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BOOKS FOR CHIL­DREN AND YOUNG ADULTS

Pasatiempo - - NEWS - — Jen­nifer Levin

Chil­dren who read de­velop em­pa­thy and imag­i­na­tion far be­yond their own ex­pe­ri­ence, and read­ing at an early age has been shown to lay the foun­da­tion for a life­long love of words. Books for chil­dren and young adults are the fo­cus of this spe­cial is­sue of Pasatiempo, which fea­tures pro­files of lo­cal au­thors and il­lus­tra­tors as well as a few other re­gion­ally rel­e­vant sto­ries, in­clud­ing the reis­sue of Loyd Tire­man’s pop­u­lar Me­sa­land se­ries from the 1940s. On our cover is Ralph Dou­glass’ il­lus­tra­tion for the cover of Dum­bee, a Me­sa­land book pub­lished in 1945; im­age cour­tesy Univer­sity of New Mex­ico Press.

Chil­dren learn to love read­ing by con­nect­ing with char­ac­ters, voices, sto­ries, and pic­tures t hat show t hem lives and worlds that are dif­fer­ent from their own, or shed light on the mys­ter­ies that sur­round them. There is as much vari­a­tion in books writ­ten for chil­dren as in those writ­ten for adults, and of­ten just as much depth. Suc­cess­ful au­thors of the genre know how to break down com­pli­cated in­for­ma­tion about his­tory and na­ture into bits that lit­tle brains can un­der­stand. Of­ten, il­lus­tra­tions pro­vide ad­di­tional con­text and vis­ual in­ter­est for chil­dren who are be­ing read to and who are fol­low­ing along with the words as they learn. Sev­eral months ago, Pasatiempo asked lo­cal au­thors and il­lus­tra­tors of books for chil­dren and young adults to con­tact us. We heard from New Mex­i­cans who have writ­ten books for their grand­chil­dren, an il­lus­tra­tor who works with Ru­dolfo Anaya, and a rabbi who wants to tell chil­dren about Jewish his­tory, among oth­ers. In this is­sue of Pasatiempo, we bring you a pro­file of an au­thor with a per­sonal story she turned into in­sight­ful fic­tion for teens, an in­ter­view with the first Latino poet lau­re­ate of the United States — who also writes chil­dren’s books — and news of the reis­sued 1940s se­ries Me­sa­land, by Loyd Tire­man, which fea­tures Hop-ALong the rab­bit, Cocky the road­run­ner, and Quills the por­cu­pine, na­tive in­hab­i­tants of New Mex­ico who frolic and play but also learn im­por­tant lessons about sur­viv­ing in the desert.

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