The joy I get in reading with my daughter Norah is you learn about someone that you have never heard of before. This is the case with the book, Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpre by Anika Aldamuy Denise and Paola Escobar.
Pura Belpre was the first librarian of Puerto Rican descent in the New York City Public Library. Planting Stories told a quick overview of her journey into becoming a librarian and storyteller that served the brown and black communities of New York City. She came to America in 1921 and started as a bilingual assistant. Her popular retellings of Puerto Rican folklore and puppeteering made everyone feel welcomed at the library.
She was one of the first librarians to championed bilingual literature and expanded the range of the city’s librarian collection. Pura was an author and wrote one of the first Puerto Rican folktales published in English titled Juan Bobo and the Queen’s Necklace: A Puerto Rican Folk Tale. It was published in 1962.
I enjoyed reading Planting Stories and learning about Mrs. Belpre. Also, the artwork by Paola Escobar was excellent, and I told Norah several times while reading the book how much I loved the illustration. I recommended Planting Stories for readers between the ages of 4-8. However, this book was good enough for a late 40s father to want to have for his own personal library. Pura Belpre was someone that deserves to be known to the wider reading public and the American culture at large. Her contribution to literature was important and must be recognized as such.