At this time of year, both students and teachers find themselves in classrooms with new faces. How do teachers cultivate their own and students’ creativity and foster new lasting connections? Here’s an excerpt from Zing! Seven Creativity Practices for Educators and Students, Pat’s book supporting inventive teaching.
“Educators are incredibly important people; you change lives. How do we make the necessary time, space, and support to guide a student to value her creativity? How do we see his inventive capacities and assist him to develop them? A key strategy is through establishing a personal connection.
Committed librarians and teachers who work with young people are optimists: You invest a good part of your life, your talents, and your enthusiasm in the next generation. What energy is required! Why is such important work often undervalued?
Because we know students need to develop their inventive selves, we can connect with them, listen to and honor their stories, create time and a welcoming place as we encourage them to value and release their imaginations, as we affirm their specific talents and offer our helpful support.”
I hope you enjoyed a good summer and that reading good books was part of the fun.
I feel so lucky to be a reader and to have public libraries I can visit. I also feel lucky that I can read in English and Spanish. Maybe you get your books at your school library. What kind of books do you like to read? What is your favorite time to read?
Who is the cute girl in this picture? She’s Bonny, my granddaughter who is six-years-old. I certainly can’t pick her up anymore, but we enjoy card games, reading together, and playing charades. What do you enjoy with your family?
Bonny and I also enjoy baking together. This summer we enjoyed making empanadas, little pies. The recipe is in the back of my new book, My Singing Nana.
Every day of the year is Children’s Day, Book Day. Special celebrations are held on April 30th all over our country. I hope you celebrate at home, at your school, and at your public library.
you grew from cuentos carried at night
in the wind’s dry hands,
that became your wide-hipped,
unmovable contours, curves
where finches and secretive
Poet of ancient seas
and baritone fossils,
of trilobites and cephalopods,
lyric cantadora of horn corals,
ammonites and crinoids,
impatient, gray historian
lured by the whir of a pen,
its tip, a top whirring,
dancing on the page,
you write until your fingers cramp
and your shoulders knot,
weary at the echoes of grief
still moist beneath the boulders
Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was a 17th century nun who devoted her life to writing and learning and words. Though she died in 1695, Sor Juana Inés is still considered one of the most brilliant writers in Mexico’s history: her poetry is recited by schoolchildren throughout Mexico and is studied at schools and universities around the world.
Pat’s story about the life of Sor Juana, A Library for Juana: The World of Sor Juana Inés, was first published in 2002, with illustrations by Beatriz Vidal, and won the Tomás Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award from Southwest Texas State University.
Here’s what the review journals had to say about the book:
“Mora’s beautifully crafted text does credit to its subject, following her from birth to death…an exceptional introduction to an exceptional woman, and would enhance any collection.”—School Library Journal
“Mora concisely traces the rise of spirited Juana Inés from inquisitive youngster to 17th century Mexican scholar … this story of persistence and pioneering will inspire youngsters…the heroine’s journey, coupled with Vidal’s depiction of expressive faces and lovely renderings of flowers that spill from the borders of the pictures make for a memorable volume.””—Publishers Weekly
Briefly out of print, it has been reissued in both English and Spanish editions by Lee & Low Books with a new cover!
Sor Juana also makes an appearance in one of Pat’s books of poetry for adults, Adobe Odes. “Ode to Sor Juana” begins:
on your words,
chased rhymes around
a child entranced
by their flitting, flirting colors,
The natural world has been a source of inspiration whether I’m writing for adults, teens or children. Although I did spend some years in the Cincinnati/Northern KY area and have been fortunate to travel to other countries and landscapes including Bali, India and Pakistan, I have lived much of my life in the Chihuahua Desert of the SW. I love the lizards!
Not all readers or audiences understand how I can find the desert beautiful, but I certainly do. Enjoy the landscape where you are, and other landscapes you may see this summer. Spending time in nature including a walk in the park can remind us that we are creatures on a beautiful planet that needs our protection.
Illustration by Daniel Lechon from The Desert is My Mother/ El desierto es mi madre
Illustration by Francisco X. Mora from Listen to the Desert/Oye al desierto
My daughter Libby Martinez and I wrote PLEDGE, inspired by our aunt Ygnacia Delgado, whom my siblings and I (and our children) called Lobo. In this book, Libby asks Lobo why she wants to be a citizen. Lobo answers, “The American flag—red, white, and blue—wrapped itself around me to protect me….The flag made me feel….(s)afe and warm.”
May we strive to live up to the ideals of our country.
Although I didn’t really get to know my grandfathers, I’ve enjoyed writing about grandfathers/abuelos. I had a fabulous dad, though, and treasure the many years we had with him, wonderful memories. Pat