Author Sonia Sotomayor, Authors, Books, Latina writer, Latino family tradition, Latino Literature

Books for Christmas ?!

I’m that tia (aunt) who often gives books for Christmas and birthdays.  My nieces and nephews have lots of toys, too many clothes, and not enough trips to the library.My mom also gives books in addition to clothes and/or a toy.

I must say though that my nieces and nephews reactions haven’t been as forceful as the kid in the YouTube above, ‘pooh-poohing’ his way across the Christmas tree and the Wii set.

The kids might ‘pooh-pooh’ me in their mind, but my family wouldn’t dare giggle or they’d hear a few choice words in Spanish fly out of my mom’s mouth (the equivalent of ‘unappreciative brat’).

This year the tradition continues. Before Black Friday and Cyber Monday arrives think about giving some books to your family and friends, whether a child or an adult.

Today’s list is from a site that encourages reading about the Latino culture. The Best 2014 New Latino Authors was compiled by Jose B. Gonzalez, Ph.D., writer, poet, editor and John S. Christie, Ph.D., the author of Latino Fiction and the Modernist Imagination. Their website has tons of recommendations for adults and children, from  2006-2013.  (I apologize that the photos may not appear, however the links to the books are fine).

 The first list is for adults or older teenagers. The list below this one is from Flavorwire and are books for children. 


My Beloved World

Sonia Sotomayor

1) This author needs no introduction. In her memoir, My Beloved World, the ever-inspirational Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor provides readers with powerful insight on the role that hard work and determination played in the early parts of her life as she forged a path to law school from housing projects in the Bronx to Princeton University, Yale Law School, and to the highest court in the nation.


Amy Tintera

2) If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, there is no doubt that you will absolutely love Amy Tintera’s Reboot. Not surprisingly, the film rights to this thrilling sci-fi novel have already been sold.  This is an author who knows how to push the limits of imagination and write young adult works that will leave everyone begging for sequels.

Flowers In The Dust

Myriam Alvarez

3) In Flowers in the Dust, Miriam Alvarez tells an intriguing tale based on her grandmother’s life. This work of historical fiction paints a poignant picture of South America around the mid-1900s, and is a touching portrait of a woman whose devotion to family is inspirational. 

Mario Alberto Zambrano

4) Mario Alberto Zambrano brilliantly weaves together a plot that that flows smoothly as it unravels like the popular game and novel’s namesake, Loteria. And just like the game, the story is unpredictable and full of twists. 

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

Sonia Manzano

5) Sonia Manzano, author of The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano, has shown us that she has acting talent, having played Maria on Sesame Street since 1971.  And now through this novel, she shows off her writing skills.  Set in the 1960s East Harlem, this story is both gritty and witty as it revisits a time of the Young Lords, rebellion, and youth.

Speaking Wiri Wiri

Dan Vera

6) In Speaking Wiri Wiri, winner of the inaugural edition of the Letras Latinas/Red Hen Poetry Prize, Dan Vera shows us why he is earning a reputation as a talented, sophisticated poet who is a master at playing with words. This collection, his second book of poetry, is a dazzling display of language and emotion.

The Bolero of Andi Rowe

Toni Margarita Plummer

7) In the short story collection, The Bolero of Andi Rowe, Toni Margarita Plummer reminds us that this genre is alive and well.  She is a master of subtle suspense—the kind that creates tension waiting to explode until the final twist.

The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old …

Sandra Ramos O’Brien

8)  Sandra Ramos O’Briant’s The Sandoval Sisters’ Secret of Old Blood is a page-turning work of historical fiction with drama that multiplies over and over, in a style that will make it difficult to put this novel down.
pastedGraphic_8.pdfA Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying

Laurie Ann Guerrero

9) Winner of the prestigious Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize, Laurie Ann Guerrero’s A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying is a poetry collection with images that are both haunting and fascinating.  Guerrero illustrates that she is part poet and part storyteller.

The Mares of Lenin Park

Agustin D. Martinez

10)  Agustin D. Martinez, author of The Mares of Lenin Park, created quite the buzz in 2013.  His debut novel is part of an impressive line of works that tell the sometimes complex but compelling stories of Cubans during the revolution.

Flavorwire compiled a list of a few great children’s books with diverse characters and stories. These are classics, beautifully written and artistically pleasing.


Tar Beach, Faith Ringgold

In this gorgeous book — a work of quilted art with story woven in — a little girl dream-soars above 1939 Harlem, looking down at the eponymous tar beach of her family’s roof. Evidence that imagination can overcome most anything.


Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, Lenore Look and LeUyen Pham

Second-grader Alvin Ho is scared of everything — especially school, which frightens him so much he can’t say a word. Adorable and immensely relatable, everyone will fall in love with Alvin as he worries over his descent from “farmer-warriors who haven’t had a scaredy bone in their bodies since 714 AD” and takes pride in his “gentleman in training” status.


The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, Paul Goble

Goble’s Caldecott-winning 1978 story of a Native American girl swept up in a stampede is a masterpiece, surely one of the most beautiful children’s books of all time. For every little girl who has ever felt a deep connection to horses. You probably know some little girls like that.


Inside Out and Back Again, Thanhha Lai

The Vietnamese-American writer Thanha Lai’s debut novel, which won the National Book Award in 2011, tells the tale of Hà, a ten-year-old girl who flees to Alabama with her family during the fall of Saigon. The language is beautiful and the story, based on the author’s own experiences, is quite touching.


Esperanza Rising, Pam Munoz Ryan

This chapter book follows 13-year-old Esperanza as her wealthy family loses everything during the Great Depression. She and her mother are forced to flee their fancy ranch in Mexico to California to work on a farm. Esperanza must remake herself in this new, physically and mentally demanding world — but after all, “esperanza” means “hope.”


Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis

“It’s funny how ideas are, in a lot of ways they’re just like seeds,” muses ten-year-old Bud-not-Buddy, on the lam from a foster home to find his father in 1930s Michigan. “Both of them start real, real small and then… woop, zoop, sloop… before you can say Jack Robinson, they’ve gone and grown a lot bigger than you ever thought they could.” A delightful modern classic and the winner of the 2000 Newbery Medal and Coretta Scott King Award.


Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China, Ed Young

Some stories, like the Red Riding Hood tale, strike so close to the human heart that they re-pattern themselves across cultures and countries — if perhaps wearing different cloaks. This beautifully illustrated, immensely powerful book — dedicated “To all the wolves of the world for lending their good name as a tangible symbol for our darkness” — is the version your literary editor grew up with.


My Name is Maria Isabel, Alma Flor Ada

María Isabel Salazar López is the new girl in school, and her teacher insists on calling her Mary. How can María make her see that her name — her proper name — means everything to her? A sweet story about heritage and standing up for yourself.


The Composition, Antonio Skarmeta and Alfonso Ruano

The winner of the Americas Award for Children’s Literature and the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, this picture book follows two young boys in a village in Chile after one of their fathers is arrested and the agents of the dictatorship try to turn children against parents. Serious, edgy, and brilliant.


The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats

But of course. Keats’s beloved Caldecott Medal-winning book, published in 1962, made history for being the first full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist. Add to that the beautiful collage-style illustrations and Peter’s charming, understated adventure, and you have an all-time classic that never seems to age.

Next post will be a list for Middle Grade and YA. Happy reading and have fun choosing some memorable books.

Author Sonia Sotomayor, Book Review, Books, first Latina Supreme Court Justice, Latino culture, life lessons, Memoir, My Beloved World, Strength, Strong Women, Wisdom

Lessons from Sonia Sotomayor: My Beloved World

The Honorable Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor has been on several television programs this last month and it’s not for any Supreme Court hearing. It’s because of her memoir, “My Beloved World,” which has garnered much praise and is the Amazon Book of the Month for January 2013. 

Much of the attention to the book may be because she is the first Latina Chief Justice and the third woman appointed to the Supreme Court. That’s certainly a draw, but not the only reason I selected her memoir to read. 

I was drawn to order the book because I knew there had to be a story of a struggle, tenacity, and spirit in her story. 

Someone doesn’t become the first Latina or  a woman judge, CEO, astronaut, or any other distinguishable career choice without more than a few bumps in the road. I was interested in reading about the journey on that bumpy road from the slums to the Supreme Court.

Like many readers, the stories that resonate with me are about people who suffer a loss, endure hardships, and rise to survive and thrive with courage and strength. This memoir certainly fit this description.

Ms. Sotomayor’s candid memoir concentrates on her childhood, college years, and life before she became a federal judge in 1992 and Supreme Court Justice in 2007. 

I found the first half of the book, about her childhood and teen years, the most engaging. A few life lessons stood out which made the lengthy book a pleasure to read. 


  1. Self reliance.

Her diabetes required insulin shots several times a day,(in an era without disposable syringes). Her father, an alcoholic, couldn’t be relied upon and her mother was overburdened. “To my family the disease was a deadly curse…my parents couldn’t pick up a syringe without panicking…” So she learned how to do this herself at age eight.

   2. Value family and culture.

Her Abuelita was a huge presence in her life, as well as her aunts, uncles and cousins. She often returned to Puerto Rico to visit relatives. Her grandmothers family parties always featured Puerto Rican dishes, Spanish music, and poetry.

She took numerous classes to learn more about Puerto Rico and even wrote her thesis about it. In her dedication she wrote, “To my family, for you have given me my Puerto Rican-ness.”

   3. Do your best and then try harder.

Education was important to her mother, who worked extra shifts to place her in Catholic school. “Discipline was what made Catholic school a good investment in my mothers eyes…discipline was virtually an eighth sacrament.”

   4. Expand your horizons.

Books were Ms. Sotomayor’s introduction into another world. The summer after her father’s death, nine year old Sonia spent everyday in the public library reading the stories of Greek gods and heroes. Her mother bought the Encyclopedia Britannica (as did my own mother) from a door to door salesman. “I found myself wandering the world’s geography, pondering molecules like daisy chains…the world branched our before me in a thousand directions…” 

Not every effort to  expand her horizons were as welcome as books. “Ballet class was a brief torture…Piano wasn’t much better…Guitar lessons…the worst of all. The real problem was getting there and back through a neighborhood..where a gang of taunting bullies made clear Puerto Rican kids were not welcome. I got smacked…”

    5. Find role models.

Television doesn’t usually bring to mind role models, but for Ms. Sotomayor Perry Mason, the defense attorney and Burger, the prosecuting attorney were her heroes. “…I liked that he was a good loser, that he was more committed to finding the truth than to winning his case.” She paid more attention to the judge on the show. “…it was the judge who fascinated me. A minimal, but vital presence,…a personification of justice…it was the judge who called the shots.”

Her mother, who returned to school after her husbands death to become a nurse, taught her “…a surplus of effort could overcome a deficit of confidence.”

   6. Seek to understand.

Poverty, her fathers alcoholism, her mother’s emotional detachment, racism and divorce played a part in her early life, but the reader finds that Ms. Sotomayor seeks to understand others instead of being a judge (no pun intended). 

Besides the tough childhood, strenuous college and beginning years in law, the Chief Justice also divulges that she enjoys parties, asks for hugs, was a three and a half pack a day smoker, and is a “pretty good poker player… I do win regularly among my friends. I don’t think they let me win.”  

It is no wonder that Ms. Sotomayor has this plaque on her office door:

The plaque says it all, but read the book to see how she made history.