Latino Books Month

Q and A With Tina Jordan, vp, Association of American Publishers - Latinidad 5.08

By Marcela Landres
Published on LatinoLA: May 10, 2008

Latino Books Month

May is Latino Books Month. While Latino writers should be celebrated every month of the year, Latino Books Month represents an opportunity to spotlight the contributions Latinos make to our literary culture at large. This month, don't just celebrate Latino authors-support them. Read this month's Q&A with Tina Jordan to learn how.

Tina Jordan has held the position of Vice President of the Association of American Publishers since 2006 and resides in the New York office. Among her responsibilities are the activities of the Trade Publishers Committee, the Smaller and Independent Publishers Group, Library Marketing, the Get Caught Reading/Aja Leyendo literacy campaign, diversity in publishing efforts, and the Association's educational programs.

Prior to her position at the AAP, she held the position of Director of Public Relations and Special Events for BookExpo America, the national book convention, from 1997-2006. A native of Connecticut and a graduate of Cornell University, Ms. Jordan is also an avid skier and rock climber. She can be reached at tjordan@publishers.org. rnrn

Q: For my readers who may not be familiar with the wonderful AAP, could you briefly describe its mission?

A: The AAP is the national trade organization for the nation's book publishing community. Its over 300 members focus on such concerns as copyright protection; first amendment/freedom of speech; literacy via our Get Caught Reading web site that features celebrities getting caught reading their favorite books; hiring and recruiting a diverse publishing workforce to reflect our culture; educational publishing; and working with booksellers, librarians, and educators on heightening awareness of the joys of good books and new and upcoming works, to name just a few!

Q: What inspired the AAP to launch Latino Books Month?

A: Latino Books Month was created via the AAP's Publishing Latino Voices of America subcommittee in its efforts to heighten the richness of works both in English and Spanish written by those of Hispanic descent. The breadth and depth of works in fiction and nonfiction, English and Spanish for adults and children for the Latino community is endless, and we wanted to ensure that all citizens have access to learn about such fabulous titles that are available to them, stories with which they can relate, and stories which inspire.

According to the results of a poll last year commissioned by the National Council of La Raza, the largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., education is the most important issue for Hispanic voters. 1,026 registered Latino voters polled found that the high 85% dropout rate among Latino students is the greatest educational problem for the Latino community in the US. The high dropout rate concerns more Latino voters than other important problems like the "poor English-language skills of immigrant students" and the "poor quality of some teachers." 89% say improving public education should be a "very important priority" for the next President.

The best way to lobby for improved education starts by encouraging children to start feeding their brain with books at a young age. How they are educated early on, and active parental involvement--reading to children--are clear indicators of future success in school, college, and careers into adulthood.

Recent census data shows not only does the Latino population continue to be the fastest growing in the U.S., but there are over 9.5 million Hispanic families residing in the U.S.--over twenty two percent of all children under age five in the U.S. are Hispanic. Our goal is to help ensure that the availability of books by and for Latinos continues to grow so that all Americans, English and Spanish speaking, Latino and non-Latino, have access to them.

Q: How can Latino writers and their fans help support Latino Books Month?

A: Writers should encourage their publishers to submit their titles for our recommended reading list, which we develop each May in concert with Latino Books Month, and in September in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month, a list which we distribute to librarians, booksellers and educators throughout the nation to share upcoming titles available to the public. We also have our Aja! Leyendo campaign, a series of posters of celebrities Getting Caught Reading their favorite books in Spanish, which citizens can order at no charge via our web site at http://www.getcaughtreading.org to complement any book events they may be hosting.

They are also encouraged to contact their local schools to do an author visit, and should they be interested in partnering with a public high school or elementary school in New York to speak on a pro bono basis with schoolage children about the art of writing, please contact me at tjordan@publishers.org.

Q: Which other programs for Latinos has the AAP created?

A: The list is long--I hope I can mention them all! We are working with Las Comadres Para Las Americas, a network of over 7,000 Latinas nationwide in chapters across the country (visit http://www.lascomadres.org/) in teleconferences featuring authors being interviewed for their members. We also hope to launch a live book club with Borders soon.

In addition, we are celebrating the national Dia De Los Ninos on April 30th, an event produced by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, that brings attention to the love of books and reading for children of all cultures and in all languages, intended to be celebrated all month long. Our Latino Voices Group also published a recommended children's reading list in cooperation with ALSC, and it can be found on our Get Caught Reading web site at http://www.getcaughtreading.org/. Events are planned in libraries across the country and they can be found on the Dia site at http://www.ala.org/ala/alsc/diadelosninos/diadelosninos.cfm

Finally, we also have our Latino Voices Brochure that is hot off the presses for Latino Books Month with new titles for the 2008-2009, so there is no shortage of information on new books coming out, both English and Spanish, for the Latino community of all ages. If readers would like a copy, please email Katie Ly at kly@publishers.org.rnrn3.

About Marcela Landres:
Marcela Landres is an Editorial Consultant who specializes in helping Latinos get published. She was formerly an editor at Simon & Schuster and has acted as a judge for the Beyond Margins Award/PEN. For more info visit http://www.marcelalandres.com/.

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