues, under-funding and other barriers.
PWNA’s American Indian Education Fund (AIEF) program is committed to improving literacy on reservations by giving Native youth access to reading materials and encouraging volunteers to support reading time. AIEF partners with community programs such as Boys & Girls Clubs and Head Starts to help stock books for students who may not have access at home or through a local library. Children are encouraged to participate and check books out so that reading becomes instilled as a regular practice in their lives. Regular reading helps improve reading comprehension. Some partners also promote literacy buddies so that students and parents or older students can read books together.
This “Día del Niño”, we encourage you to celebrate the magic of reading by sharing your favorite culturally relevant Native American children’s book with any young readers in your life.