Friday, December 9, 2011

Pura Belpre Reading Challenge

This summer I had the pleasure of attending the Pura Belpré Award ceremony during the ALA (American Library Association) conference in New Orleans. I had no idea how inspiring it would be to listen to the speeches given by the amazing writers and illustrators being honored for their positive portrayal of Latinos in youth literature.  

The medals. So pretty! I really should not be allowed so close to award medals.

Being the fifteenth year of the award, the posters given out featured Carmen Lomas Garza's Quinceañera. Each table also featured one of the award winning books as its centerpiece. This one shows Amy Novesky's Me, Frida whose illustrator, David Diaz, won an illustrator honor.

The programs featured the art work of Eric Velasquez, who won the illustrator medal for his book Grandma's Gift

Oralia Garza de Cortés and Sandra Rios Balderrama, the ladies who started it all, escorting the symbolic quinceañera.

Recently I was thinking that I should read all the Pura Belpré books. There are a lot of Newbery reading challenges online, where readers challenge themselves to read all the Newbery winners. Why not a Pura Belpré challenge? So the goal for the next year is to read as many of the Belpré medal and honor books in both categories awarded. Won’t you join me? 

I’ve thought about doing this in some kind of order--oldest to current or the reverse. It just so happens that I’ve read three of the books honored in 1996, the first year the award was given, so I’m starting with 1996. However, I don’t necessarily plan to stick to reading the books chronologically as I’m currently reading Pam Muñoz Ryan’s The Dreamer, the 2011 winner for narrative. 

Some interesting facts about the Belpré award that you may not already know: 
  • The Pura Belpré medal is awarded to a Latino or Latina writer and illustrator “whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth.”
  • The award is named for Pura Belpré (1899-1982), a Puerto Rican born author and storyteller who was the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. While at the NYPL she advocated for library services, including bilingual story time, to the growing Latino population in the city.
  • Pura Belpré wrote a number of children’s books that drew from her own cultural background, retelling the folk tales of Perez and Martina and of Juan Bobo.
  • The Pura Belpré Award is a joint award given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association, and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish Speaking.
  • The Award, which is given in the categories of narrative and illustration, was first given in 1996. It was awarded every two years until 2008 after which it became an annual award.   
There is a complete list of the Pura Belpré Award winners and honor books on the award's Webpage. If you're interested in reading more about Pura Belpré or the history of the award and its winners, check out these resources:

The Pura Belpré Awards: Celebrating Latino Authors and Illustrators. Edited by Rose Zertuche Treviño. Chicago: American Library Association, 2006.

The Storyteller's Candle / La Velita de los Cuentos. Written by Lucía González; Illustrated by Lulu Delacre. San Francisco: Children's Book Press, 2008.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't know this award existed. I am excited about it and can't wait to check out the books.