2017 Pura Belpré Award Recipients

¡Buenos días a todos y todas! Last week we announced the 2017 Américas Award recipients, and today I will continue highlighting Latinx children’s and young adult literature with the 2017 Pura Belpré Award Winners. The Pura Belpré Award is named after the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. Like the Américas Award, it is an award which we regard highly within the world of Latin American/Latinx children’s and young adult literature.

According to the Association for Library Service to Children website, the Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

Below you will find the 2017 Author Award Winner, Illustrator Award Winner, Author Honor Book and the Illustrator Honor books. The 2017 Pura Belpré selection committee included Chair Eva Mitnick, Los Angeles Public Library; Marissa Alcorta, Pima County Public Library, Tucson, Ariz.; Laura Duncan, Oxnard Public Library, Oxnard, Calif.; Cyndi Giorgis, University of Texas at El Paso; Linda M. Pavonetti, Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.; Lettycia Terrones, Los Angeles Public Library; and Junko Yokota, Center for Teaching through Children’s Books, Skokie, Ill.

Stay tuned for Mira, Look! posts featuring these books among others. Also, we highly recommend visiting the award website to see a list of previous medal winners. We hope these books will make it to your classrooms! Also, stay tuned for a post about the Tomás Rivera Book Award recipients next week!




Author Award Winner

Juana & Lucas written and illustrated by Juana Medina. Candlewick Press, 2016. ISBN: 978-0763672089

Juana & Lucas presents with breezy humor the day-to-day reflections and experiences universal to childhood—school, family and friendships—through the eyes of the invincible Juana, growing up in Bogotá with her beloved dog, Lucas. This charmingly designed book for young readers portrays the advantages—and challenges—of learning a second language.

“Juana’s transformation from frustrated learner to enthusiastic speaker of ‘the English’ is portrayed with authenticity and plenty of appeal,” said Mitnick.



Continue reading

September 22nd | Week in Review


¡Hola a todos! Here are more recent resources from around the web. Enjoy and happy Hispanic Heritage Month!

Latinos in Kid Lit posted a book review for Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel José Older, a follow-up to his book, Shadowshaper, which we featured here on the blog.  This is the second book in his “Shadowshaper Cypher” series and is recommended for advanced readers. As did Shadowshaper, this book grapples with difficult topics for young adults of color, including racialized violence, white supremacy, and youth activism.

– Colorín Colorado discussed Serving English Learners with Disabilities: How ESL/Bilingual Specialists Can Collaborate for Student Success. “Appropriately serving English Learners (ELs) with disabilities requires a team effort involving professionals from multiple disciplines to ensure that instruction is provided to support both the language-learning and disability-related needs of the students.”

— Also, Latinos in Kid Lit shared a Letter from Young Adult Readers to Latinx Writers about Race, Gender and Other issues. “As a class, we considered how these texts represent the Latinx community, and the history of Latin America and the Caribbean, to young readers, and in some cases, because of the lack of Latinx representation and authors in youth literature, these books may be the only portrayals a young reader may encounter in a book about Latinx people.”

–For those of you teaching middle or high school history, especially about the border, Santos released a new album named “Agonía.’ This album describes the many experiences of living at the border in Tijuana.

Alin Badillo

2017 Américas Award Recipients

Buenos días a todas y todos! During the rest of this month I will be highlighting some amazing Latinx children’s and young adult literature authors and illustrators by introducing the 2017 award winners of the Américas Award, Pura Belpré and Tomás Rivera, which were awarded this past summer.

Today I will be introducing the Winners, Honorable Mention and Commended titles authors and illustrators for the 2017 Américas Award. As noted on their website, the Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) founded this award in 1993 to encourage and commend authors, illustrators and publishers who produce quality children’s and young adult books that portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States, and to provide teachers with recommendations for classroom use. CLASP offers up to two annual book awards, together with a commended list of titles.

I also want to note that the Latin American & Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico, which works behind the scenes of this blog, is a proud sponsor of the Américas Award. The Américas Award is administered by CLASP, coordinated by Tulane University and Vanderbilt University, and supported by Florida International University, University of Florida, University of New Mexico, Stanford University and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

The Américas Award also shares resources relevant to current events, new books and the classroom on their Facebook page, which is worth checking out. Without further ado, the following titles were recognized as Winners, Honorable Mentions and Commended Titles by the 2017 Américas Award review committee. We hope they will make it to your classroom bookshelves!


