MM: Latino Children’s Literature – It’s About More Than Just Reading

by Monica

As most of you probably already know, an article came out last week in the New York Times talking about the lack of Latino children’s literature available to Latino students. This is an issue that I have spent a lot of time working on, starting with MommyMaestra’s sister blog, the Latin Baby Book Club. In recent months, things have been quiet over there because, quite honestly, I’m just one person (and a homeschooling mother) and my plate is full. I have been seriously considering merging the blog with MommyMaestra, and that option remains on the table, so some big changes may be coming soon.

But back to the article…I expressed some of my views about it this weekend in an article on NBC Latino, as well as on HuffPo Live with Alicia Menendez. If you read the article, you probably have a good understanding of what the market has done in the last few years and where the disconnect occurs.

I’ve frequently heard publishing companies say that there’s no market because Latino families don’t buy books. What?? I say in disbelief looking around my home, in which almost every room has a set of bookshelves or two… or nine (yay for home libraries!).

I also asked you, dear readers, what your opinions were on this whole subject. Here’s what some of you said…READ MORE.

AW: Latina Bloggers React: We Need More Hispanic Authors and Books. Our Stories Matter.

by Lisa

Reading the NYT’s article made me think about so many things: my childhood, my own writing and the limited selections at bookstores. So a few of us Latina bloggers decided to make our voices heard. As writers, mothers and lovers of all literature we want publishers, marketers and booksellers to know that Latinos read, write and buy books. We want them to know that OUR STORIES MATTER.

I grew up in a home filled with books. Not because my parents were big on reading but because my father worked in a book factory. We had every children’s book imaginable. And while we didn’t have a lot of money, seeing books on our shelves made me feel very rich.

Growing up my favorite writers were Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. I read book series like Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and the Baby Sitter’s Club. I read all the time. Out of enjoyment, boredom, loneliness. I was that nerd girl whose nose was always in a book. I grew up reading about people I could not identify with and neighborhoods that didn’t look anything like mine…READ MORE.

TWLC: Latina Bloggers Respond: Not Enough Hispanic Authors, Books Due to Publishing Industry

For Young Latino Readers, an Image Is Missing” screamed the headline in The New York Times. I read it voraciously, thinking, finally, the shameful lack of Hispanic authors was not just identified but validated by the nation’s publication of record. The structural problems with the publishing industry would be called out. Solutions which would ultimately lead to more Latino writers being published.

Instead, my frustration boiled over with every word I read because the article missed the most fundamental reason for this exclusion: the active role of editors–and to a lesser but important degree agents, publicists, and media–in purposefully excluding Latin@ authors.

The lack of Hispanic characters, books, and the writers who pen them at every level–not just elementary school which is the subject of this article–is a function of the powerful gatekeepers who approve or ding a proposal. How do I know this? The Wise Latina Club was first imagined as a collection of twenty-five first person essays by household name Hispanic women who reveal the private stories that built their character, in effect the foundation upon which their success lies. This information can’t be googled but in coffee table book form, will surely provide much-needed inspiration for the millions of young women “coming up” thirsting for role models in school, career, and work/family balance…READ MORE.

AMN: Latina Bloggers Respond: Void In Latino Children’s Literature

~ by Carla

As a mom, I’ve made a commitment to raise my daughters bilingual. To that end, I believe one of the most important things I’ve done is fill our home with a wonderful collection of bilingual books. I curated our collection primarily through our local big box bookstores (Barnes & Noble and the now defunct Borders), however, after three short years I have bought all of their Spanish or bilingual books. They have done little to refresh their selection since then. I’m relatively certain many of the books there are the same ones whose spines I’ve been skimming since 2007 when I had my first daughter.

It’s frustrating. It makes my job as a mom raising bilingual daughters more difficult. Now I understand my frustration is a privileged one because I have the means to walk into a bookstore and walk out with a handful of books. Imagine then how much more difficult it is for the population of children addressed in the New York Times article who may not be able to drive to a bookstore and may not have the money to buy the books they wantREAD MORE.