How to Build a Latino Library on Pinterest that Rocks!

Go ahead, quote me on this: Pinterest can actually make you smarter.

Not only can the image-based social sharing site let you discover DIY tips and the ultimate arroz rojo recipe but Pinterest can help us become virtual librarians as well.

But keep reading—this won’t be your mama’s library.

Book Boards

The core of Pinterest is boards which function as virtual scrapbooks. Pinterest account holders can create boards around themes and either reuse images—known as pins—that someone else has uploaded, or upload new pins from their own images or from sites such as amazon.com.

There aren’t yet many boards or pinners devoted to Latino literature. Which means there’s a big gap that your virtual library can fill! Check these out for inspiration:

La Casa Azul Bookstore: This East Harlem bookstore has a variety of boards devoted to reading Latino literature and meeting the authors. Photos of books are usually accompanied by a blue papel picado streamer embossed with the name of the store. Love it! Here’s the link: http://pinterest.com/lacasaazulbooks/

The Somers Library: The public library of Somers, NY, has a wide selection of thematic boards, including one devoted to The Pura Belpré Award which is awarded annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience for children and youth. Here’s the link: http://pinterest.com/somerslibrary/pura-belpre-award/

Carmen Amato (okay, me): This international mystery author has The Latino Library and The Mexico Library boards which jointly contain more than 100 book pins, each of which link back to amazon.com descriptions and purchasing information. Other boards illustrate her own mystery novels with celebrity dreamcasts, playlists and related images. Here’s the link: http://pinterest.com/carmenconnects/

Ready, Set, Pin

The magic of creating a library on Pinterest is that you can combine book images and information in amazing ways that real libraries rarely do. You can make all types of book boards and add surprising things to them.

Step 1

Once you have your Pinterest account set up, decide on a theme and create a new board with a short, snappy title. You board can be about an individual book or many books in a specific genre. For example:

  • Latino Lit from the 1970’s
  • fiction books based on history
  • Cuban-American authors
  • Book club reads

Or your board can just be about books you recommend. Or want to read. Or just love the cover!

Once you have your theme, add images:

  • Find the book page on amazon.com and use the site’s PinIt button to pin the book image and description
  • Do a search on Pinterest, using keywords such as the book title to find book-related images
  • Use Google search to find more images of the book. This is handy if the book has had several different covers but amazon only shows the latest. If any site doesn’t have a PinIt button, add one to your browser by searching for the PinIt button on the Pinterest site, then use it to pin to your board.

Repeat Step 1 until you have as many boards as you want!

Step 2

Give that board some book bling!

  • Who would play the lead characters if the book became a movie? Pin some celeb photos and say which character he/she would be and why.
  • Where was the book located? Add some pictures of where the action takes place.
  • What did the characters eat? Add some recipes.
  • Was there a playlist in the background of this book in your imagination? Add a couple of music videos. YouTube makes it easy with a PinIt button on every video.
  • If the books are non-fiction, find related pictures by searching both the Pinterest site as well as using Google. Maybe there is a history website with good pictures you can use.
  • What goes with books? Images of reading nooks, bookmarks, author photos? Use your imagination!

Remember to acknowledge the primary source of whatever image you pin. If you use a PinIt button, the source link will stay attached to the pin when it is on your board. If you upload an original image from your own computer, you can add a link manually.

Share!

As Pulitzer Prize-winning authorJunot Diaz tweeted during this week’s #L4LL Twitter party, “The only way to support reading is to push books on youth. All of us have to be librarians and literary curators.”

A Pinterest library can do just that by combining books with familiar pop culture elements like music videos and getting those boards visible on social media networks.
So once your boards rock, invite friends to take a look. Tweet your boards and link to them on Facebook.

Also, post a link in the comments thread below to share and help build this community!

Gracias!

This is the third of my three guest posts for Latinas4LatinoLiterature and I hope you have enjoyed reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them. Thanks to Monica and the gang at Latinas4LatinoLit.org for this opportunity.

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Carmen Amato is the author of political thriller THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY and the Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco. Both draw on her experiences living in Mexico and Central America where she discovered the best coffee on earth. For more check out:
http://carmenamato.net
http://facebook.com/authorcarmenamato
http://pinterest.com/carmenconnects/

Focusing on Latino Literacy with Sesame Street

Things have been quiet on the site the last few weeks as I juggled family obligations and work. But this week, I had a special treat when I attended the PBS Annual Meeting in Miami.

I have to say that I really had no intention of sharing my interview of Sesame Street’s newest Latino cast member here on Latinas4LatinoLit, BUT there were three things said or shared that made it absolutely essential.

