Four years ago, Arte Público Press, the nation’s largest and oldest publisher of U.S. Hispanic literature, launched ¡Salud, familia! (To Your Healthy Family), a project aimed at providing health education for Latino youth by distributing bilingual picture books free of charge to families in low-income housing communities. This month, Arte Público Press launches a new enterprise, the Day Without Sugar Challenge (Un día sin azúca) – a challenge for children across the country to limit their sugar intake. Participants of the challenge are encouraged to go a full day without added sugar, avoiding such foods as sugary drinks, candies, cookies, and sweet baked goods.

The idea for the Day Without Sugar Challenge came from one of the books in the ¡Salud, familia! series, A Day Without Sugar/Un día sin azúca by Diane de Anda, illustrated by Janet Montecalvo. Participants in the challenge will receive a coloring book copy of the book, as well as family-friendly, low-sugar recipes, and suggested activities for educators on how to teach children about limited sugar consumption. Arte Público has always been at the forefront of providing opportunities for its community, that is, Latinos in the United States,” says Nicolás Kanellos, founder of Arte Público Press. “It’s only natural that we would take on another big issue in our community: Latino children’s health. And of course, using books to address this societal problem dovetails with our mission to give all kids books that reflect the Latino culture in a positive way, and support literacy.”

Kanellos believes it’s not just the parents who educate the child, but also the child who can bring health education home to his or her family. He notes this is why the back covers of Arte Público’s ¡Salud, familia! books carry messages written in Spanish and English. The publisher’s campaigns go beyond a one-time, or short-lived attempt – they’re in it for the long haul, according to Kanellos. “In our project, we not only reach out to families in low-income Latino neighborhoods, but we have also published a policy book that is aimed at health practitioners and other professionals: At Risk: Hispanic Children’s Health, with chapters written by some of the leading experts in the field,” he says. The Day Without Sugar Challenge campaign will last two to three weeks, but Arte Público Press hopes for the campaign to become a regular challenge, repeated during school semesters as it corresponds with related events and awareness months.

A Day Without Sugar campaign materials are free and available online.