Visiting the Texas Book Festival

Pat Mora and Libby MartinezPat and her daughter, co-author Libby Martinez, will be appearing at the Texas Book Festival in Austin, TX this weekend.

Saturday, October 25
10:30-11:00 a.m.
Children’s Read Me a Story Tent
13th & Colorado streets

Pat Mora and Libby will read selections from their book, I Pledge Allegiance.

Texas Book Festival

12:00-1:00 p.m.
The Sanctuary at First United Methodist Church
1201 Lavaca, enter from Lavaca St.

In children’s literature, representation of all races and ethnicities is vital so that any child can feel as if he or she has a voice. From Mexico to New York, these stories reach across boundaries to draw children into the world of reading. Join Diane Gonzales Bertrand, Pat Mora, Andrea Davis Pinkney, Tim Tingle and Jacqueline Woodson as they talk about why diversity is important in literature.

Sustaining friendships

Pat Mora and Dr. Joseph RodríguezLast weekend, I returned to the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) for its Centennial. When I was an undergraduate there, my mom drove me to the campus for my classes. Sounds so odd today. I am a UTEP graduate and subsequently taught there part-time, and eventually became an administrator there. During my administrator days, I received a letter from a young boy from Houston. Joseph and I became friends, and he’s now a UTEP professor. Sweet story. Dr. Joseph Rodríguez, my amigo who knows my work better than I do, generously created a Centennial session at which we had a conversation with students. We all need friends who believe in us. I am deeply grateful for Joseph’s steady friendship.
Pat Mora at UTEP 100th Anniversary talk

REFORMA announces 2014 Mora Award winner: Sioux Center Public Library

REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library & Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking, has announced that the Sioux Center Public Library (Sioux Center, IA) is the winner of the 2014 Estela and Raúl Mora Award for the most exemplary culminating celebration of El día de los niños, El día de los libros/Children’s Day, Book Day. The Mora award is presented annually in partnership with REFORMA.

It is the third year that with a special donation from Kay and Dan Moore, three Mora Honor Winners were named; Brownsville Independent School District (Texas), Farmington Public Library (New Mexico), and Puyallup Public Library (Washington).

Sioux Center Public LibraryThe Sioux Center Public Library greeted children and their families with a traditional game of Loteria where children worked together in mixed-culture groups. Demonstrating the joy of reading in any language, families enjoyed both in English and in Spanish a reading of Wild About Books! = ¡Que locura por la lectura!. To continue the celebration before moving forward with fun-filled activities, an indoor picnic with colorful tablecloths awaited the children with snacks to munch on. A craft area was organized where the children demonstrated their creativity while creating flowers out of tissue paper and decorated flags from Mexico and countries from around the world. Children were encouraged to form a collaborative book where they illustrated a page from a popular book. To include the older grades, children in 3rd grade and higher participated in a scavenger hunt that sent them out on a quest throughout the library. An unexpected 200 people were in attendance during Sioux Center Public Library’s Día celebration.

Read the full press release:

REFORMA will present the award during the Midwinter meeting of the American Library Association (ALA) next January in Chicago, IL.

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.