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Literary youth: Othello and Mattawa to host Day of the Children celebrations

by GABRIEL DAVIS
Staff Writer | April 19, 2024 1:30 AM

MOSES LAKE — Both Othello Public Library and the city of Mattawa are holding free events this year for El día de los ninos/El día de los libros, otherwise known as Day of the Children and Day of the Book, which recognizes children and children’s literacy.

Othello’s celebration is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring children’s activities at Mid-Columbia Library’s Othello branch. Mattawa’s celebration April 27 will kick off with a parade at 11 a.m., followed by events and activities in Hund Park and Mattawa Public Library until 4 p.m.

Othello Public Library Branch Manager Georgia Reitmire explained some of the basic goals.

“It really involves cognitive abilities and literacy strategies and just embracing the child's home language and their culture,” Reitmire said. “It's about celebrating heritage and culture and strengthening families through community events, so the library really supports that.”

According to the American Library Association website, the holiday— commonly known as Día — is an American adaptation of Mexico’s Children’s Day on April 30, combining the celebration of children with an emphasis on literacy and libraries. 

“Día is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children of all linguistic and cultural backgrounds,” the website states. “It is a daily commitment to linking children and their families to diverse books, languages, and cultures.”

Reitmire said this is the first year the Othello library is putting on the event, but Mid-Columbia Libraries has hosted celebrations at other branches in previous years. According to the ALA website, the event was started in 1997 by American author Pat Mora and first held in Santa Fe, N.M.; Tucson, Ariz.; and El Paso and Austin, Texas that year. 

“We will have crafts and activities,” Reitmire said. “We have a vault, because we're an old bank, and we're going to set up a photo booth in there so families can take pictures of their kids in the photo booth. We’ll have decorations, we’ll have sidewalk chalk outside if it doesn't rain — so pray for good weather — and just lots of fun things.”

The Othello event is an open house, Reitmire said, with raffles for prizes along with the activities.

The city of Mattawa is organizing its celebration as a community event, partnering with the Mattawa Public Library, Columbia Basin Health Association and Mattawa Community Medical Clinic.

According to an announcement from the city, after the parade at 11 a.m., there will be music, dancing, piñatas, competitions (including a doughnut-eating competition), raffles, vendors, informational booths and other activities in the park and at the library until 4 p.m.

Local organizations such as the Washington Growers League have donated candy and bicycles for prizes during the event, according to a statement from the city. CBHA, Mattawa City Council member Sun Hwang and Central Washington Wine Production have also donated money to the event, the statement said. In an April 12 release, the city said that the event is still in need of parade entries. 

As far as Othello is concerned, Reitmire said she would be interested in expanding the event in future years if this week’s celebration goes well, since it is the city’s first celebration and the Othello library is a fairly small building. 

“I think, depending on how that goes, we might look at maybe having it outside in the park next year. It just kind of depends,” she said. “The goal, though, for me, because we're celebrating children and we're celebrating books and literacy, is to have people in the building.”

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.


Othello's Day of the Children
Othello Public Library
101 E. Main St., Othello
11 a.m to 1 p.m.

Mattawa’s Day of the Children
Hund Memorial Park
101 Government Rd., Mattawa
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

    Exterior of the Mattawa Public Library, located next to Hund Memorial Park. Mattawa’s April 27 Day of the Children event will feature activities and events in both the park and the library, as well as a parade at 11 a.m.
 
 
    A child performs crafts at the 2023 Othello Sandhill Crane Festival. The Othello Public Library’s El día de los ninos/El día de los libros event Saturday will also feature crafts and activities celebrating children and children’s literacy.