Denise, Anika Aldamuy. (Illus. Paola Escobar). Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré. New York: Harper, 2019.

We all probably have books in our collections that have won the Pura Belpré award for works of children’s literature that best portray, affirm, and celebrate the LatinX cultural experience. The beautiful Planting Stories achieves that goal through the story of Belpré herself, how she came to the United States mainland from Puerto Rico and became the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library.

In beautifully detailed, digitally created illustrations, after she arrives in New York and begins work in the New York Public Library, we see Pura searching for books in the library that contain the stories that she knows from Puerto Rico. When she discovers that they are not there, she writes them down herself and gets them published. The theme of planting the seeds of stories carries through the pages with plants and trees somewhere on every page, along side Pura telling her stories far and wide.

This title will delight students and warm librarians’ hearts and a must-have for picture book collections! Librarians everywhere will be on the hunt for suitable story hour candles of their own.

Dewey: 020.92 Interest Level: K – Grade 2

Reviews and Awards: Booklist, Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, Horn Book Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal starred.

Upper elementary students might like: Perez and Martina: A Portorican [sic] Folk Tale by Pura Belpré
High School Students might like: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Fiction Pairing: Juan Bobo Goes to Work: A Puerto Rican Folktale by Marisa Montes

On the Web:
Learn more about Pura Belpré at the New York Public Library’s website:
And take a look at this clip: