For the Love of Libros: A Book Talk for Spanish Language Day on 4/23

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For the Love of Libros: A Book Talk for Spanish Language Day 

April 23 | 3 PM EST

The United Nations sets aside every April 23 to celebrate and raise awareness for the history, culture and use of Spanish as an official language. Well, we want in on the fiesta! Join JLG editors Sophia Jimenez and Alexandra Aceves as they chat with Cynthia Weill, Director of the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College of Education, about the importance of Spanish-language books in school, public, and home libraries. Learn how Bank Street selects the best of the best for its annual Spanish Picture Book Awards and how JLG chooses top-tier Spanish-language selections for our Elementary and Middle Grade categories. Plus, join in the conversation about the need for (and lack of) Spanish offerings for upper grades.

Perfect for librarians, educators and parents, but all are welcome.  

Dr. Cynthia Weill
Dr. Cynthia Weill
Director of the Center for Children’s Literature
Bank Street College of Education

Cynthia Weill is trained as an art historian and has worked as an educator and in humanitarian assistance. She holds a doctorate from Teachers College, Columbia University. She completed her dissertation work in Oaxaca, Mexico where she worked closely with artisans to collaboratively develop a series of bilingual children’s books. Her publications includeTen Mice for Tet(Chronicle 2002) and theFirst Concepts in Mexican Folk Art Series(Cinco Puntos Press) as well as academic articles on education and the arts.

Alexandra Aceves
Alexandra Aceves
Editorial Assistant
Junior Library Guild

Alexandra Aceves (she/her), a Latinx writer and editor originally from Mexico City, is currently in her second year at JLG, where she reads for various elementary and middle grade categories as well as for the Spanish language categories. Her debut novel is forthcoming from Lee & Low’s Tu Books imprint later this year.

Sophia Jimenez
Sophia Jimenez
Assistant Editor
Junior Library Guild

Sophia Jimenez has been at JLG for two years and, along with reading teen novels in a range of genres, reads for all of JLG’s Spanish-language categories. She was previously an editorial assistant at Simon & Schuster. She grew up in Austin, TX, and studied literature and music at Sarah Lawrence College. When she’s not reading, she’s probably singing.

Commentary: LibroMobile may be O.C.’s smallest bookstore but it’s also a symbol of growing diversity

Great article by Namrata Podder for the LA Times about the work of an incredible author and community activist. 

Sarah Rafael Garcia is the founder and curator of LibroMobile, a bookstore and literary project in Santa Ana, which recently hosted its second annual literary arts festival.
(Kevin Chang / Staff Photographer)

During the opening event of LibroMobile’s second annual literary arts festival Saturday, about a dozen children sat on a colorful mat in anticipation of Drag Queen Story Time.

LibroMobile’s founder Sarah Rafael García, a local writer, welcomed a crowd of approximately 400 throughout the day-long event in Santa Ana of live readings and performances by local and visiting artists of color.

As my toddler and I listened to Electra Young read stories about inclusivity to her young audience, my gaze wandered to the pop-up bookmobile across from us.

On the bookmobile — a repurposed gardening cart or the “original” LibroMobile — sits recent works by writers of color, bilingual and Spanish books for children and adults, small press publications and handmade zines.


Though the Libromobile bookstore is now housed in a warehouse in downtown Santa Ana, it started out as a bookcart inspired by paleteros, or fruit vendor carts. The bookcart still travels around to community events in Santa Ana and neighboring regions.
(Namrata Poddar)

It brought back memories of my first meeting with Sarah in 2017.

I remember walking with her down Calle Cuatro to a stairwell, where she stored crates full of books on either side, and then watching her push a bookcart out from the space below the stairs.

Now, LibroMobile is a bookstore in a warehouse in a back alley off 4th and Spurgeon streets, but for its first nine months, it existed on that book-laden staircase and through the mobile cart inspired by the paleteros, iconic fruit vendor carts often seen in Santa Ana.

While its ever-expanding inventory has moved from the staircase to the warehouse, the book cart continues to travel throughout the city and surrounding areas to promote literacy.

Sarah and I connected over a shared frustration that despite Orange County’s ethnocultural diversity, not enough writers of color touring across the nation drive south of the 405, beyond Los Angeles, for literary or community events.

