|Top: Alma Flor Ada, Federico García Lorca, Pat Mora, José Martí, Gabriela Mistral|
Bottom: Jorge Luján, Pablo Neruda, Isabel F. Campoy, Francisco X. Alarcón
Did you know that April is also National Poetry Month? Since we're celebrating literacy and children this month here on MM, I thought it would be nice to share with you a short list of Latino poets your children should know. Do you see your favorite poet listed here? If not, please add them in the comments section so we can all benefit.
Pen name of the famous Chilean poet and diplomat, Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, who always wrote in green ink because to him it symbolized hope. His life is a beautiful story in itself, and is best introduced to children via the children's biography written by Monica Brown, Pablo Neruda: Poet of the People.
Another Chilean poet, Gabriela Mistral is also a pen name. Her real name was Lucila de María del Perpetuo Socorro Godoy Alcayaga! In addition to being a poet, Mistral was also an educator, diplomat, and feminist. She was the first Latin American writer to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Deeply committed to education, she traveled all over the world in an effort to improve schools. Inspired by her travels, Mistral published more than 30 collections of poetry during her lifetime. Children will enjoy her story, My Name is Gabriela/Me llamo Gabriela: The Life of Gabriela Mistral/la vida de Gabriela Mistral, also written by Monica Brown.
The Cuban poet and political activist was a national hero. Dedicated to liberty and democracy, he fought for Cuba's independence, and even published his own newspaper, Patria. Perhaps one of his most famous poems for children is Los zapaticos de Rosa.
Federico García Lorca
The Spanish poet who achieved fame as the member of the Generation of '27, an influential group of 10 authors who expressed themselves through avant-garde forms of art and poetry. There are a number of Spanish books for children written by Lorca, but few have been translated into English. The Cricket Sings by Federico Garcia Lorca, Maria Horvath and Will Kirkland is one. But if your family is comfortable with Spanish, your children may enjoy Federico Garcia Lorca (Cuando Los Grandes Eran Pequenos/ When the Grown-Ups Were Children) by Georgina Lazaro.
A Salvadoran poet and writer whose first collection of bilingual poems for children, A Movie in My Pillow, won the America's Book Award. Argueta's cultural ties are reflected in his books for children, and he has recently launched a series of cooking poems based on traditional Latin American dishes.
Alma Flor Ada & Isabel F. Campoy
Incredible writers individually, Ada and Campoy have frequently collaborated to create some of the finest bilingual poetry and other materials for children. One of their greatest contributions is Música Amiga, a 10 volume set that uses the power of music and poetry to build literacy.
An Argentine writer who has created numerous poems for children. In 1995, he received the Poetry for Children Prize from the Asociación de Literatura Infantil y Juvenil Argentina. Perhaps one of his most popular books is Con el sol en los ojos / With the Sun in My Eyes, a collection of short poems in English and Spanish.
A Mexican American poet, writer, and children's literacy advocate, Mora's most significant achievement may be the establishment of Día de los niños, Día de los libros, a holiday celebrated by schools, libraries, and families across this country on April 30th. A prolific writer, Mora's most popular book at this time of year is Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day; Celebremos El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros.
Francisco X. Alarcón
A poet and educator, Alarcón is a three-time winner of the Pura Belpré Author Award Honor for his bilingual Magical Cycle of the Seasons series of poetry for children. A Mexican American author, Alarcón writes poems that reflect the lives of Latino children in the United States. Take a look at his book, Laughing Tomatoes: And Other Spring Poems / Jitomates Risuenos: Y Otros Poemas de Primavera.