It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged and I guess I have a lot to say lol… 🙂 Wrapping up a school year is sometimes exhausting. I finished my school year and walked right into the summer program I coordinate for students entering kindergarten for the first time. It’s always exciting to be apart of a community that prepares them and their families for a successful launch.
Speaking of launch…. I’m exicted to share that I have a new book coming out very soon!! The character is Mari, one of Tay’s many diverse friends. Mari speaks both Spanish and English, loves to help others, and her family. Mari’s challenge in this book is learning to read in English. Like Tay, the book is written for early readers. The illustrations are vibrant and really bring the words to life. Mari books will be well loved too because they will include a few Spanish vocabulary words.
My new book Mari, has taken a long time to develop… and I’m glad it has because I’m writing across the culture of another. In doing so, I must walk softly, much like a tiptoe. Let me explain. Although the pen belongs to me the writer, the culture belongs to another. And since I am not from the Latin culture, I must respectuflly honor their voices, carefully reflect ther lives and truthfully represent them through the eyes and experieces of those who are. More about how I was able to lean into my three chicas for insight later.
There are tooooo many books written by “others” who are not by the culture, or from the culture, that do not reflect the culture they are writing about well. Many have not even taken the time to befriend the culture. Unfortunately, many poor reflections are proliferated, and exploit the lives of children who need to see positive relflections of themselves the most. I have seen first hand the damaging effects literature can do and undo, in the lives of young children who are just learning to become aware of who they are, and where they fit in in today’s world. The absence of families that look like theirs sends a message. The absence of positive images of families that look like theirs sends a message.
And equally, the positive images of families that do look like theirs sends a message too; one that affirms. It’s imperative when walking across someones culture, that we “come correct”, or as Jacqueline Woodson puts it, at least have sat down at their table.
My belief is there is room in the world for all stories, and that everyone has one. My hope is that those who write about the tears, and the laughter and the language in my grandmother’s house, have first sat down at the table with us and dipped the bread of their own experiences into our stew.”jacqueline Woodson in Stories Matter The Complexity of Cultural Authenticity in Children’s Literature p. 45.
Me On the Page exists to promote what is healthy, what is true, and what is good. Therefore, the literature published will continue to seek to build and not to harm. Where we have not been present in the house or at the table, we will seek out the expertise of those who have. Which brings me to my three lovely, funny, patient, and beloved chicas: Tee, Marlein and Rose. All three are teachers who have been in the treches with me as kindergarten/first grade teachers. All three are extremely skilled and passionate about teaching “ALL” students to achieve, and all three are Latina. Most importantly, all three have experiences of learning to achieve in homes where English was not the first language.
My three chicas shared and helped me to see, hear, and feel their joys, and challenges growing up. One like me grew up in Oakland. Thus, we have very similar and fond memories of growing up in a diverse city where there was room for everyone. In listening to their memories and sharing my own about my childhood Latina friends, Mari was sculpted. Need I say, she is a whole mood all by herself. Here she comes…..
Thank you for listening and supporting Me On the Page!! We will continue to write books and host events that promote wholeness. Our world is diverse and there is room for everyone at the table.