The reason seemed obvious to us. Media narratives on O.C. rarely showed the then “red county” to have much of a literary cultural scene, let alone a scene spotlighting writers of color.

LibroMobile literary festival

The second annual LibroMobile literary festival kicks off with Elektra Young reading to kids during Drag Queen Story Time.
(Namrata Poddar)

And yet, the more I got to know Sarah and her work, I learned how she and many local artists have been at work for years, subverting cultural clichés of Orange County.

Born in Texas and raised in Santa Ana, García published her debut book, “Las Niñas: A Collection of Childhood Memories,” in 2008.

The autobiographical story recounts the struggles of three second-generation Mexican American sisters.

García moved in and out of Orange County for teaching commitments, travels and graduate school, but in 2016, when she returned home, she found Santa Ana deep in the throes of gentrification.

The city she’d known in her childhood seemed to be disappearing, she said.

This led to her bilingual book, 2017’s “SanTana’s Fairytales,” where she converted the urban history of her childhood home into fables and fairytales.

Developed through a one-year artist-in-residence at OC’s Grand Central Art Center, “SanTana’s Fairytales” is a visual art installation, oral history and storytelling project that gives voice to the stories of Mexican and Mexican American residents of Santa Ana.

The collection of stories was translated into Spanish by poet Julieta Corpus, and the bilingual manuscript was published in collaboration with Raspa Magazine.

Grand Central Art Center hosted a multimedia installation based on the book in 2017, and versions of the exhibit have since traveled to Texas State University and Northwest Vista College in San Antonio.

Also an educator, García founded Barrio Writers, a creative writing program that provides free college-level education — focused on storytelling, critical thinking and social justice — to teenagers of color in Santa Ana and the neighboring cities.

The program’s summer workshops culminate with a live reading where Barrio Writers present final pieces to their community and their works are published in an annual anthology.

As I sat at the bookstore’s annual festival, I saw that things are beginning to shift in the current world of American storytelling.

Conversations on diversity are taken more seriously. The O.C. literary scene is curating more community events that seek to reflect the county’s demographic reality, but there are limits to progress if artists of color still function as tokens in white-dominant spaces.

It’s important to recognize the revolutionary community spaces that actually take practical steps toward representation and inclusion.

LibroMobile, if not the biggest, is certainly one of the most conspicuous ones in Orange County.

Levi Romero Named New Mexico’s First Poet Laureate

(Santa Fe, NM) – New Mexico Arts and the New Mexico State Library, both divisions of the Department of Cultural Affairs, are excited to announce the appointment of Levi Romero of Albuquerque as the state’s inaugural Poet Laureate. His first act will be to read a poem during Library Legislative Day at the Roundhouse on January 31.

“I am very excited about the selection of Levi Romero as New Mexico’s first state poet laureate,” said Sen. Bill O’Neill of Albuquerque, sponsor of the legislation that funded the Poet Laureate program and a poet himself. “His poetry has won national recognition, and as a native New Mexican he has manifested his commitment to our state by his long teaching career.”

Romero has published two collections of poetry – A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works and In the Gathering of Silence. He’s also the co-author of the book Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland, written with Spencer R. Herrera.

Romero’s work has received numerous awards and accolades, including two Society for Humanistic Anthropology Poetry Award Honorable Mentions in 2017, an International Latino Book Award in 2015, two Southwest Book Awards in 2014 and 2015, a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, and recognition for Best Books of the Southwest. He was selected as New Mexico’s Centennial Poet in 2012.

Romero was chosen from four New Mexico poets nominated for the position of Poet Laureate. The criteria for selection included quality of poetry, language and oral facility, suitability of work for civic celebration, literary recognition, engagement in past projects that involve poetry, and other experiences related to poetry.

The Poet Laureate selection committee composed of Valerie Martinez, poet and Director of History and Literary Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center; poet and artist Anne MacNaughton, co-founder of SOMOS, the Taos Poetry Circus and the Poet Education Project; and Eileen Sullivan, director of the Los Alamos Library. The three other nominees were Jimmy Santiago Baca, Lauren Camp, and Manuel Gonzalez.

