This post was written by Katya Soto, an intern in the Center for the Book of the Library of Congress under the mentorship of Guy Lamolinara.
Welcome to Lit Bits! This is the first in a new series of book-related blog posts featuring video snippets from your favorite authors, many of whom have appeared at the Library of Congress National Book Festival. Our first clip features Meg Medina discussing the inspiration behind her 2018 novel, “Merci Suarez Changes Gears”, and is excerpted from her 2018 National Book Festival appearance.
Medina is a beloved Newbery Medal winner and the 8th author to serve as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature at the Library of Congress. Over the next two years, Medina will be meeting with children across the country to share the importance of books and reading. Her platform is “¡Cuéntame!: Let’s talk books.”
One fateful day, at the age of 40, Meg Medina quit her job, went home and decided to write her first novel. “Luckily, it worked out,” she said. Her family’s strong Cuban heritage influenced Medina’s writing. “Merci Suarez Changes Gears” started as a short story, and went on to receive the Newbery Medal in 2019. She was invited to speak at the 2018 National Book Festival about her most recent book at that time. “It’s a story that’s funny, that has annoying people, that even has an unfortunate incident. But it also has loss and the way that we have to say goodbye to the people that matter most to us,” said Medina.
According to the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, only 228 (or 7% ) of 3,299 published children’s books in 2020 were written by authors of Latino background. In the video, Medina shares some of her unique experiences and the challenges that helped shape her writing. Coming from a family of storytellers, she emphasizes the importance of family in Latino culture and includes situations in her novels that are relatable to children who come from all kinds of backgrounds. After you listen to Meg speak, you can check out other Library resources relating to her work, compiled together in this LibGuide.
Next month, our Lit Bit will appear on Bookmarked, the blog that celebrates contemporary books and writers at the Library. Make sure you are subscribed to both Minerva’s Kaleidoscope and Bookmarked, to ensure that no matter whether your interest is children’s or adult’s literature, you won’t miss a bit!