Growing up my nose was always in a book. I loved to read and was lucky that my home was filled with books. My parents weren’t big readers, my father just happened to work in a book factory and would bring home books whenever he could. But it wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I read a book about a family like mine. It wasn’t anything I missed until it was suddenly in my face and I thought – I never read about a girl like me. A girl with brown skin, black hair and a name no one could pronounce.
I love reading with my son Norrin and my favorite time of the day is when we can sit for twenty to thirty minutes just reading. It is our time to connect.
April 30 is Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros. A day to celebrate children, family, literacy and cultural diversity. It’s a day I wish existed when I was growing up. It was founded by Pat Mora, author and poet, after learning about the Mexican holiday in 1996.
Realizing that the United States had nothing similar, Pat proposed linking Children’s Day, the celebration of childhood and children, with literacy and bilingualism, creating a new holiday: El día de los niños/El día de los libros.
Last December, the New York Times published an article about the lack of Latino authors and books for children and Latina bloggers and writers (myself included) reacted. We each shared our experience as a writer and reader and the lack of diversity (then and now).
Children need to be able to connect with the characters on the page. They need to see themselves. And they need to be able to recognize others and respect their differences. Not every child has the opportunity to get on a plane to visit distant lands, but they can explore other worlds through reading. That is what Día de los niños, Día de los Libros is about. And here are twelve books to get you started.
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For more children’s books that explore cultural diversity and heritage please visit:
- The Día de los niños, Día de los Libros Book List
- Pat Mora’s Children’s Books
- The Latin Baby Book Club
- 10 Books To Explore Mixed Heritage
- Latinas for Latino Literature
- The Magic Tree House
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.