The three-year position of Poet Laureate includes an annual stipend of $25,000, travel and printing expenses, and part-time staff support. The position will support literacy and enhance education while promoting arts enrichment across the state. Through speaking engagements statewide and programs at schools and libraries, the poet will engage all New Mexicans with poetry. They will also document their travels via web journal and podcast.

Originally from the Embudo Valley in northern New Mexico, Romero is an assistant professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, where he directs the New Mexico Cultural Landscapes Certificate program and the Digital Cuentos project.



About Levi Romero

Levi Romero’s most recent book is Sagrado: A Photopoetics Across the Chicano Homeland (co­authored with Spencer Herrera and Robert Kaiser). His two collections of poetry are A Poetry of Remembrance: New and Rejected Works and In the Gathering of Silence. His work has received numerous awards and accolades, including two Society for Humanistic Anthropology Poetry Award Honorable Mentions in 2017, an International Latino Book Award in 2015, two Southwest Book Awards in 2014 and 2015, a New Mexico-Arizona Book Award, finalist for the Writers’ League of Texas Book Award, and recognition for Best Books of the Southwest. A recipient of several NEA and NEH grant awards, he was selected as New Mexico Centennial Poet in 2012.

Romero is a bilingual poet whose language is immersed in the manito dialect of northern New Mexico. His work has been published throughout the United States, Mexico, Spain and Cuba. His poem writing exercise, “Where I’m From, De donde yo soy,” based on the original poem, “Where I’m From,” by George Ella Lyon, was published by Scholastic as part of a nationwide educational project and has been used extensively both nationally and internationally. He has taught writing workshops for schools, universities, incarcerated populations, libraries, community centers, writers’ organizations, private mentorships, and has also worked with community libraries on various ethno-poetry and oral history documentation projects.

His work has been featured in numerous anthologies and online publications. He has co-directed two films on acequia culture. Bendicicn de/ agua, a short film based on Taos’s very own Olivia Romo, premiered at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, and Going Home Homeless won a People’s Choice Award at the Taos Shortz Film Festival.

Romero is from the Embudo Valley of northern New Mexico. He is an Assistant Professor in the Chicana and Chicano Studies department at the University of New Mexico, where he directs the New Mexico Cultural Landscapes Certificate program and the Digital Cuentos project.

Bank Street Announces Winner of Best Spanish Language Picture Book Award

By Kiera Parrott for School Library Journal

Mi papi tiene una moto/My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Peña, and translated by Andrea Montejo (Kokila, 2019), has won the first-ever gold medal for Best Spanish Language Picture Book from the Center for Children’s Literature at Bank Street College of Education. book cover of Mi Papi

The exuberant book, which was also named an SLJ Best Picture Book of 2019, centers on the story of a young girl and her papi as they zig and zag on his motorcycle, enjoying each other’s company and the vibrant sights and sounds of their California community.

Three titles were awarded silver medals: ¿De Dónde Eres?/ Where Are You From by Yamile Saied Méndez, illustrated by Jaime Kim (HarperCollins, 2019); Sembrando historias: Pura Belpré: bibliotecaria y narradora de cuentos/Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar and translated by Omayra Ortiz (HarperCollins, 2019); and Mario y el agujero en el cielo: Cómo un químico salvó nuestro planeta/Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Teresa Martínez and translated by Carlos E. Calvo (Charlesbridge, 2019).

Two additional titles received honorable mentions: Soñadores/Dreamers by Yuyi Morales (Holiday House, 2018) and Alma y como obtuvo su nombre/Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez Neal (Candlewick, 2018).

gold medalFor this first award, the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee’s considered titles published or translated in 2018 or 2019. The committee members evaluated the nominees across a wide array of criteria, including cultural authenticity and quality of language and illustration. Contenders for the award were selected from the Children’s Book Committee’s Best Spanish Language Picture Book of the year lists from 2018 and 2019.

“We are so proud to recognize these excellent works and through the prize to alert teachers, librarians, caregivers, and parents to the highest quality picture books in Spanish for children,” director of the Center for Children’s Literature, Cynthia Weill, says.

The jury was composed of Spanish-speaking members of Bank Street’s Children’s Book Committee, bilingual professors from Bank Street College and the City University of New York, Bank Street alumni, and librarians from the New York Public Library.

Author/illustrator Yuyi Morales will keynote an award ceremony in March.


