Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré by Anika Aldamuy Denise; illustrated by Paola Escobar
How fitting that this book is a Pura Belpré Honor book as it is a biography of Pura! Beginning in the early 1920s, Pura worked at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library in Harlem. As the first bilingual library assistant, she was hired to serve the Spanish speaking population in her community... but found no books of stories of her homeland Puerto Rico in the collection -or even any books in Spanish! To fill this gap, Pura used storytelling, puppets, and eventually books she published herself to fill the void. Reading this book will inspire young people to follow in Pura’s footsteps and spread story seeds of their own, whether with puppets, a pencil, or just their own voice!
Listen to the story
Do a craft!
Pura Belpré loved using puppets to tell her stories. Make some finger puppets to help tell your own stories! Take-and-Make Felt Finger Puppet kits can be picked up curbside starting on December 1st. Call or email the library at 426-3581 or email@example.com to schedule a pickup.
Big Ideas & enduring Understanding
The stories we hear and stories we share shape us.
Libraries were not always as welcoming to all in their community with programs and books representing other cultures and languages.
Pura Belpré had a lasting impact with her storytelling, writing, and programs promoting Puerto Rican culture.
Dig a little Deeper
Beyond the Book: Ideas, Questions, Projects and Connections:
Pura Belpré was from Puerto Rico. Where is Puerto Rico? What is it like there? What clues can you find in the book? Now do some research to learn more about it. Do the same for New York City. What similarities and differences do you notice between the two places?
People can have many different facets to their identity. Pura Belpré was a garment worker, storyteller, writer, librarian, translator, puppeteer, wife, Puerto Rican, New Yorker, Latina, Black, and she spoke English, Spanish, and French. What are some of your identities?
There is no glossary in the book. Using context clues, figure out what the Spanish words and phrases mean. Or find translations here!
Why is it called Planting Stories?
Why do you think a book award that celebrates Latinx culture was named in her honor?
How is storytelling an art form?
What did Pura do in the library to serve other Puerto Ricans in her community? What did she do to celebrate Puerto Rican heritage?
Talk about the storytime candle and puppetry. Why do you think Pura used these techniques?