Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

This month, libraries and schools across the country have created bulletin boards and book displays celebrating Hispanic authors and illustrators. Important as these displays and the media attention are, I encourage educators and librarians to include Latina/o authors and illustrators in displays and programs throughout the year. As with the literacy initiative Día (Children’s Day, Book Day/El día de los niños, El día de los libros), the goal is to connect all children to diverse books, languages and cultures day by day, día por día.
Bravo, Chico Canta! Bravo!   I Pledge Allegiance by Pat Mora and Libby Martinez

Creativity Salon: An Interview with
Diana Nunez

Diana NunezDiana, thank you for sending me the video you created based on the poem I wrote many years ago, “Legal Alien.” It’s the last poem in my first book, CHANTS. You are the first person on the Creativity Salon I haven’t met, so I have many questions. I want to mention that in the final scene of your video, we hear the Mexican National Anthem, yes? That makes me smile since my dear, dear aunt, whom we called Lobo and about whom I’ve written so much, new and sang verse after verse. It’s a sweet memory for me.

Where were you born?
Thanks again for this wonderful opportunity to be a part of your Creativity Salon! You are absolutely correct; the song you hear at the end of my video is the Mexican National Anthem. Although I was born in Chicago, I spent two years of my life in Mexico City, my 2nd and 3rd year of elementary school. Every month we would gather around the courtyard and sing the national anthem while some of the students would carry the flag. This is still a very prominent memory of my childhood and my culture, thus I had to include it in my video. After my two years in Mexico, my mom and I came back to the United States.

In the e-mail you sent me, you mentioned reading the poem in high school. Was the poem in a textbook? Where was the high school?
I started high school in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where I am now attending college as well. In my last year of high school I took an English class that was focused on thoroughly interpreting short stories and poems and finding the meaning behind them. This is where I first heard of your poem. My instructor handed us a sheet of paper with poems that were relevant to each other and yours was the first one I read. Although the other poems also dealt with being a Mexican-American, I connected with yours instantly because everything you wrote about I had experienced in my life. I wrote it down so that I would never forget who I was and where I came from and because I felt that there was someone out there that understood me.

Why did you decide to become a film major? And, what are your challenges as a film major?
Since I was a little girl all I wanted to do was create other worlds and become a different character in each world. I would also like to act and sing and put on shows for my parents in my living room. As I grew older I tried to experience different things, such as exploring science, and writing stories, however my passion for movies and my desire to make them grew. I had a hard time explaining to my parents that I wanted to be a filmmaker or potentially even an actress because I knew that finding a job in this industry could be difficult. Thus, I told my self that I would stand out from the rest of the crowd by including my culture in my films because it is fascinating and unique. I know that I might have a rough path ahead of me but I am excited because I will be doing something I love.

On a lighter note, what makes you laugh?
Without a doubt my grandpa makes me laugh. He is a wild, interesting dancer. He does not care who is watching, and could dance all night. He dances for himself and it makes both him and myself happy.

Watch Diana’s video:

September: International & National Literacy Month

Día, a collaboration of national literacy organizations, presses and readers, creatively celebrates all our children, the importance of bookjoy in their lives, and promotes culminating April Children’s Day, Book Day celebrations. We encourage savoring books and sharing them throughout the year. Readers know that literacy transforms our lives and our families’ lives.

Although readers experience the usefulness and pleasure of reading, concerned about violence in our world and cities, we can need reminders that literacy is power and that literacy challenges are local, national and international. The United Nations through UNESCO reminds us that “literacy is a fundamental human right.”

UNESCO’s International Literacy Day 2014
Teachers, join IRA’s challenge, “Lift Off to Literacy.”

Aren’t we lucky to be readers? Let’s pass the pleasure on.

Desert Garden Gift

In our cactus garden, the small century plant, agave Americana also known as maguey, amazed us by blooming this June. Natives of Mexico, Texas and Arizona, century plants bloom at the end of their lives. What a lovely notion.

Walter Dean Myers: A Diversity Legacy

Walter Dean Myers died July 1. This is sad news to readers, educators and literacy advocates. His New York Times article, Where Are the People of Color in Children’s Books? continued his rich legacy. A prolific author and moving speaker, he tirelessly promoted the importance of diverse books for our diverse children and young people.

His physical presence and voice will be missed, but his literary voice, an inspiration, live on.

Celebrating the 4th of July

I Pledge Allegiance by Pat Mora and Libby MartinezThe 4th 2014 will be a memorable one. My husband and I will celebrate our granddaughter’s first 4th with her and her parents. I’m also thinking of all the new citizens who are proudly celebrating their first 4th. My daughter Libby and I wrote I PLEDGE ALLEGIANCE, a family story, to honor the proud new citizens of the United States.

Individually and collectively, we Americans are planning an annual celebration of our country, our freedoms, and our shared values. As we listen to and read the news, we are daily reminded of the challenges we face to be a beacon of hope that justice and compassion can prevail. May our fun on the 4th deepen our commitment to work collaboratively to create a rich legacy for our diverse children.

June 14, Flag Day

In 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted our American flag. Visiting the Santa Fe Botanical Garden recently, I was intrigued at how metal artist Kevin Box interpreted what’s often known as the Stars and Stripes. Artists amaze us, don’t they? I also loved the title of this piece, part of Box’s Origami Garden exhibit, “Basket Full of Stars.” I thought not only of our 50 states but of our wishes for this diverse, multi-cultural and multi-lingual country, our basket full of wishes for the well-being of our young who will inherit the country we’re shaping together.

Pat Mora and daughter Libby Martinez, authors of I Pledge Allegiance.

Pat Mora and daughter Libby Martinez, authors of
I Pledge Allegiance.