Rose Mary Salum for Literal Magazine

Forty Years ago, Dr. Nicolás Kanellos decided to start a publisher house dedicated to give voice to a wide array of  Hispanic authors. From its beginnings to its current status as the oldest and most accomplished publisher of contemporary literature by U.S. Hispanic authors, Arte Público has become an icon of the literary world. We had the opportunity to talk to its founder and director, Dr. Nicolás Kanellos.


1.You were a pioneer in the field of Hispanic studies, establishing a literary magazine, Revista Chicano-Riqueña. How did you go from there to being the founder of Arte Público Press?

We founded Revista Chicano-Riqueña in 1973 to give an opportunity to Latino writers of all ethnicities to publish literary works and criticism in Spanish and English for a national audience.  Along the way, we noticed that given the dearth of available Latino texts, many issues of our magazine were being used as textbooks in university clases. So then we began publishing thematic issues, such as numbers devoted exclusively to “La Mujer,” to theater, to Chicago-area writers, to the U.S. Bicentennial, etc. And, even more so, these were treated by our audience as complete volumes unto themselves to be used as textbooks. By 1979, we decided that because we had experience in publishing these thematic volumes, we could actually publish books—in fact, it is a lot easier to publish a book than it is to maintain a magazine. So, we decided to create Arte Público Press, naming it after the public art movement; that is, we wanted to be a reflection, like a mural for the community, drawing from that community and giving back to it. Our first ten books or so came from writers who had been publishing in Revista during the 1970s, such as Miguel Algarín, Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Rolando Hinojosa, Tato Laviera, Pat Mora, Miguel Piñero, Evangelina Vigil, Tino Villanueva —in retrospect, this seems to be a list of writers who began to establish Latino literature as part of the national culture.

2. You also participated in the Civil Rights Movement of Latinos in the 1960s. How has the perception of Hispanics changed in the US since then? In your opinion, have we gotten the same opportunities to access education that we deserve?

You got me: 1960s? Yes, I’m that old! Well, the major change in perception is that, seemingly, we are everywhere. We have become the largest minority and in some states and cities, we have become themajority population. With the demographic pressure we are placing on institutions and on the national conscience, we have been subject to a vicious backlash from nativists and white nationalists, many of whom lead our society’s institutions. But we also have opportunities to become part of the leadership in all spheres, including in the arts and literature. Whereas in the sixties we had to raise the level of national consciousness just to call attention to the fact that we existed, today we have a more powerful base from which to take down the barriers to assuming our rightful place in society. Because today most people in the United States, including the middle class, have been comparatively impoverished as compared with their status in the 1960s; more and more families are struggling to house, clothe and feed themselves—and this is more pronounced among Latinos and African-Americans—so that higher education, its higher tuition rates and decreased government funding has made it more beyond the reach of poor and middle class students. As more and more minorities struggle to stay in K-12 and to enter colleges, conservative governments fund their education less and less.  Today’s is a more subtle type of discrimination.

3. How do you address a readership that is composed of non-English and English speaking Hispanics?

That’s easy. We publish works in English and Spanish. We choose the language for distinct markets or readers.  For instance, all of our books targeted at pre-K through 7th grade readers are published in bilingual editions. At the high school level, we publish the original Spanish or English of the text and occasionally, translation in a separate edition. The same is true for our general market books: some in Spanish, some in English and an occasional translation, depending on market conditions. But, please note: we aim to reach all non-Hispanic readers with our English editions. We want them reviewed in The New York Times Book Review and available in mainstream bookstores and in libraries across the country. We also have a vigorous foreign rights program and agents placing our books in the hands of movie and TV producers.

4. What has Arte Público done to make Hispanic authors become known in mainstream literature?

We employ commissioned sales reps to go to all bookstores across the country; we send out more than 200 review copies of each book to the mainstream and specialized media; we exhibit our books at book fairs and major industry conventions for book dealers, librarians and educators, as well as place writers on limited tours to bookstores, colleges, community centers, etc. For our efforts, we have scored a few mainstream bestsellers and won places for a good number of our authors on high school and college reading lists, in addition to having some of our books transformed into film/video, most notably on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Let me state here that, other than in literary culture, Arte Público is a well-kept secret, especially in Houston, our home. Our wonderful Arte Público Press board, under the leadership of President Merisela Peña and President Emeritus Rosanna Moreno, are doing all in their power to change that, especially during our anniversary year.

