• About 500 people turned out for the third annual Día de los Niños (Children’s Day) celebration, hosted by Arte Américas and Fresno County Public Library.
• The family festival featured music, games, crafts and free books for children.
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• Frank Delgado, executive director of Arte Américas, said Children’s Day is very important in Mexican culture.
Seated on her knees, nearly eye level with Cooper the therapy dog, 8-year-old Ariana Renteria read aloud.
On Sunday, Renteria participated in the third annual Día de los Niños (Children’s Day) celebration, hosted by Arte Américas and Fresno County Public Library. The family festival featured music, games, crafts and free books for children.
Renteria attended with two siblings and her parents, who said she likes to read.
Her mother, Veronica Renteria, said Children’s Day is hugely celebrated in Mexico, both in school and in the community. Though less celebrated in the United States, she said the family wanted to participate “because the children are the future.”
Frank Delgado, executive director of Arte Américas, said Children’s Day is very important in Mexican culture.
“It has become a holiday to keep younger generations connected to their culture, to the traditions,” he said.
Delgado said around 500 people showed up, a diverse mix including many non-Latino children because of the library partnership. They got their faces painted, listened to a West African storyteller and watched traditional Mexican ballet folklórico performances.
Linda Aragon of Fresno County library said the American Library Association incorporated the Mexican tradition by creating Día de los Libros (Day of the Books). She said the celebration is especially important in the Fresno, where 52% of residents are Latino and 24% of Fresno Unified School District students are learning English.
During Sunday’s celebration, students received free books, including many bilingual options such as “Juanito Counts to Ten,” by Lee Merrill Byrd.
At the craft tables, siblings Khenya and Yadhany Aguilar, ages 10 and 4, made books out of construction paper, sticks and rubber bands. Their mother Betty Dominguez said she takes them to such events so they won’t forget their culture.
“They are Mexican, even though they were born here,” she said. “These things are being lost.”
The Consulate of Mexico in Fresno will also celebrate Children’s Day this week. On Thursday, 10 students from local elementary schools — Burroughs, Sunset, Winchell and Calwa — will become “Consul for a Day.” Throughout the week, Consul Vicente Sanchez Ventura plans to visit schools with other local leaders to read to first graders.