Earlier this year, award-winning and best-selling Cuban-American author Meg Medina was named the Library of Congress’ National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature — she is the first Latina to occupy this position in the country’s history. On the job, Meg is responsible for raising national awareness of the importance of young people’s literature as it helps to promote lifelong literacy and education. It’s work that’s more crucial now than ever, as efforts to ban specific titles or even whole categories of books in schools and public libraries are on the rise.

Throughout her career, Meg has made it her mission to create and champion literature for children and young adults that speaks to their realities. “It’s vitally important for kids to be able to see themselves in the pages, but it’s also vitally important for other kids to be able to see other people’s humanity and perspectives and history. That’s what we want.”

Image courtesy of The Newburgh Free Library

Growing up in Queens, NY, in the 1970s in a family recently arrived from Cuba, Meg’s first encounter with literature was with the stories her grandmother would tell her from life back on the island; stories that were not always rosy. “Abuela had no sense whatsoever about a story that was ‘appropriate’ or ‘inappropriate’ for children. Un cuento es un cuento y la vida es la vida,” Meg told Latino USA. Maybe that’s why Meg doesn’t shy away from presenting complex or difficult topics in her stories—from grandparents with Alzheimer’s or bullies in school. She believes that children and young people are experts in their own realities, and can be trusted to read freely and share their own stories.

Image courtesy of The Newburgh Free Library

In this conversation with Maria Hinojosa, Meg Medina gets deep about identity, family, and what we lose when we don’t see stories that reflect ourselves and our realities.


Featured image courtesy of The Newburgh Free Library.


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One thought on “Meg Medina: Let Kids Read Freely

  1. Thank you so much for this piece. I am a Cuban American woman of a certain age and can relate with what Ms. Medina said. I am also a fan of Maria Hinojosa and although I’ve been remiss on listening to Latino USA , that is changing going forward.
    Gracias de nuevo and please vote Blue.

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