Books, Writing

How to Increase Latinx Representation in Children’s Literature

Graphic by Tatiana Gardel, Illustrator

Hi everyone.  I was on a COVID hiatus during the spring and summer, but I am back to posting.

I hope you were all well and managed to avoid the virus as it has wreaked havoc with so many people, including my son, who lives in New York City. Thankfully, he successfully battled the virus and is doing so much better.

The cute graphic up top is an illustration of the varied shades of Latino’s or Latinx children. More so than in my generation, children are multi-ethnic, bi-racial, or multi-racial as my children are and several in our extended families.

Stories by Latinx are not only about one or two subjects, just like Latinx people are not one ‘type,’ but this rich heritage is often not reflected in the written language of children’s books or adult books for that matter.

There is a concept in education called “Windows and Mirrors.” A mirror is a story that reflects your own culture and helps you build your identity. A window is a resource that offers you a view of someone else’s experience.

When students read books where they see characters like themselves who are valued in the world, they feel a sense of belonging. Rudine Sims Bishop

This fact motivated several writers, authors, editors, illustrators, and others in the publishing arena to increase and publicize the stories they have to tell.

I belong to one such group, LatinxPitch, modeled after the Twitter groups, PitchMad and DVPit. I’m a co-founder of LatinxPitch, along with eleven other authors.

Recently, the esteemed NPR featured LatinxPitch and the other groups on their Book News and Features.

There are so many good things happening in the world of increasing representation in children’s literature. I hope you check out the article and descriptions of picture books, middle grade, and Young Adult literature that is highlighted.

In early December, there will be an online Latinx Kidlit Book Festival.

Latinx Kidlit Book Festival

Keep the list of children’s books handy for the holidays or to request from your local library.

Stay safe and be well,

Book Review, Books, Water sustainability

Author Interview: Florencia Ramirez, How to “Eat Less Water” at the Kitchen Table

 

Florencia Ramirez. Mother, Educator, Activist

 

I’m a reader of all genres of books and post reviews at Goodreads.com, however, I wanted to try an author interview for a book I recently read. (Something new for the new year).

As a long time reader of the blog Eat Less Water and a believer in water scarcity and our impact on the environment, I asked Ms. Ramirez for an interview. She graciously accepted the request.

EAT LESS WATER: The solution to worldwide water shortages is in our kitchens.

 

1. How did you come up with the title of your book?
Before I began writing Eat Less Water, I had a small distribution business of water conservation products for the shower. As I got deeper into the world of water conservation, I sought more information and research on the topic of water scarcity. One of those books was When the Rivers Run Dry. The book introduced me the concept of water footprint and virtual water.
Once I learned food was the most significant user of freshwater in the world, I instantaneously knew if I was to impact greater change, I needed to change my focus from the bathroom to the kitchen.
The idea for the book came in the form of the title. I remember the moment distinctly. My husband was sitting next to me at the time. I said to him, “I am going to write a book about water and food, and it will be called Eat Less Water.” When I said the title out loud, I knew it was to be. Seven years later, I held the completed book in my hands.
Eat Less Water, published by Red Hen Press, can be found on Amazon, Indie Bound, B & N. See links below *.
2. What, if any, literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
One year into writing Eat Less Water, I came across,  A Room of Her Own (AROHO), week-long writers retreat for women at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico. I immediately completed the application and sent it in before the idea was forgotten. A month later, I learned I was accepted to participate.
The retreat was a turning point.  It was not until that literary pilgrimage in the shadow of the Pedernal mountain that I embodied my identity as a writer. During the retreat, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, Marilynne Robinson spoke of the role of writers. She said,

writers must tell the truth as we see it.

She continued that it is the truth that pushes back against fascism. Her words bore deep. I responded with tears. I knew at that moment with absolute certainty that I am a writer. Writing for change is what I was designed to do. I returned on this pilgrimage two more times, to re-inspire and re-charge amongst other creative women.
3. What do your plans for future projects include?
My next book project is called, “In Search of Real Food in American Public Schools.” I found my first public school while on my book tour in NYC. This book, like Eat Less Water, will require, travel, interviews and lots of research.

My hope is to create a blueprint for parents, educators, and students to improve our current food programs within the current school funding and regulations.

And to reimagine a food system that supports small-scale farmers working to grow clean, nutritious food that’s good for our children and the planet. In many ways, it is a continuation of what I started in Eat Less Water.
I’m also working on a smaller project; an “Eating Less Water” coloring book for young children. Each chapter of the “Eat Less Water” book begins with beautiful drawings of the plants and animals featured in the book.  The coloring book will contain these drawings accompanied by a short introduction to water footprints, water conservation of the connection between our food and water.
4. What has been one of your most rewarding experiences as an author?

Expansion.

The process of writing a book is a private act. I form sentences and construct ideas in my mind. During the writing process, I was selective about who I invited in to critique and discuss my pages. The moment the book was published, the ideas no longer belonged to me alone, they now exist in the public realm, that is expanding on a daily basis. This expansion is both exhilarating and uncomfortable.
The book has stretched me to unknown territories, has put me in contact with new people, and tests my willingness to say “yes” to new opportunities. The experience can be uncomfortable at times because it is outside the safety of my solitary writing cocoon. And it requires me to surrender myself to the expansion of my world experience.
What has helped me to embrace this natural transition from writer to author, is the sage advice from a mentor.

“The work is not complete until it is received,”

she told me. I say this in my mind before I set out into a new situation to expand the reach of Eat Less Water.

 

5. What is the main thing you want readers to take away from your book?
I want readers to feel empowered, and to realize the solution to water shortages is in each of our kitchens. Our food pantries represent rivers, aquifers, lakes from every part of the planet. In my pantry, I have rice from Vietnam, chocolate from Ghana, coffee from Guatemala, flour from Kansas, eggs from Ojai, California and lettuce from Oxnard. Each country, state, region deals with water scarcity issues ranging from not having enough-supply, or not having enough “clean” water quality.

Food is the most significant user and polluter of water.

 

If we are to be part of the solution of global water solutions, we must begin with our food choices, supporting farming methods that save water. We are connected to the world’s water with each meal.
drop of water in lake
Photo by Zhang Kaiyv for Unsplash.com
I hope Eat Less Water to be like a pebble tossed into the stillness of water that grows ever-widening circles. More specifically my vision for the book is the following:
  • to reveal the connection between what we eat and the impact on rivers and lakes,
  • to generate more business for farmers dedicated to growing food using farming methods that save our water resources,
  • to inspire policy change at the individual, farm, corporate, and government policy level.

Take a look at this brief book trailer:

 

https://videopress.com/v/8cWedXpR

 

Thank you, Florencia, for an eye-opening and educational interview.

You can find EAT LESS WATER at Amazon, Indie Bound, or Barnes and Nobles

 

(*Disclaimer: I did not receive any affiliate marketing from this post).