Need Amazing Children’s Books in Spanish? Hilda’s Got Your Back

June 5, 2019

I’m continually fascinated by those people that specialize in specific forms of literature. Let us say, for example, that you wanted the latest, greatest list of children’s books being released. Easy enough, but what if you wanted those books in Spanish? This is a question our public schools and libraries have been trying to tackle. The answer to the problem is simple, though. You want to know what the best of the best is?  Who you gonna call?  Ms. Hilda.

Not too long ago Ms. Hilda Gonzalez came to work for EPL. She started out with me in the Technical Services department, but soon it was clear that her passion for literature and connecting kids with books couldn’t be limited to mere ordering. Just like that, Ms. Hilda applied to a program to get her Masters in Library and Information Science and she began working in the children’s department.

Now for years the library has worked to get our Spanish language materials up-to-date, informative, and interesting. With Ms. Hilda’s help we’re going far beyond a title here and a title there. Did you see our gigantic Dia de los Muertos display a year ago on the first floor? Did you see how Hilda integrated two Latinx children’s programs (Dia de los Ninos/Dia de los Libros and Dia de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead) and partnered with a local self taught Mexican artist? Did you notice that we now have a prominent display area at the front of the children’s room with all the latest Spanish language children’s titles? I dare say you won’t find anyone in town as adept at navigating the intricacies of purchasing these books. As she says, “The Spanish children’s book market is continuously evolving, publishers from all over Latin America are partnering with American distributors.  I have been doing what I can to make sure there are diverse perspectives in the Spanish books I’m ordering with representations from various Latin American countries.”

Hopefully someday the library will find ways to fully partner with the schools in selecting books for our Spanish language book battles and the D65 Spanish summer reading list. If ever they need an expert, Ms. Hilda’s on call.

So need a recommendation for a fun, interesting book in Spanish for kids? Want to know what’s out there? What’s fresh? What’s interesting? Ms. Hilda has your back. Because after all, as she puts it, “I’m really passionate about the social responsibility that comes with the role of being a children’s librarian. It’s important for children of all backgrounds to see themselves not only in the books they read but in the staff providing services in their community.”

Meet Elacsha Madison: Teen Engagement Coordinator

Elacsha Madison, Teen Engagement CoordinatorWhat’s something about yourself that most people don’t know?

I come from a large family— I am one of eight children. I grew up on the south side of Chicago. My parents worked extremely hard for everything that we had and they taught us the value of a dollar. I learned how to budget money at an early age.

Where’s the most interesting place you’ve ever lived? 

I lived in countries in both Africa and Asia for long periods of time. In both places I learned to truly value life and the people you surround yourself with. I learned to love living on less (i.e., materialistic items) and rely more on just spending time talking to people and telling stories, doing activities together. I lived in rural areas and we had so little, yet I felt so rich, and I was the happiest I had ever been in my life.

I have been on every continent except for Antarctica, which I am planning on visiting. I even went white water rafting in Zimbabwe!

What’s your favorite music?

I love R & B, Pop, and Rap from the 90’s! I also love musicals. I’ve seen The Lion King three times (in London, Chicago and New York), Aladdin twice (in Australia and Chicago), and Hamilton twice (both in Chicago, but the first time opening night)!

Why did you choose to work with teen-agers?

I have been working with teens since I was a teen. I became a director of a girls grant-making program called Sisters Empowering Sisters when I was 18. After getting my Masters in Management, I went back to school and took all of the premed prerequisites so I could attend medical school and be a deaf-friendly OB-GYN.  But I fell in love with the youth I was working with at Mercy [Hospital or what?], and I just couldn’t leave them.

What are some of the things you’ve learned so far from the teens you’ve worked with?

You learn to have the patience of a saint! You learn to be incredibly forgiving and apologetic to your parents at the same time for everything your teenage self may have put them through. You learn so much about yourself as a person.

A lot to building relationships with teens is just being consistent and letting them know that you are there, showing up. Every day is a fresh start regardless of what happened yesterday.

I allow them to talk about everything as long as they’re being respectful. I am always honest with them. Always. Also I have learned to have a great poker face— teens say the wildest things sometimes and they need to know that there is no judgment here and they are welcomed. I know they know that I genuinely care about them and this makes a big difference in the aura/vibes of the Loft.

What’s your idea of a relaxing day? 

When you work with teens, there is no such thing as a relaxing day!





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