Hello all –
I am thrilled to be celebrating National Poetry Month with you! As with many of you, poetry holds a dear place in my heart. As a young person, I recall writing poem after poem and finding such liberation in exploring my voice, playing with syntax and line breaks, and testing out vocabulary that had yet to find a place in my daily life. Poetry allowed for a freedom and creativity that was unmatched in other mediums. And because of this, I believe that writing poetry enables us to develop our own voice, author our own truths, and honor our own experiences; all of which play an integral part in a young person’s social, emotional, and cognitive development.
Buenos días a todas y todos,
The Vamos a Leer theme for this month, as written in Keira’s Sobre Deciembre post, is focused on winter celebrations. I was eager to explore children’s and YA literature around this topic in hopes of finding books that are reflective of the diverse familial celebrations, religious and spiritual practices, and cultural traditions throughout Latin America. However, it would be disingenuous to state that this eagerness remained after learning the outcome of the election. Rather, like many others, I began to reflect on the multiple uncertainties that our communities face. More specifically, what will the future hold for those that are from other countries and living in the United States? With everything that I read being filtered through this lens, I decided it was best to reframe the theme a bit.
In the aftermath of the election I struggled to think of what I could write that related to books. As much as I love books, they seemed all of the sudden insignificant, a resource incapable of addressing and/or combating the stories of hatred and hurt I was hearing in the news and on social media.
Books do not possess magical fixing capacities. It follows that they are not going to fix the deeply embedded “isms” in our society. Yet, I find myself turning to books for solace – in search of alternative realities, inspiration or affirmation.
As a white blonde woman, affirmation in books is relatively easy to find. However, in this moment in time it is not I who needs to find this affirmation and validation. I stand by my friends and fellow students – whose communities have been the target of repeated insults and mounting hate crimes – in search of ways to amplify their voices over mine, to affirm and validate their experiences.
“Though we tremble before uncertain futures/ may we meet illness, death and adversity with strength/ may we dance in the face of our fears.”
― Gloria E. Anzaldúa
Saludos, everyone! This week I will be reviewing another rendition of the Hispanic legend of La Llorona, continuing to draw from this month’s themes. Our featured book for the week is Prietita and the Ghost Woman, written by Gloria Anzaldúa and illustrated by Christina Gonzalez. Anzaldúa creates a feminist adaptation of the Hispanic legend by featuring strong, female protagonists, and portraying La Llorona as a benevolent spirit, rather than a haunting ghost. The female relationships in the story are loving and respectful, and women of all different ages look out for each other in a lovely constellation of female alliances.
The story is written in English with a Spanish translation on each page, as well as Spanish words peppered throughout the English text. When interspersing Spanish words, Anzaldúa has taken care to provide translations or context clues for English-language readers. For example, when Prietita asks Doña Lola for help, Doña Lola replies, “I’m sorry, mijita, I’m sorry, my child, but I’ve used up all the ruda I had and none of the neighbors grow it.” Continue reading
Saludos, readers! In light of Earth Day (April 22) and National Poetry Month I am delighted to present to you a very special book that perfectly celebrates a child’s relationship to nature through bilingual poetry. Call Me Tree/Llámame árbol, written and illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez, is a beautiful book that manages the unique achievement of being gender neutral.
Here is a description from Goodreads:
In this spare, lyrically written story, we join a child on a journey of self-discovery. Finding a way to grow from the inside out, just like a tree, the child develops as an individual comfortable in the natural world and in relationships with others. The child begins “Within/ The deep dark earth,” like a seed, ready to grow and then dream and reach out to the world. Soon the child discovers birds and the sky and other children: Trees and trees/ Just like me! Each is different too. The child embraces them all because All trees have roots/ All trees belong. Maya Christina Gonzalez once again combines her talents as an artist and a storyteller to craft a gentle, empowering story about belonging, connecting with nature, and becoming your fullest self. Young readers will be inspired to dream and reach, reach and dream . . . and to be as free and unique as trees.