Blog Posts

Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illustrated by Paola Escobar

Planting Stories

Anika Aldamuy Denise and Paola Escobar present this narrative nonfiction story of the life of Pura Belpré – an author, puppeteer, and the first Puerto Rican librarian of New York City. Through beautiful prose peppered with Spanish phrases, the author tells the life story of Pura, as she ventures from Puerto Rico to New York City, finds a job at the public library, and becomes a story teller renowned for her puppets and published Puerto Rican folktales. 

Teacher Thoughts

  • Take a few tours through this book before you read it aloud. You’ll want to be familiar with the Spanish phrases, and the text placement changes on each page, mixing typed words with drawn phrases. 
  • Pura’s “story seeds” are a great example of living a writing life and writing with a purpose. They would be great inspiration to draw from in writing workshop.



Kid Thoughts

  • Second graders were saddened by her husband’s death, but had no trouble inferring it from the text and pictures: “Until on a June day in New York, Clarence stops playing his music. And Pura’s story must begin again.”
  • “She found her husband!” students shouted as Denise writes, “…like the beautiful Martina, she meets her Pérez.”

“Her life had good parts and bad parts. Like it was really sad when her husband died, but she also had a really good life.” – 2nd grader

The story of Pura Belpré would be a great way to highlight all of the books that have been decorated with the Pura Belpré Award, which honors Latino/Latina authors and illustrators whose work celebrates Latino culture. Recent winners of the Pura Belpré award include: Dreamers by Yuyi Morales, Island Born  by Junot Díaz, and When Angels Sing by Michael Mahin. Watch the Celebrating 20 Years of the Pura Belpré Award video montage to see more books that have been awarded this honor!

Leave a Reply