Award Winners

Ada’s Violin written by Susan Hood and illustrated by Sally Wern Comport. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2016. ISBN: 978-1481-430-951

The Recycled Orchestra of Paraguay has received international attention because of the extraordinary story of the children living in Cateura, home of the main garbage dump for the capital city of Asunciόn and how they became musicians using instruments made of recycled trash. Many of the townspeople work in the landfill earning as little as two dollars a day. Before the arrival of a consultant engineer to the landfill (Favio Chavez, who happened to be a musician), many of the children had no creative outlets and their futures seemed bleak. Ada’s Violin conveys the beautiful story of a young girl, Ada Rios, whose grandmother signs her up to learn how to play the violin through lessons given by Chavez. When there are more children interested in learning about music than there are instruments, Chavez turns to a local carpenter who begins to make instruments from recycled trash. At last, there are enough instruments for the children. Through diligent practice they develop the expertise to perform concerts for the local community. Their orchestra becomes so good, in fact, that they begin to perform in countries around the world. Coupled with magnificent illustrations, the author provides readers a background on the story, and website and videos links that teachers can use for extension activities, including a web address for how readers can help the orchestra. (Grades K-3) Continue reading

DACA Resources for Teachers

¡Buenos días!

In light of the devastating news of Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) being revoked, we would like to share some resources for teaching about DACA in the classroom.  Here at the Latin American & Iberian Institute of The University of New Mexico, we are all seeking ways to address this policy announcement and emphasize that we support our undocumented students.

At Vamos a Leer, we also acknowledge that this affects students and classrooms all over the United States. It is more important than ever for teachers to be allies for their immigrant student.

For those seeking more generalized resources on teaching about immigration, we invite you to look at our past posts on immigration. The Reading Roundup about Immigration may be particularly helpful when working with younger students.  .

We hope you find these resources useful!

En solidaridad,


Videos & Films

We would like to highlight the following interview with immigrant rights activist Jonatan Martinez, conducted here at The University of New Mexico. Jonatan participated in a walk to D.C., which resulted in the documentary American DREAMers, which we recommend checking out.

At UNM, our undocumented students have mobilized into an incredible, youth-led organization called the New Mexico Dream Team. As part of their efforts to create a safe, more inclusive campus and community for undocumented students and their families, they offer campus trainings. These are the “Dreamzone trainings,” and even if you can’t attend in person, their introductory video  offers some important starting points about why and how educators should become active allies and how they can serve as resources for undocumented students.

We also invite you to check out two films recently released which talk about DACA from personal standpoints. We have only watched the trailers, so if you watch them, please let us know what you think! The directors are offering free streams of these films for the month of September in solidarity with DREAMers around the country.


Teachers might find the succinct article, posted by United We Dream, useful for addressing prevalent questions regarding what this all means for current DACA holders.

Grace Cornell Gonzales with Rethinking Schools wrote a post titled “800,000 Reasons to Teach About DACA.” In her article, she highlights the importance of understanding and teaching what it means to be undocumented, and the fears with which undocumented youth are faced. In order to do so, Gonzales links Sandra Osorio’s article about teaching about deportation. She links a few videos explaining DACA, some of which are for more of a high school audience. Gonzales closes with ways that students and teachers can take action to support undocumented immigrants in the US.

The Southern Poverty Law Center also published an article regarding DACA, which we recommend checking out.

Sana Makke with Teaching For Change also wrote an article this week about high school students in Washington D.C. walking out to protest DACA.

What can you do?

Here is an article with ideas for what we can do in order to support DACA. Organizations like Cosecha and United We Dream are good places to start when looking for how to offer support.

September 15th | Week in Review

2017-09-15-WWW-01-01¡Hola a todos! I am very excited to start sharing resources again with you all.

Latinos in Kid Lit has just launched a new series called “Spotlight on Middle Grade Authors.” They’re kicking it off with a feature on Margarita Engle, the Young People’s Poet Laureate. Check it out to hear her describe the birth of her passion for writing.

Rethinking Education shares why Spanish Fluency in the U.S. decreases with each generation. “About 88 percent of Latinos ages 5 to 17 in 2014 said they either speak only English at home or speak English ‘very well,’ compared with 73 percent in 2000.”

–Rethinking Education also posted 9 Bilingual Children’s Books That Make Learning a New Language Easy, a list catered specifically to Spanish teachers.

