Children, books, being together as a family.
That's what Mid-Columbia Libraries wants to celebrate from noon to 4 p.m. today with a diverse group of area families in Memorial Park in Pasco at its Dia de los Ninos festival.
Based on last year's attendance and growing popularity, the library district hopes for 1,500 people to attend.
Dia de los Ninos is a holiday April 30 in Mexico to celebrate children, said Candy Mendoza, the library district's community library supervisor.
U.S. libraries have combined the day with a celebration of reading and a push for early literacy.
Mid-Columbia Libraries' Dia de los Ninos festival is the second-largest in the state after King County's, said Criselda Ballardo, who is in charge of Mid-Columbia Libraries' outreach effort to diverse populations.
The goal is to reach out to all parts of the community, not just one ethnic group, Ballardo said.
The library district wants to encourage reading as a family, whether it is parents reading to their children or children reading to their parents, Mendoza said. Starting early with literacy is important.
Each child who comes to the event will receive a book, in Spanish or English, Ballardo said. Books were donated by the Mid-Columbia Reading Foundation and Molina Healthcare.
Some of the games and activities planned for Dia de los Ninos are designed to help with early literacy. For example, Ballardo said playing with Play-Doh can help young children recognize colors. At another station, they might make a book.
"Children learn through play," Ballardo said.
Kate Holloway, the library district's communications coordinator, said children will receive a full-page map that shows the different stations scattered throughout Memorial Park.
The map is new, added thanks to the large number of organizations that make it necessary.
This year, the number of organizations involved in the festival has doubled to 30, Holloway said.
There also will be other activities, such as an obstacle course and tae kwan do demonstrations.
And Dora the Explorer is expected to make an appearance, said Kyle Cox, the district's interim executive director.
Starting at 1 p.m., there will be entertainment every half hour, Ballardo said. Entertainers include singer Ariadna Mendoza, Whittier Elementary School's Mariachi Fenix, Ballet Folklorico from Longfellow Elementary School, Los Faraones Del Norte and Tom Caraway's Taekwon-Do.
There also will be a raffle with winners of six prizes and one bicycle announced every 30 minutes, Ballardo said.
The event also will offer parents resources about literacy and child health, Mendoza said.
Last year, more than 1,000 people attended the event, which was held for the first time in Memorial Park. Previous celebrations had been at the Pasco Library, but growing popularity led the library district to move it to the park, Ballardo said.
The event is supported by a $3,000 grant from US Bank and Friends of the Mid-Columbia Libraries.
Also as part of Dia de los Ninos, Mid-Columbia Libraries is bringing three bilingual children's authors to the community.
Children's authors/illustrators Alma Flor Ada and Isabel Campoy, and children's composer Suni Paz will share their books and music Thursday at 5 p.m. at Longfellow Elementary School, 301 N. 10th Ave., Pasco.
At 1 p.m. Thursday, the three authors will give a special presentation for kindergarten through second-grade students at Scootney Springs Elementary School in Othello.