Thousands of books given away during 30th Annual Fiesta of Books

Literacy, story-telling, crafts, fun and games was the order of the day at the 30th Annual Fiesta of Books held May 4 at the El Monte Community Center. Children with a passion for books and love for reading eagerly lined up for the event proudly coordinated by the El Monte Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department, El Monte City School District and the Mountain View School District. Over 1,600 children and adults filed through the community center doors to select two free books of their choice from a collection of new titles as well as some old favorites. Additionally, Fiesta of Books visitors were able to take home several slightly used books to add to their home library collection and each family received a free dictionary.
A community tradition for three decades, the Fiesta of Books aims to encourage a love of reading and reinforce the importance of literacy among El Monte and South El Monte’s children. Approximately 2,500 new books were given away free of charge to the children thanks to generous donations from community groups, service clubs, businesses, school districts, the police department and individuals. Special thanks go to Scholastic Books and Pete Bentancourt, Scholastic’s warehouse manager, for their continued support of the Fiesta of Books.
“Again this year the event was a great success,” said Roger Cobian, El Monte Police Detective and Fiesta of Books Chairman. “It is wonderful to see the kids so excited about books and reading and the looks on their faces when they receive their brand new books keeps us looking forward to this event year after year. Many thanks go out to our volunteers and generous donors whose continued support makes this event possible.”
In addition to the free books, children enjoyed the storytelling room which featured local children’s author Lizette Valles, who read her bilingual book “Land of the Lost Socks” a heartwarming story about a puppy named Mochi who loved socks. Valles made the story come to life as the children and families listened to Mochi’s adventures. At the end of each story-time, Valles presented every child with a new pair of socks to take home.
On hand to celebrate literacy and share the programs offered at their sites were the El Monte, Norwood and South El Monte public libraries. Face painting and a large bounce house were part of the fun as well and guests enjoyed the many vendors’ booths selling greatly priced items and food. Clifford the Big Red Dog, Officer McGruff, Mother Goose and Miss Friendly El Monte roamed the event signing autographs and encouraging children to read.
“Our appreciation goes out to all the generous donors who contributed funds and books,” said Lisa Del Real from the Community Services Department and Fiesta of Books committee member. “Special thanks to all the great volunteers who organized and worked this wonderful event including the Mountain View High School Teacher Preparation Academy (TPA) students and the El Monte Police Explorers. Every child who attended left with a bag, some with a box, full of books and a great big smile!”
Boosting the love of reading in the community’s children is the goal of the Fiesta of Books.
“This is truly a great event that promotes the importance reading and enables children to build up their home library collection,” said Cobian. “The Fiesta of Books has become a tradition for many children who return year after year and it’s an event that shows that reading is not just a school focus, but a community-wide focus.”
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-Courtesy Photo

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