Jul 29, 2015


Celebrate Dia de los Niños, Día de los Libros with Author Monica Brown

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Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match, by Monica Brown

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 will celebrate Día across three states this month: in Houston, Tuscon, and Las Vegas, celebrating the joy of reading with parents, teachers, librarians and most importantly, children.

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?

Monica Brown

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 .

The Giveaway

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.

¡Buena suerte!


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Tanisha Love Ramirez

Tanisha Love Ramirez

Tanisha is the Managing Editor at NEW LATINA, and a social commentary and pop-culture writer/blogger from New York City. She studied Sociology and Women's Studies at Bowdoin College, where she developed a strong interest women's issues and community advocacy. Tanisha has written for the Bowdoin Orient and has interned at BUST Magazine and Jezebel.com.

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  1. Dr. Brown was my advisor and mentor in graduate school, and I am so proud of the career she has made writing children’s books! I would love to win some for my partner’s school, which has a very high population of minority students who could most definitely benefit from exposure to such literature!

  2. Jodi Monroy says:

    Thanks for the recommendations! I will check out the ones we haven’t already read. I’m a huge enthusiast of seeking authentic childrens books that celebrate their Latino heritage!

  3. University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s Curriculum and Materials Library in the College of Education would be lucky to have more exposure to Latina literature!

  4. I am a educator ! Our school library needs more books like yours!

  5. Sylvia Briseno says:

    Great news to promote reading! Children must know trascendental people in Latino Literature writen by contemporary excellent authors.
    Harmony School of Innocation @ El Paso should have this collection!

  6. Anani Vasquez says:

    I’ve been writing all my life. I hope to one day add to the many wonderful works you and the others have published. My boys and I love to read together!

  7. Amanda Baughman says:

    I work at CC Ronnow Elementary in Las Vegas, NV and we love Monica’s books!

  8. “Biracial, mismatched, and marvelous” needs to go on a T-shirt. Latinas like me would wear it everyday! I just love your work, Monica, especially your book about Gabriela Mistral.

  9. Jovita Molina says:

    Gracias! This is a wonderful idea! I hope some of these autoras will one day visit our school Library in Watsonville California.

  10. Sandy Carrillo says:

    I remember the first time I read a book written by a Latina author. I was in high school and my close friend introduced me to The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Growing up in Chicago the daughter of Mexican immigrants, I had never before read something that spoke to my heart like that book did. I was in disbelief that someone, as important as an author, had written a story so tied to my life experiences. I kept the book on my nightstand by my bed and read it over and over. Now, as a teacher, I enjoy being that liaison for my students, introducing them to the wonderful books that will help them see themselves and the world!

  11. Ingrid Di Nallo says:

    Hi, I would like to include Serra Mesa Public Library, here in San Diego, CA . I always find great books there and it has a nice place for children.
    Thanks a lot,
    Ingrid Di Nallo

  12. Shirley Gibbs says:

    I will be teaching at a brand new school in Delano, CA — Pioneer School. It is a K-8 school in an area that is primarily Latino. Our school would be honored to have this wonderful collection.

  13. Elizabeth Aldana says:

    I absolutely love Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match. As adults, we need to teach kids to embrace their culture(s). -St Richard School, Chicago, IL.

  14. I love this blog for its support of familias raising multilingual book lovers! What a wonderful journey and thank you for sharing your story. My daughter’s trilingual Immersion school would love these books. It is so fulfilling to see her love of reading grow. We love Marisol Mcdonald No Combina! Thank you!

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