I had the hair-raising experience of being on BuzzFeed live for their #AM2DM program. I followed Corey Booker, who had smart ideas but somehow couldn’t name the ingredients in a Margarita. (Really, hermano? All that political know-how aside, how is that possible?) Anyway, they were merciful and kept my comments to Merci Suárez Changes Gears. Here’s the link of the whole segment. It’s about five or six minutes, I think. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Community work’ Category
This week, I’m heading back to St. Paul, Minnesota (average temperature in February is 23.7 degrees F). This time I’ll be there for a community visit that has some unexpected ties right here to Virginia, where I live.
June has been a busy month with Girls of Summer, followed by travel to Book Expo and the ALA annual conference, where I started introducing readers to my new middle grade novel, MERCI SUÁREZ CHANGES GEARS. The early reviews are strong (more on that when I can share), and so I’m hopeful that all is going to go well.
But I had a chance to sit back and reflect on something else today that reminded me again why so many of us write for children and, why in the end, it’s a privilege to do this work.
Last spring, I packed up my art supplies and laptop and had the pleasure of spending a whole week working with students at Carrboro Elementary School as a writer-in-residence through the University of North Carolina.
I’m almost never gone from home for a full week, but this time, that was the deal. The truth is that it’s hard to be on the road sometimes and away from my own family. But librarian Elizabeth Porter, graduate assistant Melissa Ferens and these sweet, hand-picked kids made the trip one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had. I dream about these little ones and wonder what is ahead for them. I still miss them.
The official video is below. Here, too, is the text of a draft of a poem written by “A,”one of my fourth grade girls. I’ve withheld the name to shield her privacy, but all of us who were there remember this powerful piece as she read it, open-hearted. I think it matters, now more than ever, to think about how children are experiencing everything around them.
Juanito my godfather
How I call him padrino, godfather
Juan who is tall
who has short black hair that’s straight like mine.
Who has the same eyes as mine and had no mustache
Who wears no earrings because he think that is for girls.
Who has big hands.
Who spent his time working at a restaurant and made enough time for me and my siblings
even if he was tired.
Juanito my godfather
who said vamos a la panadería para comprar chuchulucos.
Juan who dreams of having papeles and dinero.
Who wants me to get a good education and go to college,
so i don’t have to work in something that doesn’t bring enough money for necessaries.
I remember at one time, every sabado o domingo
since he works in a pasta restaurant, he knew how to make the best pasta in the world.
He would also give me money, but the money didn’t matter for me much.
Juanito who wanted papeles
while I ate that yummy pasta from where he worked at Bricks.
It’s April. How are you celebrating kids and books, or should I say niños y libros?
You’ve heard me speak on this blog before about the importance of supporting the annual Día de los Niños Dia de los Libros events every April. Libraries all over the country will have special programming to support multicultural books and kids, which you can check out by typing in your zip code on the official Día site.
But this year, the Library of Congress – the grand dame of libraries – is doing a live, national webcast in honor of Día, too. It will feature scholars and authors, with a special focus on the spectacular lives and contributions of powerhouse Latinx librarians Arturo Schomburg and Pura Belpré. The pdf is here. (DiaProgramDescription short_sdw .)If you hurry, you can be part of it.
Just in case you’re not familiar, Schomburg and Belpré were AfroLatino librarians who advocated for justice and diverse children’s literature during the Harlem Renaissance. They were contemporaries and friends – and they saw the same problems in terms of lack of material that truly represented their communities. Their legacy endures in the formidable collections they left behind and in the medal named in their honor.
Here’s the lineup.
Dr. Marilisa Jimenez of Lehigh University who specializes in Latinx literature and in the contributions of Schomburg and Belpré;
Carole Boston Weatherford and Eric Velasquez, the decorated author and illustrator team who brought us the award-winning picture book, Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library (Candlewick Press 2017;)
Representatives from the (stunning) Hispanic Reading Room at the Library of Congress, who will share some of the holdings in the LOC’s collection;
and me, speaking on giving kids access to their heroes and to their libraries.
If you want your organization to be part of the live interactive videoconference (so you can ask questions, etc.) questions, etc.) go here.
