Writer Pat Mora is a poet, an educator, an activist, and a storyteller who often borrows from her Chicana background to tell stories of family, heritage, and the joy that reading can bring.
Born in El Paso, Texas, and now living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Mora has written more than 30 books for children, youth, and adults. She is also an activist for childhood literacy. In 1996, Mora established the Día de los niños/El día de los libros, or Children’s Day/Book Day, an event designed to promote literacy and cross-cultural understanding. The purpose of Día is to foster what Mora calls “bookjoy,” or the taking of pleasure in books and reading. Mora´s books are a definite source of bookjoy for children and the adults who read with them.
A Birthday Basket for Tía is Mora´s first published children’s book. In anticipation of her aunt’s 90th birthday, a young girl named Cecelia prepares a birthday basket full of items special to the both of them. She packs their favorite book, the one Tía reads to her when she visits, the mixing bowl they use when they bake cookies together, and the ball with which they play catch. The simple illustrations made from cut paper are charming, and children will enjoy the mischievous antics of Chica, Cecilia’s “silly cat.”
Family bonds are central to Mora´s books for children. Gracias/Thanks features a young multiracial boy who shares his thankfulness for everyday things. He gives thanks for the waves that splash when he and his sister are at the beach, his Abuelita who sneaks him a dollar when no one is watching, even for his dogs that howl whenever his uncle plays guitar. The illustrations, done in acrylic on illustration board, have a slightly worn yet lovely appearance.
My favorite book by Pat Mora is Tomás and the Library Lady, which tells the tender story of a young boy who travels with his family from Texas to Iowa, where they harvest corn as migrant farm workers. Tomás loves to listen to his grandfather, Papá Grande, tell stories. As Tomás already knows all his grandfather’s stories by heart, Papá Grande encourages him to visit the town library. A librarian takes Tomás under her wing, encouraging him to read all the books that he wants. Be sure not the miss the special note about the real life Tomás at the end of the book. If you have the opportunity, check out Wishing Chair Productions' adaptation of this uplifting story. If you want to read more books by Pat Mora, take a look at the widget below. Mora's books are guaranteed to give you bookjoy!