The "Books and Libros" theme of an Aurora children's festival held Saturday grew this year as East Aurora and West Aurora school districts collaborated to provide reading activities and free books for kids.
El Dia de los Ninos, or The Day of the Children, drew hundreds of Aurora youths and their families for an afternoon of music, crafts, games, treats from La Chicanita Bakery and other Aurora eateries, and most of all, reading.
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Kids visiting the 10th annual festival were encouraged to stop at a booth for their school district and grade level to play an age-appropriate literacy game, many of which focused on Spanish as well as English.
East Aurora second-graders practiced matching the English and Spanish words for terms like family, gorilla, class and elephant. West Aurora kindergartners used a mini magnetic fishing pole to "go fish" for letters and practice pronouncing them, mainly in Spanish.
Teachers volunteered their time to staff the literacy stations and continue instructing their students outside school hours, said Maria Lozano, director of the English Language Learners program at West Aurora School District 129.
"We're here to promote literacy, and we thought this was a great opportunity because it's so well attended by students and families," said Lozano, who's also a member of the group that planned the festival, the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board.
As a reward for completing a literacy activity kids got to choose a free book (or libro) to bring home.
"Every kid will leave with a book in their hand," said Krystian Reyes, vice chairman of the Aurora Hispanic Heritage Advisory Board.
A scavenger hunt for words inside the Aurora Public Library Bookmobile was one of the first chances kids had to earn their free book.
Staffed by volunteers from the Junior League of Kane and DuPage Counties, the bookmobile was open for touring and hosted dozens of kids searching for certain words.
Before choosing the Dr. Seuss books "Hop on Pop," and "Dr. Seuss's ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book," 6-year-old Prince Parker of Aurora and his 7-year-old cousin Samuel Stone of Aurora found the words "apple, shoe and duckies" inside the bookmobile.
For her part in the word searching effort, Prince's 8-year-old sister Audrey Parker chose the book "Mrs. Lilly is Silly!"
"Every child has been extremely excited to take home a book that's their own," said Gabby Gallerano of Naperville, a volunteer with the Junior League of Kane and DuPage Counties.