I do love celebrations! September 15 – October 15 has been designated as Hispanic Heritage Month. I’m creating my own festivity by rereading a couple of favorite picture books – one old and one new. The old favorite is Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora, a warm true story of a Latino boy who found a new world in the library while his parents followed the crops as farm workers. The after note identifies the boy. He grew up to be Dr. Tomas Rivera – a writer, professor, university administrator, and national education leader – with a library named for him at the University of California at Riverside. Just perfect!
The new favorite, Tia Isa Wants a Car by Meg Medina, takes its roots in a true story from her family. This book won the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award for 2012. In her acceptance speech as Meg told “the rest of the story,” she had her audience alternating between laughing and crying. The story line has the little girl [Meg?] helping Tia Isa, her aunt who is younger and more fun-loving than the other adults in the family, save money for a car. Part of my reason for loving the book is that I also have an aunt who was a lot of fun and sometimes helped fudge a few adult rules. Her age made her about as much sister as aunt. I call her Aunt Ruth. You’ll want to be sure to read the book if you have one of those aunts.
You may want to join this celebration by reading these books or by finding additional Hispanic Heritage candidates at the American Library Association’s website under the Pura Belpré Awards. The medal is set up to honor Latino/Latina writers and illustrators whose works best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. You’ll find their great stories and beautiful artwork at: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants.
Oh, and if you should have a chance to hear Pat Mora or Meg Medina speak – take it!