Presented by Teri Lesesne, Rosemary Chance, and Janie Flores, and featuring amazing, award-winning authors Benjamin Alire Sáenz and Margarita Engle, this session explored the importance of books and authors that feature Latinos/Hispanics/Chicanos (there was a small discussion of labeling and its drawbacks) and their ability to allow Latino teens to see themselves in the literature made available to them.
Benjamin Sáenz spoke about the fact that he was firstly a poet and a writer for adults until he was asked by a publisher to consider writing for children and then young adults. And aren’t we glad he said yes. Mr. Sáenz read passages from his books Sammy and Juliana in Hollywood and Last Night I Sang to the Monster that related to the fact that adults so often fail to really see teens, and that teens in turn look to each other to be seen and understood. And on the subject of becoming an author, he shared his philosophy that “we become writers by discipline and desire” and that talent is not just a gift that some writers have, but something that they have to work for. His next book, coming out in 2012, is called Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and will feature a gay, Latino romance set in the 1960s. (more…)