Ismael Cruz Córdova will be making his debut on Sesame Street during the show’s 44th season this fall. I was able to sit down with the Puerto Rican actor, on Monday to discuss his new role, as well as his background.

It was a bonus to have the bilingual muppet, Rosita, join us. I enjoyed how she talked openly about the show, but especially loved when she shared with me the special moment when Ismael’s character – Mando – helped her turn a frustrating moment into something productive…

Rosita: Can I give an example of how Mando helped me? Because you were so wonderful [to Mando]. I’m learning to read right now and I was looking for a book. It was called Hola, Lola and it was about this Mexican girl. But this book – I was kind of a little disappointed because Lola had a sombrero, and a burro, and I was disappointed because I’m a Mexican girl and it didn’t reflect anything about who I am. But he [Mando] inspired me to write my own story.

L4LL: Wonderful! That’s really exciting!

Ismael: It’s not just for Latinos. Self-expression, to do it yourself, to tell your story is valuable for children. And Rosita’s story will inspire others (all children) to write their own stories.

L4LL: Rosita, what’s the name of your book?

Rosita: Well, actually, it is not a book but a song. And I called it Mi amiguita, Rosita! But the song inspired me, too, so I think I’m going to write a book, too.

Later we talked about literacy. I think it is such a great idea that Mando’s character is a writer, who writes everything from poetry and short plays to scripts and songs. What a great role model for our children!

Ismael: My mom placed a lot of emphasis on education. She told us it was up to us to make sure we studied and did well, and said that if we don’t read, we won’t succeed. She worked hard and wasn’t able to help us with our homework, but made sure we did it. And she understood that kids learn in different ways. I was very visual and I had to train myself as an adult to read more. Mostly because I was a visual learner, and also because we didn’t have a reading culture in my house. My parents didn’t read, were not taught to read. I didn’t read my first entire book (cover-to-cover) until I was in 7th grade.

So of course, we were especially pleased to be able to share some Latino children’s literature with Ismael/Mando & Rosita in the hopes that they would provide some inspiration for some episodes. And maybe – just maybe! – Sesame Street might consider having Mando read from one of them during a show some time.

MommyMaestra (L4LL co-founder, Monica Olivera) took three books; two selected by her children, and one she chose specifically for Mando.

MM’s daughter selected Marisol McDonald Doesn’t Match/Marisol McDonald no combina (by Monica Brown & illustrated by Sara Palacios) because Marisol is a beautiful blend of cultures (just like Mando) and she’s proud of all of them.

MM’s son chose A Movie In My Pillow/Una película en mi almohada (poems by Jorge Argueta &
illustrated by Elizabeth Gómez) because it is about a boy who leaves his home country to go and live in another one.

And Monica chose Shake It, Morena! and Other Folklore from Puerto Rico (compiled by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand & illustrated by Lulu Delacre) because it is full of lively songs, games, and riddles from Ismael’s home.

What books would you have given Rosita y Mando?

The Winners of Junot Diaz’s This Is How You Lose Her

Thank you to everyone who participated in last night’s Twitter chat with us! We had a great time and loved the discussion. We especially loved reading everyone’s questions and Díaz’s answers. You can read some of the great tweets that took place last night here.

Thank you to Mr. Díaz who was in Sweeden for a conference and willingly woke up at 3 am to participate in the Twitter party. Bravo!

So without further ado, the winners of the 5 signed copies of Junot Díaz’s latest novel, This Is How You Lose Her are:

@mzelma
@Kiki_Liki
@naomipfigueroa
@salmendoza
@VanessaOden

Congratulations! Please contact us with a mailing address!

Join Us Monday for Our Twitter Party with Junot Díaz

Don’t miss Monday night’s Twitter party with our special guest, Junot Díaz. We’ll be giving away 5 signed copies of his latest novel, This Is How You Lose Her. If have a question for Díaz, submit it on our FB page. We’ll be selecting some of your questions to ask him.

All the information you need is here. Click on the image below to make it larger. Or check our facebook page above for updates.

And we’ll post a TweetGrid link Monday morning, to help you follow the party.

See you then!

Support Latino Authors! How to Write a Book Review That Matters

Interested in reading? Interested in supporting authors who write what you read? Do it today with a book review!

Reviews can make a book hugely popular. Lack of reviews can consign a book to oblivion.

The publishing industry has changed in recent years. Readers like you now have the unprecedented power to share opinions about books through reviews on amazon.com, the biggest book retailer in the US, and on goodreads.com.

