Amada Irma Perez, Americas Award Books, Books, Summer reads for children

Summer Reads for Children

Studies show that children who read four or more books over the summer fare better on reading-
comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read one or no books.

Here are some Américas Award book recipients, given in recognition of U.S. works of fiction or poetry published in English or Spanish that authentically portray Latin America, the Caribbean, or Latinos in the United States. The National Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs (CLASP) sponsors the award. These recipients rated excellent in: 1) distinctive literary quality; 2) cultural contextualization; 3) exceptional integration of text, illustration and design; and 4) potential for classroom use.

Clemente! by Willie Perdomo, 2010. This is a tribute to a man considered by many to be one of the finest baseball players ever–Roberto Clemente. A little boy who is the son of the president of “The Greatest Fans of Roberto Clemente Club, Boogie-down Bronx chapter,” tells the book in the first person. The story illustrates how this outstanding athlete lived his life amidst discrimination and troubles. His life had a tragic ending when the plane he was on, bound for Nicaraguan earthquake victims, crashed and disappeared.

 The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan. Inspired by the life of Chilean poet, Pablo Neruda, the book’s prose is dream-like and lyrical. This is a wonderful introduction to the early life and work of Neruda. The main character, Neftali Reyes (Neruda’s real name), is a lonely boy with a stuttering problem. He is a child who experiences the world differently than most, and who is criticized by his domineering father for “foolishness.” Though written for children, it is a story readers of all ages will find engaging.

 My Diary from Here to There by Amada Irma Perez, Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzales, Children’s Book Press, 2009. This Ventura County author also wrote “My Very Own Room,” a Tomas Rivera Award winner and Américas Honor Award and “Nana’s Big Surprise.” 

“My Diary from Here to There” is inspired by the author’s childhood and explores her feelings as she leaves Juarez, Mexico for Los Angeles. Her five brothers are excited but she has some concerns, which she keeps to herself in her journal. Her father tells her, “You are stronger than you think,” but Amada isn’t so sure. In this emotional journey, she discovers her strength, as well as a way to keep friends and relatives back in Mexico “in my memories and in my heart.” Any child who has moved and left a best friend or neighborhood can relate to this story. The book is beautifully illustrated and is bilingual.

You can find other award winning books at your local library. Better yet, take your child for an afternoon of browsing through the shelves of your favorite bookstore or the library. Make it enjoyable and make it a summer of reading.

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