Children don't often get to read stories by or about Latinos. The American book publishing industry remains overwhelmingly white, according to the Cooperative Children's Book Center, which found only five percent of books published for young readers are by or about Latinx people. But several new groups of writers, editors and agents are trying to increase Latino representation in children's literature. They're working in different ways, and have their own stories to tell. NPR's Mandalit Del Barco spoke to a few of them — and got some reading recommendations, too.
The story of Mia and her family and friends at the Calivista Motel continues in this powerful, hilarious, and resonant sequel to the award-winning novel Front Desk. We had the pleasure of chatting to author Kelly Yang about Three Keys, book recommendations, writing advice, and more!
"Sesame Street" in the past year has tackled everything from foster care to substance abuse. Now its latest effort is trying to help children suffering as a result of the Syrian civil war.
The new Rising Voices Library is a collection of books from Scholastic that feature underrepresented communities in children's literature. Dedicated to black and Latino boys, the collection contains 300 nonfiction, fiction and biographical titles. Scholastic Vice President and Executive Editor Andrea Davis Pinkney says there’s a “dearth of diversity” in children’s literature. As a mother with a black son, she says the books in the collection have relevant themes: family, culture, heroes and role models. Along with the books, the collection comes with storage bins, book stickers, teachers’ guides and teaching cards. For parents, Davis Pinkney says buying a few books from the collection can help prevent what’s known as the summer slide — the tendency for kids’ reading ability to decline over the summer.
The coronavirus pandemic and school closures across the nation have exposed deep inequities within education: technology access, challenges with communication, lack of support for special education students, to name just a few. During this crisis, there are still opportunities to provide students with tools to help them be independent learners, according to Zaretta Hammond, author of "Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain." Hammond shared three design principles of culturally responsive instruction that can be used to support students’ cognitive development from afar in her webinar, “Moving Beyond the Packet: Creating More Culturally Responsive Distance Learning Experiences.” She said it’s important to stay focused on the student and offer small but high-leverage practices that maintain student progress and increase intellectual capacity during this time. She said these tips and activities also work for students without reliable access to technology and the internet.
The Latino Book Review has released a free online archive of English translations of Nahuatl folktales. The stories were translated to English from the native Nahuatl folktales collected by Pablo González Casanova in Cuentos Indígenas, which was published by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. The translated stories include titles such as “The Lion and the Cricket”, “The Gardener Child”, “The Maiden and the Beast”, and “The Red Grasshopper”.
Reem Faruqi moved to Peachtree City, Georgia, from Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, when she was 13 years old. Of Pakistani origin, Reem based her first award-winning children’s book "Lailah's Lunchbox" on her own experiences as a young Muslim girl immigrating to the United States. She has three new books projected for 2021, her debut middle grade book "Unsettled" (HarperCollins 2021), and two picture books: "Amira's Picture Day" (Holiday House 2021) and "I Can Help." (Eerdmans 2021). Currently, she lives with her husband and three daughters in Atlanta. In this author Q&A, she discusses "Unsettled."
Por Nuestros Niños is a new Spanish-language radio show and podcast that aims to help families in Florida and across the nation navigate an uncertain fall after a tumultuous spring of distance learning. The show was borne out of the pandemic, but host Geri Chaffee expects it will continue even after students return to school. With a master's degree in educational leadership, the native Spanish speaker has home-schooled her bilingual, biliterate children with learning differences. She is also the founder of Dreamers Academy, a planned dual-language charter school in Sarasota, Fla.
Elly Shariat spoke only Farsi when she moved to the US from Iran as a young girl. But when her father introduced her to "Jeopardy!" her world opened up. She learned to pronounce words that appeared on screen. Her dad even paid her 25 cents when she got answers right. For millions of Americans, Alex Trebek felt like one of the family. Millions of "Jeopardy!" viewers loved him for the way he deadpanned rap lyrics while impeccably dressed. He made stars out of some contestants and lightheartedly needled them, too. But for scores of first-generation Americans and their families, Alex Trebek helped teach them English five nights a week.
See a related story from NBC News >
Picture books enable readers to see themselves reflected in the larger world. With increasing Muslim representation in published books, all readers can explore the diversity of Muslim communities, identities, and cultural backgrounds as they intersect to create unique expressions of Islamic cultures and practices. Picture books also offer a visually intimate look into Muslim experiences and places where individual and private family traditions, conversations, and interactions flourish. These books were published in 2019–20 (with one from 2018) by mainstream publishing houses.