–For those of you teaching middle or high school history, Rethinking Schools shared Justice for Dreamers- Punish the Authors of Forced Migration, an article that explains how foreign policies creates forced migration.“The perpetrators of the “crime” are those who wrote the trade treaties and the economic reforms that made forced migration the only means for families to survive

— Lastly, Remezcla featured Google latest initiative, which involved the launch of  One of the Largest Digital Collections of Latino Art and History. “The collection features more than 2,500 pieces of art through 90 exhibits.”

Alin Badillo

Welcome (back) to our team!

¡Hola a todas y todos!

Introducing the Vamos a Leer team members for the 2017-2018 school year! If you’ve been following the blog for a while, you might recognize some of us, as we are all blog returnees. We are excited to continue sharing knowledge with and learning from all of you.

Hasta pronto,


Katrina Dillon, Blogger-in-Chief

I am ​an education consultant ​with k-12 outreach at the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico. I recently finished my PhD in Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies and am now back in the elementary school classroom.  I also have experience teaching at the preschool, middle school, and university levels.

Keira Philipp-Schnurer, Blog Manager

I oversee the community education (outreach) programs at the Latin American and Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico, which means I work with fantastic community and campus partners to plan cultural events, academic symposia, and teacher workshops, among other activities. Most days are a whirlwind and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Kalyn Finnell, Blogger

I am a dual degree Master’s student at the University of New Mexico, studying Latin American Studies and Community & Regional Planning. As part of my Master’s thesis I am currently working with a community in Cusco, Peru, where I have spent time living and studying the Quechua language. When I’m not blogging or studying, I’m working as the President of the Student Organization for Latin American Studies (SOLAS) at UNM. I am excited to be engaged in the k-12 community, and to help support the teaching of Latin America in the classroom.

Alin Yuriko Badillo Carrillo, Blogger

I am a second year Master’s Student in the Latin American Studies program at the University of New Mexico. I am the Vice President of the Student Organization for Latin American Studies (SOLAS) at UNM, amd I work with k-12 outreach programs at the UNM Latin American & Iberian Institute, where I get to contribute to bringing a different perception to this blog. I am a first in my family to graduate from high school, college, and now as a Master’s student. I am very excited to share my perspectives and I look forward to hear your thoughts.

Valeria García, Contributor

¡Hola y mucho gusto a todos! I am a fourth year Master’s student in Latin American Studies at the University of New Mexico, and I am a third year law student at UNM as well. I work mainly with translating K-12 curriculum materials for Vamos a Leer, as well as collaborating with other initiatives that the Latin American and Iberian Institute takes on with k-12 programs. My focuses for my Masters is on human rights discourse and domestic violence/child abuse in Latin America, and I hope to practice criminal defense for indigent communities in New Mexico. I’m very excited to contribute to this amazing blog!

Jacob Sandler, Contributor

I research Isthmus Zapotec poetry and other cultural products from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region in southern Mexico. Currently I am studying Anthropology and Economics through the Latin American & Iberian Institute at the University of New Mexico. I grew up in Trenton, NJ and Philly.


Our Next Good Read. . .Reputations / Las reputaciones

Join us on Monday, October 9th at Tractor Brewing (1800 4th St NW) from Reputations/Las reputaciones | Vamos a Leer | Juan Gabriel Vasquez5:00-7:00 pm to discuss our next book.  Throughout the year we will be alternating our young adult book choices with adult novels.  In October we are reading Reputations / Las reputaciones by Juan Gabriel Vásquez.  This book is available in both English and Spanish (each version is hyperlinked above)!

Here’s a sneak peek into the book: (from Goodreads)

A brilliant novel about the power of politics and personal memory from one of South America’s literary stars, the New York Times bestselling author of The Sound of Things Falling.

Javier Mallarino is a living legend. He is his country’s most influential political cartoonist, the consciousness of a nation. A man capable of repealing laws, overturning judges’ decisions, destroying politicians’ careers with his art. His weapons are pen and ink. Those in power fear him and pay him homage.

After four decades of a brilliant career, he’s at the height of his powers. But this all changes when he’s paid an unexpected visit from a young woman who upends his sense of personal history and forces him to re-evaluate his life and work, questioning his position in the world.

In Reputations, Juan Gabriel Vásquez examines the weight of the past, how a public persona intersects with private histories, and the burdens and surprises of memory. In this intimate novel that recalls authors like Coetzee and Ian McEwan, Vásquez plumbs universal experiences to create a masterful story, one that reverberates long after you turn the final page.

We hope to see you there!

We’ll also be raffling off a copy of November’s featured book, American Street (Grades 9 and up)Join us that evening to be entered!