Award-winning author Leticia Ordaz brings joy to the first annual Cesar Chavez Literacy Event in West Sacramento, CA

Carmen Micsa

Only 7% of children’s books feature Latinx characters 

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Reading event with author Leticia Ordaz and Martha Guerrero, mayor of West Sacramento. Ordaz's two sons are on each side of her.Photo by Carmen Micsa

On March 27, 2022, adults and children gathered on a balmy spring afternoon at San Pedro Park, West Sacramento to participate in the first annual Cesar Chavez Literacy event. Martha Guerrero, mayor of West Sacramento, and Leticia Ordaz, author and KCRA news anchor, led the event and took turns reading both in English and Spanish from Ordaz’s new release book The Carousel King and the Space Mission. 

As the founder of bilingual publishing house Cielito Lindo Books, Ordaz is an Emmy-nominated anchor/reporter in Sacramento and a seven-time award-winning children’s book author at the International Latino Book Awards. Not only has she published four books, but Ordaz is a literacy ambassador, sharing bilingual stories with children around the world to reflect the beautiful cultures that exist in the world. Moreover, Ordaz believes that when authors like herself use authentic voices it helps children feel cultural pride while keeping the language alive for generations to come in the United States.

“As a Latina mother of two Spanish-speaking boys, I see the importance of having more bilingual books for them,” Ordaz said. She also hopes to inspire children to write their own books.

“We all have a story to tell and our diverse stories matter,” Ordaz said at the beginning of the reading event, delighting children and adults in the audience who were asked to repeat both in English and Spanish: “I am brave,” “I am smart,” I can do it,” and “I believe in myself.”

Reading event — YouTube

Video by CARMEN F MICSA

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Leticia Ordaz autographing her bookPhoto by Carmen Micsa

As these positive affirmations bring joy and confidence to the audience, Ordaz explained that the purpose of all her books is to show readers all over the world how they can overcome any challenges regardless of where they come from or the color of their skin. She also likes to focus her writing on joyous, imaginative, and adventurous stories, such as The Adventures of Mr. Macaw, inspired by her family adventures. In this book, the whole village in Mexico came to help retrieve Mr. Macaw, her sons’ kite, during an approaching hurricane.

Her latest STEAM book The Carousel King and the Space Mission encourages Latinx youth to think about careers where they can blast off into space, as Ordaz stated with passion and conviction. Moreover, “we need to encourage our children that anything is possible,” Ordaz said. “Currently, only 8% of Latinx youth choose STEM careers even though one in four youth in the U.S. are Latino,” she added. 

Using imagination and creativity, Ordaz hopes that more children can see themselves as characters in books and appreciate the diversity of writing. Kate Sullivan in Why Diversity in Literature Matters says: “diversity means including real people throughout all levels of fiction (and nonfiction), representing real struggles and challenges — and the complete mundane ordinariness of life, too!”

Just as the protagonist Maxton overcomes, conquers, crushes, and stomps his fear of riding the carousel, and even ends up building his carousels in space, Ordaz’s inventive and resourceful books show us that we need to continue building diverse literary bridges that will inspire children and adults of all ages to believe in themselves, to know that they can do anything, as well as turn a “no” into a “yes.” 

For more information and to purchase Leticia Ordaz's books, please visit her website at https://cielitolindobooks.com.

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