5. The Census Office estimates we will have 138 million Spanish speakers by 2050, making the U.S. the country with the largest Spanish-speaking population in the world. Will all these people be ready and educated to consume what is being produced by presses like yours? In your opinion, what else needs to be done to have a more educated population?

Today, we place a great deal of effort and large investments in our Piñata Books for children and young adults. It is our effort to grow our audience and to help produce Latino biliteracy. More and more entire school systems are becoming “dual language,” and we feel our books specifically serve that forward-looking educational methodology. I truly believe that in the 21st century, we will become like many other countries around the world in which all residents speak, read and write at least two languages. Of course, the two major ones here will still be Spanish and English. It is inevitable. And as that dream becomes reality, Arte Público Press will grow to serve that readership. We have made it to forty years and flourished; I’m sure we’ll be here in the year 2100.

6. What have been the milestones produced by Arte Público Press during these forty years of existence… and the worst mistakes?

November 1979 Arte Público Press (APP) founded.

1980 APP’s first book, La Carreta Made a U-turn by Tato Laviera, receives a 40-page review-article in Daedalus, the prestigious magazine of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

1984 APP publishes The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Its panning by the Wall Street Journal, along with other multicultural literature adopted by Stanford University, leads readers across the country go to bookstores to find these new “multicultural authors.”

1985 Dear Rafe by Rolando Hinojosa becomes the first Chicano novel to be reviewed in The New York Times Book Review. Our Spanish edition of Mi querido Rafa, published in 1982, went generally unnoticed by the reviewing media. Hinojosa’s book also marked APP’s inheriting of the canonic authors from Editorial Quinto Sol, which met its demise by 1980; these included Hinojosa, Alurista, Rodolfo Anaya, Abelardo Delgado, Tomás Rivera and Estella Portillo.

1988 Publisher Kanellos receives the Hispanic Heritage Award for Literature, presented by President Ronald Reagan at the White House.

1992 APP publishes its first national best seller, Rain of Gold by Victor Villaseñor. Thanks to this, we were able to assemble commissioned sales reps, work with new national wholesalers, learn how to publish a front-list hardcover book, etc.

1993 APP establishes Recovering the U.S. Hispanic Literary Heritage Program, which researches, preserves and makes accessible all of the written culture created by Latinos in areas that became part of the United States from the Colonial Period up to 1960. “Recovery” locates, microfilms for preservation and digitizes to make accessible hundreds of thousands of written items, from one-page broadsides to 600-page published treatises and literary works and entire runs of some 1500 newspapers. It makes these texts available in digitized facsimile pages in large databases distributed internationally by Ebsco Inc. and Newsbank. APP has also made available more than 40 volumes of recovered texts as well as anthologies and scholarship by hundreds of professors from throughout the United States and abroad.

1994 APP establishes Piñata Books for children and adolescents.

1990s to the present APP receives numerous awards and grants from some of the nation’s major foundations and agencies: Brown, Cullen, Ford, Mellon, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Rockefeller and others.

2003 Certificate of recognition from The Texas Institute of Letters for “outstanding contributions to a literary Texas.”

2005 Golden Book Award from the Texas Council for Reading and the Bilingual Child.

2014 The “Enrique Anderson Imbert” Prize of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language for Lifetime Achievement for contributing to the knowledge and dissemination of the Spanish language and Hispanic culture in the United States.

2019 “Recovery” establishes the center for US Latino Digital Humanities to train scholars and students on the methodologies and techniques for managing and understanding, as well as creating new knowledge from, databases of hundreds of thousands of texts.

2019 National Book Critics Circle Ivan Sandof Lifetime Achievement Award to Arte Público Press. An occasional award given by the association of hundreds of book reviewers and critics from around the United States.

Mistakes? Only our marvelous managerial staff—Marina Tristán, Gabriela Baeza Ventura, Carolina Villarroel, Nelly González—know but won’t tell. You can read about them in my unwritten memoir, to be made available in better bookstores in the year 2100.

