Meet Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian of the NYPL

Guest Blogger  //  Oct 23, 2013

Meet Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian of the NYPL

Hispanic Heritage Month just ended on October 15, and in celebration, Concetta Gleason (from Scholastic's Spanish and Bilingual Reading Club) is here with a guest blog about a very influential librarian, Pura Belpré.

To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month the New York Public Library (NYPL) has been showing the exhibit Pura Belpré, In Her Own Words at the Bronx Library Center. Pura Belpré, the first Latina librarian of the New York Public Library system, established many important firsts on the American and Latino literary scenes, such as being the first author, editor, and translator to publish a full collection of classic tales from Puerto Rican folklore. Belpré’s most enduring accomplishments may be her community work for libraries and literacy services.

Her commitment to bilingual literacy also inspired the Pura Belpré Award, a prestigious prize given annually by the American Library Association 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.”

Scholastic has published books that have won the award and/or honorable mention previously, including The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano, The Dreamer by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and The Bossy Gallito by Lucía González. 

Our Reading Club team feels close to the mission of Pura Belpré; Scholastic’s Club Leo en español is proud to offer affordable, high-quality Spanish and bilingual books to teachers, parents, and kids. The books Belpré published had an “impact on the identification of cultural heritage” and gave young readers the opportunity to see themselves reflected in the books they read and build a positive self-identity and association with their culture of origin. We feel our Spanish and bilingual books do much of the same. 

You can read more about Club Leo and the legacy of Pura Belpré here.