Only four slots are left, so don’t wait.
Event: Dia de los Niños Videoconference at the Library of Congress
Date: Monday, April 30, 2018
Time: 3:00 PM – 4:10 PM EST
Hola gente –
I’ll spare you my thoughts on what’s going down in Puerto Rico with the disaster relief effort. There’s no need to start the week with bile.
Instead, I’ll concentrate on the better news. Latinos across all areas of publishing have banded together to create an auction that will benefit the relief effort. (You can follow the news at #PubforPR.)
Bidding starts Monday, October 2, 2017 at 9 am.
So, if you’re looking for signed books, author visits, manuscript critiques, advice on your publicity efforts, etc, please consider bidding on an item. You could get a bargain, for sure, but more importantly, you’ll definitely be helping fellow citizens in need.
I usually blog the day after Labor Day with a wish for everyone to have a good start to the new school year. But with yesterday’s news about the six-month expiration on DACA, I’m here to say a few things because I’m too disgusted by our myopic leaders to mince words.
I travel this country pretty much from end-to-end meeting all kinds of students – including those whose lives are going to be upended by President Trump’s assault on undocumented immigrants. These students will start their school year carrying an enormous amount of stress and fear even before they open the first notebook or study for any quiz.
I ask that you consider what it might be like to be a young person who is threatened with losing everything he or she has ever known as home. From that place of compassion, I am urging you to contact your representatives on their behalf. It just isn’t enough to treat your students with kindness or to feel satisfied that you, personally, treat them well. They need all of us to advocate for them because right now – gutted and powerless as they are feeling – they can’t. Here is a place to start.
For those of us who know the power of reading and writing to get us through even the ugliest experiences, here are a couple of things for you. The first is a reading list that may help students understand the dilemma of young people who are undocumented. It’s from Colorín Colorado and it is being updated fairly regularly.
The second piece I got in the mail this morning from the National Writing Project. It’s a link on to materials on how to construct lessons that help kids analyze and organize around civic life.
To close, I just have this: I predict that we as a country are going to look back on ourselves in 2017 and 2018 with utter shame. We are being led by someone who has appealed to our ugliest instincts against each other. The only thing to do now is to ask ourselves who we really are as people, what we really stand for as a country, and to rise to the challenge.
Here’s what I know for sure. Young people are every nation’s hope, and I stand with them.
I’m heading out on this soggy morning for two good reasons.
One, Angela Dominguez, who illustrated Mango Abuela and Me and is the illustrator behind the Lola Levine series by Monica Brown and several of her own award-winning titles, has moved to Richmond! We’re having a “welcome to RVA” lunch, which I hope is the beginning of lots of new adventures for her in our town.
Angela couldn’t have arrived at a better time, which brings me to reason number two for venturing out. This weekend marks the opening of LATINOS IN RICHMOND/ NUESTRAS HISTORIAS, a small but potent exhibit at the Valentine Museum.
For about a year, I’ve volunteered as part of an advisory committee helping Wanda Hernandez and her colleagues at the Valentine curate this loving first peek at Latinos in our city. You’ll find artifacts and stories of how we began making our way here – dating back to colonial days. There is a little bit of everything, including a terrific graphic that shows the fairly recent political lift-off of Latinos here in the Commonwealth.
There’s food, music, and free admission today, so maybe I’ll see you. But if not, I hope you’ll take a minute to walk through in the coming months and read the stories of who is here in your neighborhood, why we got here, and what we offer.
Nuestras Historias/ Latinos in Richmond
July 27, 2017 thru April 15, 2018
The Valentine Museum
1015 E. Clay Street, Richmond, VA
What a night! Girls of Summer 2017 launched into the world on Wednesday, June 21. Dancing with Rita Williams Garcia! Book talking with Stacy Hawkins Adams, Beth Morris, Amanda Nelson, and Gigi Amateau. Eating ice pops with girls from all over Richmond. Here’s a peek at how it went down!
To see our entire Girls of Summer list and to start following the weekly author Q & As, visit www.girlsofsummerlist.com.