Last Saturday's post, "Diversity a food group best served frío," generated discussions, some of which added more questions and information. Armando Rendon from Somos En Escrito magazine posted on LinkedIn, and I lead off with it because it adds substantive layers about the publishing of First Voice latino lit in the U.S. I highly recommend the article he mentions, in which two statements caught my attention:
1. "An issue mentioned by Garza de Cortés--that many of the children’s books for Latina/os that she came across actually had damaging content."
2. "The shocking news that at this year’s Pura Belpré Award--one of three major awards given to Latino/a children’s book authors--the selection committee did not select books for special honors. There were gasps in the room.”
I'll try to find out more about both and report here.
From Armando Rendon:
"The problem you pose, Rudy, runs much deeper than exclusion from these self-serving lists of best this and that for kids' literature--the bias is obvious. But in order to get a full grasp of the crisis of literature for American children of Hispanic/indigenous origin we have to address the extreme lack of books that are written by us or include our children.
"Here is a link to a guest essay published in Somos en escrito magazine representing a group of teachers, librarians, historians, writers in Austin who are forging a coalition to expose these concerns and take action to address this crisis.
"Some facts from the article:
In 2002, only 94 books were written about, and 48 books written by, Latinas/os: That number has not improved.
For instance, 2012 statistics reveal that out of a total of 5,000 children’s books published that year, 54 of them were written about, and only 59 were written by, Latinas/os.
In 2011, just over 3% of 3,400 books reviewed were written by or about Latinos.
Only 18% of Latino fourth graders were proficient in reading; meanwhile, 44% of their white peers were classified as being proficient in reading.
In Texas alone, by the year 2050, another study shows, public schools will serve 9 million students, from the 5 million at present—of these, 6 million will be of Hispanic origin.
"Writing for little ones and young adults is a growth market within our community. Unfortunately, the major publishers have not or will not recognize the growing need for books, DVDs, whatever, that feature Latino children, Latino culture, written by Latinos and Latinas. Imagine the potential for reaching out to Latino youth to imbue readings with solid values, exciting story lines, engaging characters.
"We have come to a point, because of this looming crisis, that writing children's books has become a political act: Schools, libraries, teachers, parents, legislators, communities must demand not just more books about our communities but a national action to confront publishers and state education departments to meet the challenge that the country faces. Otherwise, as the Texas figures suggest, Latino kids will still be reading Jack and Jill in 2050, when the classroom is filled with Ricardos and Juanitas.
"As writers and teachers of writing, we have to be part of the response as well. It's not easy to write for children, but one has to be a competent writer to begin with. So the challenge is complex but as writers we have a responsibility to encourage new writers to enter this field and to try our own hand at writing for kids. It's immensely gratifying, by the way."
by Armando Rendon
The renowned journalist-author San Quinones sent us what's below. For those seeking FREE! professional help in telling their story, you couldn't do better than this author. Note that space was definitely limited.
"My name is Sam Quinones. I'm a journalist and LA Times reporter and author of two books of narrative nonfiction about Mexico and Mexican immigration. I'll be offering a three-week writing workshop at East L.A. Library beginning Saturday, Nov. 16 at 9:30 am.
"The workshop is funded by the library's Chicano Resource Center and thus is free to participants. I'm hoping you will spread word to your current and former students who might be interested in something like this.
"The workshop is called TELL YOUR TRUE TALE and gets new writers to tell their own stories, but with editing and editorial help from me. We will focus on finding stories, and the gathering of detail essential to all great storytelling, and then, of course, on story structure. The goal is to have each participant produce a story from their own lives, or the lives of people close to them. The best will be published on my website, and displayed at the library, with multimedia treatment (slide show, author's reading, photos, etc).
"I'm giving this as part of my storytelling experiment of the same name. You can see stories from this experiment (several from CC students) that I've posted at my website here. And more about the writing workshops I give here.
"My books have been used in many college classes, including numerous community college English and Composition courses. If you're unfamiliar with my work, you can find out more at my website and blog.
"I'd appreciate anything you could do to get the word out to those interested in writing, and being edited and beginning to think like a writer. Space is limited, so those interested should contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Daniel Hernandez at the Resource Center: email@example.com or 323-264-0155.
"This contest is open to writers who have not yet published a book of fiction. We accept submissions by mail and online from June 1st through November 15th each year. The winner will be announced by March 15th, 2014. Review the Eligibility, Guidelines, and FAQ before entering the contest. Grand Prize: $1,500."
To my knowledge, no latino has won this prize, yet, and if you have a submission, there's only one week left to get it in.
Some good news
Daniel Alarcón is featured this month on GoodReads, where he list his five favorite books. It's called, "Good Minds Suggest—Daniel Alarcón's Favorite Books by Young Latin American Authors."
From GoodReads: "San Francisco-based, Peruvian-born author Daniel Alarcón is the author of Lost City Radio (2007), and a collection of short stories, War by Candlelight. His second novel, At Night We Walk in Circles, could be the one that brings the author a wider, mainstream audience. Set in an unnamed South American country, this highbrow suspense story follows a nascent actor at loose ends who lands a starring role in a production of a controversial political play, touring across a land still marked by the recent civil war. Alarcón's narration of the way things fall apart is mesmerizing and thrilling."
You can also go to GoodReads to vote for your favorite latino fiction. Aviso: most of the higher-ranked books are not by U.S. latinos.
Es todo, hoy,