I took my son, the baby of our family, to see colleges this weekend — a road trip that featured a lot of sweet memories, perhaps fueled by eating too much ice cream made on an on-campus creamery. Yum.
But that wasn’t the only delicious thing that happened. I was also featured on Latin Baby Book Club.(Check it out; you can win a free copy of TIA ISA WANTS A CAR). How I wish I’d had a blog like that 15 years ago when I was raising my own “latin babies” and teaching them to love books – and their roots.
We live in Richmond, Virginia, a southern city with a growing Latino population, but it’s not like other places we’ve lived, like South Florida, where Latino culture has so significantly shaped communities. Nobody here was whipping out an empanada from their lunch sack. Cinco de Mayo and Three Kings Day was about all anybody knew.
My three kids are all American in so many ways. In fact, they speak Spanish so poorly that their abuelas can barely forgive me. Back then, they read Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse and the Magic Treehouse series and Harry Potter. Still, something like Latin Baby Book Club might have helped me do the important work of making my kids proud of where they come from.
Sure, you can’t keep Latino kids from being as American as anybody else in their class. (Ask my mother; she’ll tell you.) It’s inevitable; you belong to the place you grow up. It’s just that we all search for the reflection of our experience in the pages of a book. Kids need to see people who look and sound like them going on daring and unforgettable adventures. That’s part of the reason I write: to give all Latino kids (including my own) a sense of the value of our story. Muchisimas gracias a Latin Baby Book Club for sharing my work. ¡Cariños a todos!