Latina mommy website mamiverse.com unveiled Monday a special book section – complete with a parental pledge to read regularly – that they hope will help close Hispanic achievement gaps.
“This is about goals, success and doing the best you can for your children,” said Adriana Dominguez, children’s book editor for mamiverse.com. “Getting that early start on early childhood education [can give children] a chance at success and research shows that one way to do that is through books.”
Site creators say it will be the most comprehensive and Latino-centric one for consumers to date. Users can expect to find book recommendations in the form of reviews. There will also be features to help families integrate reading into their lives by addressing topics such as which books are appropriate for children and how much time should be devoted to reading.
The most unique features are the books chosen for review. Many are written by Hispanic authors and carry themes that will resonate in the community. For example, a parent whose child struggles with obesity might look to the review of “Fat No More,” written by Latino youth who ultimately lost weight, to see if it might be a suitable way to discuss health and self esteem issues with their child. Another book about teen suicide written by a Latina may also strike a chord with teens who may need help.
Featured books will also give young Hispanics a way to tap into their culture. Parents can find recommendations for books on folklore, for instance. Bilingual books will be a special component of the site so that any member of the family can participate in reading, regardless of the language they read.
“The book world has changed dramatically in that more and more Latino authors are telling our stories,” said Dominguez. Parents will know the books they find on the site won’t “talk down to them or make assumptions about culture and will be written by an insider, in a way.”
But providing the tools to find books and read as a family is not enough, say creators. There must be a commitment to continue the practices and that is where the pledge comes in. Moms are the target, Dominguez said, because they influence all the decisions in the home. They are being asked to sign a commitment to read 15 minutes a day either for themselves or to a loved one and make books a part of their household.
“I just know books are the best possible tool I can give [my toddler],” said Dominguez, who has been involved in book publishing for 15 years. “Not all parents know that. Not all have the resources. It’s important for our community in particular – we are the future of this country.”
Soni Sangha is a freelance writer based in New York City.