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Child's artwork inspired by the Water Protectors. Taos Center for the Arts offered the Stables Gallery space for this extra special exhibit. If state health protocols allow, the exhibit will be open for viewing the children's work Thursday through Saturday (June 3-5) from 2-5 p.m., with a reception Saturday (June 5).

Courtesy photo

The UNM-Taos college library provides the services and resources needed for student success, as well as to be available for the community's needs. But the staff is also champions of literacy in general. This is why they strive to provide community programming, in addition to academic tools like research databases and relevant print materials.

Despite the pandemic, the college library staff were determined to carry on their traditional outreach efforts around the literary program known as Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros (Children's Day/Book Day), or commonly known as Dia. According to their website (dia.ala.org), "Día is a nationally recognized initiative that emphasizes the importance of literacy for all children from all backgrounds."

The UNM-Taos library has been celebrating Dia since 2008. Last year was the first year they were unable to put on a program as the COVID-19 pandemic had just begun. A history of literary programming the library has provided is on their website at taoslibrary.unm.edu/eventsarchive/dia.

"We are excited to get back on track and this year we are collaborating with the Tiwa Babies tribal home visiting program and Taos Pueblo Head Start," stated Kathleen Knoth, UNM-Taos Library Director. Tiwa Babies provides qualified family support specialists to visit the homes of expectant parents, and families of children 0-5 years old. They promote child and family development, and the staff are firm believers in reading -- even as early as the time of conception.

The collaborative between the UNM-Taos library and Tiwa Babies is appropriate because they are a grantee of Tribal MIECHV (Tribal Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting), which includes the Early Language & Literacy CQI Collaborative. This is an effort for home visiting programs partnering with families to improve and increase outcomes for language learning, including dual language learning and socialization beginning in infancy and toddlerhood, and extending to early childhood.

According to April Winters, Tiwa Babies family support specialist, "Tiwa Babies is supporting families by discussing the importance of early literacy through language, singing and reading, and including activities that promote this in the child's everyday routines."

The UNM-Taos library has provided a copy of a children's book by Native author Carole Lindstrom entitled "We are Water Protectors," along with an activity kit for 35 families being served by Tiwa Babies and Taos Pueblo Head Start. The plans are to exhibit the children's artistic interpretations of protecting New Mexico's water, or anything or anyone they care about after they have read this book together in their homes.

The Taos Center for the Arts organization has teamed up with the library and offered the Stables Gallery space for this extra special exhibit. If state health protocols allow, the exhibit will be open for viewing the children's work June 3-5 from 2-5 p.m., with a reception Saturday, June 5.

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