Source
Scholastic Kids Press Corps
The Scholastic Kids Press Corps is a team of about 50 Kid Reporters around the nation.  The interactive site brings daily news to life with reporting for kids, by kids.

Author Pam Muñoz Ryan

Family traditions form the cultural foundation of every ethnicity, says Ryan

By Anjali Bhat | September 18 , 2009
<p>Author Pam Muñoz Ryan wrote <i>Paint the Wind</i> based on her love of horses. (Photo Courtesy Scholastic Inc.) </p>

Author Pam Muñoz Ryan wrote Paint the Wind based on her love of horses. (Photo Courtesy Scholastic Inc.)

When author Pam Muñoz Ryan was growing up, there was no Hispanic Heritage Month. The month-long commemoration received federal recognition in 1988, when Ryan was 37. It has grown in popularity since.

"It has been interesting to see people create more ways to celebrate," said Ryan. She thinks it's a wonderful way "for non-Hispanics to see Hispanics celebrating their heritage and bring attention to Hispanic culture and traditions."

Ryan's popular young adult novels reflect her own experience as a young Hispanic American.

One of her most popular books, Esperanza Rising, is about Ryan's grandmother. She wrote the story to honor her family. She also wanted to give her children something to remember about their culture and history. Finally, Esperanza Rising was a way to share the Mexican immigration experience with non-Latinos.

"But most important, my grandmother’s life gave me a dramatic premise on which to base a compelling story," Ryan said. "My most ardent desire is for the reader to turn the page. For me, that's ultimately the most important reason to tell any story."

Her newest novel, Paint The Wind, is about a young girl's adventure with horses and a family she never knew. Although this book is not based on a true story, it still comes from personal experience and love.

"The inspiration for it was my own love for horses," she said. "I did weeks of research in Wyoming in order to write the book."

She has a new book coming out in 2010, The Dreamer, which is based on the life of the poet Pablo Neruda. The 400-page novel is about the adventures of an imaginative young boy who grows up in Chile with an overbearing father.

"It combines elements of biography, poetry, fiction, and magical realism," Ryan said.

The path to a life of writing involves a life of reading, Ryan said. "Read. Read all sorts of books so you'll know what you like and don't like," she said. "Read so you'll know what is a compelling story and what is not."

For Ryan, writing is her job and like any other job, there are fun parts and frustrating parts. There are also magical parts.

"Daydream everyday," she said. "Pretend often. Get involved in dramatic arts, take creative writing classes, and keep journals. Read and write."

And learn about other people and other cultures. Special commemorations and holidays are a good way to do that, Ryan says.

A native of the San Joaquin Valley in California, Ryan learned about her ethnicity simply from living in a large extended family where both English and Spanish were spoken. The best part of having such a varied ethnicity, she said, "was going places with my Mexican grandmother, especially the Mexican market! But also just being able to communicate with my family in our native language."

No matter what your ethnicity is, you have family traditions that are the foundation of your culture, whether it's the tradition of keeping a language alive, or celebrating holidays, or eating certain foods, says Ryan.

"For a Latino, maybe it's something as simple as having piñatas at birthday parties," Ryan says. "It's simply establishing what you love and think is important."

Kid Reporter Anjali Bhat reviews Pam Muñoz Ryan’s latest book, Paint the Wind.

To read more Hispanic Heritage Month stories, click here.

  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary

    Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary

    by Ruud Van Rol Rian Verhoeven

    Packed with photos and detailed maps, this extraordinary book is an important addition to classroom libraries and a must for all readers of Anne Frank’s diary, providing a complete documentation of her childhood and the historic events that sent her family into hiding. "Anyone who has been touched by Anne Frank will be moved by this account."—SLJ

    $5.96 You save: 25%
    Paperback Book | Grades 4-7
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary
    Grades 4-7 $5.96
    Add To Cart
  • Teacher Store
  • The Teacher Store  
    Up, Up, and Away: The Story of Amelia Earhart

    Up, Up, and Away: The Story of Amelia Earhart

    by Susan Canizares

    Take off on a journey with Amelia Earhart, one of America's most famous pilots.

    $3.25 You save: 25%
    Paperback Book | Grades K-2
    Add To Cart
    Educators Only
    Up, Up, and Away: The Story of Amelia Earhart
    Grades K-2 $3.25
    Add To Cart
Privacy Policy
EMAIL THIS

* YOUR FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S FIRST NAME ONLY

* FRIEND'S EMAIL ADDRESS

MESSAGE
Here's something interesting from Scholastic.com