I’m so pleased to announce that Mama Latina Tips is participating in the second annual Latinas for Latino Literature’s Día Blog Hop! Last year 24 Latino authors where paired with 24 Latina bloggers between April 10th and April 30th. This year another 24 authors and illustrators are participating. You can find the complete schedule right here.
Today I’m thrilled to introduce Amada Irma Pérez, an award-winning author, who has written the following message to share with us:
Reflections by Amada Irma Pérez
Books are like mirrors. If we don’t see our own faces, families and lives reflected there, then, perhaps, we don’t exist or worse; our existence doesn’t matter.
When I emigrated from Mexico, I quickly learned to read books in English and newspapers in Spanish. I became aware of my two different worlds as a five year old. People like those in my family did not exist in the books I read at school or in the library (my new-found favorite place). They were mostly in the crime sections of “La Opinión.” Why weren’t children with brown faces, hair and eyes in my school readers when at least half of the kids in my class looked like me? Why were my friends and I missing? What about our adventures? Weren’t they as important and exciting as Dick and Jane’s?
These questions troubled me throughout college and my teaching career. I wanted to write these missing stories. It was in the last decade of my elementary teaching years that I realized that my students still could not see themselves reflected in the books in our classroom. Stories about immigration were still missing. Barrio adventures were nowhere to be seen. It was time. I wrote the stories I had told to my students and submitted them to Children’s Book Press. I held my breath. My Very Own Room/Mi propio cuartito was born in 2000 and I was the cover girl. Amazing! They even included family photos.
Maya Christina Gonzalez, award-winning illustrator was the one I wished for my books. She had also been looking for her own reflection in books and drew herself in on the blank pages of her childhood books with crayons. Our collaboration magically began with My Very Own Room/Mi propio cuartito (2000); continued with My Diary from Here to There/Mi diario de aquí hasta allá (2002), and Nana’s Big Surprise/Nana ¡que sorpresa! (2007). It was a perfect match. My nana, my parents, my five brothers and I shine through in Maya’s colorful, cultural and whimsical illustrations. We won many awards including the Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the Pura Belpre Honor Book Award, and an International Latino Book Award by writing our own stories and showing our own faces!
My subsequent books: Desert Quails Hit Jungle Trails (Pearson, 2010) and My Handy Writing Book: A New Fun and Easy Way to Write Stories (Writers Groups of Ventura & Beyond, 2011) continue with multicultural characters within universal themes. By writing and publishing my books, I, as well as many other Latina/o authors show that our stories are important not only for children who look like us, but for everybody. My new publisher, Lee and Low, publishes books that reflect our multicultural reality including all the CBP titles. While our children can see themselves reflected in our books, others can learn more about us: our joys, sorrows, hopes, dreams and realize that our similarities far outnumber our differences. All of us can come to accept that our existence does indeed, matter.
Thank you so much, Amada, for sharing a little of your adventure as well as your love of literature with Mama Latina Tips’ readers.
Amada Irma Pérez is an award-winning author. Her books published by Children’s Book Press: My Very Own Room/Mi propio cuartito (2000); My Diary from Here to There/Mi diario de aquí hasta allá (2002); and Nana’s Big Surprise/Nana ¡Que sorpresa! (2007) have been honored with many awards in children’s literature including the American Library Association’s Pura Belpré Honor Award, Tomás Rivera Mexican-American Children’s Book Award, and the International Latino Book Award. In 2010 she was commissioned to write a PreK book, Desert Quails Hit Jungle Trails by Pearson Education in order to help students write better narratives. She published her latest book, My Handy Writing Book: A New, Fun & Easy Way to Write Stories in 2011. Amada’s stories are beloved for their humorous details and universal themes of family support, love and friendship. She speaks at conferences, festivals, libraries and schools of all levels. You can visit her website for more information www.amadairmaperez.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a speaking engagement.