I am so honored to be part of this year’s Latina’s 4 Latino Lit’s Día Blog Hop. Last year, L4LL launched the first Día Blog Hop in honor of Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros which is celebrated annually on April 30th. We thank poet and author, Pat Mora for establishing Día in the United States in order to celebrate books and children.
L4LL has asked 24 Latina bloggers and 24 Latino authors and illustrators to pair up and share our passion for Latino children’s literacy. Today, illustrator Christina Rodriguez is MFBS’s guest! As a former middle school Language Arts and Reading teacher in a Latino community, I never get tired of advocating for books that tell our stories. Please read below…
Being of Mexican and Korean descent, I am ethnically diverse, but I come from another kind of culture as well: the U.S. military. Both parents served in the Air Force and I lived on various military bases as a child. Memories of life as a military “brat,” plus the learned necessity to “bloom where you’re planted,” influenced my mindset growing up and my present career as a children’s book illustrator.
The Armed Forces boasts strong racial diversity united by a military lifestyle. As a young child I was surrounded by other kids who knew what it was like to change schools, have a parent deployed, and experience the world and other cultures. I had friends from all racial and religious backgrounds, too. Living off-base in other countries gave deeper insights to other cultures and ways of living than the average tourist might experience.
I was a teenager when my dad retired from the Air Force, and we went from a culture where everyone we knew was military to civilian lives where nobody served or knew anyone who did. During my teen and college years I had to dispel many surprising assumptions from my classmates about my childhood and my parents. To this day, that lack of “military cultural diversity” in the civilian population is jarring to me.
Fortunately, I have unique opportunities to enlighten people through my art and career as a children’s book illustrator. I’ve been blessed to work on projects that reflect not just my racial diversity, but also my military upbringing. The Wishing Tree, My Dad’s Deployment, and My Mom’s Deployment are for children coping with military deployment or living the military family experience. I’m grateful to have worked on these projects with my publisher, Elva Resa Publishing. The topics and themes these books explore are universal to all children of military families, regardless of their racial backgrounds. While illustrating these books, I was able to reflect on my childhood in the military culture and illustrate for the child I used to be.
Thank you, Christina Rodriguez! MFBS readers, click here for the complete Dia Blog Hop schedule. On April 30th, make sure to go back to L4LL’s website for a special announcement!
images via Christina Rodriguez