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Lucia M. Garcia & Lulu Delacre: Special Librarians and Special Stories

Intermediate & Middle School Activity

Meet Lulu Delacre, illustrator, and Lucia M. Gonzalez, author, of the 2009 Jane Addams Children’s Book Award Honor Title for Younger Children, ‘The Storyteller’s Candle/La velita de los cuentos.’

Lulu Delacre
Lucia M. Gonzalez

Read a summary of the book

Hildamar and her cousin, Santiago, pass the public library on their way to school, and it always looks so inviting. But Titi Maria explains, “We don’t speak English and the people in there don’t speak Spanish.” And so they never go inside. It’s one more thing that makes New York City in winter so unlike the warm and welcoming island of Puerto Rico, which was until recently their home. When the new librarian, Pura Belpré, visits their classroom to tell stories, she assures the children that “ la biblioteca es para todos ”—the library is for everyone. Hildamar and Santiago still need to convince their hesitant parents and other grown-ups that everyone in El Barrio is welcome in the library, but all doubts are eased on their first visit, when Pura Belpré involves adults and children alike in preparations for a community celebration. Set during the Depression, the fictional narrative is based on the essential and lasting impact of real-life storyteller and librarian Pura Belpré, the first Puerto Rican librarian employed in New York City. Ms Belpré understood the importance of reaching out and welcoming all members of the community into the library. The powerful impact of her philosophy is emphasized in a bilingual (English/Spanish) story about the joy it brings to two children and the larger immigrant community of which they are a part. © Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin – Madison, 2009

Learn More

Here is the first page of the story. Zoom in to read and see the artistic details.

Listen as Lulu reads a page of the story and explains how she extended the text with her illustrations.

Here is the page Lulu just read. Look closely to find the article about Three Kings Day from the New York Times.

(images from coquibooks.com)

Hildamar and her family were missing Puerto Rio and the tradition of Three Kings Day there. Listen as Lucia reads about when Pura Belpré welcomes them all to the library— where in time they will all celebrate Three Kings Day!

Learn more about Pura Belpre by watching this trailer for a documentary of her life’s work.

On the cover, Pura Belpré is depicted lighting her storytellers candle. Notice the title of the book in Hildamar’s hands!

Now Let’s Get to Next Steps!

Guiding questions for your reading, writing, thinking and acting:

Read over and think through the following questions and then write two paragraphs to sum up your thinking, as well as what you learn about your library’s offerings right now. What is your experience of the library, whether it be your school library or your municpal one? Do you feel welcome there? Where in the library do you most like to go? Do you have a favorite librarian? Are you missing him or her and being able to go to the library during this coronoavirus shut down? What do you miss the most? Librarians have been busy during the shut down! Go to your municipal library’s website and see what they are offering online and maybe even for pick up. You are welcome to share your writing and/or thoughts in our comment section (comments will be approved & posted within 24 yours) or on social media #socialjusticelearnanddo

Do you remember the first story you heard from your grandmother’s lips? Maybe not! Nonetheless, what stories were special to you as a little one? Were they in English or in another language? Were they read to you from a book or told to you? Retell a favorite story to a younger person in your life. Tell it in the language that you heard it. Practice your story by recording yourself telling it until you get it how you want it to sound. Or write the story out, maybe even illustrate it! Most importantly, share it! If there is not a younger person for you to share it with, tell it to an adult who will enjoy sharing the memory of this special story. You are welcome to share your experience and thoughts about this activity in our comment section below (comments will be approved & posted within 24 yours) or on social media #socialjusticelearnanddo

We look forward to hearing from you!

Jane Addams Peace Association