In celebration of the many Latinos and Latinas who are coloring children’s books with Latino culture, traditions and orgullo, New Latina has joined the #L4LL’s Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros Blog Hop to bring you this touching personal essay written by children’s book author Monica Brown! Please feel free to leave a comment for Monica, or to enter your school library (or local library!) in the giveaway by leaving a comment on this, and every other blog in the blog hop.
In Praise of Literary Latinas . . .
This month we celebrate Día de Los Niños/Día de Los Libros, the brainchild of one of my mentors and favorite children’s authors, Pat Mora, and many wonderful Librarians, most of whom were and are Latina literacy activists. I believe in Día, because it combines two things that I love—children and books.
I’m a mother, a teacher, a tía and a writer who gets to meet and interact with thousands of children across the United States (and the world) each year. Here’s what I know:
- Reading with and to the young children in your life promotes the growth of their language and literacy skills.
- Reading bilingual books by and about inspiring Latino/a figures instills pride in our heritage—Latinos have made indelible contributions to the Américas, North, South, and Central and we can learn from those who came before.
- Reading books with strong, creative, empowered female characters (fictional or nonfictional) can help our beautiful Latinitas find their own voices in joyful ways.
In my non-fiction picture books, I’ve tried to share stories of powerful and inspiring Latinas with children. For this reason I wrote My Name is Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral/Me Llamo Gabriela: La Vida de Gabriela Mistral, a picture book biography about the first Latin American to win a Nobel Prize for Literature. Gabriela Mistral, a poet and teacher, was the daughter of a single mother who helped shaped education in Latin America. She was committed, in particular, to the education of girls, and the poor.
In Side by Side: The Story of Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chavez/Lado a Lado: La Historia de Dolores Huerta and César Chávez I share the story of two amazing Latino leaders and place Dolores Huerta along side Cesar Chavez in history, which is where she belongs as the co-founder of the United Farmworkers movement.
In my fiction picture books, I am free to explore the child I was and the increasingly complex world I see my two daughters inhabit. With Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina, I share the story of a girl who is biracial, mismatched, and marvelous. Marisol stands up for the right to be her unique self. In Clara and the Curandera, a grumpy little girl learns from the “wise Latina” down the hall about an ethics of giving, learning to appreciate her family and community in the process.
I started writing for children when my own daughters were toddlers because I didn’t see enough of our stories on the shelves. I am happy to say that that this has changed. We are having a Latina literary renaissance in the children’s book world, and in celebration of Día de los Niños/Día de los Libros, let me praise these writers and all who put books in the hands of children. I refer you to just a few talented literary Latinas and my favorite picture books from each: Meg Medina, author of the delightful Tía Isa Wants a Car; Carmen Tafolla, author of What Can You do with a Rebozo?; Yuyi Morales, author of Little Night/Nochecita; Amada Irma Perez, author of Nana’s Big Surprise/Nana, Que Sopresa; and of course, the amazing Pat Mora, author of Dona Flor: A Tall Tale of a Giant Woman with a Great Big Heart.
I hope you enjoy these books and share them with the children in your lives. Now tell me . . . what about you? The New Latinas? What are your favorite picture books? What stories will YOU tell and what stories remain to be told?
Dr. Monica Brown is the award-winning author of multicultural books for children. She is also Professor of English at Northern Arizona University, where she teaches U.S. latino/a and multicultural literature. Find out more about Monica Brown at www.monicabrown.net or follow her on Facebook at Monica Brown, Children’s Author .
L4LL has put together a wonderful collection of Latino children’s literature to be given to a school or public library. Many of the books were donated by the authors and illustrators participating in this blog hop. You can read a complete list of titles (as well as the blog hop SCHEDULE) here on the L4LL website.
To enter your school library or local library in the giveaway, simply leave a comment below.
The deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Monday, April 29th. The winner will be chosen using Random.org and announced on the L4LL website on April 30th, Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros, and will be contacted via email – so be sure to leave a valid email address in your comment! (If we have no way to contact you, we’ll have to choose someone else!)
By entering this giveaway, you agree to the Official Sweepstakes Rules. No purchase required. Void where prohibited.