Songs and games bring together, every afternoon, children of diverse backgrounds. This wonderful celebration of the magic of traditional folklore is also a starting point for discussing the elimination of prejudice and discrimination.
I am frequently asked, by children and adults alike, which, among the many books I have written is my favorite. I try to explain that I cherish each of my books, because I have written each one with love and they all have taught me something about myself. But I must confess that my books of memoirs, Where the Flame Trees Bloom or Allá donde florecen los framboyanes and Under the Royal Palms or Bajo las palmas reales, as well as those in the series Cuentos con Alma, have a special significance because with them I have not only tried to capture the days of my childhood but I have honored the multiple people who made my childhood memorable. These books, as well as the memoirs I have written for adult readers, Vivir en dos idiomas have been my way of thanking those who enriched my spirit and taught me so much about trying to honor each day the gift of life.
Some of the greatest joys in my childhood came from very simple activities, as I have shared in the five books of memoirs in the series Cuentos con Alma: The making of paper boats, in Barquitos de papel, the nursery rhyme games, in Pin pin sarabín, flying kites in Barriletes, the annual visit of the humble circus, in Días de circo and the street vendor’s calls in Pregones, all held joy and life lessons.
Growing up surrounded by people of very diverse social conditions awoke very early in me the awareness of social inequality and the desire to strive for its eradication. At this very young age the magic of traditional games and songs brought us together with no distinctions, and it gave me the reassurances that people can overcome any barrier or difference and join in common purposes.
The love for the traditional folklore which enriched my childhood has led me to incorporate traditional rhymes in many of my poetry anthologies. It has also led to devote, in collaboration with Isabel Campoy, many books to share nursery rhymes and other forms of the oral folklore, and to do it bilingually so that not only children of Latino heritage can get to know their heritage but other children can enjoy this treasury as well in ¡Pío Peep!, Mamá Goose, MooMuu, Merry Navidad and Ten Little Puppies/Diez perritos. Of the 120 poems included in the ten books of the series Música amiga, and the corresponding CDs, many are also from the folklore. What a joy to listen to them in the outstanding recordings by Suni Paz.
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