Related post: How to Find Latino Reads on Goodread.com

Book reviews are hugely important to lesser-known authors and those who write for niche audiences. Many Latino authors and those who write Latino-themed content fall into both categories. If we want these books to continue to be published, reviews are needed to:

  • help others find the books
  • demonstrate that there is a vibrant community for this type of book
  • offer up honest opinions and get a dialogue going

Amazon requires a review to be at least 20 words long, plus include a 1-5 star rating. But most of us are readers, not writers. Writing a review seems hard.

The secret to a good reviewis 5 simple sentences! Use this formula and soon you’ll be writing reviews that help friends discover new books and support authors in your community.

The personal touch

Start your review with a personal comment such as why you chose this book or the feeling it left you with. Was it for a class, a book club, or because a friend recommended it, etc.

Fiction example: I picked up The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters by Lorraine M. López because it has an eye-catching cover. The story inside was just as mesmerizing.

Nonfiction example: I enjoy reading memoirs and found Take Me With You by Carlos Frías to be one of the best contemporary memoirs I have read lately.

Plot

What was the book about? Try to capture this in 1 or 2 sentences. If it was clearly a genre like mystery or a romance, say so. If it was literary fiction you can refer to it as a “story” or “tale.” If it has a twist ending don’t give it away! For a non-fiction book state the basic premise and some idea of the context.

Fiction example: The story traces the lives of four sisters, who each seem endowed with a magical ability or “gift.” But it’s not fairy tale magic and it shapes their lives in unexpected ways.

Nonfiction example: A Miami-based journalist, Frías recounts his own 2006 trip to Cuba to cover the political scene, which allowed him to trace his father’s life there before the revolution.

Style

How was the writing? Was it mostly dialogue that crackled with the characters’ personalities? Was there a lot of action? Did it bore you with long paragraphs or keep you turning the pages with a sharp, staccato pace?

Fiction example: The story swings between the lives of the sisters, and the official account of government research into the Puebla tribe. At first I didn’t understand the connection but after a few chapters realized that the research was the background story of Fermina, the girls’ caretaker after the death of their mother. Fermina is the one who gives the girls their “gifts.”

Nonfiction example: Frías writes simply and smoothly and his descriptions put the reader right into today’s Cuba, with its decayed buildings, poverty, and lack of so many things we consider normal. Although the book moves around between the author’s family in Miami, his father’s life in pre-revolution Cuba, and the author’s own experiences in today’s Cuba, the reader never gets confused.

Characters

Who are the main characters? What stood out about them? Did they experience change during the book? If there was tension, how did they deal with it? Did you have a favorite character?

Fiction example: The sisters are all named after Hollywood stars from the 40’s and 50’s, which made it easy to keep track of their different gifts and what they did with them. My favorite character was Bette David Gabaldón, who believes her “gift” is the ability to persuade people to do what she wants.

Nonfiction example: Frías is able to show us real people and how their lives were damaged by Cuba’s revolution, including his father as well as family members who stayed behind.

Recommendation

Who do you think would enjoy this book? If it is a book for a certain age group, note it here.

Fiction example: This book is recommended for anyone who likes Latino literature, stories with a bit of magic in them, as well as those who like fiction that draws on history.

Non-fiction example: This book is recommended for anyone interested in Cuba or for those who like to read memoirs.

Rating

Both amazon.com and goodreads.com use a 5 star rating. Here’s how I interpret the stars:

  • Likely to recommend: 5 out of 5 stars
  • Memorable: 4 out of 5 stars
  • Worth the time: 3 out of 5 stars
  • Feeling vaguely dissatisfied: 2 out of 5 stars
  • Want my money back: 1 out of 5 stars

I rate both The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters and Take Me With You as 5 Star reads! To support authors, I usually only post book reviews with a 4 or a 5 rating. The exception is if I’ve been specifically requested to review a book and honesty demands a lower rating.

To find books you might want to read and review, check out my virtual Latino Library on Pinterest.

What book did you last read? Show your power as a reader and give it 5 sentences! Maybe 5 stars, too!

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Carmen Amato is the author of political thriller THE HIDDEN LIGHT OF MEXICO CITY and the Emilia Cruz mystery series set in Acapulco. Both draw on her experiences living in Mexico and Central America where she discovered the best coffee on earth. She currently divides her time between the United States and Central America, using travel time to work on her next novel. Join her on Goodreads at http://www.goodreads.com/authorcarmenamato, visit her amazon author page at http:www.amazon.com/author/carmenamato, and check out her blog at http://carmenamato.net. She can also be found on Twitter @CarmenConnects.