A Group Of Students Burned A Latina Author’s Book Because They Felt Attacked For Being White

Amazing article by Brianna Sacks for Buzzfeednews:



A group of students at a predominantly white public university in Georgia burned the book of a Latina author who had delivered a lecture on campus after some attendees accused her of “dissing white people.”

Jennine Capó Crucet, a New York Times contributor and associate professor at the University of Nebraska, spoke about her novel Make Your Home Among Strangers at Georgia Southern University on Wednesday night. The award-winning book, published in 2015, tells the story of a Cuban American girl from Miami who gets accepted to a prestigious college in New York and struggles to fit into the privileged, predominantly white environment.

The book was required reading for some of Georgia Southern’s First-Year Experience classes, according to the university.

On Wednesday evening, the school hosted Crucet, who spoke to the entire first-year class at the performing arts center. When she opened the floor to the audience for questions, some attendees peppered her for criticizing white people, according to the George-Anne, the university’s newspaper.

“I noticed that you made a lot of generalizations about the majority of white people being privileged,” one student said to the author, according to the paper. “What makes you believe that it’s okay to come to a college campus, like this, when we are supposed to be promoting diversity on this campus, which is what we’re taught. I don’t understand what the purpose of this was.”

Responding to the student, Crucet said that she was invited to speak at the university and discussed white privilege because “it’s a real thing that you are actually benefiting from right now in even asking this question,” according to the George-Anne.

Her answer elicited more questions about race from the audience.

BuzzFeed News spoke with six first-year students, five women and one man, who attended the lecture, all of whom asked not to be named. The students were required to attend the lecture, along with hundreds of their classmates, and said that Crucet attacked white people “for an hour” and assumed that the entire audience was privileged.

“She came to our school and, the audience was predominantly white, and she came in and was attacking white people for an hour, putting all these stereotypes and generalizations on us,” said one 18-year-old attendee. “Like all white people are privileged and racist.”

Another student said the audience reacted when the author stated that most white people “needed to be removed from authority positions because two-thirds of people in high positions should not be white.”

“She wanted everyone to be equal and says she is against racism but she was shitting on white people the whole time,” the 18-year-old male student said. “I can understand the message she was trying to get out but I don’t know what reaction she was expecting when she comes to a school that’s 75% white. I agree there is such a thing as white privilege but the way she was saying it was not OK to our student body.”

All of the students who spoke with BuzzFeed News were born and raised in Georgia. One of the students said she is half-Dominican; the rest are white.

After the event, Crucet tweeted that there had been “aggressive & ignorant comments” during her Q&A and thanked “some very amazing, brilliant students” who stood up for her during the exchange.

“At the signing, we hugged & cried,” she wrote. “I‘m happy to know them and also legit worried for their safety.”

In her replies, several people who allegedly attended the event accused her of “bullying white people.”

“The only reason anyone showed up is because it was required and after the racist bigotry you displayed against the white race we should all be compensated for your book. I’m all for equality but not for hate which is what you displayed,” one user said.

Later that night, a group of students gathered on campus and burned her book, according to statements from the university and videos posted on Twitter. Some even gathered outside her hotel, the school’s department of Writing and Linguistics said on Facebook, writing that it is “dismayed and disappointed by the uproar against” the author.

“Last night’s discussion with the author devolved into accusations of her demonstrating racism against white people,” Dr. Russell Willerton, the department chair, said in a statement. “Some students burned copies of Crucet’s book and even gathered outside her hotel. We assert that destructive and threatening acts do not reflect the values of Georgia Southern University.”

A student in the class — who asked that her name not be used for safety reasons — was walking outside of the Eagle Village dorm complex when she said she saw a group of students burning something.

“I thought it was s’mores at first,” the first-year student told BuzzFeed News. “So when my friends and I went to see what it was, we saw the students yelling and laughing and throwing the books in the fire.”

In the video, the group is gathered around a grill filled with copies of Crucet’s book, and they’re laughing.

The student, who is majoring in nursing, said that when she asked her peers why they were burning the piece of literature they said, “because the book was bad.”


so after our FYE book’s author came to my school to talk about it… these people decide to burn her book because “it’s bad and that race is bad to talk about”. white people need to realize that they are the problem and that their privilege is toxic. author is a woman of color.

Embedded video

When asked about the book burning, the group of first-year students who asked to remain anonymous told BuzzFeed News that about 20 to 30 of their classmates had gathered to burn the novel in a fire pit.

