August 12, 2011

FRIDAY FORUM: READ LATINO

by Maria C. Ferrer



Two words. Two messages.

READ LATINO

When I founded The Latina Book Club in 2005, I was looking for other people who shared my love of reading and who were interested in reading Latino authors in English.

I have always been an avid reader. I devour books. But around 2004, I realized that except for the courses I took in college and an odd book here and there, I didn’t read any Latino authors. Heck, if they didn’t have a big name, I didn’t even know them or how to find them. Hence, I purposely set out to discover Latino authors, and thus the birth of The Latina Book Club.

I started with Esmeralda Santiago’s WHEN I WAS PUERTO RICAN and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ 100 YEARS OF SOLITUDE -- books totally at opposite ends of the spectrum but two classics that captured the best of Latino literature.

And so a dream was born to read Latino, to read Latino authors, and to share those books with others –Latinos and non-Latinos alike! – so they too could discover the joy of reading and the diversity of Latino authors for themselves.


READ LATINO

My message became two-pronged in recent years as I realized that many Latinos were not reading…period.

It wasn’t a question of literacy or whether or not Latinos could actually read. The problem is that Latinos did not have time to read. No one does anymore! Television, video games, android phones, iPads, iTouches and the internet take up a lot of time and people are just not reading. For the past 20 years, teachers have been complaining about this very thing.

I read a quote years ago that found that though the United States was probably the “richest” nation in the world, we were the “poorest” in literacy and education. That is a crime.

The Latina Book Club wants to help change that statistic. Hence, our mission to promote Latino literacy through our campaign: Read Latino.

But how? I thought about volunteering to teach a Latino adult or a child to read, but my hectic schedule will not permit this type of commitment.

The Read Latino campaign will be to give the gift of books. I’ve always done this; whenever I give a gift to my nieces and nephews, I always included a book, and now some of those books are by Latino authors. Hence, The Latina Book Club will start a book campaign and donate books to local schools.

Hopefully, more books in the schools will encourage reading. More books by Latino authors will promote Latino authors. And, if a Latino child reads one of these books, the mission to Read Latino will be complete.

The Latina Book Club welcomes non-Latino readers too! Many people do not read outside their ethnic “comfort zone,” and thus miss some wonderful authors and reading experiences.  The Latina Book Club invites ALL readers – whatever your ethnic group – to Read Latino.

Will you join the Read Latino campaign and help our quest?

Read a Latino author, and better yet – Read, Latino.♥



Maria C. Ferrer is the founder of The Latina Book Club.  The Latina Book Club welcomes all readers -- Latinos and non-Latinos.  Maria's mission -- and thereby's the Club's -- is to promote Latino authors and Latino literacy.  To join her quest, visit www.latinabookclub.com and follow her on Twitter @latinabookclub.




Photo credit:   Flamenco Dancer by Louis Kronberg