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By Anne Silva

This month in Plaza Santillana, we pay homage to all the richness that literature brings to our lives and the lives of our students. During April in communities around the world, people celebrate various facets of literature and books: International Book Day, International Children’s Book Day, the days we commemorate Miguel de Cervantes and William Shakespeare, and others. If literature is celebrated so much in both Spanish-speaking countries and in English-speaking ones, then we here at Plaza Santillana have DOUBLE the celebration going on! We celebrate all things Hispanic, and also value the English-language literature that so enriches our lives as well.

In our educational communities, we often tout the importance of Authentic Literature, and Reading-with-a-capital-R, and all kinds of good stuff like that. But let’s take a minute to really think about this concept and the value we gain from it:

What makes something “literature”? Are all books literature? Why? Is there literature that isn’t in a book? Do website contents count as literature? (How about this blog? 😉 Wink, wink.) Could the label “literature” have as much to do with the way a book makes you FEEL, the way it makes you THINK, as with its “Dewey Decimal-ness?” Can a piece of literature in another language make you FEEL and THINK in ways that your first language never can? Have you ever read literature from another culture and been transported to a place that you have never seen, yet you can picture it more clearly than if you had been there?

In April, we greet the arrival of spring: new growth, new life, and new colors on landscapes that were formerly dull and gray. It’s fitting, then, that we take this month to appreciate the transformative nature of great books.

For ourselves, as we enrich our minds and hearts with stories of faraway times, places, and people. And for our students, our children and grandchildren, and all of the kids in our lives, as they open their minds to the places that we used to “visit” when we were young, and new ones as well. As they read new books in any language, their reality is expanded: they make new friends, their assumptions are challenged, they visit different times and places and cultures.

Introducing a young person to a book that you have loved is as rich an experience as showing them your childhood home, as personal as introducing them to a relative, as special as making a favorite meal for them. By sharing literature, we share a piece of our own childhoods.

Won’t you take a moment with us this month to give yourself and your students the gift of a really good bit of Reading? (With a capital “R”!) Check back here often throughout the month as we celebrate literature with you!

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