Blogger Jonathan Dolce

Celebrating Pura Belpré’s Birthday!

Celebrating Pura Belpré’s Birthday!

February 2nd is Pura Belpré’s birthday – for those of you playing along at home, she’d have 119 candles on the cake!  Continuing my unofficial, non-sequential series of how to incorporate multicultural offerings in every program, we’re going to see how we can make Pura’s award winners come to life!  But first…

Who was Pura Belpré?

For those of you just joining us, Pura Belpré was born in Cidra, Puerto Rico.  By serendipitous circumstances, she ended up in New York City for her sister’s wedding and was hired by a public library.  Huge emphasis on this, folks: it was 1920 and they were looking to hire young women from ethnically diverse backgrounds!  Imagine that!  Almost 100 years ago!

Her career took her from the Bronx to the Lower East Side, where she spread the love of stories in English and Spanish – which had never been done before.  As a result, she showed the Spanish-speaking community that the library wasn’t just for English speakers.

Continuing her list of firsts:

– 1921: Pura pioneered library outreach to the Puerto Rican community.  Her Spanish-speaking ability and education – a rarity for Puerto Rican women back then – got her a Hispanic Assistant position at Harlem branch library

– First Puerto Rican to be hired by NYPL!

– Instituted first bilingual storytimes, purchase of Spanish language books, and recognition of Hispanic traditional holidays like Three Kings Day (Día de los Reyes)

From the ALA website: This award, “established in 1996, is presented annually to a Latino/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. It is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.

Bringing Belpré to life

See how Marianne Dolce, a stalwart school media specialist brought Belpré to life for 450 students at her school!


Also check out Marianne Dolce’s ALSC presentation of “Nurturing Empathy through Culturally-Inclusive Youth Programming

Here’s a photo of the shadow puppet parts featured in the video:



Your 2017 Read List of Award Winners!

Book cover image: Juana & Lucas
Juana & Lucas
, written and illustrated by Juana Medina and published by Candlewick Press.

Book cover image: Lowriders to the Center of the Earth

Lowriders to the Center of the Earth, illustrated by Raúl Gonzalez, written by Cathy Camper and published by Chronicle Books LLC.
Book cover image: The Only Road
The Only Road
, written by Alexandra Diaz and published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/A Paula Wiseman Book.
Book cover image: Esquivel! Space-Age Sound Artist
Esquivel!: Space-Age Sound Artist
, illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh, written by Susan Wood and published by Charlesbridge.
Book cover image: Princess and the Warrior
The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes
, illustrated and written by Duncan Tonatiuh and published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of ABRAMS.
But wait!  There’s more!

More about Pura Belpré



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