The Life and Legacy of Pura Belpré

Pura's Cuentos: How Pura Belpré Reshaped Libraries with Her Stories

Meet Pura Belpré in these books by and about her!  Belpré was the first Puerto Rican librarian to be hired by the New York Public Library system and welcomed many generations of children to her beloved storytimes. The Pura Belpré award was established in her honor in 1996.

Firefly Summer

"In this turn-of-the-century novel, seventh-grader Teresa attends school in San Juan and travels home in time to celebrate the Feast of the Cross with her extended family, friends, and plantation workers on her parents' finca…Belpré submitted Firefly Summer for publication during World War II, but it was rejected because of a paper shortage; it is available now because of a national project whose aim is to locate, identify, preserve, and make accessible the literary heritage of U.S. Hispanics." — School Library Journal

Nuestra América: 30 Inspiring Latinas/Latinos Who Have Shaped the United States

Collage of famous Latino/a trailblazers
Illustrated by: Gloria Félix
Language: Spanish

Nuestra América highlights the inspiring stories of thirty Latina/o/xs throughout history and their incredible contributions to the cultural, social, and political character of the United States.
The stories in this book cover each figure's cultural background, childhood, and the challenges and opportunities they met in pursuit of their goals. A glossary of terms and discussion question-filled reading guide, created by the Smithsonian Latino Center, encourage further research and exploration.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré

Drawing of a woman and four children sitting on a stoop reading and flowers grow around them.
Illustrated by: Paola Escobar
Age Level: 6-9, 9-12
Language: English, Spanish vocabulary featured

When she came to America in 1921, Pura carried the folk tales of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura's legacy. This portrait of the influential librarian, author, and puppeteer reminds us of the power of storytelling and the extraordinary woman who opened doors and championed bilingual literature.

The Stories I Read to the Children: The Life and Writing of Pura Belpré, the Legendary Storyteller, Children's Author and NY Public Librarian

This book documents, for the very first time, Pura Belpré’s contributions to North American, Caribbean and Latin American literary and library history. Thoroughly researched but clearly written, this study is scholarship that is also accessible to general readers, students and teachers. Pura Belpré (1899-1982) is one of the most important public intellectuals in the history of the Puerto Rican diaspora.

The Storyteller's Candle

Painting of Pura Belpre telling children a story by candlelight
Age Level: 9-12
Language: Spanish (Bilingual Eng/Sp)

This is the story of librarian Pura Belpré, told through the eyes of two young children who are introduced to the library and its treasures just before Christmas. Lulu Delacre's lovely illustrations evoke New York City at the time of the Great Depression, as well as the close-knit and vibrant Puerto Rican community that was thriving in El Barrio during this time. Bilingual Spanish-English text.