In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News, Crucet said that after the event her campus hosts had moved her from her original lodging accommodations to another hotel in a different town.

It was only when she read the statement from the department chair that she learned students had gathered outside the hotel she had previously planned to stay at.

“During the event, and afterward during the book signing, many students remarked on how much the story of the novel’s protagonist mirrored their own,
and expressed gratitude for the book—both to me for writing it, and to GSU for selecting it as their FYE read,” Crucet said. “To think of those students watching as a group of their peers burned that story— effectively erasing them on the campus they are expected to think of as a safe space—feels devastating.”

Crucet tweeted several times about the experience, writing, “This is where we are, America.”

Jennine Capó Crucet@crucet

Students at @GeorgiaSouthern literally burning my novel. This is where we are, America. 

In now-deleted tweets, first-year students replied to the author with ripped up copies of her book and footage of people lighting the pages on fire.

Other students, however, rallied behind Crucet, thanking her for coming to their campus and apologizing for what she went through. A Georgia Southern junior, who is studying history, emailed BuzzFeed News and said that many students on campus are “disappointed with these book burning students.”

“We are also disappointed with our administration, as racial tension events have occurred in the past (what seems like an almost yearly occurrence now),” she wrote. “The admin of the university never really disciplined those involved, which leads there to be little consequences to deter those events from happening again.”

While several of the university’s departments have condemned the book burning, John Lester, vice president for Strategic Communications and Marketing, said that they are “not planning any actions against any of the students involved in this incident.”

“While it’s within the students’ First Amendment rights, book burning does not align with Georgia Southern’s values nor does it encourage the civil discourse and debate of ideas,” Lester said.

In an email to faculty, GSU President Kyle Marrero described the evening’s events as an “example of freedom of expression.”

“Specific to the reported events of that evening, while it’s within the students’ First Amendment rights, book burning does not align with Georgia Southern’s values nor does it encourage the civil discourse and debate of ideas,” Marrero wrote.

He continued that he wished students “had engaged in a reasoned discussion” and that “these discussions had not deteriorated or led to broad generalizations that paint an ugly picture about our university.”

A professor who provided the email to BuzzFeed News said faculty members were “extremely dissatisfied with this response.”

Crucet was supposed to deliver another lecture on Thursday at the university’s Armstrong campus, but the school canceled it “due to unforeseen circumstances.”

Although Georgia Southern is 63% white, nearly a quarter of students are black and 6% are Hispanic. In a statement, the school’s counseling center said it has a “diverse staff of clinicians who are prepared to support students’ emotional needs.

“We recognize that such incidents can be traumatizing to Latinx/Hispanic students and other marginalized communities,” the center said.

In her statement, Crucet called on the university to support students who may feel unsafe as a result of the incident.

“This book began as an act of love and an attempt at deeper understanding,” Crucet said. “I hope GSU can act from the same place and work to affirm the humanity of those students who might understandably feel unsafe in the aftermath of the event and the book burning, and that the campus continues the difficult and necessary conversation that began in that auditorium.”

The student in the class who said she saw the burning said she was shocked and disheartened by what transpired during the lecture, which she called “good and informative,” and the fact that students burned the author’s novel.

“Students wanted her to talk more about the book over the white privilege stuff but I think that talking about that looped in perfectly because the book was based on her life and her experience with white privilege or lack there of,” the first-year student said. “She’s a Latina woman.”

Angie Cruz to present at University of South Florida

If you’re going to be in the Tampa Bay Area in early October, this looks like a great event to attend. Dominicana is on my list of must-reads.

Here’s what the book is about…

Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.

As the Dominican Republic slides into political turmoil, Juan returns to protect his family’s assets, leaving Cesar to take care of Ana. Suddenly, Ana is free to take English lessons at a local church, lie on the beach at Coney Island, see a movie at Radio City Music Hall, go dancing with Cesar, and imagine the possibility of a different kind of life in America. When Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.

In bright, musical prose that reflects the energy of New York City, Angie Cruz’s Dominicana is a vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.

