Mackin: You are a well-known literacy advocate who is highly sought after for presentations. In your presentations and publications, you regularly promote “bookjoy.” In fact, your newest book of children’s poetry is even called Bookjoy, Wordjoy (Lee and Low Books, 2018). What is “bookjoy” and how does one not only experience it, but also teach it and share it?
Pat: I tease that those of us who know bookjoy, who experience it daily, don’t need to have it defined. I enjoy the smiles from educators when I use the word. Good teaching, as we know, is an extremely complex talent. I am certainly indebted to the teachers who loved language and through their enthusiasm taught me to love words (wordjoy) and their possibilities too.
Primarily, we share by example and by understanding our students and audiences, their realities and their needs. We have different personalities and styles. Students of all ages quickly know when we care about them and want to help them learn and thrive.
Mackin: Surely your childhood must have been spent near books and reading. Did your parents prioritize literacy in your home? How did the adults in your life encourage you in your literacy development?
Childhood has many happy memories. Mom was always a reader. My parents had books for us including the Childcraft set and the World Book Encyclopedia. Mom also took us (I’m the oldest of four) to the El Paso Public Library. I loved the summer reading club, and my teachers were readers who shared that pleasure–bookjoy!
The last week in August is World Water Week, the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues. It is organized by SIWI, the Stockholm International Water Institute. In 2018, World Water Week will address the theme “Water, ecosystems and human development”. In 2017, over 3,300 individuals and around 380 convening organizations from 135 countries participated in the Week.
To coincide with the release of Bookjoy, Wordjoy this month, Lee & Low Books featured an interview with Pat and illustrator Raul Colón on their blog:
As a children’s book publisher, we know how powerful and influential words are, which is why we’re so excited to have announced the release of our new title, Bookjoy, Wordjoy this month! Whether we are collecting words, reading favorite books in the library, celebrating holidays, writing poems, sharing secrets, or singing a jazzy duet, words and books can take us on wonderful adventures and bring us joy. Poet Pat Mora and illustrator Raul Colón, two of the biggest names in the Latinx children’s book world, have teamed up to bring bookjoy, the fun of reading, and wordjoy, the fun of listening to words, combining words, and playing with words, to readers everywhere. In a starred review from Booklist, this title was called a “joyous invitation to put pen (or paintbrush) to paper.” Read the whole interview.
My books A Birthday Basket for Tía and I Pledge Allegiance star my beloved aunt, whom we called, Lobo, who was like a second maternal grandmother. I’ve also written about her in my poetry collections for adults. All my special aunts and my uncle appear in my family memoir House of Houses. Pat
A Birthday Basket for Tía
Cecilia has many happy memories of special times with her great-aunt, her Tía, baking cookies, having tea, or playing outside. So what can she give her on this truly special occasion, Tía’s ninetieth birthday?
I Pledge Allegiance
Libby’s great aunt, Lobo, is from Mexico, but the United States has been her home for many years, and she wants to become a U.S. citizen. At the end of the week, Lobo will say The Pledge of Allegiance at a special ceremony. Libby is also learning The Pledge this week, at school—at the end of the week, she will stand up in front of everyone and lead the class in The Pledge. Libby and Lobo practice together—asking questions and sharing stories and memories—until they both stand tall and proud, with their hands over their hearts.
On July 10, Lee and Low Books will publish Pat’s fourth children’s poetry collection, Bookjoy, Wordjoy, illustrated by Raul Colón.
In a starred review, Booklist called it “a marvelous collection of poems that extol the fun, adventure, and emotion that come with using one’s words…A joyous invitation to put pen (or paintbrush) to paper.” School Library Journal said “Mora’s love for language and wordplay is infectious; rhyme, alliteration, and onomatopoeia all make their way into the poems and will ensure lively group reading.”
Here’s hoping that Bookjoy, Wordjoy will find a place in your homes, libraries and schools!
How blessed we are to live in this country. My daughter, Libby Martinez, a writer and lawyer, and I thoroughly enjoy writing children’s books together. We and our family have such warm memories of the aunt, Ignacia Delgado, who inspired I Pledge Allegiance. She called us her “lobitos,” her little wolves, and we all called her Lobo, our mother wolf. How she gave us treats and protected us and prayed for us. What an example!
My grandparents all came to this country from Mexico as did my dad when he was a little boy. None of my grandparents spoke English, but Lobo became totally bilingual. I feel so fortunate to be bilingual too.
This is a complex and challenging time when as a wealthy nation, we think and work together to uphold the ideals that make the United States great, to have policies that respect those who wish to come here.