Co-authors Suzanne García-Mateus and Mando Rayo set out to write a children’s book that reflected their own culture. They ended up with a series of three.
García-Mateus says the second book in the series, “Vitamina C for Cultura: An alphabet book, cultural dictionary and guide,” shares the experiences of those from the borderlands through its use of illustrations and Spanglish.
“One of the ways I describe Spanglish is that people are individuals who speak several named languages,” García-Mateus said. “Just draw from what I call their ‘linguistic repertoire’ to communicate. And so that is very much a strong feature of the book – that we’re just using our bilingualism and ways that we use it every day in our lives.”
She says that while the book is focused on people from Latinx backgrounds, they were mindful of capturing the diversity within the community.
On such example is on the page for the letter “S” in the book, which García-Mateus says shows someone who could be perceived as Afro-Latina.
“And I love it because it really speaks to the diversity within the Latinx community,” García-Mateus said. “You know, we’re not a monolithic group. We have so much more diversity within it.”
The other two books in the series are “Vitamina T for Tacos” and “Vitamina P for Places.”
García-Mateus said they saw the books as an opportunity to fill a space within children’s literature.
“We saw this as an opportunity to contribute to children’s literature, multicultural children’s literature, because there’s just not a lot of books out there – children’s books that are reflective of who we are and what we look like, what we sound like,” García-Mateus said.
Listen to more from García-Mateus in the audio player above.