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NHCC hosts children’s reading festival

Children’s Bilingual Book Festival will be held on Saturday, April 27.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A chat between award-winning Cuban-American poet-author Margarita Engle and Valerie Martínez of the National Hispanic Cultural Center sparked the creation of the Children’s Bilingual Book Festival, to be held Saturday, April 27, at the NHCC.

“Margarita came here last May to read from her books,” recalled Martínez, NHCC director of history and literary arts and festival organizer. “I asked her afterwards what can we do at the NHCC that is not happening elsewhere. She said there are very few bilingual book festivals in the country.”

Their conversation was about Spanish and English. But the NHCC’s festival expands “bilingualism” to include Native American languages, Martínez said.

Events are free and open to the public:

• 9 a.m. Author-storyteller-educator Nasario Garcia of Santa Fe reads from his bilingual children’s books.

Lee Francis

• 9:45 a.m. California-based educator and bilingual children’s book author Kathleen Contreras reads from her books and hosts interactive activities with kids.

• 10:30 a.m. Four Farmington-area students will tell family stories in English, Spanish and Diné.

• 11 a.m. Lee Francis and a Native Realities author/illustrator will read from and present pages of indigenous superhero comics. Francis is founding director of Native Realities, the company that produces the comics. Also at 11 a.m. Katrina Dillon will host a teachers’ workshop on using bilingual books in K-6 classrooms. Dillon is the K-12 educational consultant to the UNM Latin American and Iberian Institute.

• Noon. Author Nancy Bo Flood and Navajo illustrator Jonathan Nelson read from and discuss “First Laugh, Welcome Baby!” their children’s book in English and Diné.

• 12:30 p.m. Author-storyteller Ana Baca of Albuquerque reads from her bilingual children’s books.

• 1 p.m. Author-poet Pat Mora of Santa Fe gives the festival’s keynote address. Twenty-three years ago, Mora founded Día de los Libros, now called Children’s Day/Book Day, which is celebrated April 30.

• 2 p.m. Albuquerque brothers and co-authors Paul and Carlos Meyer read from and discuss their graphic novel “Under the Cottonwood Tree – El Susto de la Curandera.”

Pat Mora

• 3 p.m. New Mexico authors Anna Nogar and Enrique Lamadrid read from their new book “Sisters in Blue/Hermanas de Azul” and their other books. The presentation is adapted for all ages.

• 4 p.m. Young winners of Semana Cervantina’s “Poesía eres tu” competition recite their original poems in Spanish.

During the same hours as the 9 a.m.-4 p.m. events, the festival is hosting a workshop for parents to encourage reading in the smartphone age given by Albuquerque first-grade dual-language teacher Amy Ellis.

The festival is also offering a book fair and art activities for children and their families. Food available at La Fonda del Bosque and at Pop Fizz. The NHCC is at 1701 Fourth SW.

“I decided to do a one-day festival and pack it in and see what the response is,” Martínez said.

She said she wants the festival to have “an extended effect.”

“So we are identifying 20 kids who are struggling readers who will be matched with summer reading tutors,” she said. “Those kids will get free festival swag, a couple of free books. Twice a week over the summer, they will come to the NHCC library for tutoring in reading.” Their reading scores will be measured.

The tutoring is a partnership with ABC Reads.