Carnegie medal goes to first writer of colour in its 83-year history

Check out this WONDERFUL piece by Alison Flood for the Guardian


Dominican-American Elizabeth Acevedo wins prestigious children’s award for The Poet X, while Jackie Morris takes illustration prize for The Lost Words

Dominican-American slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo has become the first ever writer of colour to win the UK’s most prestigious children’s books award, the Carnegie medal, which has a history stretching back to 1936 and includes Arthur Ransome, CS Lewis and Neil Gaiman among its former winners.

Acevedo, the daughter of Dominican immigrants, took the medal for her debut, The Poet X. A verse novel, it tells of a quiet Dominican girl, Xiomara, who joins her school’s slam poetry club in Harlem and is, according to the judges, “a searing, unflinching exploration of culture, family and faith within a truly innovative verse structure”. Xiomara “comes to life on every page and shows the reader how girls and women can learn to inhabit, and love, their own skin”.

The book is dedicated to “all the little sisters yearning to see themselves”, and one of her former students in particular. Acevedo was an eighth-grade English teacher in Maryland when the impetus for the novel struck her: one of her students, Katherine, wouldn’t read any of the books Acevedo offered her, telling her : “None of these books are about us.”

So Acevedo set out to write “a story that sounds like and depicts the same kind of neighbourhood” she and her students are from. “When your body takes up more room than your voice / you are always the target of well-aimed rumors, / which is why I let my knuckles talk for me,” she writes in The Poet X. “I’ve forced my skin just as thick as I am.”

“This was a girl who physically seemed to be taking up so much space but felt she had to be withdrawn, she was afraid to push the boundaries,” Acevedo said. “Her body takes up so much attention it would be easy to forget all the things she’s thinking, things she won’t say. I wanted to be really close to those feelings and show the everyday magic and beauty that quiet folks can hold.”

Acevedo is no longer a teacher but she returns to the school where she taught every year, and knows that her former students, including Katherine, have read her novel. In her speech after winning the medal she said:“I felt like this student had given me a challenge, or at least permission to to write a story about young people who take up space, who do not make themselves small, who learn the power of their own words.”

Acevedo’s win comes two years after the prize instigated an independent review into its historical lack of racial diversity, following widespread anger at 2017’s 20-book, entirely white longlist. After interviews with more than 600 people, from librarians to children, the review concluded that the UK’s overwhelmingly white librarian workforce, who nominate books for the medal, were mostly unaware of titles by writers of colour. It also found a dearth of books by writers of colour were being published in the UK.

Kingfisher (1)-3 Illustration from the book The Lost Words
 Jackie Morris’s Kingfisher illustration from The Lost Words. Photograph: Supplied by Penguin books

Tuesday’s ceremony also saw the illustrator Jackie Morris win the Kate Greenaway medal for illustration for The Lost Words, a response to the Oxford Junior Dictionary’s decision to remove everyday nature words such as “acorn”, “bluebell” and “kingfisher”, as they were not being used enough by children. The book, written by Robert Macfarlane, features his poems alongside Morris’s images of the excised words and has become a cultural phenomenon, with members of the public raising funds to ensure schools around the country have copies.

Alison Brumwell, who chaired the panel of librarians who picked the winners, called it an “astonishing book which deserves the highest accolades”.

“The illustrations test our acuity and make us all think on a much deeper level about scale, colour and proportion; also, about representations of loss and absence. We are invited to ‘read’ on more than one level and to reflect upon a world in which change can mean irreparable loss, impoverishing both language and the environment,” said Brumwell.

Jackie Morris, winner of the 2019 Kate Greenaway medal for illustration
 ‘We are at a turning point’ … Jackie Morris. Photograph: Katariina Jarvinen

Morris said that she believes the response to The Lost Words has been so strong because “instinctively, we know that we are not separate from nature, we’re part of it”.

“Certainly in urban environments, we’ve almost divorced ourselves from a close connection with it, and I think there is a hunger to return to those connections – and it’s also an enormous necessity,” she said.

Morris ended her acceptance speech on Tuesday with a call to her fellow authors and illustrators, artists and musicians “to help to tell the truth about what is happening to this small and fragile world we inhabit, to re-engage with the natural world, to inspire and to imagine better ways to live.

“Because there is no Planet B and we are at a turning point. And because in order to make anything happen it first needs to be imagined. And as writers and illustrators for children we grow the readers and thinkers of the future,” she said.

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