This post was authored by Sasha Dowdy, a program specialist in the Library’s literary initiative team.
Last year, the Hispanic Reading Room partnered with the the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) to celebrate children’s and young adult Latin American and Latinx literature with a virtual webcast. In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, we invite families, educators, and students to hear these authors and illustrators amplifying stories and voices for young readers from Latin American and Latinx communities. Authors who appear in this program are Raúl the Third, Aida Salazar, Yamile Saied Méndez, and Angela Burke Kunkel. After you watch the video, discuss with the children in your life using our guiding questions.
Timestamps for Major Topics
7:05 – Author introductions
13:49 – “Why is your book’s theme, protagonist, plot, and/or their life important to share with readers today?
29:56 – “Who are you talking to when you are drawing or writing?”
43:03 – Research process
59:28 – “What part of the story was most difficult and what was the most fun?”
1:12:35 – “A specific character in your book that resonates most for you?”
1:22:25 – Audience Q&A
Writing and Thinking Prompts
Have you read any of these authors’ books? If you have, how does knowing more about their stories change the way you see their books?
In her book, Angela Burke Kunkel describes how José Alberto Gutiérrez collected discarded books and shared them with his community (description at 7:45). What could you or the child(ren) in your life collect to share?
- What does each person already collect? Tell the story of how you acquired the first few items in the collection
- How do/could you organize these items? How could you share them?
- What benefit would this collection have to the people who can see it or use it?
At 24:44 Raúl the Third says: “I kept wondering why there wasn’t a cartoon universe that was set in the magical border town that I grew up in.” Discuss with the child(ren) in your life what is magical about where you’re from and the people around you. How would a story set in your town or neighborhood start? How would you use fantasy to tell a true story?
Aida Salazar quotes Puerto Rican poet Piri Thomas at 36:32: “Every child is born a poet.” What makes each person in your family a creative thinker? Think of examples of each other’s imaginative moments. Together, write a few lines of poetry describing what you discussed. Use your imagination – everybody has this superpower!
Raúl describes how he helped Mexican restaurants create new menus when he was researching for his book about food. Another part of his research was eating his mom’s cooking. Design together a menu of the typical food you might eat at home. You could describe one snack, main dish, and dessert that your family makes very well, or draw a specialty dish from each family member. What does your menu look like?
In researching her book “Furia,” Yamile Saied Méndez learned about the history of the sport (starting at 52:08), and played soccer to get to know it best. Think about a hobby or interest that each family member has. What can you do to learn about something that interests you or the child(ren) in your life? Choose one night each week to try out another family member’s hobby. What can you learn about their favorite sport, video game, or pastime? What history can you learn if you research together?
Read more blog posts on Latinx history and culture & representation in children’s and YA literature.
- Women’s History Month: Latinas!
- “Love Your Stories”: YA Authors on Championing Your Voice
- Open a Book, Open a World of Empathy and Compassion
Explore research guides on various countries mentioned or represented in the video:
Meet other Latinx poets and authors:
- Juan Felipe Herrera (previous Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry) and his two projects for kids: “La Casa de Colores” and “The Technicolor Adventures of Catalina Neon”
- PALABRA: a collection of audio recordings of poets and writers from Latin America
- Ada Limón, current Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry