You know Mother's Day and Father's Day, but unless you're from another country, you probably don't know Children's Day.

At least not yet.

In 1998 the U.S. Senate set April 30 aside as Children's Day. Every year since, the celebration has gained momentum; including in Utah. Here, Utah's libraries have adopted the day and added a twist. Utah's celebration is called "The Day of Books, The Day of the Children."

"I belong to Reforma, a group that promotes library use for Spanish-speaking people," says Jane Cooper, manager of the Ruth Vine Tyler Library. "Our goal is to get kids and books together. Last year we brought in performers from other states to help us, but this year we're using Utah people."

In Mexico, "El Dia de los Ninos" is more than an excuse for card, candy and toy companies to sell merchandise. The day has been a long-standing tradition for many generations. Mexico, much like Victorian England, feels a special reverence for kids. The notion of the "Beautiful Child" that appears in so many 19th century British photographs is still alive in Mexico. There, children dress in costume and can expect a day of fun, field trips and family attention.

Locally, the celebration began on Wednesday when singers Jose Bonilla and Sister Maryam performed at the Midvale Boys & Girls Club. Mixing and matching children's songs with an array of classic love songs, the husband-and-wife team kept several dozen youngsters entertained for a good hour.

"I like people and I like nature," says Bonilla, "so we talk and sing about frogs and toads among other things."

During the performance, the couple stresses education.

"As my wife says," Bonilla tells the kids, "a person without education is like a tree without roots."

When he makes an error in English, he uses it to point out how everyone needs to keep learning — including himself.

Bonilla is a native of El Salvador, and his wife, Sister Maryam, is a cultural anthropologist from Houston. The two have toured extensively, recently returning from Europe where they put on 25 concerts in 28 days.

Other local events will be held at the Hunter Library (4740 West 4100 South) where the play "El Leon Pelon" ("The Hairless Lion") will be performed at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, and at the Day-Riverside Library (1575 West 1000 North), where storyteller Matisha Marxuach and singer Ricardo Merino will perform at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 30.For more details about these and other events, call 944-764.


E-MAIL: jerjohn@desnews.com