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Planting Stories with Pura Belpré

Pura Belpré was the first Puerto Rican librarian to be hired by the New York Public Library system. A gifted storyteller and puppeteer, she celebrated the stories that had been handed down across generations of her family.  She also believed in welcoming everyone to the library, offering numerous programs and titles in Spanish to her neighbors at a time when such "community outreach" — especially to the Spanish-speaking community — was unheard of.  Her legacy has been honored by the Pura Belpré Award.  Established in 1996, the award 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.  (I especially loved this year's illustrator honors -- Islandborn illustrated by Leo Espinosa and When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana illustrated by Jose Ramirez.)  If you want to learn more about this amazing woman, I suggest you read her new picture book biography.

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise (January 15, 2019)
When she came to America in 1921, Pura Belpré carried the cuentos folklóricos of her Puerto Rican homeland. Finding a new home at the New York Public Library as a bilingual assistant, she turned her popular retellings into libros and spread story seeds across the land. Today, these seeds have grown into a lush landscape as generations of children and storytellers continue to share her tales and celebrate Pura’s legacy.  Brought to colorful life by Paola Escobar’s elegant and exuberant illustrations and Anika Aldamuy Denise’s lyrical text, this gorgeous book is perfect for the pioneers in your life.

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