We are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2017 Estela & Raúl Mora Award is …
Mattawa Elementary School of the Wahluke School District in Mattawa!
They put on a fantastic Día celebration this year, and with the help of parents and several community partners spread bookjoy to the kids they serve.
Mattawa Elementary school is part of an isolated community, an hour away from a big town, where all the students know each other. The tiny town is home to the highest percentage of people born in Mexico than anywhere in the US. 95% of the community is Hispanic with a small percentage of Caucasian farmer families and members of the Wanapum Indian tribe.
Although most of the students’ parents work in the agricultural industry and were up since dawn, over 200 people showed up. The whole community was invited; the turnout was huge for a school of 500 students.
According to First Book member Tiffany Coulson, the biggest barrier to interaction among families in their area is that a lot of them speak different languages. She told us that, “All of the activities planned welcomed both monolingual English or Spanish speakers as well as bilingual families so everyone could participate together without the stigma of language differences.
The after-school event was three hours and, according Coulson, it had something for everyone. They had an authentic taco dinner, an outside bounce house, a soccer obstacle course where kids could earn prizes, dancing, a coloring station, Lotería, carnival games, a raffle. The school library also held a book give away, where if a child brought a parent to the library and they read a book together, each child in the family could take home a free book!
“The event focused on drawing parents to the school library to see the collection of Spanish and bilingual books available to their children. Circulation for these titles is low – we wanted children and parents to understand the importance of reading books together in both English and their heritage language,” Coulson said.
“The biggest draw was that the event was not put on FOR the parents, it was put on by the parents with the support of the school community.”
The school recently received a Laura Bush grant for their library and were able to purchase multicultural graphic novel, bilingual books, and a collection to honor the cultural heritage of the local Wanapum tribe.
Last year, a community survey showed that 60% of parents had never been to a library, although 80% expressed an interest of being able to browse books with their children. “In a community where 95% of families are Hispanic, multicultural books are essential to connecting home and school,” Coulson said.
The Mora Award was established by author and poet Pat Mora and her siblings in honor of their parents, and recognizes outstanding schools/programs that celebrate Día (Children’s Day, Book Day) as a way of connecting all children to bookjoy and promoting literacy all year round. Mattawa Elementary School will receive a $1,000 credit for brand new books from the First Book Marketplace, as well as a Mora Award plaque to be displayed in their school.